There's no getting around the fact that successful people are readers. It's because they know how important it is to learn from others, keep themselves sharp, and stay informed on trending schools of thought. Here are interesting titles worth checking out, according to more than two dozen high achievers.
1. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
"I recently read this book after watching a webcast hosted by Liz. This book has so many great insights on the impact different leaders have on their teams. On one spectrum are diminishers who, intentionally or accidentally, drain intelligence, drive, and capability from the people around them. On the other end of the spectrum are multipliers who amplify the abilities and passion of the people around them. Understanding how to be a multiplier so you can inspire your people to stretch and deliver exceptional results is so important right now with all the change and disruption around us."
--Larry Nash, U.S. recruiting leader at EY, a global provider of assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services with 260,000 employees globally
2. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
"A well-known classic written in a different era, this book focuses on fundamentals that have withstood the test of time. I found Peter's clarity on how one can add the most value to an organization both insightful and practical. Choosing where to invest your energy to maximize impact is as important as the investment itself. This book changed how I work day to day. For example, when I first read this, the thought of tracking my time in some detail seemed like an unreasonably difficult burden. I have been tracking time, as my most valuable resource, for years now. Doing so has made me a better leader and teammate, enabling me to shift attention quickly when the needs of the business shift."
--Guy Yalif, co-founder and CEO of Intellimize, a technology company that helps companies like SoFi, Stella & Dot, and Looker drive revenue growth by using artificial intelligence to personalize their websites for each individual visitor
3. The Book of Virtues by William Bennet
"This book sits on my bedside table, as it has for years, and I return to it frequently. It has given me comfort, wisdom, and stories to read to my kids when I'm too exhausted to make up stories myself. You may ask, what the heck does that have to do with small-business advocacy? Look no further than the table of contents: self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, faith. All the wonderful qualities of Main Street small-business owners I am honored to represent and which will take you far in business and in life."
--Tom Sullivan, vice president of small-business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who represents the views of small businesses and translates that grassroots power into federal policies that bolster free enterprise and reward entrepreneurship
4. How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business by Douglas W. Hubbard
"This book was as useful for my personal life as it was for work. The book is not just about how to measure things that many believe aren't measurable. It is also about the power of measurement. For example, a friend of mine lost weight by simply starting to weigh himself every day. This is what measuring the right thing can do. Now, when faced with either a personal or a business problem, the first thing I look for is what I should measure that will best support my decision making. This book teaches the process."
--Pavel Dmitriev, VP of data science at Outreach, a sales engagement platform that supports more than 2,600 sales teams and 28,000 reps worldwide and has raised $125 million in funding to date
5. Dealers of Lightning by Michael Hiltzik
"[This book] shows how a small team can have a large impact. In the case of Xerox PARC, a small team of engineers produced an incredible array of technologies that now play a core part in our everyday lives. The idea of leverage and outsize impact has become a defining characteristic of Silicon Valley and the startups that operate in it. This book has inspired me to strive to create an environment at my company where we can all produce our best work."
--Ronan Burke, co-founder and CEO of Inscribe, maker of an API that detects fraudulent documents, allowing businesses to trust their customers and grow faster; and which graduated from Y Combinator and is working with some of the largest fintech lenders in the world
6. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
"The beauty of daring leadership is that it continues to chip away at the old belief of 'it's just business, not personal.' In Brene's unique way, she provides leaders a fresh perspective on incorporating the individual--the personal--to their team, so that your personal and your professional values are in alignment to support success. We expect a lot from our teams, so it's vital that we acknowledge that the whole person is valued and honored in our culture. I see this as a great book for anyone who favors business books and is looking for a way to bring the humanity back to the workforce."
--Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and CEO of MJ Freeway, a cannabis technology company that invented the seed-to-sale system and tracks $13 billion annually for clients in 29 U.S. states and D.C., as well as 11 other countries
7. Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
"The definition of work is changing. The why, how, and where we work is in flux. As employees and leaders, we need to reframe our thinking. I love this book, because it teaches us that people should be focused on creating value for their organizations and themselves. They should not be blindly loyal to the organization. The best way to create personal value for yourselves and your organization is to design your life by integrating work, play, love, and health. In this new world of work, [this book] gives you a process to reframe your thinking and integrate, not just balance, your life."
--Al Chiaradonna, author of leadership blog Front and Centered, who serves as an adjunct professor of Villanova's executive MBA program and is on the executive management team at SEI, a global provider of asset management, investment processing, and investment operation solutions that serves about 8,900 clients and manages or administers $920 billion in hedge, private equity, mutual fund, and pooled or separately managed assets
8. Einstein's Greatest Mistakes by David Bodanis and James Adams
"I highly recommend this book to anyone who strives to achieve greatness but struggles with imposter syndrome: Do I have what it takes? When you hear Einstein, words like genius, perfection, and Nobel prize come to mind. In this book, however, it shows Einstein in a new light, where he's a flawed human just like everyone else. It's mainly about Einstein's final years and how the scientific world shunned him because he couldn't accept the premises of quantum mechanics. It teaches us that even an all-time genius can get stuck in their own dogma. If we don't expand our minds and force ourselves outside our limited thinking, we could be on the verge of making our own greatest mistake."
--Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, a customer success company that has raised $156 million in funding to help businesses build sustainable growth by giving them the insights needed to proactively and consistently deliver value to customers, and that's used by top enterprises like Box, Adobe, and GE Digital
9. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
"If you want to be the best, study the best. Amazon is the ultimate hypergrowth story, and it's fascinating to hear about how it all happened."
--Nick Kovacevich, chairman and CEO of KushCo Holdings, the parent company to a group of business units operating in the cannabis industry, with five shipping locations and 10 hazmat facilities nationwide, and selling to more than 5,000 customers in all legal cannabis markets, domestically and internationally
10. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
"A fabulous inside look at how to build a startup by Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and one of the most successful venture capitalists of all time. This book is like an executive MBA class for entrepreneurs based on Thiel's experiences and lectures at Stanford University. It leads with the idea of contrarian thinking, the concept that when we create something new, we build value out of nothing--challenging our traditional views of monopolies and competition. Some of my key takeaways: Risk boldness rather than triviality; product uniqueness creates value; stay lean and flexible; value contrarian thinking; and reach economies of scale. It's my must-read, and reread, for entrepreneurs and business leaders."
--Jeff Jankowski, CEO of Hoopla Digital, a service that partners with more than 1,600 public libraries across North America to provide library card holders free online and mobile access to more than 670,000 movies, TV shows, musical recordings, e-books, audiobooks, and comics
11. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
"Being truly intentional in my opinion is key to effective decision making and living a fulfilling and meaningful life. The book, which analyzes two modes of thought, taught me that how we make decisions can be fast, instinctive, and emotional or slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Another core tenet of the book is how our preconceived biases impact decision-making. Getting better at and understanding the above has a direct correlation to how meaningful a life we will live. Thinking Fast and Slow changed the way I perceive true intelligence and how I engage with each and every person on a daily basis. It has taught me to be more aware of my biases, think about ways to overcome them, be more grounded in how I coach and develop my teams, and ultimately be more self-aware. I believe this book made me a better husband, father, and leader.
--Francis Lobo, chief product and business officer of Mr. Cooper, a nonbank mortgage servicer with more than 3.2 million customers nationwide
12. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
"In today's digital world, every leader is charging toward innovation and transformation. Most often the challenge to achieve is not the vision or strategy, it's the execution. Execution is where rubber meets the road, and culture plays a very big role. I am a firm believer in the sentiment of the quote, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast.' Leading transformation requires a strong culture that is built on trust, empathy, courage, and transparency, to weather the inevitable storms and tough hills on the path. This book taught me the way to balance 'caring personally' and 'challenging directly.' The 2x2 framework is a very simple way to gauge every single conversation and build a culture that is truly exceptional. The true measure of the effectiveness of this framework is when your organization achieves 'GSD--getting stuff done.' It's a must-read for every leader."
--Meerah Rajavel, CIO heading up a team of more than 150 employees at global cybersecurity company Forcepoint, which adapts security response on the basis of human behavior
13. The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
"This book presents a nuanced look at discovering meaning and happiness while challenging many of the conventions that are found in many other books of the same category. The philosophy within is instructive for breaking down the barriers we--as people and as entrepreneurs--face on a daily basis, which are often of our own construction. This advice has been extremely helpful to me as a CEO. I've also found that, as a way of overall thinking, it can open up the possibility for people to achieve their true potential, in business and beyond."
--Sami Inkinen, co-founder and CEO of Type 2 diabetes reversal platform Virta Health, which has seen 300 percent growth in its employer customer base in 2018 and has been shown to deliver 60 percent reversal rates of Type 2 diabetes within one year
14. Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World by John Chambers
"John Chambers is known to be one of the most influential leaders in Silicon Valley. He grew Cisco from a $70 million company to a $47 billion global tech titan with a vast global footprint. This book offers many lessons on how to lead by example and foster a strong workforce--topics I am personally passionate about. John is one of my mentors, and this books sheds light on how he took some incredibly bold risks to become one of the biggest names in tech. It's an inspiring story for all entrepreneurs contemplating their next move."
--Bipul Sinha, co-founder and CEO of cloud data management company Rubrik, which he has grown to $300 million in a little over four years
15. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
"[This book] fundamentally changed the way I think about learning. The fast pace of change in and out of the workplace demands that we all become lifelong learners. The world isn't going to slow down anytime soon, so I work to cultivate a growth mindset in myself and those around me. This book gives you the research and science to understand the power of a growth mindset, and I've gotten a lot more comfortable pushing myself to new ways of thinking thanks to this book."
--Shelley Osborne, head of learning and development at online learning platform Udemy, where more than 24 million students choose from a library of 80,000 courses taught by instructors in more than 50 languages
16. Hidden Champions of the 21st Century by Hermann Simon
"It analyzes the common traits among thousands of uniquely successful middle-market companies. My most important takeaway was that the most effective way to serve enterprise customers is to deliver a comprehensive, global solution to a problem, and not to offer a limited-use tool that must be combined with several others to create any value. This book demonstrates the importance of heeding this advice early in the life of a company and the resulting benefits to growth, profitability, and staying power."
--Troy Pospisil, founder and CEO of InCloudCounsel, a legal technology company that combines corporate attorneys with cloud-based technology to offer a solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work for more than 200 companies
17. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
"This book really resonates with me, and offers a new perspective on management advice. The way that Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley's most respected entrepreneurs, discusses the real problems and issues entrepreneurs face--in the context of his own experience--is really compelling. His brutal honesty around his own adversities when it came to being a founder and family member serves as a great guide for navigating the tough problems business schools don't cover. This is definitely a must-read for those looking to run their own business and overcome any challenge that comes their way."
--Tom Livne, CEO of Verbit, an A.I. transcription company that raised more than $11 million in seed funding within its first nine months of starting up
18. Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella
"We're all trying to grow our businesses in the most efficient and sustainable way, and that involves constant innovation and transformation. The insights, ideas, and reflections from Nadella are brilliant, inspiring, and timeless, and undoubtedly influence how I lead today."
--Dan Latendre, founder and CEO of Igloo Software, a digital workplace solutions provider with a footprint in more than 80 countries, exceeding more than one billion digital workplace interactions monthly
19. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
"I've incorporated the thinking from Brian Tracy into the way I manage my days. Every day, I figure out what I need to get done for the day. I make this a short list of one to five items and divide the day's tasks into what I really need to get done before I go to bed, and what is nice to get done if time permits. Then, I look at the things I need to get done, and apply Brian Tracy's 'eat that frog' mentality, tackling the biggest, ugliest task first. Eating the big, ugly frog early in the day leaves me feeling satisfied that I already got something important accomplished."
--Matthew Mead, CTO of SPR, a digital technology consulting firm with clients including Microsoft and Amazon Web Services
20. Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman
"This book is required reading for any leader grappling with technology's role in disrupting the traditional business model. A successful internet entrepreneur and Silicon Valley guru, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman offers an introductory lesson on 'blitzscaling,' the business philosophy that prioritizes speed over accuracy to effectively beat out competition in an all-out blitz. From Airbnb to Amazon to Groupon, Hoffman uses several case studies to illustrate the scaling of hypergrowth organizations and show how these dominant companies work out their kinks after they've reached the top."
--Francis Dinha, CEO of OpenVPN, an open source security protocol providing private access to the internet that's been downloaded more than 50 million times since inception
21. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
"It is not only a classic but a valuable lesson in sales for business leaders. The story is a persistent and thoughtful articulation of how a compelling value proposition can eventually lead to a customer buying in and eventually becoming an enthusiastic advocate."
--Dan Dal Degan, CEO of SpringCM, a document and contract lifecycle management platform in the cloud that was recently acquired by DocuSign
22. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
"This book is part of why I moved to San Francisco from New York City to start my company in 2013, and how I met my first angel investor and employees. It also resulted in meeting Trevor Blackwell, one of the Y Combinator partners and why we pursued Y Combinator. Several founders I know told me it was the best thing they've ever read, so I caved and finally read it."
--Nancy Hua, co-founder and CTO of Apptimize, a mobile experimentation platform for real-time A/B testing and feature rollouts that works with top 10 apps in every category in more than 100 countries
23. Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb
"Written by university economists, it takes an economist's-eye view of the inevitable adoption of A.I. technologies. They frame the advantages of A.I. technology in terms of the economics of the commoditization of accurate lower-cost predictions from using data and A.I. On that basis, they assert that business people ought to adopt A.I. for predictions, but should do so in the context of understanding their unique business situations. It is well researched and well written."
--Eli Finkelshteyn, co-founder and CEO of Constructor, an A.I.-first search as a service provider used by Walmart-owned Jet.com
24. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
"First, I love Sanderson's world-building. But what I really enjoy about this book is the way the narrative gets unwrapped, and we discover that the simple stories the characters are telling each other about what is happening not only disagree, but often are entirely wrong and yet justify each character's actions. Getting past that sort of narrative mismatch is one of the hardest organizational skills to master, and being able to explore it in an action story, with no political capital on the line, can be a great safe place to think about our own stories, and how they might get in our way. Plus, if you have tweens, you can pass it to them to hook them on one of the modern masters of epic fantasy and science fiction."
--Andy Ellis, chief security officer at content delivery network services provider Akamai, where he is responsible for overseeing the security architecture and compliance of the company's worldwide distributed network, leading his team to grow Akamai's security portfolio revenue by 37 percent year over year
25. 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp
"Conscious leadership is a foundation of my life, and a skill that I work on frequently, along with the other members of our leadership team. This book provides a framework for leading with humility and awareness, with practical advice for staying open and curious in your role as a leader of people. I find myself coming back to its principles time and again for a refresher on how to learn and collaborate effectively, and to lead from a place of love every day. By internalizing and living by these guidelines, we've experienced better ideas, clearer focus, and leadership that welcomes and inspires our teams."
--Jim Barnett, CEO of Glint, a people success platform that was acquired by LinkedIn in November 2018
26. Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It ... and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish
"It helped me understand and think about the four essentials of people, strategy, execution, and cash. It is very much written for people like myself who want to build an industry-dominating business. Every leader at our organization has read the book, and we've integrated its principals throughout our organization."
--Brad Nattrass, CEO of Urban-gro, a cultivation systems integrator and agricultural technology firm with 53 employees that serves more than 500 commercial cannabis cultivation facilities globally