Great books educate, inspire, inform, entertain... what we are is shaped by many things, and one of them is what we read. But finding that one pivotal book that makes all the difference can sometimes be tough.

That's why I've asked a number of successful people to share the books they love.

The fourth installment comes from Ernie Bray, the CEO of AutoClaims Direct (ACD), an insurance technology solutions company that has made the Inc. 5000 list six times. (He's also been honored as Insurance Executive of the Year and the Gold Winner at the 2012 American Business Awards.)

Here are his selections:

The Way of the SEAL by Mark Divine

When it comes to business, one has to be willing to embrace a warrior mindset and Divine's book really hit home for me. The focus on leading from the front and a mindset on offense translates very well to business and in life. The former Navy SEAL commander has given me some great ideas and tools for the toolbox.

One great takeaway is to think offense all the time. This goes to how changing the words you use can change your attitude and your confidence.

A great book for those who want to dig deep and learn some great tactics.

Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins

I listened to the audio version of this book years before I launched my company. Anyone who knows me says I nearly match Robbins' action-driven mentality, but it was by listening to his book that I gained valuable key strategies for developing a sense of certainty and understanding the power of an emotional state.

The book helped cement a mindset based on focused action and goal setting, traits one must have to be a successful entrepreneur.

The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey by Ken Blanchard, William Oncken Jr., Hal Burrows

I was given this book by a former executive a few years ago after starting my company. When starting a business, one ends up wearing every conceivable hat because at that time you feels it's a necessity.

Taking on responsibility is natural for me. This book helped me realize that by taking on everyone else's monkey (problem), my staff was actually becoming the manager instead of me.

Delegating tasks and letting go of guilt in doing so can strengthen your company, empower your staff and keep you sane.

1776 by David McCullough

As a direct descendent of a participant in the Revolutionary War, this book does a great job transporting the reader back to this era in our history. The story of the ragtag, disorganized Continental Army and their perseverance was very inspirational.

McCullough dispels the myths of Washington by humanizing him as an imperfect leader, who learned from making many mistakes but finally succeeded through determination and experience.

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

As entrepreneurs we fall in love with our business so much that when we pitch it, we often bore our clients. We say what makes us feel good rather than what the potential prospects need to hear to inspire them to gravitate to our product or service.

Klaff cuts to the chase with his STRONG method and it's helped my staff and I look at presentations and pitching in a new way.

We now strive to have shorter, powerful, direct, and concise pitches that control a meeting, set the frame, tell a story and evoke emotions that will compel a prospective customer to choose our company.

More in this series:

Published on: Aug 26, 2016
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