Great books educate, inspire, inform, entertain... who 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 often be tough. That's why I've asked a number of successful people to share the books they love.

The third installment comes from John Burke, the CEO of Trek Bikes, the company his father co-founded in 1976 in a small red barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin that he has helped grow to revenues of over $1 billion.

(Not too shabby, eh?)

Here are John's selections:

Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

A great book about one of the most interesting people of the last 100 years and one of the most brilliant business people of all time.

I went back and reread the second half of this book, underlined it, and then compiled a list of all the business lessons that were in the book.

Passion, sense of urgency, simplicity... so many great lessons.

The Road to Character by David Brooks

I just finished reading this and it was perhaps the most difficult book that I have ever read. It is really deep, but well worth it.

My father was a man of great character and that is how Trek has been built. Reading the book reinforced my belief that doing the right thing always beats the alternative.

Great by Choice by Jim Collins

Collins is one of my favorite authors and I love his books but this one is his best. The theory that success is a choice is a great lesson and the way he frames it with the story of Amundsen and Scott and their journey to the South Pole is a good one.

There is so much to learn from this book but one of my favorites is having a recipe for success. This has turned into a requirement for all Trek business leaders.

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

There is so much to learn from history, and Doris is one of my favorite authors.

Roosevelt's ability to dream big and to get things done inspires me.

Trek is a family company, and watching how the Busch family and company fell apart after going strong for a very long time has left an impression on me.

Since I run a family business, this book made me think about how can I do my best to make sure that this does not happen to our family -- or our business.

Truman by David McCullough

The story of Truman is pretty amazing: a bankrupt owner of a men's clothing store who 30 years later became the President of the United States.

The story of Truman addressing the Cabinet after Roosevelt's death is a classic.

McCullough is an amazing author and if you ever want your kids to know the value of reading have them watch this:

Re-imagine! by Tom Peters

Tom Peters made a huge impression on me when I was first a manager in the mid '80s. He was on TV talking about excellent service and I was hooked.

At the time, our service was not very good and we turned it around really fast; a lot of our ideas about great service came from Tom Peters.

About ten years later he wrote Re-Imagine. It's filled with great lessons about taking a completely different look at your business.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The first five chapters of this book are awesome. The key lesson is that you don't have to be good at everything.

The story of Paul O'Neil and Alcoa and focusing on worker safety has had a big influence on me. I try and figure out what the winner-take-all-tasks are and focus the organization on those; that premise came from the Power of Habit.

Others in this series:

Published on: Aug 16, 2016
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