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Tony Hawk and 10 Other Entrepreneurs Share the Books That Changed Their Lives

They might just change yours, too.

By file404/Shutterstock
By file404/Shutterstock

The world’s most successful people read an outsized number of books. You don’t have time to read a ton of books right now. So we asked these elite CEOs and Advisors in The Oracles to share the one book that profoundly changed their life and why. Here are the life-changing books you should be reading (or rereading) next. 

1. ‘High Fidelity’ and ‘Slam’ by Nick Hornby

Tony Hawk. Courtesy of the Oracles.

Had I read “High Fidelity” when I was younger, I might have realized that I could pursue my dreams and become successful later in life and at a different pace. You don’t have to do what you love with such abandon when you have other responsibilities. Now I’m working on a Broadway production of another Hornby book, “Slam,” about a kid who aspires to be a pro skater but has to realize his path to responsibility when he gets his girlfriend pregnant.

— Tony Hawk, founder and CEO of Birdhouse Skateboards and president of the Tony Hawk Foundation, and the most influential and commercially successful skateboarder of all time, with a $100+ million net worth

2. ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George Samuel Clason

Grant Cardone. Courtesy of the Oracles.

The Richest Man in Babylon” was a game changer for me and changed the way I look at money. It teaches five simple rules: 1) Store money for future use, 2) Control your expenses, 3) Make money multiply, 4) Guard your treasures against loss, and 5) Improve your ability to earn. After reading it, I stopped saving money simply to save it and started storing money that I could later invest to work for me. The investment vehicle that met these criteria was income-producing real estate. This book teaches you to establish reliable income streams and that you should never confuse financial needs with wants. It should be required reading in every school.

— Grant Cardone, founder of Cardone Capital, a $2 billion real estate empire. Follow Grant on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

3. ‘Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web & Mobile Application Design’ by Robert Hoekman, Jr.

Melanie Perkins. Courtesy of the Oracles.

This book explains how to create apps and online experiences that are easy, intuitive, and enjoyable. Software should be simple and obvious to use. This simplicity is central to the vision of Canva and all good software companies. I reread this book often and recommend it to everyone.

— Melanie Perkins, cofounder and CEO of Canva, valued at over $3 billion, and one of the youngest female CEOs leading a billion-dollar company

4. ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t’ by Jim Collins

Dottie Herman. Courtesy of the Oracles.

This book is such a must-read for leaders that I bought a copy for every manager in our company. The premise is simple: Good is the enemy of great. Most companies never achieve greatness because they’re satisfied with good enough. Greatness requires humble leaders who are driven by what’s best for the company and don’t let obstacles stop them. 

Collins explains the importance of the book with this concept: When your passions, what you can be best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine come together, your work and life move toward greatness. It’s impossible to have a great life unless it’s meaningful, and it’s difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.

— Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, a real estate brokerage empire with more than $27 billion in annual sales. Connect with Dottie on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

5. ‘The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are’ by Dr. Kevin Leman

Jessica Mead. Courtesy of the Oracles.

As an avid reader, I continuously consume stories and knowledge. I read this book while pregnant with my second child because I was curious about how my daughter’s relationship would work with her soon-to-be baby brother. It changed my approach to professional and personal relationships.

This book opened my mind to how people interact and why they are who they are. It spawned my interest in learning more about how to communicate effectively and meaningfully. It gave me an incredible gift: the tools to get past the awkward beginning of any relationship easily, be a considerate listener, and engage in fruitful relationships.

— Jessica Mead, founder and CEO of BrandLync, cofounder of Mead Holdings Group, The Epek Companies, and Grayson Pierce Capital. Follow Jessica on Instagram.

6. ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ by Vyasa

Mark Divine. Courtesy of the Oracles.

This book is about aligning your work and life toward your calling and staying the course. When the warrior Arjuna loses his courage to lead a big battle against his evil cousins, Krishna shows him that he must do it because it’s his calling and duty. Anything less leads to regret and negatively impacts your life.

As I relate in my own book, “Staring Down the Wolf,” I went through a similar experience in my twenties. If I had read this then, I would’ve been more confident about ditching my corporate suit to become a Navy SEAL officer. I would have avoided a lot of confusion and emotional suffering around the decision, knowing that following my purpose was not a “nice to do,” but an absolute imperative.

— Mark Divine, retired US Navy SEAL commander, NYT & WSJ bestselling author, and founder of Unbeatable Mind and SEALFIT. Follow Unbeatable Mind on Facebook and YouTube.

7. ‘Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do’ by John Bargh

Judd Rosenblatt. Courtesy of the Oracles.

In college, I was profoundly affected by the concepts Professor Bargh taught in my Modern Unconscious class, which he later distilled into this book. In short, while your conscious thoughts matter, you are also heavily influenced by unconscious or automatic behavior.  

I was struck by the huge potential of designing technology products and human organizations based on an understanding of how the human brain actually works, to help people lead happier, more fulfilled lives. After college, I turned down traditional job offers and decided to build a startup instead to put those ideas into action. Now, a decade later, we’re still motivated by the same long-term goal of increasing human agency. We use these concepts not to make you sad so you buy more or trap you in your Instagram feed, but to enable people to accomplish their goals and lead happier, more fulfilled lives.

— Judd Rosenblatt, founder and CEO of AE Studio, an Agile web development and data science consulting firm with a mission to increase human agency with technology. Vote for the charity they donate to next month.

8. ‘The Ultimate Sales Machine’ by Chet Holmes

Jonathan Goodman. Courtesy of the Oracles.

Holmes teaches timeless time management principles and the Dream 100, or the art of identifying and tirelessly pursuing key partners and customers. I’ll never forget flipping through the pages for the first time on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand, and recognizing that everything in my life had to change. I was doing too much, trying to be too many things to too many people. This book taught me to focus on networking. I’ve read it multiple times since and always uncover new insights. I shudder to think how much money, time, and frustration I could have saved myself if I had come across this book sooner.

— Jonathan Goodman, founder of the Personal Trainer Development Center and the first-ever certification for online fitness training, the Online Trainer Academy. Connect with Jonathan on Facebook and Instagram.

9. ‘Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future’ by Andy Stanley

Shaun Rawls. Courtesy of the Oracles.

This book downloads nugget after nugget of life-changing wisdom. In particular, Stanley outlines five Cs that leaders need to be successful and leave a legacy. The first is competence. Leaders must channel their energy where they are most likely to excel. Second is courage, which is required to set things in motion and move ahead. Third is clarity. Leaders must learn to be clear, even when they aren’t certain. Fourth is coaching, because without a coach you’ll never be as good as you could be. Finally, character. You can lead without it, but you won’t be a leader worth following.

— Shaun Rawls, founder and CEO of Rawls Consulting who built The Rawls Group of Keller Williams to over $4 billion in annual sales, and author of the upcoming book “‘F’-It-Less.” Connect with Shaun on Facebook and LinkedIn.

10. ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Ashley Alderson. Courtesy of the Oracles.

Growing up, I looked at money negatively and thought it was only possible to have money by saving it. This book changed my entire perspective on what money can accomplish for good and how to earn it. It was eye-opening to see the difference between two paths: playing it safe, going to school, and getting a job — or using your skills to build a business that creates new opportunities.

— Ashley Alderson, founder and CEO of The Boutique Hub and Boutique.Style, cancer survivor, motivational speaker, and host of “Boutique Chat.” Connect with Ashley on Instagram and LinkedIn.

11. ‘Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco’ by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar

Moran Pober. Courtesy of the Oracles.

This novel is about the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco for $25 billion in the 1980s. It showed me that with funding from financial institutions and investors, you can buy established, profitable companies without using any of your own money. This book inspired me to purchase multimillion-dollar businesses and help dozens of others do the same, which is what I do today. It teaches invaluable principles through storytelling, for example, that it’s all about building rapport with the seller. At the end of the day, business is about relationships.

— Moran Pober, founder and CEO of Acquisitions.com, which buys and sells seven-figure businesses and helps others do the same, and former partner at WeKix and ABD Assets. Connect with Moran on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Want to share your insights in a future article? Join The Oracles, a mastermind group of the world’s leading entrepreneurs who share their success strategies to help others grow their businesses and build better lives. Apply here, and follow The Oracles on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Originally published on Business Insider.

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