Ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs celebrate the holiday season a little differently. While others slack on projects and take long lunches, the go-getters of the world spend their free time looking for opportunities to learn and grow.
Nothing combines the season of giving with the drive to succeed like a good book. Billionaires read at much higher rates than average people, and it’s not because they have more free time. The most successful people in the world recognize that the best way to learn new things is to read books written by other smart people.
If you plan to spend the final months of 2018 preparing for success in 2019 and beyond, ask Santa to put these business books in your stocking:
1. WTF?! (Willing to Fail), by Brian Scudamore
It’s one thing to hear about the value of risks from startup founders who struck it big on the first try. It’s another thing to hear it from a man who has spent his entire life finding new ways to fail — and using the lessons he learned to start a variety of successful businesses.
Scudamore, serial entrepreneur and founder of 1-800-Got-Junk, is a major proponent of failure. Rather than let his failures dampen his entrepreneurial spirit, he sees each setback as an opportunity to test his positive attitude and learn a valuable lesson for the next try. This book is a must-read for anyone who needs a lighthearted reminder that things will turn out fine (with some seriously valuable business advice on the side).
2. Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data, by Jørn Lyseggen
Businesses spend so much time looking at their own data, they miss all the obvious truths that people outside company walls take for granted. Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater, believes that his outside insight strategy will soon take over the world as the smartest companies rely less on internal data and more on predictive external information.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s not. Either way, this book offers an invaluable perspective for business leaders looking for an unconventional edge.
3. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
While not as recent as the first two options on this list, any professional who hasn’t checked out “The Power of Habit” by now should run out and get a copy. Duhigg’s stellar writing offers a fascinating glimpse into how and why we form habits, what makes those habits helpful or harmful, and what we can do to change them for the better.
One of Duhigg’s central arguments is also the best reason to pick up his book: when times are hard, we revert to our ingrained habits. Professionals who read this book gain the power to change their mental fallbacks and overcome all sorts of intimidating challenges.
4. Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job, by Sean Wise and Brad Feld
Anyone who wants to start a company (or validate a moneymaking idea) should order this book right away. Wise and Feld walk readers through the high stakes of entrepreneurship and teach them that while not every idea is a winner, the right ideas are worth pursuing.
These authors believe that even the most passionate entrepreneurs need to keep their day jobs before launching into the unknown. Cheap ventures still cost money to get off the ground, and only people who set themselves up for success in the early stages can see their ventures through the hardships to come.
5. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, by Jen Sincero
Many of the most confident and capable people in the world still lack the proper mindset when it comes to making money. Sincero’s work takes professionals and entrepreneurs on an enjoyable but hard-hitting ride that explains why most of us limit our earning potential with mental roadblocks and explains how to break down those self-imposed obstacles.
If you are preparing to launch a business, become a freelancer, or prove your worth to your boss, give this book a read. Not only will you gain a spark of confidence, but you’ll learn how to set achievable, actionable goals that will guide you along the path toward financial enlightenment.
6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou
Remember when Theranos and its brilliant founder, Elizabeth Holmes, were the toast of California? Holmes and her medical marvel were supposed to usher in a new wave of startup success, but everything unraveled when Carreyrou discovered that the whole operation was built on a lie.
No one expects to become an overnight pariah. Most people won’t ever get the chance. Though the story of Theranos is almost impossible to duplicate, it serves as a cautionary tale for professionals, founders, and investors alike that things are not always as they seem.
Whether you’re snuggled up next to the fire or wolfing down a sandwich on a short lunch, do yourself a favor and learn something new. These books offer stories and insights from and about some of the sharpest thought leaders of our time. Make their knowledge your own and use the knowledge you gain to further your career or grow your company.