In 3 1/2 years of hosting Read to Lead, I’ve been afforded the pleasure of one-on-one sit-down chats with nearly 150 popular business book authors.
If you’re a regular listener to the show, you know that one of my favorite questions to ask each guest is, “Which books over the years have had the biggest impact on you, and why?”
With the holidays in full swing, now seems as good a time as any to scour the Read to Lead archives and compile a list of the books receiving more mentions from my guests than all the others.
If you’re struggling with trying to decide what to buy for that special someone this holiday season, maybe the answer can be found on this list.
Or, if there are any on this list you’ve yet to read, maybe now is the time to do a little shopping for yourself too (or add them to your wishlist).
Either way, with some of the world’s most popular and successful authors doing the recommending, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Scroll down to learn how you can win a copy of all 12 of these books!
The 12 All-Time Best Business and Personal Development Books
I’ve decided to narrow this list down to the top 12 most recommended business and non-fiction books from my nearly 150 guests over the years.
Here are the 12 business and non-fictions books receiving the most mentions from some of the world’s bestselling business book authors.
12. 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal by Dan Miller
It’s interesting that this book begins our list as its author, Dan Miller, also began our podcast. He was my first ever guest in episode #001. In that episode we talked about a more recent book of Dan’s called Wisdom Meets Passion.
Dan would appear again in episode #067. Here, we talked about 48 Days to the Work You Love. It’s one of two books making our top 12 that have also been featured on the show. It was January 2015 and the book had just been re-released in a special 10th Anniversary Edition. It has obviously stood the test of time as several former guests have recommended it.
I’ve purchased this book for a number of family and friends over the years. I even recommended it to a coaching client just the other day. It still shocks me to find people who haven’t yet heard of it.
…with each new reading, I find I’m inspired all over again by Dan’s words to keep forging ahead.”
11. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath
That the brothers Heath have yet to appear on Read to Lead as guests doesn’t mean they’ve never been invited (I’m looking to you Dan).
Dan Miller says it’s in his all-time Top 10 among business books because of its critical look at how we make decisions. We are often quick to choose between A and B, Dan says. He goes on to say that…
What they’re saying is ‘what about C through Z?’ I often hear people say, ‘Boy, I’m in a job I hate. But if I quit, I won’t make any money.’ Really? Are those the only two choices?”
Though not on our list, another book by the Heath brothers called Made to Stick has also been cited a number of times by former guests.
10. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
This is the book the Journal of Marketing Research called “among the most important books written in the last 10 years” for marketers.
Another guest mentioning the book was the Wharton School’s G. Richard Shell, who called it…
…the best book about human interaction from a psychologist, ever!”
09: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win the Inner Creative Battles by Stephen Pressfield
Stephen Pressfield is easily a favorite among my writing friends and colleagues.
Guest Ray Edwards says he’s read it at least a dozen times. About the book, Ray says…
Any time I feel stuck creatively, or I begin to feel frustrated about getting bogged down by the details of my work, this book really wakes me up and brings me out of that space.”
08: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
The “habit” research alone cited in this book makes it well worth the read.
Since its release, Duhigg set out to explore the science of productivity in a book he published earlier this year called Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.
About the book, guest Terry Lancaster says…
It’s about how to effectively create habits personally, in organizations, and in products – creating products that are ‘sticky’ and create habits for people to come back to. It’s a great book for a deep dive into the idea of habit formation.”
07: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
This is ONE of the rare books I myself haven’t get gotten around to reading. In most circles, it seems the similarly themed book at #3 on this list has overshadowed it.
About the book, Jeff Sanders says…
It’s such an effective book for really knowing what matters in your life and identifying the few things that make the biggest difference and saying, ‘Today, what’s my ONE thing going to be? Today, how am I going to cut out the distractions and the nonsense and just do the work that really makes a difference to me?’ I need that message in my head as often as possible to remind me to stop doing dumb things.”
06: The 7 Habits of Highly Effect People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
What can I say about this book? It, and a few others on the list, are true classics.
With such a diverse group of successful names including it at the top of their lists, should it not be on yours?
Ryan Avery says he’ll…
…fight until we get it in schools. Everyone must read that book. I think it would make the world a better place. It’s changed my life forever.”
05: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9 – 5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
This is hands-down one of my favorite books from last decade.
I was greatly impacted by it personally and, for the first time, began seriously considering what my life might look like were I no longer working a traditional job.
Natalie says that Tim’s book was a big foundational book for her. And that…
It caused me to think about things in a different way. Tim set the scene for getting people to think outside of this standardized, traditional world that we live in.”
04: How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success by Dale Carnegie
Upon the latest recommendation for this book from guest Pamela Wilson (who read it when she was just 12 years old), I decided to purchase a copy for my 13-year-old nephew. He devoured it in just a couple of days.
In addition to Rainmaker’s Pamela Wilson, influencers like Podcast Movement founder, Jared Easley, sales and productivity expert Rory Vaden, leadership expert John Maxwell, and several others all couldn’t list their all-time favorite books without mentioning this one.
Guest Clay Clark sites it as one of his favorites and says…
If you haven’t read this book you need to. Unless you’re weird, you’re going to have to influence friends and people.”
I think Clay is right. 🙂
03: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
TV personality Steve Harvey was so impacted by this entry that he invited Greg to appear on his talk show. It’s a great interview that you can check out here.
Essentialism seems to have had an impact on so many, from Entrepreneur on Fire’s Kate Erickson and blogger Michael Hyatt, to Margie Warrell and the aforementioned Dan Miller, this is a must-read book.
I was honored to welcome Greg onto Read to Lead for Episode #052. I encourage to check it out.
About Essentialism, guest Margie Warrell says…
It’s just a terrific book in terms of saying ‘no’ and asking yourself, ‘What are the few essential things you really need to focus on?’, and being able to discern…where you add the most value.”
Kate Erickson admits the book changed her.
It was so enlightening. Being a person who very much feels like I need to say yes to everything, and feeling bad about saying ‘no’ to people, or opportunities, this book was so, so powerful.
In addition to my own chat with Greg, I also appreciated Michael Hyatt and Michell Cushatt’s conversation with him as part of their This Is Your Life podcast. You can watch it below.
02: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
I “think” the competition is getting pretty fierce. From my friend and fellow podcaster and blogger Jeff Goins, to Chris Hogan, Tim Sanders, Kelly Roach and Brian Holmes, the impact of this book on the thinking of people I truly respect is unmatched.
There is a newer version out that modernizes the language a bit, but I’ve chosen to link to a version of the original.
Of this book, guest Kelly Roach says…
I’ve probably read it 15 times. I’ll continue to read it for the rest of my life. And I really believe that it’s from that book that I learned how important it is to never act entitled…and how important it is to understand that absolutely anything is possible when you set your mind to it, do the work, and take action.”
01: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
And then there was one. Released in 2001, I had the pleasure of first being exposed to this one around 2003.
That’s the year my love for reading was rekindled, thanks to a former boss of mine who encouraged the staff to read together and led weekly meetings to discuss the books we were going through.
Jim’s book was one of the first business books I read and it will always have a special place in my library.
Nancy Duarte, a bestselling author herself, says…
Jim Collins’ work radically changed me. We go back to it almost every year. He said if there’s one thing you can be best in the world at, passionate about and profitable at, do that one thing. That’s when I narrowed what we (Duarte) do to just presentations.
What About You
My hope is that this curated list from nearly 150 of today’s top authors will inspire you to pick up a few reads you maybe haven’t gotten to yet.
Have you read most of the books on this list already? Some of them? None of them?
Any glaring omissions in your view? Any on the list that surprised you?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
Win a Copy of All 12 Books!
For a chance at adding all 12 of these great books to your library, simply take the following two steps:
- Share this post you’re reading on your social media platform(s) of choice using the hashtag #ReadtoLead. Rather than copying and pasting the long URL for this post currently in your browser, you can alternatively use http://readtoleadpodcast.com/top12.
- Once you’ve completed Step #1 above, send me an email with “Contest” as the subject line letting me know. My address is jeff [at] readtoleadpodcast [dot] com.
It doesn’t hurt to tag me on social media too if you can (Ex: I’m @THEjeffbrown on Twitter).
Bonus points if you leave a comment below sharing why you’d like to win (this is not required, but appreciated). 🙂
That’s it! You’re good to go and entered into the drawing. The deadline to share and email me is Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 at 11:59pm CST.
This contest has ended. Congrats to Jon Stolpe, winner of all 12 of these amazing books!