“ The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – The reason this book makes the list is the author’s basic message about the achievement of success not guaranteeing the attainment of love, friendship, or indeed, any kind of happiness. Yes, the underlying moral has become a cliché’, but cliché’s become trite in the first place because they resonate and are so true.
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – This granddaddy of self-improvement books has helped generations of people around the world build friendships, successful business relationships and is still an extremely useful career building tool. No matter that it was first published in 1936 to great success. The book sold more than 5 million copies in 31 languages before Carnegie died in 1955.
“I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou – Listening to Maya Angelou, in person, while she was alive was nothing short of magical. Her spellbinding delivery of poetry, a song or a lecture mesmerized any audience, but she especially struck a chord with President Bill Clinton, rock star business woman Oprah Winfrey and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This book centers on racism and sexism, and all the challenges that a black woman had to overcome to succeed. The message? If you are a minority or a woman facing some overwhelming obstacle, read this book and you will understand that you can surmount any difficulty in this life.
“Purple Cow” by Seth Godin– The point of this book is that you should never introduce a “me too” service or product. Hold out until you have come up with something that is truly unique to take to market. If your product or service is really needed, it will sell itself.
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger – This book underlines how difficult it is to be an individual in society, or I would suggest business. There is considerable pressure to be like everyone else. There are great rewards to be reaped for being different, for being a leader. Salinger’s prose packs a real punch for entrepreneurs.
“The 4 Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Tim Ferriss – In this work, Ferris, an American educator, writer, and entrepreneur advocates for outsourcing to virtual assistants ,for high levels of automation, and not postponing the joys of retirement. Rather, he feels that with the right kind of “lifestyle design,” anyone can repudiate ridiculously long work days and weeks, and begin to enjoy the life that we all dream of having.
“The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” by Clayton M. Christensen – Fans of this book insist that it should be read many times. Its central theme deals with disruptive technological change that can bring once innovative companies to their knees. This happens when they fail to set aside the business models that brought them to great success. In other words, “what got you here, won’t keep you here.” “Here” meaning successful and competitive positions in the market place.
“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill – Published in 1937 this book was the distillation of the secrets of success of America’s top business men as gathered in personal interviews by Mr. Hill. Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist and philanthropist, had introduced Hill to the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and countless others. Carnegie asked Hill to compile the wisdom gathered from these business giants into a book that would outline their formulas for success. The result was the multi-volume “Laws of Success.” Later “Think and Grow Rich” also sprung from these important interviews. “Think and Grow Rich” is still widely read and very relevant today.