By Dave Kerpen
Holiday gift giving can be stressful. Especially when it comes to your employees, mentors, associates, clients, and advisors. My favorite gifts to give (and frankly, to receive) are business books. Business books are often more valuable than their cost, to the recipient who can dive in, go on an adventure, get inspired and learn how to grow, both personally and professionally.
This year, I’ve asked 15 successful entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, for their favorite business books to give over the holidays, and this is what they shared:
1) The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield is my Bible. It is a handbook to success in every aspect of life — business, personal life, spirituality and health. It defines the process of building wealth in every sense of the word, and has guided me to create multiple levels of success in my life.
2) Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, by Joshua Wolf Shenk
It doesn’t matter whether or not you consider your business to be more in the creative realm or not — you need Powers of Two. When I read it, I was astonished to find just how essential having a partner to motivate me to accomplish some of my proudest achievements had been. This doesn’t mean sharing your company — it could come from your mentor or where you draw your inspiration as a leader.
3) Everyone’s a Critic, by Bill Tancer
Everyone’s a Critic takes the first in-depth look into the world of online reviews and how sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and many others are changing the way we interact and make buying decisions. In a world where every customer has a microphone, we need to understand the implications of living in the age of customer reviews.
4) How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
It’s hard to find a single list of productivity books that doesn’t include Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People in its Top 10. Carnegie’s advice has inspired multiple generations with its humor, wit and brilliant insight. Find a really nice sturdy copy, and you can be sure that no matter who you give it to, they’ll find room for it in their library.
5) The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene
You would be surprised how similar business transactions are to dating. I have read all of Robert Greene’s books — “The 48 Laws of Power,” “The 33 Strategies of War,” “Mastery.” I have even read “The 50th Law” (co-author 50 Cent) — but I always go back to The Art of Seduction. Every interaction requires a certain level of communication, an opportunity to create value. Moves and countermoves.
6) Creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull
7) Traction, by Gino Wickman
Traction is the Bible of business — so much so that I read it with my COO once a quarter as a refresher. No other book so elegantly and tactfully pinpoints the major sectors of your company, whether you have three employees or 3,000.
8) The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz
There are a lot of business books that give advice. However, you learn best when someone shares their experience, rather than giving advice. Because often, advice is only applicable to a very specific scenario or it is so broad that it’s practically useless. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz shares stories and experiences that are really hard to find advice about.
9) How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt
How Google Works is a new book by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The book discusses data-driven decision-making and culture at one of the world’s most powerful technology companies. It’s a fun and fast read that is well-loved by anyone looking for a great new business guide. You’ll be delighted by the anecdotes and advice on diverse business functions, from communication to innovation.
10) Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi
Not only does Never Eat Alone fit the spirit of the season, it strikes a deep chord with me in terms of genuinely helping people. Keith Ferrazzi’s advice and practical steps for creating meaningful relationships and effective partnerships, including not showing up without a plan, are invaluable, whether in business or your personal life.
11) I Will Teach You to Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi
Written by Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You to Be Rich is the absolute best book you can give to students in hopes of countering the absence of financial education.
12) Smartcuts, by Shane Snow
In Smartcuts, Shane Snow mixes technical savvy, pop psychology and real-life anecdotes to explain how some of the most successful companies and entrepreneurs rose through the ranks as quickly and strategically as possible. This book inspired me to question conventional wisdom about business practices and work smarter instead of harder.
13) Give and Take, by Adam Grant
Adam Grant’s book Give and Take is a great career book. He talks about the importance of leading with generosity and building relationships by giving. His book is very useful for anyone in business, as he offers a unique perspective on networking and provides many great examples of connectors.
14) Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish
This book is a step-by-step explanation of how to scale up a business. It starts by introducing the main problems faced in each different stage, and provides many effective solutions derived from personal experiences with companies with dramatic revenue increases. I am convinced that if all startups read Scaling Up, the ratio of their success will increase threefold.
15) Choose Yourself!, by James Altucher
I recently read the book Choose Yourself! by James Altucher. It’s a great gift for two reasons: 1. It’s only 99 cents! 2. It is a great collection of stories and thoughts about how to empower yourself to be self-reliant in our modern, entrepreneurial times. And that’s arguably the best gift that you can give someone.
16) The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
There’s an entrepreneur inside all of us, and any successful business owner should encourage employees to branch out on their own. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries outlines how to launch a business intelligently, as well as how to expand it.