20 Great Books to Read

Some of the best books that I have read and which have had a profound impact on me are shared below. 

1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
This is one of the best management books of all time. What Stephen teaches is very practical, insightful and more importantly can be followed by anyone from any walk of life. Though I read this book 10 years back when I again came across it recently it offered a lot more material and is always fresh. My favorite habit is Begin with the end in mind. All the habits are based on timeless principles and the book has stood the test of time.

2. Linchpin -Seth Godin
This is an incredibly powerful book and it communicates that all of us have genius potential. It really got me thinking out of the box. He also emphasizes that great artists need to ship and not keep trying for perfection. This is surely an uplifting book. His question is "Are you indispensable" and his plea is that everyone is an artist and has exceptional potential. The new world demands artists producing great work. He also says to thrive in the new world order you have to produce work that makes you indispensable.

3. Be Resilient, Motivated and Successful -No Matter What and Are you ready to Succeed- Srikumar Rao
Srikumar Rao is a brilliant author and he doesn't just talk about motivation or positive self-talk. In fact one of his chapters deals with the theory "Why Positive Thinking is bad for you". He clearly articulates that you don't need anything to be happy and you can be happy right now with whatever you have as happiness is your innate nature. This book is worth a read and communicates the need to be resilient in spite of setbacks and not rely on the if then else model to be happy.

4. Success through Positive Mental Attitude- W.Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill
This is an all-time classic and I found it to be a life changer. This was one of the first books I read and it immediately got me into goal setting, taking action, bringing the best out of myself and thinking positive thoughts most of the time. Think and Grow Rich is another book which is a classic.

5. One Minute Manager - Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
This is a great read and one of the simplest methods for effective management. It has a set of simple ideas which can be adopted by everyone in the management field across industries. Some the best ideas are "catch people doing things right" and "feedback is the breakfast of champions." 

6. Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi
This is one of the best books on Networking. What Keith offers is practical insights on how to build a large and effective network. Loaded with practical insights this book is a classic primer for building effective networks and getting more out of life.

7. Talent is Overrated - Geoff Colvin
I loved this book and the amazing insights by the author based on thorough research. It motivated me to believe that great performance is the result of deliberate practice and the divine spark theory of exceptional performance is not always true. Every great performer has done at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before reaching the genius level. I adored this book for the possibilities it provided and expanded my thinking horizon.

8. Good to Great - Jim Collins
This is an excellent business book. Good is the enemy of the Great. I liked the hedgehog concept very much which can be applied to individuals and organizations. The three questions are What can you be the best at, What are you deeply passionate about and What provides a good economic denominator.

9. John Maxwell Books
John Maxwell is a recognized leadership expert. I have read a number of his books and some of them include The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, 21 indispensable qualities of leaders, 25 ways to win with people and 15 Invaluable laws of growth. His books offer clear practical insights which we can apply and understand easily.

10. The Success Principles - Jack Canfield
This is an excellent book on every aspect of success. One good thing is this book contains all the principles ever discovered and put in one format for reference. It has many principles and the first one is very relevant. It says take 100% responsibility for your life and you are where you are based on the decisions you have made earlier. You can’t control the events in your life but you can determine the response and that is the first step towards reclaiming your power. He also gives practical tips which can be implemented.

11. A Whole New Mind - Daniel Pink
This is an absolutely original book and the author has done a great job in helping us think out of the box. He argues that the new world order requires more creativity and right brainers will rule the future. His main argument is we should be able to do something that cannot be done cheaper overseas, computers cannot do it faster and that appeals aesthetically. He explains the process through Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. I really enjoyed this book with great stories and made a great impact on me. He also provides resources which are extremely useful. One of the examples he gives is to maintain a gratitude log so write on every birthday the number of things you are grateful for and the number of things you are grateful for should total the number of your years. Also maintain a daily gratitude log to be thankful daily for things that are good in your life. Select one day a week to renew, turn off your email, cell phone and just re-energize yourself. Picture yourself at 90 years old, look from that vantage point on what accomplishments you have, how you have lived life and what you have contributed to make the world a better place.

12. Drive - Daniel Pink
This is an amazing book and again Daniel Pink delivers great information with amazing examples. He says intrinsic motivation is more important than extrinsic rewards. He talks about carrot and sticks motivation and argues successfully for theory I of motivation. There are 3 key discussion points on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. At the end of the book he also provides a tool kit for persons and organizations. Mastery involves deliberate practice and focus on working relentlessly on your improvement areas. Also set more learning goals than performance goals. Learning goals could be learning French while performance goal could be to get 90% in an exam. One of the other suggestions for parents is to give your kids one day where they are free to do anything, providing the tools they require but asking them to produce something concrete at the end of 24 hours. In the Type I for individuals he gives an idea about describing your life in one sentence. For example for Abraham Lincoln it is “He preserved the union and freed the slaves”. Give yourself a performance review frequently. Ask yourself where you better off today than you were yesterday and what you have done to move forward.

13. Built to Last - Jerry I. Porras and James C. Collins
This book is nearly 20 years old and I know there have been some arguments that some of the visionary companies that have been mentioned in the book are no longer visionary. However I still think the book merits a read and has some good examples that can be applied. I particularly like the concept of setting BHAG's (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Kennedy’s mission to the moon was a BHAG. It has to be simple, precise and easily understandable. Your BHAG might be to run a marathon, for organizations it could be to be number 1 or number 2 in a market. The fact is BHAG’s puts energy into individuals and organizations alike. The main theme of the book is to preserve the core and stimulate progress. Every visionary company had a purpose beyond just profits and that is the key.

14. Great by Choice- Morten T. Hansen and James C. Collins
This is again a thoroughly well researched book on what makes great companies. There are three qualities which distinguishes what the authors call 10Xers. They are fanatic discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia. I also like the 20 mile march concept which basically says that irrespective of conditions keep moving 20 miles and successful companies had specific goals that were just out of reach but not targeting explosive growth in short spans. The authors share the story of the South Pole expedition by two explorers and how one team survived because of intensive preparation and another failed because of the lack of it. The authors also have a chapter on luck and what role it plays. There is also a chapter on SMaC recipe (Specific, Methodical and Consistent) that all successful companies followed. One of the examples is Southwest Airlines.

15. Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson
This is a wonderful book on Steve Jobs. It gives a thorough analysis on the life of one of the business icons of all time. He talks about the reality distortion field which is Steve Jobs ability to buy other people on to his views. It also talks about his relationship with Bill Gates and has interesting anecdotes. There are also some points on the downside of working with Steve Jobs. Overall it is a wonderful inspiring story that will surely stand the test of time. Steve Jobs penchant for creating wonderful products and his obsession with controlling the user experience end to end is well chronicled. This is also a book on what it takes to build innovative companies and has some ideas for all leaders alike.

16. Outliers - Malcom Gladwell
This is one of the best books on success ever. Gladwell provides compelling stories and revolutionizes the whole way we view success. The 10000 hour rule became famous through this book. He argues that there are no self-made success stories and if we dig deep we will understand that every great person had some opportunities along their journey. I also highly recommend his other books including The Tipping Point and David and Goliath.

17. Mastery - Robert Greene
This book goes through all the stages of Mastery. It involves short biographies as well of Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Da Vinci and many other modern masters as well. The author has thoroughly researched and produced a master piece. 

18. Give and Take - Adam Grant
This is a truly exceptionally revolutionary take on success. Again based on thorough research the author argues that giving still works in the cut throat business world. With powerful examples he proves his theory.

19. How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
No list will be complete without this influential book. The main premise is to treat people well and have an other person mindset. It is a classic and has stood the test of time.

20. Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
I have read this book quite a few times and it is useful for both men and women. She has advice for career, family, work life balance and has interesting personal stories which drive home the message. It is worth a read and pushes our thinking boundaries.


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