50 Great Books that have impacted me

I wanted to share some of the latest books I have read over the last year which runs from 1 through 25. All of them have had a profound influence on me. Here is the list of my top 50 books to read which covers leadership, management, success, health, personal development, psychology, motivation and finance.
  1. Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin - The world of work is changing. This book talks about the key 21st century skills that machines can’t replace. Empathy, connections, and social sensitivity are the most important skills we need and will not be replaced by machines. What we need more than knowledge workers are relationship workers. It was a great read and gives hope that machines ultimately can't replace everything humans do. There is a detailed account of how the military used after action reviews to improve outcomes. There are chapters on storytelling and innovation as well.
  2. Work Rules by Laszlo bock - This book contains a wealth of wisdom on how to hire people, keep people inspired and what an organizations mission should be. Coming from a practical practitioner of the art it is more authentic. Some of the ideas which are common sense are give your work meaning, hire people better than you, pay unfairly, and manage rising expectation. Google has a very tight hiring strategy and it is explained in detail here.
  3. The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman -This is a wonderful book on how to keep employees motivated through office design, and other great stories among which are casinos and hostage negotiators. It contains research based examples on how to keep workers engaged.
  4. The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard - This was an awesome inspirational book. Every word in the book resonated on a personal front with me. It was thoroughly motivational. The author provides 9 declarations to reclaim our lives. The main premise is most of us are experience a haunting absence from the present moment and we need to get back to feeling joyful and excited again about our lives.
  5. Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath - Tom Rath is one of the best non-fiction writers of our time. This book gives nice strategies to improve our overall well-being by eating right, moving daily and taking adequate sleep on a daily basis. All of the strategies are pretty easy to implement but tough to follow all the time.
  6. Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull - This is an excellent book on management and creativity. Hearing directly from a leading practitioner of innovation and storytelling is inspiring. There are chapters on how Pixar was formed, brain trust meetings and also a personal note from the author on Steve Jobs. There are a lot of key ideas on creativity.
  7. Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli - I must admit I was skeptical since I had already read the one by Walter Isaacson. However I was pleasantly surprised by the content of this book and the inspiration it provided. This book showed how Steve Jobs became a great manager on his second coming to Apple.
  8. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg - This is probably the best book on how to change self-defeating habits. Through well researched examples on individuals, organizations and communities it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The main premise is all habits have a cue, routine and reward. The key is to identify the routines and change it if it is not working, experiment with rewards, and isolate the cue.
  9. Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath - This book talks about how we can overcome our thinking limitations and make better decisions in our lives. They have a formula for this which is WRAP (Widen your options, Reality test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, Prepare to be wrong). Their other books Switch and Made to Stick was also excellent
  10. Talk like Ted by Carmine Gallo - This is an excellent book on communication. The presentation secrets of all the TED presenters are summarized and it is an excellent read.
  11. Act like a Leader think like a leader by Herminia Ibarra - The main theme of this book is you can act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting. The author provides simple steps on how we can become better leaders by emphasizing redefine your job, redefine your network and redefine yourself.
  12. Die Empty by Todd Henry - The best thing about this book is it moves us to start thinking about the possibilities of our lives again. Fill in the blanks Before I die I want to… Once you fill that with what you want your life will soar. Every day ask yourself if you have emptied all your creativity so that there is nothing left. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said "Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."
  13. The Real life MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch - Having already read Winning I found there were some aspects repeated. However it was still a book worth revisiting for the various concepts of management and leadership defined.
  14. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek - This was an interesting read with rich examples. The main theme is to build a circle of safety around your employees. Treat them like your children as Simon says everyone is someone’s son or daughter. Create a positive uplifting environment where people want to come to work and give their best.
  15. BOLD by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler- The main theme is about exponential technology. Also the six D's are discussed in detail namely digitalization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization. There are also billionaire thinking strategies from Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos. This book gives a compelling exciting future vision.
  16. Money Master The Game by Tony Robbins - This is the only financial book on the list. I have read quite a few financial books but this seems to consolidate everything you need to learn about money. There were some really good strategies to improve our financial lives. Yes it is a 600 page book so it took me around 2-3 weeks to complete reading it.
  17. The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan - This book is about one theme which is concentrating all your activities on one thing and do it well. It also gives various tactics on how to prioritize your life to get better results while at the same staying relaxed reducing stress. Multitasking is not a good idea. It was a refreshing read.
  18. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin -This was one of the better books on happiness. The format is simple and easy to follow. It has simple things like go to sleep earlier, exercise better, don't expect praise or appreciation, ask for help and many other gems. She has taken every month of the year and tackled each item which leads to increased happiness.
  19. The Road to Character by David Brooks - This book is an emphatic call to get back to the character ethic. Brooks says there are two types of lives we have one is the resume where we want more things and status. The second is the eulogy life which is what would you want people to say at your funeral and match your actions to that end. When asked about this all of us would say eulogy life is more important but unfortunately we always are looking at the career life. This books aim is to reverse that trend. There are a lot of historical biographies which are given as examples of character virtues. It was an interesting and informative read.
  20. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth- This is a different type of self-help book. It contains information on how to do design thinking. Some of the questions the author encourages us to ask are Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose? He also says you give everything meaning so you can change the meaning you give to things. Nothing is what you think it is. This book is based on a course Roth has taught at Stanford University for several decades.
  21. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell- Malcolm Gladwell is a masterful storyteller and has a knack of putting things in a totally different perspective. His Tipping point was a classic on how little things can make a huge difference, Blink explained the power of thinking without thinking and Outliers changed the way we view success. He has done it again with David and Goliath. With inspiring stories he talks about the advantages of disadvantages, the theory of desirable difficulty and the limits of power. 
  22. Zero to One by Peter Thiel- ZERO to ONE is a provocative business book with a completely unique take on our world. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb author of The Black Swan says “When a risk taker writes a book, read it. In the case of Peter Thiel, read it twice. This is a classic.” I like the way the book starts with "Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates is not building an operating system. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t build a social network. If you are copying these guys you aren’t learning from them."
  23. Performing Under Pressure by Hendrie Weisinger and J.P.Pawliw-Fry- We all face pressure moments in both our personal and professional lives. It is the ability to deal with pressure that ultimately determines the success of the individual. There are some nice strategies shared like befriend the moment, downsize the importance of an event, focus on your mission and many other strategies.
  24. THINK LIKE A FREAK, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner- This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read and has interesting examples through which we can change our thinking. For example when shooting a penalty there are better odds of scoring a goal if the player kicks directly to the center but only a few percentage do it because if it fails then it will look shameful as it was hit straight at the goal keeper. Also the one statement everyone should say is "I don't know." There are chapters on thinking like a child and why quitting is good. The authors also argue that the way we phrase questions is very important. For example a winner of eating hot dogs phrased the question in the following way which helped him win. The question was "How do I make hot dogs easier to eat."
  25. Thrive by Arianna Huffington - The whole premise of this book is to ensure digital devices don't take over our lives. I think it is an important message for our times. Someone had to say it because sleep is one of the most important things you need to ensure more success and greater happiness. She also says we take care of our smartphones better than we take care of ourselves. We need to recharge and be away from digital devices on a daily basis. An important book for our times.
  26. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey - This is a book that covers all the important aspects of life. 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.
  27. Linchpin by Seth Godin - It 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.  I also like his other book The Icarus Deception which also talks about creating art and overcoming resistance.
  28. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink - The main premise is we are all in sales. Every day from the time we get up we are constantly selling ourselves to our spouse, children, colleagues and friends. The old ABC's of selling were Always be closing but the new ABC's of selling are Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. With well researched examples it was a joyful read.
  29. How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins - Jim Collins has written a nice book on how to avoid 5 stages of decline for an organization. Stage 1 is Hubris and an example is Motorola which didn't move towards digital when the time came. Stage 2 is undisciplined pursuit of more for example Rubber maid had a new product every day of the year but just having more doesn't always work. There are three other stages and many more examples provided as well.
  30. One Minute Manager by 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. One of the best ideas "catch people doing things right" and "feedback is the breakfast of champions"
  31. Never Eat Alone by 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. This book is a classic primer for building effective networks and getting more out of life.
  32. Talent is Overrated by 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.
  33. Good to Great by 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 1. What can you be the best at, 2. What are you deeply passionate about and 3.What provides a good economic denominator.
  34. The Success Principles by 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 therein resides your power. He also gives practical tips which can be implemented.
  35. A Whole New Mind by 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.
  36. Drive by 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.
  37. Built to Last by 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.
  38. Great by Choice by 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.
  39. Steve Jobs by 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.
  40. Outliers by Malcolm 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 Blink.
  41. Mastery by 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. If there is one book you wanted to read from the entire list then this is the one. His other books I like are 33 Strategies of War and 50th Law.
  42. Give and Take by 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.
  43. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie -No list will be complete without this influential book. The main premise is to treat people well and show genuine interest in others. Be interested rather than interesting. It is a classic and has stood the test of time.
  44. Lean In by 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.
  45. Start with Why by Simon Sinek -This is a powerful call to have a strong purpose for whatever you do. People don’t buy what you they buy why you do it. The best example said is Martin Luther King who gave the “I have a dream” speech and not “I have a plan” speech. This has very interesting examples and it was an inspiring read.
  46. Getting Things Done by David Allen -This is probably the best time management book ever written. It is a dry read but worth the effort. First involves the collection of stuff which is anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world.  Next is the processing of the stuff, and decide whether to do it, delegate it or throw it.  The next is to decide what the next action is for each of the items. The methods do lead to stress free productivity.
  47. Mandela's Way by Richard Stengel - Richard was the editor of Time Magazine. He did nearly 70 hours of interviews with Mandela and worked with him closely for three years to produce this nicely crafted book. Some of the principles outlined are having courage, being measured, leading from the front and so on. It has very specific things Mandela did for each of the principles identified. 
  48. Winning by Jack Welch -This is an excellent book on management and leadership. This is plain straight talk from the best manager of the 20th Century. There is something to learn for everyone at any level of an organization.
  49. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson -Richard’s books of the Don’t sweat the small stuff series have had a profound impact on me. Though he is no longer with us his teachings resonated with me for its simplicity. The idea is to stay relaxed while still achieving big things and not allowing small things to snowball.
  50. What got you here won't get your there by Marshall Goldsmith -Marshall Goldsmith is one of the top leadership thinkers. Here he talks about 20 work place habits to avoid. Most of them we already know but there are a few gems in there. I also read his recent book Triggers which is also a good addition.
I hope you liked this list. 


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