This is the first part of my favourite books in business, leadership, sales, marketing, inspiration, and motivation that have helped me tremendously and at times changed my life.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Richard Steele

One good habit that I’ve gotten into is dedicating at least thirty minutes each day to read something that will help me grow in one way or another. Like everything else on my daily to-do list, reading is in there too. And let’s face it with all the busyness in our world today, if I didn’t block a specific time in my calendar to sit and read, I probably wouldn’t pick up a book as often as I do. Depending on what’s happening in my life and what humour I’m in, I’ll either pick up a marketing, a business, or an inspirational book. As a result, I often have three or four books on the go.

business-inspiration-books-15-best-reads-part-1From a very young age reading was my way to escape and go into a fairy-tale land where everything always worked out perfectly in the end! Those fairy tale days are over, but I have managed to keep my passion for reading alive – a passion that has expanded my knowledge and opened me up to new and different ideas and viewpoints, more than schooling ever could.

Over the years there have been many books that have helped me and touched me in different ways and here I have narrowed them down to a list of fifteen that I am confident will help you. These books are ones I open and refer to when I need them most and ones that I enjoy reading repeatedly, noticing something new each time that I didn’t catch the last time I read it. Author, salesman and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar put it: “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”

I tried to narrow down my list to ten, but it proved impossible as each and every one of the books listed below have helped change my life for the better. So, without further ado, here are the first seven of my top fifteen reads (in no order of importance):

The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible: How to Sell More, Easier, and Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible – Brian Tracy

I first came across Brian Tracy when I purchased his audio course “Psychology of Selling” a few years back. After listening to this course, I just had to buy the book. As a side note, when I’m too tired to read, or if I’m driving a long distance, I’ll often listen to an audio book or a course as it’s a great way to learn while you’re on a train or stuck in traffic on the way to work!

Anyway, getting back to this book, Brian Tracy examines some of the basic psychology behind the buying and selling process. The book explains how our concept of self can affect our sales performance (good or bad) and gives sound advice on how to boost our self-image. He also analyses the reasons people buy and the role of emotions in the purchasing process. In my opinion, this book is a must-read for anyone involved in selling. You might like to subscribe to his YouTube channel which has lots of great videos on selling, fear, motivation and anything else you might be worried about.

 

The New Rules of Marketing and PR (6th edition) – David Meerman Scott

An online marketing strategist and author of several books on marketing, David Meerman Scott’s work helped me tremendously when it was time to switch from tradition marketing and PR tactics and strategies to those needed for the digital world. Indeed, I’ve been around for some time now – when I started working in marketing and PR, we were still very much reliant on faxing press releases out, calling editors at their desks, and paying thousands for advert slots in paper magazines. How times have changed! David’s work continues to inspire me, and this book is one I find myself dipping into for ideas and examples on a regular basis. In fact, it’s full of dog ears and highlighted paragraphs now.

This book is a marketing classic, now in a 6th edition, and has sold more than 375,000 copies in English and is available in 29 languages from Albanian to Vietnamese. As stated on his website, this book is “for professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, and professors alike, this pioneering guide offers actionable strategies that can be implemented immediately.” Definitely, one to buy in hard copy format so that you can highlight key areas and scribble your thoughts down the side of the pages like I’ve done.

 

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Ann Handley

If you are involved in marketing and you don’t know who Ann Handley is, you better start following her asap. She is the first person in the world to have the title Chief Content Officer which she still holds at MarketingProfs (a website you need to subscribe to). Today, we all need to write well, and as Ann so clearly explains: “If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means we are all writers… And that means you have to choose words well—and learn how to write with economy and style and honest empathy for your customers. Writing matters more now, not less.”

This book will give you the confidence you need if you are struggling with your writing and if your grammar is not so perfect. You will find plenty of great reviews and links to interviews Ann Handley has participated in on the Everybody Writes webpage.  However, I have dug up this podcast where Ann was interviewed by her colleague at MarketingProfs. I listened to it back in 2014 when her book was just “hot off the press” but it’s still just as relevant and informative today.

 

Blue Ocean Strategy: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne & Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth

Blue Ocean Strategy was first published over twenty years ago, while it’s follow up, Blue Ocean Shift was released in 2017. I had heard about Blue Ocean Strategy a few years back, but it was only recently that I purchased a copy of both books after watching this great interview with Renée Mauborgne and Marie Forleo on the Marie TV channel. In the books, the authors teach us how to “make the competition irrelevant” by pursuing what they call a “blue ocean” strategy, and as such not entering in competition in what is already a highly competitive marketplace referred to as a “red ocean” in the books. As explained on their website, Blue Ocean Strategy is “based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”―untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.”

 

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

While it was published back in 1937 Think and Grow Rich is still considered today as the must-have book in personal and business development. In fact, it has been coined as “the best self-help book of all times” and for a reason. The book is based on the teachings of the great Scottish-American industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, who mentored Napoleon Hill, as well as interviews with hundreds of successful businessmen, inventors and leaders such as Henry Ford, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison and Wilbur Wright, to name a few.

Think and Grow Rich is filled with timeless advice on success in leading a full and rewarding life, in all areas. In fact, all the great business people of the past and the present have attributed a large portion of their success to the teachings found in this book. One to read over and over again if you want to learn how to enrich your life in all areas simply by adhering to the laws of the universe and the principles in this book. Have a read of this article in the Business Insider UK which will hopefully convince you that this book is definitely worth investing in.

 

4-hour Work Week – Tim Ferris

A self-help book written by Tim Ferris in 2007 the 4-hour Work Week shows us ways how we can work less and live more. While working 4 hours per week seems impossible to me right now (who knows maybe in the future I’ll make it happen!!), this book does give us some great ideas and examples on how to outsource and automate many of our daily and gruesome tasks. It’s a great book for those of us who live, or wish to live, a mobile life, where location is not a problem or for anyone who has a problem delegating as it will get you thinking… Learn more about this book and why it could be a good addition to your library in this interview with the Genius Network.

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Published in 1937 this book has been and continues to be, a great help to me in all my relationships – personal and professional. The book is split into four sections, each section outlining a list of fundamental principles to adhere to when communicating and interacting with people. If you are like me and feel fear in the pit of your stomach at the thought of having to attend a networking or social event where you don’t know many people, this book is definitely for you. According to Business Insider UK Warren Buffett credits Dale Carnegie’s lessons to helping him stop being socially awkward: 12 lessons from ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ — a book Warren Buffett credits with transforming his life.

So, I hope that this list has been helpful to you and I really do hope that you will grab a copy of one or more of these life-changing books. If you have read any of them before, why not leave a comment and let me know what you thought.

Part Two can be found here.

Happy reading!