7 Books That Passionate Entrepreneurs Need To Read In 2018

February 12, 2018

By Ami Sanyal

As a kid I spent my nights with a flashlight under the blankets, reading until way past bedtime.

Don't let the former way of teaching knock the joy out of reading for you.

But by the age of 13, my boring English-class booklists knocked the joy out of reading for me. My appetite for books disappeared, and I devoted my nerd-energy to the internet. I went from reading every book I could get my hands on, to 1-2 books a year (maximum).

Last year I aimed to get back into reading for three reasons:

  1. like reading (as long as it’s not for a class I don’t want to be in).
  2. I love learning and discovering strategies, tactics, and lifehacks. Youtube tutorials are great and all—but they don’t give you the depth that’s possible from a good book.
  3. The average CEO reads 4-5 books a month. If I want The Uncommoners Club to be a company that helps above-average business owners…I need to be one.

So I set a goal to read 24 books in 2017.  (I know…it’s not “above average,” but it’s a start! Baby steps.)

The books I’m drawn to have helped me get to the next level in my business and personal life. 

Here are my favorites from 2017. They range in themes, but they all made this list because:

  • They made an immediate impact on my approach to life or work. 
  • I’ve recommended them to my friends and clients.
  • I’m excited to read them again in the future.

7 Books That Made An Impact On Me In 2017

1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

In 2016 I discovered I had a tumor in my hip. My first thought was: “is this the thing that kills me?” When I learned it was benign, I became more anxious. A voice inside of me started screaming: “if you’re going to go through something so shitty, do not come out unchanged.” 

I felt an obligation to use the experience to make a radical change. And I started to obsess about the type of impact I want to make on the world in the time I have left. 

I was at an event telling all this to my friend Misha Berveno, and he recommended the book, When Breath Becomes Air. 

The author is an ambitious neurosurgeon who spent the greater part of his life striving towards his career goals. At 36, he discovers he has Stage IV lung cancer. 

Kalanithi had been motivated to become a doctor "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life.” He decided to write down his thoughts on what makes life worthwhile in the face of death. 

It’s a gorgeous book.

Kalanithi’s career path is similar in intensity to the entrepreneurial journey. His thoughts on mortality and meaning crystallized some of the sentiments I felt after my own personal health scare.

*Read this book IF: 

You want to make sure that your business and focus aligns with your life’s real purpose.

2. Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

I started 2017 recovering from surgery on my hip. I thought this book would be a good fit for me as I tried to “rise strong” after over 3 months of mostly laying horizontal. I got much more than I bargained for. This book shed light on some of the baggage I’d been hiding away since childhood. 

The book comes with a 3-part process for “rising strong:” They are: 

  • Recognizing your problems (The Reckoning), 
  • Digging into these difficult stories—and developing a deeper understanding (The Rumble),
  • Transforming thoughts and beliefs (The Revolution). 

The book gave me encouragement and tools to tackle some of my issues for the first time. It opened my eyes to some difficulties I’d kept buried way down.

*Read this book IF: 

You don’t want the uncomfortable parts of your life holding you back from realizing your potential.

3. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

This is a tiny, illustrated book. But don’t let the size fool you: it’s extremely well written and packed with insights and examples. 

I find myself thumbing through this book regularly. Especially when we’re explaining a strategy to our consulting clients and need the perfect example to illustrate our thinking.

*Read this book IF: 

You want to internalize key marketing principles that can be applied to any new marketing trend or channels.

4. The Metronome Effect: The Journey To Predictable Profit by Shannon Byrne Susko.

I listened to this audiobook twice: once in November 2016 right after surgery…falling in and out of drug-induced sleep. And once for real in 2017. 

It’s written by Shannon Susko‚ a Canadian entrepreneur who co-founded, served as CEO, and led the sale of two companies in less than six years. Susko wrote this book in a unique way. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, she shares the resources and insights that she collected and used to build her companies.

The result is a whole toolbox of proven methods that CEOs can use to grow their companies.

*Read this book IF: 

You’re a startup owner with big aspirations (eg. a multi-million dollar exit, or going public). This book will give you methods for bringing consistency to your progress.

5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King.

Writing is an important skill to master—especially for entrepreneurs, marketers, or leaders. This book is written by a master. 

Steven King’s successes have earned him the right to preach about his craft—but he doesn’t. Instead, this book is written like you were sitting in a bar speaking to him. A good chunk is about his life and work before he made it big—and what it took to get people to want to read his writing. 

When my wife reads a funny book she’ll burst into laughter often. I, however, have never been a “laugh out loud” reader. That said, King’s irreverent humor had me spitting out my coffee in more than one place. 

Also, King does a great job of weaving in the personal elements of his life through the book (including his addictions and a near-death accident). These elements made the book more human and didn’t take away from the utility of the book.

*Read this book IF: 

You have a content marketing plan for 2018 and want to be a more compelling writer.

6. The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales by Anthony Iannarino.

At The Uncommoners Club we want to help thousands of passionate entrepreneurs get their business to the next level. We do that by developing marketing strategies, campaigns, training, and resources they can use right now to attract brand evangelizers. 

December marked the one year anniversary of Fresh-Share, our Instagram marketing tool for small business owners. While I’m proud of our progress, I’m impatient about our speed of growth.

So in late 2017 I enlisted the help of a business coach. I wanted help identifying and filling the gaps in the way we run our company. The Lost Art of Closing was the first book he recommended, and holy crap is it good. 

I've been a business-owner over 9 years.

I’ve been a business-owner for over nine years, but I’m embarrassed to admit that my sales strategy was basically non-existent. The book breaks the sales process down into 10 “commitments.” These are commitments are logical, but often overlooked. 

Iannarino’s philosophy.

Iannarino’s philosophy is that “selling is not something that you do to someone, it's something you do for someone and with someone.” This is helpful for people (like me) who hate the idea of turning into a pushy sales person. This book shows entrepreneurs how to become valuable strategic partners from the start of the sales process.

*Read this book IF:

You want to be a strategic partner for your clients, and you need to hone your selling skills.

7. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin.

Before I read this book all I knew about Ben Franklin was that he was a Founding Father—and he did a pretty nutty experiment involving a kite, a key, and a lightning-storm.

Here’s what I discovered: he was a self-made polymath who didn’t follow the crowd. He made a massive impact on the world by learning a lot and giving other people an opportunity to shine. Overall he’s someone I want to emulate.

I thought Franklin’s approach to building a secret network of mastermind groups was So. Damn. Cool. These small groups were dedicated to personal and professional improvement—and they were so successful that they influenced law. 

I’ve run a few mastermind groups…but nothing like this. Is a mastermind group something you might excel with? Could you start such a group?

I also found his daily schedule interesting as a tool to promote consistent personal growth. But my favorite part of this book was that it was written by Franklin himself. That gives you the ability to peer inside his mind and discover how he formulated and thought about his principles, 200 years after his death. 

Note: Franklin penned this book in the 1770’s. When I listened to the audiobook I had no problem following along. But when I read excerpts of the printed version, I found the "old-timey" writing slowed down my comprehension. Though this several centuries past format will slow you down at first -- if you can spare the time -- you will find the old-language usage quite mind expanding and soon your reading will speed up.

*Read this book IF:

You want to become a more effective leader or learner.

This story originally appeared on Startup Grind.

Get to the next level in your business with this list of recommended reads.

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