Many argue that books are the most powerful weapons in the world. Why? Well, they teach us, they inspire us, they engage us, they motivate us, and they broaden previous ways of thinking. Virtually, every great person, regardless of passion or interest, received some sort of spark, some impetus within the pages of a book, within the story of another. While there are some books that we read simply for enjoyment, there are others that awaken our appetites to learn and become. Such books can be credited as singlehandedly changing a person’s life direction, solely making the impossible possible.
Individuals who are interested in building wealth for themselves and their families often turn to the autobiographies of the great. Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet—we want to absorb their stories, find out exactly what they did to become so successful. Perhaps, if we follow those exact methods, fortune would fall upon us. What is so often overlooked though, is the fact that these individuals underwent a process all their own that resulted in great success. They underwent a kind of self-study in which through a series of obstacles, experiences, and role models, they gained the courage, drive, and know-how to develop the skills that made them power players. Some of that self-study came from legwork: hours and hours of practice. Some of it came from having the right support system. And, some of it was derived by a tiny flame, a spark that was ignited within the pages of a book. The key thing to keep in mind is that no one ever has enough knowledge; in order to stay rich one must continually be a student. The following list includes 10 books—some quite old, some rather new—that impacted the lives of the wealthy.
10. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Published back in 2004, Michael E. Gerber’s fundamental book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, has altered the way of thinking of thousands of self-made millionaires. Gerber, a small business expert essentially unfolds statistics as to why small businesses tend to fail and then offers a strategic plan to follow that can avoid that failure. Basically, Gerber urges small business owners to stop working in their business and start working on their business. In other words, while it is important to emphasize passion and skill in a new company, other aspects such as proper planning, organization, and management must also take center stage. The content of the book is discussed on a basic level which is perfect for the budding entrepreneur to digest.
9. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins
Released over two decades ago but still maintaining its relevance is Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, & Financial Destiny. Considered a self-help classic, this is a manual for self-attainment. Robbins imparts the belief that if you focus your mind and energies towards attaining realistic goals, you can grasp them. You are the master of your destiny, so if you are not content with your situation at any given moment, you alone have the power to change it.
8. Good to Great by Jim Collins
The author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t was interested in figuring out the quandary that is the book’s title. He wanted to know whether or not there was some secret recipe/behavioral anomaly that defined extremely successful companies. Jim Collins conducted a study that determined several key factors that truly great businesses employed. We’re talking about Fortune 500 companies that far outshone their competitors like General Electric, Merck, and Coco-Cola. What’s more, examining the strategies employed by successful businesses such as type of leadership and management characteristics holds the power of transforming a good company into a great one.
7. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
While the book has since been updated and expanded to include new tips, tools, and updated research, the initial edition released in 2007 of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich revolutionized the entrepreneurial mindset. For so long, entrepreneurs went with the idea of the harder you work, the more time you put in, the more successful you are. Ferris disputes that idea and outlines the culture of the “New Rich” with a mobile lifestyle that breaks away from the restraints of the typical long-haul career. With this new perspective, you are empowered to reduce the amount of time you spend working and increase the time spent “living”. Furniture fashion millionaire Hanny Lerner says even if you don’t follow all of Ferris’ principles, she still loves “the idea of building a business that can run without you there working”.
6. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles is the must-read manifesto for creatives everywhere. Pressfield, a writer by trade, penned this book as a mix of the insight of both Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War and Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Regardless of your passions or aspirations, Pressfield sets out to help readers overcome the resistance that is within us all. This resistance gets in the way and hinders us from realizing our true creative potentials by outlining the notion of a war going on inside of us. If you are involved in any career or pastime that involves innovation and ingenuity, you should prepare yourself for that war with all the easy to read and understand artillery available in this book.
5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Though not truly connected to or founded on any specific religious principles, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment outlines a life that is certainly necessary for any successful entrepreneur: getting out of your own way. By following the principles described in the book, a reader learns to stop giving in to emotional and mental resistance that come in the form of complaining or negativity about a situation. You have three choices—remove yourself from the situation, change the situation, or accept it as reality. By doing this, you give yourself power to control your present and future successes and take ultimate responsibility of your life.
4. Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman
A sort of Bible in the investing world, Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor, is one of those rare books that truly makes a difference in success outcomes. Called the Warren Buffet of his generation in 1991, author Seth Klarman managed to expound on investing tips and strategies that are still totally relevant more than 20 years later. Today, Klarman is an American billionaire and perhaps one of the best investors ever, and his powerful, out of print book now fetches more than $2000 a copy.
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Published initially in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has certainly done its part in being influential. One of the first best-selling self-help books, Carnegie’s timeless treasure has helped more people climb the ladder of success than perhaps any other tome of its kind. In Carnegie’s line of thinking, financial and business success was a combination of 15% professional knowledge and skill and then 85% of having “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people”. Carnegie eventually went on to offer the strategies from his book in smaller-scale seminars in which everyday individuals could learn how to engage those powerful tactics and readily see improvements and results. Warren Buffet, a prodigy in his own right, said the book “changed my life”.
2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Another immensely impactful book published in the 1930s was Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. This undying manifesto has been considered the most important finance book ever written and perhaps this is true since this book has single-handedly been credited with inspiring more millionaires and billionaires than any other. The underlying message of the book discusses how thoughts impact the way you live life and how psychological barriers hinder growth. One-time advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hill emphasizes the concept of mastermind groups—two or more people working together harmoniously for a joint objective.
1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The wildly successful author of The Tipping Point and Blink, Gladwell put together a highly researched and well-thought out alternative to how the world views successful people. Outliers: The Story of Success depicts the characteristics of those who made it. What about them separates them from us? What did they do that we haven’t done? Chapter after chapter unveils a debunking of the myth that rich and successful people had some unworldly powers that put them ahead of the rest.
What Gladwell emphasizes through careful study is that time after time, person after person, these individuals all had certain factors in place that took them to a level higher than they imagined. One take-home from the book? The 10,000 hour rule. Virtually, everyone who has triumphed in their passion or interest put in a lot of time and practice into their craft before the world ever even knew their names: The Beatles, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others. They all put in the equivalent of about 40 hours a week for about five years that gave them an edge over the competition. This definitely gives some support to the saying “practice makes perfect”.