Times have changed.
In 1865, Horace Greeley wrote that in order to have success, enterprising individuals should “Go West, and grow up with the country.” Now, with the country fully grown, that advice doesn’t mean that much.
Still, there is a lot of unexplored territory out there. You just have to look in the right places: inside a book. I might be old-school, but I still believe in the power of great books. And so I offer a new directive: Go to the bookstore, ambitious business woman! To the library, businessman in training! Get the information you need to be successful.
Not sure where to get started? Here is a short list of 5 great books that I believe every business person must read. I decided not to list How to Win Friends and Influence People because, well, that’s a given.
But beyond the obvious classic, here are a few that you might not have thought of. There are also a few that you wouldn’t expect in a list of books for business, but they are great nonetheless.
1. The Effective Executive. Peter F. Drucker, 1967.
Execution is key for Drucker, and that means getting “the right things done.” An oldie but a goodie, this classic still occupies the shelves of many leaders. In it, he explains how although some are natural-born leaders, there are skills that can be developed to make a better executive.
2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. Jim Collins, 2001
Are you ready to take your company to the next level? Citing five years of research into 6,000 articles and 2,000 pages worth of interviews, Collins tells you how to do it. You’ll love his deep store of refreshing ideas for evaluating business leadership, including “Level 5 Leadership.”
3. Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built. Richard Tedlow, 2003
Andrew Carnegie. Henry Ford. Sam Walton. Their shadows still tower over national commerce, and Tedlow describes the lives of these true business giants that have undoubtedly changed the world as we know it. The studious business person can learn much from this review of the struggles and successes of these world-renowned leaders.
4. True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. Bill George, 2007
One major change to business leadership in recent times is the emphasis on authenticity. Rather than adopting time-worn models of stuffy leadership, George inspires readers to know themselves and create their own, tailor-made style.
5. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Hugh MacLeod, 2009
From idea doodles on the backs of cards to his own popular blog, MacLeod has ideas about everything, including standing out from your competitors and the meaning of life. His main subjects here are creativity and how to foster new ideas. A lively, illustrated guide to unleashing your ingenuity.