If you want to get ahead in business, it’s important to learn from those that have gone before you. Understanding how successful business people made it to where they are today, and what mistakes they made along the way, will stand you in good stead when running your own business.
Taking business courses is a good way to learn the basics, but if you want to get inside the mind of some of the most inspired business people in the world, you should get your hands on some of the books that they have written. This is a list of the 20 best business and leadership books of 2019, selected by Amazon editors.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber
Uber is a great example to follow because the rise and fall of the company can teach you a lot about what you should do, but equally, it shows you a lot of the mistakes that can be made along the way. That’s why Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber is one of the best books for new business owners. It is based on hundreds of interviews with current and former employees, and some previously unreleased documents. It charts the rapid growth of the company that was set to take its place alongside some of the tech giants like Amazon and Google, and then all of the problems that came about when the company clashed with taxi drivers and they developed a toxic internal culture.
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
At the moment, Disney is one of the biggest media companies in the world with huge movie franchises like Star Wars and Marvel under its control, and their theme parks still draw massive crowds. But it could have been a very different story because the company was in big trouble in 2005. The Ride of a Lifetime tells the story of Robert Iger, Time’s 2019 businessperson of the year, and how he reinvented the company and made it what it is today. Based around his 4 core principles of leadership (Optimism, Courage, Decisiveness, and Fairness) it is a must-read for anybody that wants to run a business.
The Infinite Game
In his book, The Infinite Game, New York Times bestselling author Simon Sinek lays out his unique vision for running a business. It is based around the idea that there is no beginning or end in business, only ahead or behind. He shows the reader how their business can adapt and survive, and find purpose in an ever changing world. This is one of the best books of 2019 for new business owners as well as long time entrepreneurs.
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business
Most businesses aim to scale up and earn more money, but what if there was a different way? In Company of One, Paul Jarvis explains how small businesses can stay small and still turn a profit, allowing business owners to have a better work-life balance and pursue other life goals outside of work. This a great book to read if your business is just starting to take off and you don’t know where to go next.
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
The way that we use technology and the reliance we have on it is being questioned by a lot of people right now. Some people want to embrace it, while others want to do away with their smartphone entirely. But Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World explains how you can find a good middle ground. Cal Newport has been described as the Marie Kondo of the digital world and his book helps you to decide which digital pursuits add value to your life, and which don’t. This is one of the best books of 2019 if you want to change your approach to technology and simplify your life.
The Future Is Asian
Understanding the business world is vital if you are to be successful, and Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. But Parag Kannah feels that people have misunderstood the complexity of this region, and his book, The Future Is Asian attempts to address that. If you want to do business on a global scale and understand how the Asian region fits into that, this is one of the best books of 2019 to read.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
The business world can be a difficult place for women, and they may not feel as though they can achieve their business dreams, but Rachel Hollis, founder of a multi-million dollar media business, wants to change that. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, she challenges women to let go of excuses and stop defining themselves in the light of other people so they can release their full potential and achieve their goals in life and in business. This is a must-read for any woman, but particularly for those that have aspirations in the business world.
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You
Managing a team of people is a lot harder than you realize, and your effectiveness as a manager can make or break a business. Some people say that managers are born, but Julie Zhuo firmly believes that they are made. The Making of a Manager is her comprehensive field guide that draws on her experience managing dozens of teams. It shows you how to spot a bad manager, and gives you lots of practical advice, with examples, so you can be the best possible leader. This book is essential whether you have just been promoted to a manager position or you are running your own business for the first time or even if you are an experienced manager that is looking for ways to improve.
Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
Crazy ideas often lead to breakthroughs and without risk takers, we cannot move forward. But if you want to manage that risk, you need to understand how groups react to those ideas. Physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall has come up with a revolutionary new way to understand group behavior by using the science of phase transitions. His new book, Loonshots, explains how techniques used to explain how birds flock, how fish swim, or how people vote can be used to nurture seemingly crazy ideas that push the world forward.
The 100X Leader: How to Become Someone Worth Following
Being an effective leader is not just about getting to the top. According to global leadership experts Jeremie Kubicek and Steven Cockram, it’s about helping those you lead get to higher levels as well, and multiplying healthy leadership. In their book, The 100X Leader: How to Become Someone Worth Following, they show you how to learn the lost art of leadership and use it to become a leader that people willingly follow.
Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World
Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall describe themselves as freethinking leaders, and they are here to tell you that everything you know about the world of work is wrong. In Nine Lies About Work, they outline nine big misconceptions about work and the business world and give their own take on the way that a business should work. Through entertaining stories and insightful analysis, they lay out what they believe to be the real world of work, as it is and as it should be. If you are about to start a business of your own, this is one of the best books of 2019 because it gives you a whole new way of thinking about business.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Most people believe that if you want to excel at a skill of any kind, you need to start early and build as many hours of practice as possible. But the research that David Epstein outlines in Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World tells a different story. After studying athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists, he found that in most fields, it is generalists and not specialists that excel. While these people find their path later in life, they tend to be more successful.
This Is Not a T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community–a Life in Streetwear
The streetwear business is a strange space where traditional business ideas clash with creatives and outsiders. In This Is Not a T-Shirt, Bobby Hundreds tells his unique story about how he built one of the most successful streetwear companies and how the culture of streetwear has changed over the years. It is an insightful look into an area of business that many have tried and failed to break into.
Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up
Jerry Colona is one of the world’s leading executive coaches that helps start-up CEOs around the globe. But his work doesn’t just focus on the nuts and bolts of business, he helps people to handle the psychological habits and behavioural patterns that helped them to succeed, often at the expense of their personal relationships. Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up shares his highly effective blend of Buddhism, Jungian therapy, and entrepreneurial straight talk to help you improve your relationships and let go of emotional baggage that is holding you back in your professional life.
Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career
The world is changing fast and if you are to be a successful business leader, you need to adapt to these changes and learn new skills. The problem is, most business leaders revert to the old ways of learning that they knew when they were younger and they are not always effective. But Scott Young’s new book, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career can help you find new, more effective ways of learning. By combining stories about ultralearners like Benjamin Franklin and Richard Feynman with the latest research on education techniques, Young outlines some of the best ways to effectively learn new skills and retain that information.
The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age
Bina Venkataraman believes that many of the world’s problems are caused by our inability to think ahead and plan for the long term. She saw this first hand when working as an advisor to the Obama administration, helping communities prepare for the effects of climate change. The Optimists Telescope brings together new research in biology, psychology, and economics to show how we can change our approach and start making long term decisions for the better. Using examples from ancient Pompeii to modern day Fukushima, she challenges the idea that humans are always reckless and explains how we can learn to think ahead. These concepts can be applied in all areas, especially the business world.
What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence
Stephen A. Schwarzman is a leading figure in the business world, best known for co-founding Blackstone, a hugely successful investment fund that manages over $500 billion. But before he got to where he is today, he spent a lifetime learning what it takes to achieve excellence. His new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence brings together this wealth of experience and condenses it into a set of lessons that can help students, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and executives realize their full potential.
Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
Distraction is one of the biggest hurdles in between you and your business goals. We live in a world full of distractions and if you cannot focus, you will not get ahead. That is why Nir Eyal wrote Indistractable, to help you overcome distractions and find the focus that you need to succeed. The book is split into 4 simple sections that teach you why distraction happens in the workplace, the psychology that drives it, how it affects your relationships, and how to raise indistractable children. If you have big business ambitions, this is one of the best books to read.
Stillness Is the Key
The ability to remain calm when everything is falling apart around them is something that all good business leaders share. If you are going to succeed in business, you need to master what Ryan Holiday calls ‘Stillness’ – the ability to be steady as the world spins around you. In Stillness Is the Key, he shows you exactly how to do this, using examples from some of history’s greatest thinkers.
The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution
Jim Simons is the most successful money maker in modern financial history, with a net worth of $23 billion. After conquering the financial world, he set his sights on politics and the senior executive of Renaissance, Simons’ investment fund are largely responsible for Donald Trump’s political success. With unprecedented access to Simons and some of his current and former employees, Gregory Zuckerman tells his story in The Man Who Solved The Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution. This gripping tale tells how a mathematician and former codebreaker came to dominate the financial market and how his success has impacted America ever since.
If you have big business ambitions, these are the best books of 2019 that can help you to unlock your full potential. They are all available on Amazon, so get reading right away.
Want to know more about what makes a great leader? Check out this TED Talk from Management theorist and author of The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek.