The Most Influential Business Books of All Time

The key to success, according to the famous investor, Warren Buffett is reading 500-book pages every day. He further explained the mechanics of knowledge saying that it gradually builds up over time and is very similar to how compound interest does.

Warren Buffett’s advice explains why so many successful business persons take up reading daily as a habit. This is the reason why Bill Gates revealed that he reads 50 books in a year, along with Mark Zuckerberg, who made a new year’s resolution back in 2015 to read a book every week.

Reading has the power to expose you to new knowledge, thinking ways, and wisdom. It can also be your honest partner when working on your own business. When you read books, you open yourself to new information. Be it in the form of real-life examples of success, startup advice, or even tactics from the old age that are helpful even today.

To suggest some of the most influential business books of our time, we searched through the internet and came up with a list of the following books:

1.      Business Adventures – John Brooks.

You are probably familiar with the financial disaster (Edsel) of Ford Motors, the fast rise of Xerox towards success, the General Electric scandal, and the infamous ‘Texas Gulf Sulphur.’ What is the common factor in all of these? These are all relevant examples of companies coming face-to-face with success. This success was either good or the cause of their bad image.

One thing we can learn from all these relevant examples is how unpredictable the business life can be.

This book is a personal favorite of John Warren Buffett himself. Bill Gates talked about it in his blog saying that Mr. Buffett himself had sent ‘Business Adventures’ to him. He further writes that this business book remains the best even decades after its publishing.

2.      The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham.

Known to many as the best investment advisor, Benjamin Graham reveals his advice in ‘The Intelligent Investor.’ He shares his successful philosophy about ‘value investing’ with readers. This philosophy can help investors protect themselves from making mistakes and constructing long-term goals and strategies. Although the book’s publication took place back in 1949, it remains a gem for any investor out there even today. Even Warren Buffet agrees!

3.      The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton M. Christensen.

‘The innovator’s dilemma’ gives readers, guiding rules to following the ‘disruptive innovation’ phenomenal. It does so by providing relevant stories of failure and success of famous companies.

Steve Jobs mentioned this book when explaining the reason behind Apple taking up ‘cloud computing.’ It is also frequently connected to both Jobs and Bezos.

4.      The Outsiders – Liam N. Thorndike.

What is the definition of a successful CEO? According to most people, it is;

‘A skillful manager who has a deep understanding of the industry.’

While some might list down qualities of famous CEOs such as good communicating skills, and an effective managing style. However, none of these qualities matter.

Even then, the question remains, what is the criteria of being a successful CEO? To put it simply, the CEO works on building his business and making it successful. The number of people investing in the company judges success.

The qualities of this book are backed up by Warren Buffett’s recommendations.

5.      Factfulness – The Rosling Family.

We often seek answers to global issues such as, ‘how much of the population suffers through poverty?’, ‘how many female children graduate from school?’ and even ‘what is the reason behind the world’s increasing population?’

More often than not, we get the wrong answers. We are often as correct as a chimpanzee randomly choosing the best option.

The book gives a simple explanation of this phenomenon. It gives reasons behind our changing perspectives. According to the authors, it happens because of 10 instincts.

·         The tendency we have to separate the world into camps.

·         Our way of media consumption (involvement of the fear factor).

·         How we define progress (having a pessimistic view of the world).

Bill Gates considers ‘Factulness’ as a very important read and one that can help a person have a clear view of the world.

6.      Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

Fighting over a pool of profit that is constantly growing smaller, according to ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ creates unnecessary chaos. It creates rivalry among people.

The authors of the book give their argument on this topic backed up by detailed research on various strategies. They say that success can never grow from creating competition, but It comes from what the authors describe as ‘blue oceans.’ This term means creating spaces in the market to provide growth opportunities.

7.      How to ‘Win’ Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie.

This book is a gem for those people who wish to achieve success not only in their professional lives but on a personal level as well.

This book provides advice on:

·         6 tips on making people admire you.

·         12 ways to make sure people agree with your thinking.

·         9 ways to bring change in people without creating hate.

And a lot more!

8.      Bad Blood – John Carreyrou.

Elizabeth Holmes became widely popular as the female version of Steve Jobs in 2014. Much like Steve Jobs, she is a college dropout who went on to become the founder of a startup whose goal was to create innovative and quicker blood testing methods called, ‘Theranos.’ This startup puts Elizabeth’s worth at almost $4.7 billion. This was the result of big investors like Larry Ellison, who helped the startup sell shares; thus putting it at a value of $9 million.

9.      The Art of War – Sun Tzu

Published decades back, ‘The Art of War’ remains the best book for understanding and implementing the military strategy. Countless personalities such as Napoleon, General’s Vo Nguyen Giap, and Douglas McArthur gained inspiration from this book.

In addition to the world of business and management, people have also applied the authors’ ideas to strategies in the corporate world.

10.  Start with Why – Simon Sinek.

As the title suggests, Simon Sinek asks a set of important questions such as, why some organizations and personalities become more innovative profitable and influence more people? How some organizations gain loyalty from their employees and customers as well? And finally, why is it that only a few can gain success multiple times?

11.  Emotional Intelligence – by Daniel Goleman.

In this book, Goleman explores and provides readers with a list of 5 important emotional intelligence skills that can push a person towards success in their professional and personal life. The author does so by providing concrete examples to better explain this concept.

12.  Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill’s main goal was to guide people and teach how to become successful billionaires, but the book focuses more on pushing people to reach their personal goals. In ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ the author writes about the philosophy of gaining financial success. He does so through deep research.

13.  Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg.

This book is all about highlighting and changing the common thinking of what women are not capable of to what women are capable of instead. ‘Lean In’ contains essential stories and data backed up by research.

14.  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey.

This is a popular book and for good reason. This masterpiece by Covey has completely changed the lives of everyone from CEOs to presidents all over the world and even parents.

This book is a must-read for people professing any profession.

15.  Daring Greatly – Brené Brown.

To be vulnerable or dare greatly means to live every day by experiencing risks and exposure to emotions. In this book, Brené attempts to de-myth the concept of considering being vulnerable as a drawback and a weakness. Backed up by years of research, the author argues that it is, in fact, a sign of courage.

This book is a transformative guide to how we deal with matters of everyday life and viewing vulnerability as a power instead of a weakness.

This book is also a personal favorite of Melinda Gates.

16.  The Lean Startup – Eric Ries.

This book highlights the reasons behind the failure of startups. According to Ries, these reasons can be prevented.

This book has single-handedly inspired most of the world to change the strategies behind building companies and launching products.

17.   Good to Great – Jim Collins.

Good to Great consists of studies that provide insight into various areas of management and the strategies involved in them. The author mentions that the majority of the concepts highlighted in the book may upset a large part of the modern-day culture of businesses.

18.  Thrive – Arianna Huffington.

Thrive is an influential book in which, author Arianna Huffington highlights some of her biggest challenges. She discusses challenges such as, raising her children, managing her career, and family crises that eventually gave her the ‘aha’ moment that she was looking for.

In this book full of research from various fields such as psychology, physiology, and even sleep, Arianna brings the benefits of meditation and practicing mindfulness towards englightment. She guides readers towards bringing change to our culture as well as our personal and professional lives.

19.  The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

An event that may be both positive and negative that may seem unimportant, but can lead to great consequences is defined as ‘A Black Swan.’ In this book, the author explains how Black Swan events occur frequently and can help explain much of our world, and yet, most experts remain blind to such events.

20.  Too Big To Fail – Andrew Ross Sorkin

In this book, the columnist of the New York Times and a respected reporter of finance, Andrew Sorkin gives readers a detailed account of the ‘Epochal Economic Crisis’ that changed the world and brought it to its knees. This book is also an award winner for the ‘best business book.’

21.   The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith.

This book describes the elements behind building the wealth of a nation. It is also an important lesson on classical economics and dives deep into the subjects of labor division, the free market, and productivity.

22.  ‘Barbarians at the Gate’ – Bryan Burrough and John Helyar.

‘Barbarians at the Gate’ is a New York Times bestseller and a brilliant business-focused narrative. This book gives a detailed account of RJR Nabisco’s fall. Burrough and Helyar made brilliant use of investigative journalism to give a detailed insight into the fall.

23.  The Smartest Guys in the Room – Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.

In the 1990s, one of the most famous and successful companies was brought to the ground in what is now called the ‘Enron Scandal.’ This book gives a detailed narrative and is one of the best choices to understand the Enron Scandal.

24.  When Genius Failed – Roger Lowenstein.

The Long term Capital Management was a ride to remember. Consisting of detailed interviews with the major people who were a part of this fund, the book explains how this management made and lost profit. In addition to this, it also explains the various reasons behind its rise to success and its failure, including arrogance of certainties and the ‘Wall Street Culture.’

25.  Guerrilla Marketing – Jay Conrad Levinson.

Guerilla Marketing completely changed the strategies of small startups. It gave readers a ‘Take No Prisoners’ approach which can help gain customers. Backed up by a simple philosophy, Levinson has revolutionized the way people understand market shares and gaining them.

26.  In search of Excellence – Thomas Peters and Robert H. Waterman.

This book gives readers a set of 8 management principles backed up by studies of some of America’s greatest managed companies. The management principles revolves around practices that are people-focused, grows profits, and are action-driven that eventually lead to success.

27.  Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.

Based on research at Stanford University, this book gives a comparison between companies and their respective competitors.

28.  Den of Thieves – James B. Stewart

This book provides context to the scandal that almost became the cause of Wall Street’s fall. It talks about the person behind the ‘insider trading’ scandal and the long run that finally resulted in justice.

29.  Re-engineering the Corporation – Michael Hammer and James A. Champy.

Using their personal experiences, the authors highlight how re-engineering can help corporations save money and achieve levels of client-satisfaction while creating flexible aspects of their operations. Big corporations use this method often by simply dropping the notions of modern organization and its base.

30.  The Essays of Warren Buffett – Lawrence A. Cunningham (Editor).

‘The Essays of Warren Buffett’ is a treasure in the form of a book. It gives readers an insight into the thoughts of Buffett. This compilation is both understandable and has no repetition. According to Mr. Buffet himself, it is the book he is asked to autograph the most.

31.  First, Break All The Rules – Jim Harter.

This book explains what the managers of the greatest companies do uniquely. This concept comes from research done on a large number of managers.

This book is a read for any manager out there who wishes to gain lessons on career and performance.