When Jim Rohn said, “All the information you need to succeed already exists, the problem is you haven’t exposed yourself to it,” it was one of the most challenging and eye-opening statements I had ever heard. I immediately made a lifelong goal to read a thousand books.
I have not reached that goal yet, but I’m eating away at it. I love the hardbound vintage book, but I’m finding that reading on my iPad’s Kindle app provides the perfect strategy to increase my desire to read in spare moments.
Here’s my list of must-read books:
1. "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill is at the top of everyone’s list. Written 70 years ago, it’s still the benchmark book for attitude, goal-setting and achievement. Get an original copy (pre-1960), not one of the altered, newly minted, “after the copyright expired” versions. Note: Not on this list, but equally important, is the best sales book of all time: "How to Sell Your Way Through Life." Written just two years later, this book is an unknown gem. It’s hard to find and a little pricey, but look for it on abebooks.com, bookfinder.com or eBay.
2. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie is the all-time gem of gems for self-confidence and connecting with sincerity, and it contains timeless rules of success. Your Carnegie library is only one-third complete until you own and read "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" and "Effective Public Speaking," two books with timeless information on stress relief, positive attitude, speaking skills and success strategies.
3. "He Can Who Thinks He Can" by Orison Swett Marden is one of the original “self-thought” and self-help books containing gems such as, “Every child should be taught to expect success” and “The world makes way for the man with an idea.” If you want a list of great Marden quotes from this book, underlined by John Patterson, the founder of NCR and the father of American salesmanship, go to gitomer.com and enter MARDEN in the GitBit box.
4. "Swim with the Sharks" by Harvey Mackay is a benchmark and game-changing book for me and millions of other people in business. It’s full of applicable ideas to make you think and strategies to implement immediately.
5. "Small is the New Big" by Seth Godin is one of many Godin books that should be in your library. Not just for the information — he’s much more than that. I don’t just marvel at what Godin writes, I marvel at how he thinks.
6. "Thinkertoys" by Michael Michalko contains short lessons, tools and exercises you can easily understand and apply immediately. It recharged my brain and opened my eyes to a new way to see creativity.
7. "What Would Google Do?" by Jeff Jarvis is a compelling work that centers on Google as it relates to other businesses. Jarvis compares what Google would do to diverse industries, such as hotels, restaurants, schools and the media. It is amazingly insightful and thought-provoking, especially if you relate it to your business.
8. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell tells stories of how, why and when people became successful entrepreneurs, and how standards were set in the 19th century that are still in place today. But it’s his concept of “10,000 hours” that makes this book an absolute insightful treasure.
9. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Issacson. Jobs had vision, foresight, character, uncompromising ideals and shrewdness. He was inspirational to all who came within his domain. This is a great story and important to read to understand where we are today. I have written about Jobs’ impact on my life. If you’d like to read it, go to gitomer.com and enter JOBS in the GitBit box.
10. "The Pursuit of Prime" by Ichak Adizes addresses the stages every growing business goes through, and what to expect and do in each stage. It is compelling because it’s both a game plan for what to do, and a pie in the face for what you haven’t done.
11. "Social Boom" by Jeffrey Gitomer (hey, that’s me!) and several other social media experts. Business social media is not an option, and this book is the ultimate “how to” and “why.” Yes, I have 10 other books I hope you buy, read and implement lessons from, but "Social Boom" is my best book for this moment.
12. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand is a book that has been canonized by every cross section of the political and business landscape except the politician trying to grow government and give handouts. It’s an amazing, compelling read and has a happy ending for entrepreneurs. It may be my favorite of all time. When you’re finished reading this epic novel, I dare you not to start on Rand’s "The Fountainhead."
12.5. There are other imperative non-books. CDs, essays, quote books and kids books that I also highly recommend. They are, in no particular order, "The Art of Exceptional Living," (CDs) by Jim Rohn; "Acres of Diamonds" by Russell Conwell; "A Message to Garcia" by Elbert Hubbard; "Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper; and "The Strangest Secret" (CD) by Earl Nightingale. You can find all of these gems at executivebooks.com.
This is not the definitive book list — it’s my definitive book list. These are books I have read, been inspired by, implemented and banked. I have a longer list on my website — click on “Recommended Reading” under “Sales Help.”
Invest your time reading. It will pay lifelong dividends.
Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at trainone.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.