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Recommended Business Books
What you should be reading
I’m a huge book-reader, but I don’t normally read business books.
There are two reasons for this:
Most business books that offer practical advice become outdated after a few months (online learning is usually better).
It tricks your mind into thinking that you’re “being productive” even though you aren’t. I usually prefer reading fiction or nonfiction about different non-business subjects. Productive time is for doing actual productive things.
Despite that, there are a few business books that I think everyone should read. These are “timeless” books, not step-by-step guides that’ll be obsolete 5 minutes after publishing.
The 4-Hour Work Week
I can still clearly remember the feeling I got while reading through the pages of this book in my early 20’s. I remember it so clearly that there’s almost a dividing line in my memory: before reading The 4-Hour Work Week and after reading it.
The 4-Hour Work Week is one of the few books that I can honestly say completely changed my life. If I had never read it then I wouldn’t have taken the leap into starting my first online business and I wouldn’t be writing to you here today.
I still have my original copy from 2010 sitting on my bookshelf. I like to flip through the pages and laugh at my early 20’s epiphanies that I scrawled into the margins while reading it for the first time. The highlighted sections clearly bring back the excited state of mind I was in at the time.
The section on VA’s in particular changed my perception of how the world works. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible. Now I have a small army of them working for me.
Yes, it’s definitely dated (I have no idea if Tim Ferris releases updated versions). But there’s nothing like it for breaking your mind free from the life of a wage-cuck.
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Don’t let the Robert Kiyosaki branding fool you. This book is as legit as it gets.
I’m not going to lie. By nature I’m terrible at administrative tasks. I’m one of those people who files their personal taxes close to the deadline in April. I hate dealing with the government and filing paperwork. I hate it so much.
This book did a great job of making taxes interesting.
I learned something new every few pages while reading through Tax-Free Wealth. If you’ve read business books in the past then you know how rare that is. Most are low-effort garbage written by people who are trying to “grow their personal brand” with rehashed and regurgitated content (the main reason why I hate reading business books). This was refreshingly new.
The part on how to structure companies if you have a business partner stands out in my memory as being particularly mind-blowing.
I didn’t like the hokey writing style, but the information is solid. If you want to level up your knowledge and reduce the amount of taxes you pay then this is a must-read.
The Magic of Thinking Big
Reading self-help or mindset-type books is almost always a waste of time. This book is the reason for the “almost”.
I don’t remember exactly how long ago it was when I first read The Magic of Thinking Big, but the pages are turning yellow in my copy and it’s starting to fall apart.
This is one of those books that I find myself picking up and skimming through multiple times per year. Maybe it’s because there’s something about the 1950’s-style writing (e.g. calling people “fellows”) that seems endearing. But it’s also because the advice just simply works.
Read this and then never read another self help book ever again.
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The only copywriting book you’ll ever need.
The cheesy branding (using $ for the letter S, for example) probably turns away tons of people. That’s unfortunate, because Cashvertising is easily the gold standard when it comes to writing copy.
When I think about it, it’s obvious that a lot of the copywriting techniques that I automatically and subconsciously use originated from this book.
Cashvertising focuses heavily on human psychology (the “Life Force 8”). It does a great job at explaining why the different principles work the way they do.
If you struggle with using your words to get people to buy, this is the book to read.
Ogilvy on Advertising
This is the classic book written by one of the OG’s of direct-response advertising.
One of my favorite things about Ogilvy on Advertising is that it has tons of full color pictures of beautiful old-school ads.
There’s something about advertising in the olden days that seems charming to me. I don’t know what it is - maybe I’ve spent too much time staring at screens - but there’s something about the effort and attention to detail from that era that I really love.
This book came out in the 80’s and it does have tons of outdated information about things like print advertising. But if you read between the lines you can see that a lot of what he has to say applies to the modern era as well.
This is a great book for anyone who’s interested in seeing how advertising has evolved over the years.
Hot Button Marketing
There are rational reasons why people buy and then there are the real reasons.
Hot Button Marketing is about the latter.
Each chapter in this book focuses on one of 16 different aspects of human psychology that lead people to buy a product. I first read this book when I was starting out in the wifi money game with a dropshipping business. I later applied it to affiliate businesses, service businesses, and selling my own e-commerce products.
It’s focused on the psychology of why people buy…anything. No matter what type of business you run, you’re going to benefit from reading this book.
It has tons of “aha” moments that seem like they should be obvious but somehow aren’t.
When I was reading this book I kept thinking “of course that’s why people buy”. But if I had never read it I wouldn’t have put two and two together.
This is a must-read for anyone who sells anything (that should be all of you).
This is easily one of the best business history books ever written.
Breaking Rockefeller is the story of how the two founders of Royal Dutch Shell were able to successfully break Standard Oil’s monopoly.
What makes this book stand out isn’t so much the story, but rather the quality of the writing. Reading this book feels like watching a movie in your mind.
One of the problems with most nonfiction is that it’s extremely dry and boring. This book doesn’t have that problem. The quality of the writing is so good that it almost feels like fiction, but it’s 100% real.
I can still recall the opening scene describing Rockefeller’s boardroom in vivid detail. I can easily imagine what it would look like to walk in and see the board - made up of his former business rivals that he bought out - sitting at the table discussing their “cut to kill” pricing strategy.
It doesn’t have much practical value, but if you want to read a good, well-written story, this is the book to read.
I can personally verify that every book on this list is extremely well-written and informative.
There aren’t any “step-by-step” how-to books. Each book has stood/will stand the test of time, no matter what happens with technology or business practices in the future.
Read them now.