Although 2020 proved to be a consequential year for many around the world, it also served as an opportunity to revisit passions and hobbies, including the love of reading. As 2021 unfolds, we wanted to share some of the best books to read as you continue to work remotely or isolate at home. Each of our selections was categorized into strategy, leadership, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle.
Business and Strategy Books
Think Like a Rocket Scientist – Ozan Varol
Rocket scientists are known to work with countless variables, catastrophic levels of risk, and bold, seemingly impossible objectives— which is exactly why they make great teachers for entrepreneurs. In Ozan Varol’s Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life, you’ll learn to apply the principles and approaches used by rocket scientists in managing projects, boosting creativity, and staying productive. Running a business doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it can be inspired by it.
Mentor to Millions – Secrets of Success in Business, Relationships, and Beyond – Kevin Harrington and Mark Timm
Entrepreneurship, family, and personal success— how does a business owner juggle it all? Many of us understand the importance of a work-life balance, but much less understand how to actually pull it off. Kevin Harrington, an original “shark” from the TV show Shark Tank, and serial entrepreneur Mark Timm explore the very ingredients of entrepreneurial success in this book. As they put it so eloquently, “the most valuable business you’ll ever own, work for, or be part of isn’t the business you go to every day, it’s the one you go home to.”
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy, Vol. 2
Harvard Business Review publishes some of the most insightful content and think-pieces on business and strategy, and this volume compiles just ten of them into one book. Featuring the writings of experts such as Michael E. Porter, A.G. Lafley, and Clayton M. Christensen, you will learn about everything from the signals of disruption to value generation.
Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy – Lawrence Ingrassia
Renowned business journalist Lawrence Ingrassia takes readers through the inner workings of the world’s biggest startups, from Casper to Dollar Shave Club to Warby Parker and more. Each of these brands is known for their unique approach in their design or marketing, giving them an edge over established industry titans. Discover the wildly fascinating world behind the most popular products we use today.
Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution – Robert Chesnut
Airbnb General Counsel Robert Chesnut wants to tell you that integrity and business success go hand in hand. In fact, companies that lack the “spirit of law” are doomed to fail. In Intentional Integrity, Chestnut offers a simple six-step system for cultivating a culture of integrity in any company, and in turn, become more than just a business, but a positive force for change in the world.
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention – Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer
Who wouldn’t want to learn more about the story of Netflix, from the founder himself? Reed Hastings shares some of the controversial ideas and philosophies behind the unexpected success of the streaming service giant. Featuring hundreds of interviews with current and past Netflix employees, as well as some of Hastings’ own personal stories, No Rules Rules is a deeply inspiring book on business culture and innovation.
Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don’t – David Marquet
How often do you think about the power and meaning behind the words you use every day? We may not notice, but even common questions like “should we do A or B?” can have a profound effect on the chosen course of action. Former US Navy Captain L. David Marquet uses his leadership experience to create a playbook for team empowerment and continuous improvement. After reading Leadership Is Language, you’ll discover how the words you say and don’t say impact the people around you.
Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business – John Mackey
Following his previous bestselling book, Conscious Capitalism, Former Whole Foods CEO John Mackey examines his journey in building a sustainable, purpose-driven company. Mackey outlines some of the strategies that Whole Foods employed through its four decades of growth, complete with stories, leader profiles, and case studies. By the end, you’ll have a greater understanding of what it means to look beyond profits and make a difference for the company employees and the world at large.
Thrive Through the Five: Practical Truths to Powerfully Lead through Challenging Times – Jill Siler
Whether it’s tough conversations with clients or dealing with customer complaints, everyone has that 5% of work that feels like a chore to get through. But as superintendent and author Dr. Jill Siler reveals in Thrive Through the Five, how you handle that 5% can determine the other 95% where you thrive and enjoy your work. Using her experiences in education, Siler provides readers with the inspiration and insight in overcoming the most challenging aspects of leadership.
The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You – John C. Maxwell
If you’re not the type to want to read business and leadership books every so often, then consider reading the Maxwell Daily Reader every day instead. As Author John C. Maxwell reminds us, true leadership is about action, and the action sometimes requires inspiration. For each day of the calendar year, this book offers a short, motivational message for everyone from educators to business leaders.
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were both officers of the renowned SEAL Team 3’s Task Unit Bruiser, an elite U.S. special forces team deployed to take back the city of Ramadi during the Iraq War. In Extreme Ownership, Willink and Babin recount their tales from one of the most violent battlefields in military history, from the tragic hardships to the hard-fought victories. All their lessons boil down to one single truth: true leadership is about accountability and owning up to the responsibilities of the entire team, even if you aren’t a leader.
Entrepreneurial Leadership: The Art of Launching New Ventures, Inspiring Others, and Running Stuff – Joel Peterson
Joel Peterson has had numerous titles, including executive mentor, leadership expert, adjunct professor, founder, investor, and entrepreneur. In each of his roles, Peterson developed a deep understanding of the “entrepreneurial leader”, someone that is able to look past budgets and performance ratings and leave an indelible mark on the company’s culture. Peterson breaks it down into four main philosophies: establishing trust, creating a sense of mission, building a cohesive team, and executing and delivering results. Entrepreneurial Leadership acts as a guide through using these philosophies and applying them to one’s own business.
Solving the People Problem: Essential Skills You Need to Lead and Succeed in Today’s Workplace – Brett M. Cooper and Evans Kerrigan
Each day, we communicate and connect with vastly different people and personalities. Understanding a person’s perspective or behavior can be baffling at times. But nurturing those relationships can lead to more bountiful experiences at home and at work. That’s exactly what Solving the People Problem is about— understanding how others work, and developing the language, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence to become a better leader and team player.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell has achieved international recognition for his books, Talking to Strangers, Blink, and David and Goliath, but it all started with his 2002 bestseller, The Tipping Point. Every major trend, business, or idea has had this moment— a single point in time where a tiny seed explodes into something big. It might be a new fashion style, a new startup service, or something else entirely, but Gladwell illustrates how small things can have a huge impact.
Get Rooted!: Growing People and Companies Through Change – Stacy Henry
Change happens whether you like it or not, so instead of letting it overwhelm you, you may as well prepare for it and temper your reaction. That is the lesson behind Get Rooted! by Stacy Henry, a book that explores how change can be a catalyst for growth and improvement. Henry indicates eight main values for understanding your roots and adapting to change, something any business owner or entrepreneur could stand to learn from.
Move the Needle: Yarns from an Unlikely Entrepreneur – Shelley Brander
Shelley Brander left an advertising agency she founded with her husband to start her own business: a local yarn store. At first, people were surprised and tried convincing her to change her mind. But over time, her storefront grew rapidly online until it kicked off a global movement, “Knit the World Together”. In Move the Needle, Brander uses her story to inspire others to pursue their passions, whether personal or professional, despite the overwhelming criticism and challenges ahead.
Joy At Work: Organizing Your Professional Life – Marie Kondo
If you want a quick way to boost your mindset at work, try decluttering your office space. Few people know this better than Marie Kondo, the tidying expert and star of the Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. In her book, Joy At Work, Kondo shares simple tips and guides for organizing your workspace, documents, and supplies in a way that makes you more productive and mindful of your wellbeing.
Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything – BJ Fogg
BJ Fogg founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, led by a team of researchers studying the burgeoning field of behavior design. In Tiny Habits, Fogg draws on his experience helping thousands of people change their behavior, from losing weight to improving sleep, to developing other habits. His three main principles for habit creation: make it easy, make it fit your life, and make it rewarding.
Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work – Bill Burnett and David Evans
When Designing Your Life was published in 2016 by Stanford Design Lab’s Bill Burnett and David Evans it became an instant bestseller. The themes of building and designing a meaningful life resonated with readers and inspired people to change their lives for the better. In Designing Your Work Life, Burnett and Evans now apply that principle to the workplace, the place we spend most of our time.
Eat Sleep Work Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to Your Job – Bruce Daisley
Happiness at work isn’t about one big thing, but small changes sprinkled throughout a daily schedule. For example, a simple break for tea can have a profound effect on one’s mental wellbeing and productivity. This is just one example from more than a dozen hacks offered by Daisley in Eat Sleep Work Repeat, a mini guidebook for making the most out of your work routine.
The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM – Hal Elrod
The morning can be a magical hour for people looking to get real work done. Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning defines six so-simple-it’s-brilliant solutions for enhancing your wake-up routine, the early window where everything seems fresh and alive. It only takes a few minutes of conscious change to start living the life you want.