10 Inspirational Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read More Than Once
You'll uncover countless gems in these classics.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I'm fairly obsessed with reading. I read everything I can get my hands on. It's a habit that I developed early on. I used to be able to do one book per day but have since scaled it back to only two or three per week. As a prolific reader, I come across a large number of inspirational books that I would categorize as great.
However, as an entrepreneur, I've been acutely interested in the journey of others who've achieved fame in their own rights, and who've documented those journeys. I'm talking about the greats here. The likes of Og Mandino, James Altucher or Kamal Ravikant, all of whose work I've become mildly infatuated with.
When I think about the greatest inspirational books written for entrepreneurs, I think about people like that. There's a raw sense of honesty there. Of transparency. It's the personification of pain and remorse. It's the documentation of a life's journey that wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. It encompasses lessons learned. Growth. Honesty and understanding. The epitome of all things good and sound, noble and just.
While we all pick up books and read them, especially those of inspirational tales, we don't always connect with those books on a deeper level. But, my fascination here has been not just with books about business, but books about the so-called inner game. It's the fundamentals of having an astute mind, building character and of understanding how to deliver real value in the world.
Albert Einstein once said that you should strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. That's the core concept you'll find at the heart of most of these inspirational books. They each strive to deliver value by sharing deep insights into life and business, of helping to unlock doors and bridge the divide that separates our dreams from our reality. They encompass the bigger picture rather than any smaller parts. For example, authors on this list like Robert Cialdini don't teach you how to build a company, but will teach you the precursors for inking partnerships and landing contracts and closing sales by understanding the psychology and underlying power of persuasion. Og Mandino won't show you how to incorporate your business, but he will teach you the underlying tenets that are crucial for the entrepreneur to attain success at the highest level.
The word "best" can be careless. It's often subjective. But, there are metrics that help us gauge the results. Things like the number and authenticity of reviews, to the number of copies sold, awards won and the overall impact of a book can certainly help us gauge which ones would be the most inspirational to read.
However, as subjective as it might sound to refer to the best inspirational books, the truth is that many are looking for that proverbial light bulb to go if in their heads. We're too often stricken by emotions like fear and anxiety and stress, that we find it hard to stay focused. We digress and veer off on tangents and are plagued with numerous fears. I selected these books because they come from the heart and apply full circle toward the underlying concept of success, no matter what field you might be in. Read them. Study them. Learn from them and absorb their knowledge.
Related: 10 Ways to Stay Inspired for Life
1. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant
While unassuming as a book particularly for entrepreneurs at first, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, is quite possibly one of the most important books you could ever read. Written by Kamal Ravikant, the message in this short book is simple but incredibly inspiring. When applied, it can quite literally transform your life.
Coming from a place of truth, the raw emotion and beautifully scripted prose pours brilliance across every syllable and word that comes streaming from the pages of this book. The brevity doesn't supplant the potency of the message. Not only can the book change your life, it can change your business. Ravikant, who also recently penned another beautifully inspiring book entitled Rebirth, created Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It during a time of great pain. With a business failing and a relationship falling apart, he turned to the one and only thing he thought he could do to turn it all around -- to truly and utterly love himself for who he was. An uninhibited departure from his past. And it worked.
2. The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino
One of the greatest writers to have ever lived was Og Mandino. I've had a mild obsession with his work for some time. And I've likely read each of his books numerous times. Like Ravikant, Og Mandino has a way with words, able to craft them with subtle messages deeply embedded in a way that carries maximum impact.
However, of all the great and truly inspiring books written by Og Mandino, such as The Greatest Miracle in the World and The Choice, The Greatest Salesman in the World was the most iconic of them all. At the heart of the book is an inspiring story about the importance of persistence and having true belief in yourself. Mandino expertly crafted the story as a fable, using a metaphoric approach to conveying 10 golden rules about success and sales. He calls to attention the importance of having good habits, having love in your heart and having complete and utter gratitude toward the things you have as opposed to yearning for the things you don't.
3. Choose Yourself by James Altucher
James Altucher is a gifted writer and brilliant philosophizer you can easily compact large real-world issues into profound concepts and principles. The book Choose Yourself is a must for anyone embarking upon the entrepreneurial journey because it quite literally forces you to look within at the state and quality of your life, and then to choose yourself.
Altucher, who's also penned numerous other books such as, Re-Invent Yourself, tackles topics such as the fear of rejection, failure and gratitude. These are recurring themes that help to harmonize the bigger picture that aims to call attention to the necessity to overcome our shortcomings and misgivings to help us reach for the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
The new-thought movement gave birth to another classic by David J. Schwartz entitled, The Magic of Thinking Big, which argued that the one prominent issue separating us from those that are succeeding at the highest level is this ability to think really big. He argues that the state and quality of our lives are a direct result of the state and quality of our thoughts. Think, and you shall become.
The book is largely premised on the fact that success or failure isn't based on our personal circumstances. Instead, success is largely a choice. Should you choose to succeed, and are able to cultivate the proper thoughts by thinking on a grandiose level, you can slowly but surely attract those things into your life. The importance of these teachings are crucial for any entrepreneur at any stage of the game.
5. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
Norman Vincent Peale was one of the most recognized motivational speakers of the 20th century. His deeply rooted understanding of the power of the mind is openly expressed in this book. Peale adamantly believed that with the proper belief in yourself, and the ability to stay in a positive mindset, any level of success was attainable.
Peale, who penned numerous books, is still associated, to this day, in our memory with this iconic classic. It's one of the most inspiring books of all times and teaches you the fervent power in the visualization of your goals, the importance of a good attitude and the sheer abundance that can only be unlocked by the power of a positive mind.
Related: The Bright Side of Negative Thinking
6. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
As entrepreneurs it's easy to get lost in the fray. It's easy to allow circumstances and situations to get the better of us. We spend more time worrying about the future than we do living in the present. When that happens, we fail to realize our dreams because we fail to take action. That's why Tolle's book is such a must-read and is so inspiring.
The Power of Now is an homage to living in the moment. It's an ode to freeing yourself from judgment by constantly being an observer of your thoughts. Any entrepreneur can benefit from this information. It has the power to not only transform your business, but to quite literally transform your entire life.
7. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
We are all connected. On a quantum level, everything is entangled. Everything is connected. Just because we cannot see it, that doesn't mean it isn't real. At the most basic level, we are just energy. Matter is being held together by different energetic forces. In turn, our thoughts are also energy. Thoughts can move through the air and mediums of other living organisms just as we move through space in our cars or trains or airplanes.
Byrne's understanding of these concepts and principles were aptly conveyed in her smash hit global bestseller, The Secret. It's a book that touts the Law of Attraction -- our ability to attract into our lives people, situations and circumstances based on the vibrational frequency of our thoughts. Jack Canfield explains it like this. "The law of attraction states that whatever you focus on, think about, read about, and talk about intensely, you're going to attract more of into your life."
Any entrepreneur would benefit from this hugely inspiring book by helping to align the right thoughts to attract the right things into your life.
Related: If You Envision It, It Will Come
8. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
No list of the best inspirational books for entrepreneurs would be complete without James Allen's iconic, As a Man Thinketh. Allen was a British pioneer in the newly burgeoning field of self-development. The book, which encompasses all of 22 pages, is most probably based on Proverbs 23:7, which states that "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
However, there is real power in the brevity of the words that appear on each page. Allen could have easily enlarged this book to cover hundreds of pages. But, rather than wax superfluously, he chose to boil it down to the single and predominant concepts of truth that he aptly conveys in ever word and sentence of this truly inspiring piece. Allen covers concepts primarily around how your thoughts effect your circumstances, your health, your character, your purpose in life, your achievement and goals and even your overall happiness. This is definitely a must read for any entrepreneur. In fact, read it several times.
9. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Based on 500 interviews of some of the most influential names in the 20th Century, Napoleon Hill's, Think and Grow Rich was actually commissioned by none other than Andrew Carnegie. Hill set out to interview and learn from the most successful people in history at that time, and to uncover what particular elements or strategies allowed them to succeed at such a high level.
Although dated, the information is still highly relevant and applies to any entrepreneurial journey. Hill's discoveries are largely fixated around the area of thoughts. Much like some of the other inspirational books on this list, Hill was of the camp that should you think it, you could attract it into your life, that thoughts could be transmuted into actual reality with enough focus.
Hill covered a variety of topics. From the underlying desires of a human being to faith, belief and visualization, to a deep dive into the subconscious mind, skill sets, create a plan of action and, of course, the art of persistence.
10. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
This book is a must-read for entrepreneurs because it covers the very psychological facets of getting prospects to say yes to whatever we're offering. As an online marketer, I obsess over things like sales funnels and webinars and email marketing. The beauty of this book is that the techniques and strategies taught by Cialdini, who's a master at persuasion, much like icons such as Frank Kern, Kevin Harrington and Zig Ziglar, this information can quite literally propel your sales into the stratosphere. Cialdini covers a variety of rules in this truly inspiring book. He talks about things like reciprocation and how people will do anything to avoid looking like they don't reciprocate, and how you can capitalize on that fact. He covers commitment and consistency, conveys the importance of having social proof, the underlying concepts of authority and liking along with how you can leverage the principle of scarcity. The truth is that most people are more motivated by the thought of losing something than they are of gaining something of equal value. You'll do more to stop someone from stealing $25,000 from you than you will to make it. Knowing how to leverage a principle like this is what Cialdini excels at and expertly teaches in this book. Read it once. Twice. And three times if you have to. Each time, you'll uncover another gem hidden in those words.