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The 7 Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read When They're Discouraged

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Every business has its ups and downs. You lose an account, receive negative feedback about a project you’d worked hard on or have a crucial employee quit at just the wrong moment. It can be frustrating and even frightening, because your reputation and your business is on the line. But sometimes getting out of your head and learning about someone else’s experience can help you gain the necessary perspective to move forward. Here are seven books that can help.

Emotional Equations by Chip Conley

It’s not everyday that a corporate leader opens up about his struggles. But in Emotional Equations, Chip Conley -- the founder and former CEO of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain -- shows that having a powerful job doesn’t insulate you from tragedy. After the breakup of a longtime relationship and several close friends committing, he wrote this book, which seeks to make sense of life through his own unique “math” formulas, such as “Joy = Love – Fear.” In the process, he healed himself and offers inspiration to others facing difficult times.

168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam

Most professionals these days feel pressed for time. That’s why writer Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is a welcome antidote. She breaks down the tim- management techniques of the most successful professionals to show that, while we can’t have it all, we can come a lot closer to a balanced life than we might have imagined. Get ready to reclaim your gym time and eight hours of sleep -- Vanderkam shows you how it’s done.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

You think you’re having tough times? In Far From the Tree, journalist Andrew Solomon embeds with families facing major differences (such as having children with disabilities or those who grow up to be criminals), yet persevere with love, dignity and grace. You’ll get over yourself quickly when you can put your tribulations into context and understand that every challenge contains an opportunity for growth.

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins

Don’t you wish you could go back in time and tip yourself off? Don’t sign that contract! Accept that dinner invitation! Don’t put off your trip to Prague! We don’t have time travel yet, but writer Ellyn Spragins offers the next best thing in What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self, a compilation of “letters to my younger self” from 41 famous women, including Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor, Eileen Fisher and more. Everyone has struggles but as Spragins discovered in the process of writing the book and collecting the essays, it can be cathartic to reflect back on what you’ve learned in the process.

From the Jungle to the Boardroom by Mike Monahan

Business is tough but serving in the Vietnam War is a lot tougher. In author Mike Monahan’s From the Jungle to the Boardroom, he shares engaging stories about life during wartime and applies them to contemporary business challenges. If you think your clients are querulous, try the near-feral, mine-sniffing dog Monahan is required to partner with in the Viet Cong-infested jungles. Monahan’s short vignettes will help you see business challenges in the proper light.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

As entrepreneurs, we dream of great wealth and success, right? The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic, is an important reminder that our values and integrity have to come first. Fabulous mansions, lavish parties and a killer wardrobe are great but not if it means lying about your identity and destroying those around you. Of course we aim for success, but not at any cost. This book is a bracing reminder that character matters most.

Manage Your Day-to-Day, Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

When you’re discouraged, it’s easy to feel paralyzed, resulting in your most important projects languishing. That’s why sometimes, the best antidote is just getting things done. Manage Your Day-to-Day, a compilation of essays from 20 thought leaders edited by Jocelyn K. Glei, provides concrete tips for turning ideas into reality. If you’re feeling stuck, this book is a dose of inspiration and practical help.