My Top 10 Business Books of All Time (so far)

As an entrepreneur I get asked all of the time for advice, or words of wisdom—how did I do it? I have a lot to say about what I think for business, leadership and design…but what is the single best piece of advice I can give prospective entrepreneurs? Drumroll please…

…Read. Read from the best books. Read from the best business books. The next time you sit on your couch to watch some TV or play a game—read instead.

"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Ugh. What a buzz-kill. It almost seems like a cop-out right? But, in all honesty, business is complicated. It is multi-faceted and requires a lot of different skills and abilities to navigate. It is also very different from industry to industry and there is really just no getting around that. But believe it or not, there is very little that is new. There are very few things that people haven’t done—in one form or another, and then gone on to write about it. Apply this one piece of advice, and you will certainly have enough information and even motivation at your fingertips to build something great, and even avoid many of the pitfalls that would otherwise beset you—as they have those who have gone before you i.e.: ‘Tis noble to suffer the slings and arrows oneself…but the wisest of all avoids them by learning from the mistakes (and successes) of others instead.’

So on with it. Shawn Nelson’s top 10 book list:

  • 10. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
  • 9.   Ben Franklin, by Walter Isaacson
  • 8.   How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  • 7.   Influence, by Robert B. Cialdini
  • 6.   Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • 5.   Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard P. Rumelt
  • 4.   22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al Ries
  • 3.   Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
  • 2.   The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni
  • 1.   Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Good to Great by Jim Collins

Shawn Nelson’s favorite business book of all time

Honestly, I could probably create 10 different “Top 10” lists of my favorite books depending on which industry we are talking about. But I feel that this list is my most general one. Reading (and applying) the wisdom found within the books on the above list will be game-changing to anyone in business, entrepreneurship, leadership, or management in any capacity.

So find a nice couch to curl up on (I recommend one of mine) and read! Reading these days can come in many forms. I’m mostly a real book kind-of-guy. I like to underline and write notes. I like to collect them and fill shelves with them. And I am a painfully slow reader, by the way. But small flatscreen TVs are so cheap now that I bought one to mount at eye-level in front of my treadmill with my laptop connected, and I now can read at a full jog, no problem. Its amazing how quickly a workout goes when your mind is on something else. I am a TV and movie freak—but with a bit of discipline, I am always happier when I choose books instead. And if real books or Nooks aren’t your thing, then get the audio version and listen while flying, driving, or jogging. I do it all.

— Shawny

One thought on “My Top 10 Business Books of All Time (so far)

  1. Aaron

    Great list! I’ve read 6/10 and totally agree with your ranking. Your good taste will influence me to read the other 4. Genius idea about reading while running too. Thanks!


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