Recommended Books

My Personally Recommended Books

Here is a list of recommended books that I’ve actually read.  No, I don’t recommend every book I read, but I admit that I much more often find the good in books than not.  Even then, there are several that I’ve read but would not recommend.

Here are my list of winning books to read.

Disclaimer: If  you click on any of these links, I will get paid an affiliate commission.  It won’t be much, but I will get something, and I do not want to trick anyone into a purchase.

Check for the following book sections:
  • Internet Marketing Books
  • Attitude/Motivational Books
  • Sales & Networking Books
  • Marketing Books
  • Money Management Books
  • Money/Business Investment Books
  • Thinking/Mind Expansion Books

Here is a rundown of each of my recommended books:

Internet Marketing Books

What I like about this book: This is one of the best, most effective introductory books to explain SEO (search engine optimization) that I have seen. The explanations are good, but THIS ALSO HAS LOTS OF PICTURES. Throughout the book, it gives screenshots of different steps or infographics to explain the point. Easy read but a wonderful introduction.

What I like about this book: I got this book, because I was panicking. I offered to teach a class about using Twitter before I really had much of an idea how to use it. This book reminded me that social media is about networking first more than it is business marketing--despite what many others might have you believe. This book has a lot of Twitter tricks and outlines resources, but it emphasizes a mindset of helping people. So far, this was worked wonders, and I have not even tried half of this author's suggestions, yet.

What I like about this book: This book was a pleasant surprise. I bought a different book about YouTube marketing, and I got this book as a "throw in" to complement my initially preferred YouTube book. However, I was disappointed in that book (by a much better known author, by the way), but THIS BOOK is terrific. It explains some basic things, but it's not at the expense of offering really neat tidbits. I look forward to rereading this book.

What I like about this book:I wanted to learn how to use LinkedIn, because I was teaching a class mid-year. However, this showed me to neat LinkedIn tricks, but it also emphasized the importance of restricting your LinkedIn Connections to people that you know, unlike Twitter or even Facebook. LinkedIn is a database, and people might want you to introduce them to a LinkedIn Connection that you have, but you might not really have a "connection" with this person. Professionally, that could put a dent in your reputation. I really liked this book--more than I thought I would.

How to REALLY use LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren & Bert Verdonck
What I like about this book:This book shows some really neat LinkedIn tricks. Some places of this book read better than others, but you will learn about using key parts of LinkedIn more quickly if you read this book.

Attitude/Motivational Books

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
What I like about this book: This book encourages us to notice that WE are the biggest barriers to ourselves. We don’t think we’re worth more; so we don’t envision more for ourselves. We don’t think BIG enough, and we simply stop ourselves.

What I like about this book: Tony Robbins is just a great guy. I’ve only read this book, but I’ve heard that a lot of his other books and materials provide similar reminders. No matter how far down and lousy things look for us, we all have a new day in front of us, even the successful people. It begins with our self-image.

What I like about this book: This is a short book, and it has a cute story about mice and little people moving through a maze. Much like a lot of people in real life—outside the book—fail to see the change that is happening. We want things to be the way they were, and that could be really poisonous  today. There are new opportunities, and we just need to start looking for them. We won’t find them, otherwise. This is a short but cute story to bring this point to life…with pretend characters.

What I like about this book: This book outlines the way a simple postal worker—Fred—takes his job and makes a difference in people’s lives. It provides an excellent guideline about how to be excellent in your job—regardless of your position—and in life.

What I like about this book: This is the least known book in this category, but it’s really good. There are a whole bunch of motivational ideas, each of which is really short, often only taking one small page. It’s a really quick read, but you’ll think about things in there for a long time.

Sales & Networking Books

What I like about this book: This is the book that made me realize—just entering my final year of college—that I belonged in business, not as a math professor. It’s a short book, and it’s a little expensive for there being so few pages. Regardless, I have bought multiple copies of this book to give to people. Harvey Mackey teaches people how to prepare so that you can’t help but care about the other person, and that other person can’t help but notice how much you care.

What I like about this book: This is a book about sales, but it does a great job of giving lessons in easy-going story format. Frank Bettger was a failure as a baseball player, and he was unprepared for the real world. He learned how to become successful, just as it seemed he was about to fail in sales.  Great story; better sales lessons.

What I like about this book: Bob Shook is one of the leading sales authors. He is a no-nonsense guy, and this book is the jewel of his books. He wrote other books, but this one clearly reflected his mission as a salesman.

What I like about this book: This is a negotiation book, which I consider to be a key part of sales. This does a great job of making us consider the other person’s position while negotiating, helping us better prepare and handle what is coming our way. It’s not hardnosed, like you probably think. It’s a brilliant read.

What I like about this book: This is a sales book, but at first you will wonder whether it really has anything to do with sales. This covers a trip to different parts of the world to get ancient scrolls, each of which has a life lesson. In the end, it all ties together how it relates to sales. This is the most famous one in this section, but I only liked it. I like the others more than this, but you won’t go wrong with this one.

Marketing Books

What I like about this book: This book essentially defines niche marketing. I’ve read this book a couple of times. The Purple Cow introduces a simple concept that is presented in ways most of us never considered. Some people complain that the book is too simple, but I think that is the beauty. It does a better job than anyone or anything I know to help explain why “selling to everyone, everywhere” is a poor plan. It compares the market today versus in the 1950s and 60s, when mass marketing was the way.

What I like about this book: In many ways, this is an outdated book. Still, Dan Kennedy is one of the most brilliant headline writers of our time. He knows how to get attention. He has good ideas in here, but I will reread the book, just to pay attention to the way he uses titles. That is the real power within this book, and you get some really good ideas, too.

Positioning: How to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace by Al Ries and Jack Trout
What I like about this book: The best part about this book is that it uses a BUNCH of examples to makes its points.  Essentially, this book helped me understand why the same marketing strategy only worked for one company yet not the next.  Unlike many other books, a lot of the examples are from well-known companies.  This even addresses how to name a company.

Writing Effective Press Releases: How to Get Free Publicity for Yourself, Your Business, or Your Organization by Catherine V. McIntyre
What I like about this book: Warning! This book is old school...but it really has a lot of great ideas.  If you have a non-profit organization, it gives really good ideas for helping promote that.  This book helps people understand what makes something news...and what does not.  It provides insight into emails (this actually refers to's pretty old) that you can write to different editors.  In fact, it gives tips about how to find the right editor.  This is a pretty short book, and it's easy to read.  Most importantly, it will help you learn how to generate your own publicity. 

What I like about this book: I read this book, because a friend of mine wrote it.  However, I’m recommending this book, because it’s really good.  He combines the perspective of rebuilding his own company, a collection of interviews he did with other businesses, and how he built a LinkedIn Group (also called Sticky Branding) to over 35,000 members.  A lot of the writing is good, not great, but there are LOADS of great ideas in this book.  After you’re done reading this, you WILL be smarter about business, regardless whether you own a business or are just simply looking for a job.  At the end of each section, Miller includes checklists that does a great job of tying together things and making you ask yourself critical questions.

What I like about this book: Someone recommended this book to me several years before I finally got around to buying it, and now I realize that was a mistake.  If definitely drives home the point that we need one, if not more than one, something unique that separates us from our competition, but we don’t need this book for that.  However, this book does a great job of providing a checklist of different ways we can separate ourselves.  It’s very thought provoking, and I will use this as a reference for as long as I’m in business.

Money Management Books

What I like about this book: This book taught me that the people who are wealthy are probably not the ones that I thought were wealthy. Many people “look rich.” They might earn a lot of income, but they might not keep a large portion of it. Wealthy people play good defense with their money. This is the ultimate book on money management, and it liberated me from feeling that I had to spend to “look the part.” Those people often don’t have very much in their savings.

What I like about this book: Ramit does a good job of talking from his heart and experience. He breaks down a simple plan that each of us could follow to become rich without stressing about it.We just have to follow the plan.

What I like about this book: This book is similar to “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi. David Bach does a good job of  pointing out how much money we spend by getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Then he puts a lot of emphasis on paying yourself first, using automatic deposit. This way, we never see the money, and it does not stress us.

Money/Business Investment Books
What I like about this book: I listed THIS book first in this section, because info I got from this book (a) kept me from making a dumb investment decision, and (b) helped me take advantage of a huge stock opportunity. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but this book put me in the right mindset. I do better in the stock market than most BECAUSE OF THIS BOOK. Plus, it's interesting to see the distinct investing styles of George Soros and Warren Buffett, both of whom are awesome investors.

What I like about this book: All of the Rich Dad Poor Dad books basically deliver the same messages. Pay yourself first. Work toward generating passive income instead of earned income. Buy investments that create passive income to purchase the luxurious consumer item you want. Create the passive income from other people’s time or other people’s money. A trained eye can create money from nothing. This book just takes a child’s slant on these concepts.

What I like about this book: This book emphasizes each of the four “cashflow quadrants.” Employee, Self-Employed, Business Owner, and Investor. It outlines the difference between each, where rich people are, and some ways to get there.

What I like about this book: This book takes a simplified approach to explaining how most of us have a poor person’s mindset—not a rich person’s one. This delivers lessons through a lot of lists. This is probably not as easy to read as the books in the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, though.

Business/Entrepreneurial Books

What I like about this book: This book does a great job of explaining the 3 different types of personalities of the business owner: The Technician, The Manager, and The Entrepreneur.  Most of us are not all three, and the author likens the ongoing battle between these personalities to the Fat Guy and The Skinny Guy within us.  He narrates his consulting work with a baker, who makes wonderful tasting goodies, but she struggles as she begins her business.  It's a story, but it's believable.  Most of all, it provides insight that we can apply to ourselves.

What I like about this book: I read this book twice, and I am glad I did.  I got a lot from it the first time, but I really got a lot more from it the second time.  This book analyzes the difference between similar companies who "get it right" and those that never seem to burst through mediocrity.  The study addresses A/B Comparisons for several different companies and notes the similarities between the success stories.  I learned a couple of surprising things, but they make sense now.  I realize that I was wrong--not this book. 

Dave's Way by R. David Thomas (of Wendy’s Restaurant)
What I like about this book: Of course, most people in the US know about the Wendy's fast food restaurant chain.  However, few people know Wendy's founder Dave Thomas' story...or understand how many obstacles he had to overcome.  He was living on his own at age 15!  When you hear people tell you to follow your passion and success will follow...they're thinking of stories EXACTLY like Dave's.  Plus, Dave began making his fortune...not with Wendy's but with another restaurant franchise.  Can you guess which one?

What I like about this book: Honestly, this book is not as good as Dave's Way (explaining the story about Wendy's), but it's still interesting.  He talks about the rise of Burger King and a couple of decision making crossroads that might have possibly made Burger King--not McDonald's--the #1 fast food chain.  So there are valuable lessons of success and failure here.  If you're in the United States, how can you NOT be intrigued by the story about Burger King.

Iacocca: An Autobiography of Lee Iacocca by Lee Iacocca (of Chrysler and Ford)
What I like about this book: This is an oldie, as it was written in the 1980s when Lee was having success at Chrysler.  (It was written before his downfall there.)  He holds an interesting story about his climb to the top and different things about Henry Ford II.  It's also prophetic.  Even in the 80s, he boldly predicts what will eventually become problems with health care costs, which have proven to be absolutely true today.  It's an inspiring story that's fun to read.

What I like about this book: Okay, the heyday of Joe Torre's New York Yankees of the late 1990s are long past us.  No matter.  This guy has a lot of really good leadership advice.  The fact that he used real baseball examples just makes it a better story...and more likely we'll remember his advice.   The advice is good regardless, but if you're not really a baseball fan, this book is probably really good--not great.  If you want to learn leadership skills and are a baseball fan--even a casual fan--this is a MUST READ.

What I like about this book: I grew up in the Chicago Area, and as a Bulls fan of the Michael Jordan days, I absolutely HATED this guy.  I didn't like the way he led the Pistons.  Certainly, he has not had nearly as much success post-career as he did during his playing career.  No matter...I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It's easy to read, but it's also insightful.  He tells about stories in the hood where he grew up, including spending a lot of his childhood hungry...literally!  Isiah gives great motivational tips, and his story makes you believe them.

What I like about this book: I've never had a formal accounting course.  However, this book takes a boring subject--like accounting--and makes it a lot more fun by applying the concept of a childhood lemonade stand.  Sure, some of the scenarios are far-fetched for kid, but it's meant to teach us adults...using a child's concept.  This makes it easier to understand...and a lot more enjoyable than the standard accounting book.

Secrets of Power Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Power Negotiator by Roger Dawson
What I like about this book: I started making more money after I read this book, and I will need to reread it.  There is just too many good ideas in this book that we want to remember, but there are just too many to get them all on the first try.  Even if you never use any of these negotiation methods yourself, it's easier to defend yourself when you see tricks that other people might be trying to use on you.

Books by Harvey Mackay: Harvey Mackay is the person who made me interested in business, even when I was a clueless college kid.  He puts things plainly, and--for me--is one of the truly transformational authors.  It's been years (seriously...years) since I've read his books, but whenever I pick up one, open it, and start reading it, the book reminds me of something really matter which book, no matter where inside that book I begin reading.  Here are a few from him I've read:

Thinking/Mind Expansion Books

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
What I like about this book: I admit that this is not an easy read, but the lessons here are too valuable--in life--to avoid.  The author spent about 25 years studying the nation's most wealthy people and identified the 17 personality traits ALL of them had.  He even makes a reference to sex drive as one of those traits.  I've read this a couple of times, and I plan to read this one again.

What I like about this book:  This book explains something that I've suspected for years.  The 80/20 concept can be explained in a sentence: Most of the productivity is generated by only a small portion of our activity.  However, this book does an amazingly good job of providing lots of ways to APPLY it.  I started living life more intelligently after I read this book. 

What I like about this book:  Strangely, this is not a book for the lazy, despite the 4 hours per week implication.  It basically uses the 80/20 principle to the max.  Most of us waste time doing activities that don't really matter.  If we only spent our "working time" focusing on things that mattered, we'd reduce our work time...without reducing our work productivity.  Most of us are so quick to defend our daily or weekly routine that we're too lazy to challenge ourselves...and what we're doing.  This book provides tremendous insight into finding ways to work harder for more concentrated periods of time...well actually work more productively...not necessarily working harder.  Tim Ferriss shows all sorts of examples that never would have crossed my mind.  I'm pretty sure I've generated ideas I never would have if I never read this book.  Warning: It's not easy to read; the concepts are counter-intuitive.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
What I like about this book:  At first, you might think this book is about statistics, but it really does a good job of showing that most "extremely unusual circumstances" are probably not explained simply "by chance."  There usually is a great explanation...if you look more closely.  The specific examples in this book will make you think.  At least, that's what it did for me.  For example, it explained why Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born in the right years and why the vast majority of professional hockey players are born in January, February, or March...with almost none of them born after August.