Career Advancement Reading List

June 07, 202415 min read

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” - Charlie Jones

I read 20-30 books each year. That and way too many articles and videos scoured across the deep dark corners of the interweb. My Amazon and Audible shopping lists are around 700 total!!

This has served me tremendously throughout my career, allowing me to become an executive before I was 30 and 16x my earnings over 15 years. And then turn those into systems to help others.

he more you read the more things you will learn

When people ask me what book they should read to give them a leg up in their career, I pause...

The answer they often want is what's the ONE BOOK TO MASTER IT ALL?!!

My response, "which aspect of your career do you need the leg up in".

By first defining that, you can then define the right book and action plan to maximize what will stick.

I've captured a selection of books below and organized them by category to help you do just that. It does not include every book I have read but it does a great job of capturing the great minds that helped to shape my mindset and career advancement skills. I'm grateful for these virtual mentor.

Without further ado, and in (almost) no particular order...except the first one ;o)

  • Get Promoted, Make More Money, and Get The Respect You Deserve by Michael Merrill– Short at 40 pages and FREE! You’ll have it read in less than an hour and be able to better understand the corporate Matrix and how to win. It offers insights across most of the categories presented below, so we’ll just give it it’s own. If you don’t already have it, it’s free and you can get by clicking on this link.

  1. 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class: The Thought Processes, Habits And Philosophies Of The Great Ones by Steve Siebold – This is the book that started my little reading/growth addiction.

  2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg – This book opened my mind to how much habits shape our lives. Thanks for sharing it, Nate!

  3. Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By by Timothy D. Wilson – The stories we tell ourselves inform our belief system. Of course, like any story, we can re-write it!

  4. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. – Think you can be successful? You’re right! Think you are a failure? You’re right! Your mindset determines how you act/react.

  5. As a Man Thinketh: A Guide to Unlocking the Power of Your Mind by James Allen – One of the original books on the topic of our belief systems in shaping who we are.

  6. Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live The Dream by James Altucher – James is one of the most honest writers who has been through the weeds himself…. he shares his approach to taking control of your life.

  7. Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! By Tony Robbins – Life is yours. Act accordingly.

  8. What to Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter – Each of us is programmed from birth and the author touches on the impact and concepts of re-programming.

  1. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely – A Brilliant book that shows how poor we are at making decisions and how we can be a bit less irrational… perhaps.

  2. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath – Talks about how we can make change a bit less difficult.

  3. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson – let’s face it, change is hard. This book illustrates the challenges and values of change – don’t fight it!

  4. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman – We are emotional creatures and forget the power of remembering it. You could argue this book belongs in the relationships category too.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – One of the best books on relationships and humans. Don’t want to read it? Then watch and learn how a dog earns friends. Not sure what that means? Read the book!

  2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert B. Cialdini – Learn how to persuade others and learn how others use this information to persuade you.

  3. Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career by Sylvia Ann Hewlett – A sponsor puts their name on you. You become an extension of them. Get one!

  4. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant – Science to help you be a better person and benefit while you’re at it. Balance required.

  5. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets To Success, One Relationship At A Time by Keith Ferrazzi – Great takeaways to improve your networking acumen.

  1. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman – A great book for those without an MBA, who want to talk the talk.

  2. Rework by Jason Fried – Shows you there might be a savvier way to approach things.

  3. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne – Think more strategically and make your company an industry leader.

  4. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber – How to apply the valuable lessons of franchising to your business as it grows. One of my favorite takeaways is that you can choose to work in your business or on your business.

  1. Secrets of Power Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator by Roger Dawson – Become better at negotiating or at least know when the tricks are being used against you. Note: My four-year-old should probably write a book on this topic. He’s good.

  2. Trump-Style Negotiation: Powerful Strategies and Tactics for Mastering Every Deal by George H. Ross – Donald Trump is a skilled negotiator and this book captures strategies that George and the Donald have applied to great success.

  1. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth In Your Corporation by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones opened up my mind to a whole new world of optimization.

  2. The Machine That Changed The World: The Story of Lean Production—Toyota’s Secret Weapon in the Global Car Wars that Is Now Revolutionizing World Industry by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos – First there was Henry Ford and the assembly line. Then there was Toyota with Lean principles and transforming the supply chain with quality.

  3. Quality is Still Free: Making Quality Certain in Uncertain Times by Philip Crosby – How to apply quality ideas learned in the corporate world to the business world at large.

  4. The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande – The volume and complexity of knowledge today is growing. In order for the human mind to keep up, we need systems, checklists, and controls to protect us from our human selves.

  1. Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows – Everything comes together and plays together. It is a system and this book discusses how to leverage systems to reduce the probability of destructive behaviors and to encourage beneficial ones.

  2. Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter – Systems help you move from chaos to order. The better the system, the less you have to think about a particular task and the more you can work on other tasks – or do less!

  1. Indispensable: How To Become The Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without by Joe Calloway – Shows you how to be great and not just mediocre.

  2. 212°: The Extra Degree by Sam Parker – Great metaphor here about the temperature at which water boils and steam is generated. With steam, you can power a locomotive.   What’s the point? Giving just a little more can lead to exponential results and make you really stand out.

  1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen – Sets the standard for managing your to-dos. Of course, you should also manage your to don’ts, but that’s another conversation.

  2. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin – A great book that speaks to the future and how he/she that ships (delivers) wins.

  3. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan – Great book about focusing on what matters most and ignoring the rest of the noise.

  4. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting The Right Things Done by Peter S. Drucker – Identifying the five practices to business effectiveness and getting the right things done.

  5. Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath – Buy the book and take the online assessment for free to identify your top five strengths. This book/test helps you understand what you do best because leveraging your strengths will get you further.

  1. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. By Daniel Coyle -Discusses how you can grow talent by tapping into the brain.

  2. The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by Tim Ferriss – It’s not just about cooking, it’s about hacking how you learn so you can do it faster.

  3. Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel – The way we currently learn isn’t very effective. This book helps to maximize your approach.

  1. Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way To Build a Web Application by 37Signals – More than just web, this book will provide you savvier ways to look at all your work.

  2. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal – Discusses why some products catch and others don’t and what you can do to emulate the successful ones.

  1. How to Read a Financial Report: Wringing Vital Signs Out of the Numbers by John A. Tracy and Tage C. Tracy – These things can be tricky and this book should help ease the pain

  2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi – A great book on personal finance

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir – You never know when you’ll need to escape the planet! 

  1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino – So much of sales is your own mindset and getting out of your own way. Don’t expect technique here; expect a focus on your habits.

  2. The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes – Instead of focusing on everything this book breaks it down to the few essential skills.

  3. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin – Great marketing is about growing trust and having permission vs. interrupting and manipulating the customer.

  4. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk by Al Ries and Jack Trout – This book will help you understand how brands are launched so you can launch your own.

  1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath – Learn why some ideas thrive and some die and how you can apply this science to make your ideas more memorable.

  2. Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte – Resonate with your audience and move them to transformative action.

  3. Check out the above sections on Relationships and Getting Influencers In Your Corner as your marketing and communication are only as good as the trust you develop with your audience/customers.

  1. First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman – This book debunks common misconceptions about management while providing a fantastic guide to being a thoughtful leader

  2. Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers by Erika Andersen – You want your team to thrive and this book will help you and them do so.

  3. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson – A quick but powerful read on goals, praising, and reprimands.

  4. The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management by Peter F. Drucker – He’s the father of modern management and you will learn a lot, fast.

  1. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. – Discusses 8 principles that made these organizations successful.

  2. Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last Twenty-five Years by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui – I don’t know about you but I don’t want to make billion dollar mistakes. This book provides an insightful look at companies that learned lessons the hard way so you can be better prepared.

  3. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh – It’s all about the people! Want remarkable results? Then build the right culture.

  4. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins – Once you read this book you’ll look at your company different. Few companies make the leap to greatness and this book helps to capture what’s different.

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the Rich by Tim Ferriss – This book gave me a new lens to see the world in. Also a great look at entrepreneurship.

  2. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries – Breaks down entrepreneurship to the basics with a lean management approach.

  3. Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow – I love finding accelerators and hacks to achieve your goals and this book speaks directly to this.

BIOGRAPHIES (aka Virtual Mentors)
  1. How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life by Pat Williams and Jim Denney – A tribute to Walt Disney that captures the lessons of his life and the qualities we can benefit from

  2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (of course) – this dude was just amazing. Author, statesman, inventor, businessman, scientist and more!

  3. The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley by Alex Haley and Attallah Shabazz – An engaging book from start to finish. I was surprised to see how many transformations Malcolm X went through and the adversity he overcame.

  4. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass – Okay, this one stuck with me from college. Talk about overcoming adversity!

  5. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson – I love this dude! Not only does he have fun, but he does so while re-making industries and improving customer experiences.

  6. How To Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets by Felix Dennis – An entrepreneur mindset is valuable within or outside a company. It helps to challenge the status Quo and serve the customer. Technically this isn’t sold as a biography but follows a similar path.

  7. Winning by Jack Welch With Suzy Welch – Jack Welch was one of the most successful CEO’s of his time and this book shares how he ran his business to win.

  1. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek – Fantastic book that shines a light on one of the most important things a leader can do to inspire a team… explain the why.

  2. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin – Tribes make the world go around. Do you have one?

  3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith – This book highlights the gaps between what we think we need to do to reach the next level and what we should actually do.

  4. Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs: 100 Top Executives Reveal The Management Strategies That Made Their Companies Great by Eric Yaverbaum – Each Chapter provides a top CEO who reveals in quick-read fashion his or her most powerful leadership technique.

  5. Martin Luther King, Jr. On Leadership: Inspiration and Wisdom for Challenging Times by Donald T. Phillips – This dude was a living, breathing example of leadership and this book captures his struggles and how he led during this tumultuous period in America’s recent past.

  1. Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull – This is a great manual for developing a creative culture, which any business can benefit from. Arguably this could be above in Leadership.

  2. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen – Technology is a-chang’n. You best keep up!

Looking for additional READING LISTS to get lost in?


Josh Kaufman

Charlie Munger

Tim Ferriss

James Clear

Ryan Holiday

Did I miss one of your favorites? Perhaps you can recommend one that can jump to the front of my queue?

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