We all have heroes who we look up to and wish to be like. And as long as they are not from the Marvel Universe, there’s a high possibility that we can hone ourselves into becoming them. Most successful people share similar traits – they all wake up early, focus on mindfulness, get ample down time and most importantly, always stay learning. 


Their curiosity and thirst for knowledge is what they attribute to their success. In fact, Warren Buffet is credited to have pointed at a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it." So, reading is one of the top traits that sets successful people apart from their peers. 


So, what is it that they read? Why do these books make a difference? Let’s find out some of the top books recommended by the most successful people in the world – the likes of Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg et al. 


If you are anything like us and want to plan your reading list for 2020, this would be a great place to start! 


Business Adventures by John Brooks

Co-founder of Microsoft Corporation and philanthropist, Bill Gates describes, ““More than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I've ever read . . . Brooks’s deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then.” The book is full of dramatic stories about Wall Street that “reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance.” 


The Brothers Karamasov by Dostoevsky

American politician and lawyer Hillary Clinton rated Fyodor Dostoyevsky's “The Brothers Karamazov” as her favorite book. This book is a wonderful study on Russian life and culture through the lives and love affairs of the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons – Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha.


How to make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Buffer CEO, Joel Gascoigne swears by this book and it is a recommended reading for the team at Buffer. He shares, “I first read How to Win Friends and Influence People perhaps a year before I started Buffer, around 5 years ago. It instantly had an impact for me, both on how I wanted to improve my character and how I wanted to run a company.”


That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need To Know About Working Together by Joanne Lipman

Billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban shared in one of his interviews that, “One of my most important takeaways from the book was learning that treating everyone equally doesn’t mean treating everyone the same.” The book promises useful insights to bring back the equilibrium in the workplace in the aftermath of two turbulent years of stories on workplace horrors committed against women. If you are part of the workforce, pick up this book and help bridge the gender gap. 


The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser

Busting the myth surrounding "niceness", this book positions how women can be both firm and nice, while staying authentic to their personality. Founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global and author Arianna Huffington believes that this book challenged the “outdated notion of what powerful leaders should look like and shows how a culture in which we no longer allow brilliant jerks to dominate the workplace will be better not just for women, but for everyone — and for the bottom line.” 


The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, and the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett regards this as one of the best investment guides, sharing wisdom about “value investing.” Since its publication in 1949,  the book has been updated to suit today’s financial landscape and helps readers set attainable financial goals. 


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

A book recommended by CEO and President of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Built to Last is a thoroughly researched work on how top companies around the world have grown from scratch into the large enterprises they are today. 


The Road to Character by David Brooks

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi highly recommends this book. “Beyond provoking valuable self-reflection and introspection, it sparked a wonderful discussion with my two daughters about why building inner character is just as important as building a career. In fact, the two go hand in hand—the moral compass of our lives must also be the moral compass of our livelihoods,” she reveals. The book studies the world’s greatest thinkers and leaders to understand how they built their character overcoming their limitations and hurdles. 


The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

Co-founder of Lumi Labs Marissa Mayer lists this seminal book on design as a fascinating read.  She explains, "it makes you think about design in new ways, because when you use something everyday it needs to be absolutely efficient and not get in your way." Norman’s book explores how one can create good, usable design through some basic rules. 


The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo

This book is listed as a constant favourite of American philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft, Melinda Gates. Mark Nepo’s poetic prose helps us understand life on a spiritual plane, helping readers dig deeper into emotions like pain, wonder and love. If you are looking to become more mindful of and grateful for life, this is your go-to guide.

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November 29, 2019