The Holy Grail For Startups: 15 Must Read Sensational Books For Success

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A grassroots approach to startups that utilizes a variety of strategies, theories, philosophies and lessons from a collection of 15 books authorized by well-respected and esteemed leaders, teachers and successful entrepreneurs. This collection of books will help you define and cultivate your personal and professional attitudes to leverage your passions and skills when it comes to business and startup success. Inspirational life’s stories and voices of experience will help you with your own entrepreneurial journeys to transform and transcend your ideas into successful ventures.

1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

Mindset Book

Carol Dweck, a world renowned Stanford phycologist, deliberates the practical power of resolving the right mindset as the key to motivate ourselves and those in our circle of influence, including children, friends and co-workers, for personal and business success.

She delineates how the alignment of our brain and mind’s thoughts with our innate talents may be the secret key to great accomplishment in the multi-facets of our lives, whether interpersonal or in a professional arena.

2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D.


Proven methods to make you a more successful entrepreneur, specifically a better marketer in the realm of persuading an audience and optimizing conversion. A highlight of the book is the author’s 6 Principles of Influence that encompass reciprocity, stability, social proof, influence and and scarcity.

The knowledge this book imparts on the human psychology and what motivates people into their choices sheds rudimentary values on the ultimate psychology of persuasion and influence.

The author reflects on the doctrine of human conduct that “when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

Book Review The Power of Habit

This book empowers its readership with an analysis of human psychology to pinpoint the driving force behind peoples’ habits and how to build upon and use those habits into your everyday dealings as well as ultimately your product’s marketing scheme.

A standout from the book is, “Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Charles Duhigg takes readers on a scientific journey to uncover how human thought processes and generalized habits predict consumer behavior and how they may be used to underwrite the power of those habits in response to a product in an entrepreneurial setting.

The notion that, “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped” lays at the crux of this theory about why we do what we do and the ramifications of the power of habit in everyday life and in business.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

How To Win Friends and Influence People book

A 1936 classic, this book has been imparting guidance and inspiration to a wide array of readers, leaders and influencers for several decades.

This book is timeless in its ideologies and commonsense approach to winning over the favor of people, addressing different personalities with finesse and respectfully changing people’s thought process to align with yours.

Dale Carnegie’s adaptable approach surpasses the test of time and is unequivocally adaptable to modern day interpersonal and business relationships.

5. The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, PH.D.

Magic of Thinking Big book

The Magic of Thinking Big may be considered the Holy Grail to success and happiness- individual, interpersonal, business and financial. Dr. Schwartz lays out the fundamentals to setting exceptional goals and willing them into a fulfilling reality.

He writes, “Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.”

This sacred book of sorts delves into concrete methods for maintaining a positive attitude, overcoming fears and defeats and teaches how the power of visualization can undoubtedly launch a successful destiny.

Dr. Schwartz  emphasizes that we should, “Look at things not as they are, but as they can be. Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck with the present.”

6. Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework Book

This is an excellent quick read book comprised of a stockpile of essays pivoting around making money the ultimate priority at the beginning stages of your startup.

The book delves into the notion of time is money and that a timely transition from theory and planning into real movement and action is at the heart of business success. A line from the book states, “Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way.”

Rework shows you how to nurture the confidence in oneself to start working, launch and garner success without delay or excuses.

7. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale

power-of-positive-thinking book

This citation from this international bestseller sums everything up:

“Stand up to an obstacle. Just stand up to it, that’s all, and don’t give way under it, and it will finally break. You will break it. Something has to break, and it won’t be you, it will be the obstacle.”

This inspirational book demonstrates the power of the mind and how willing your future into place may be fostered by virtue of positive thought.

The practical techniques set forth in the book teach loving oneself enough to not worry, to project encouragement and kindness into all relationships and garner the determination and focus necessary to improve yourself, your business and your life.

Peale states, “When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you,” and this is the ultimate objective of helping his readers take charge of their destinies and living a more fulfilled life.

8. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers, by Seth Godin

Permission Marketing book

Seth Godin’s recount of the movement away from the “interruptions” of traditional consumer marketing, towards Permission Marketing centers around incentives designed to bring attention to products and services.

The author prospects Permission Marketing as, “The tool that unlocks the power of the Internet,” and offers a modern perspective on advertising that employs a looks at those audience members who have actually expressed an interest to improve chances of conversion via a sale.

The book explores the notion of positively harnessing the relationships with target audiences and customers who trust you to “turn strangers into friends and friends into into lifetime customers.”

9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey

7-habits-of-highly-effective-people book

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” ― Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R, Covey delineates seven habits in a manual of sorts for individualized and professionalized productivity.

The author sets forth the paradigm shift concept to prepare readers for the transition into ultimate efficacy as it relates to optimism, organization and time-management. He extrapolates the complexities of the human thought process and acting with initiative to achieve personal change by explaining how one may, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

10. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, by John Wooden with Steve Jamison

Wooden Book

An inspirational classic, this book offers telling life’s lessons on achievement, rising to excellence and tried-and-true philosophies of the legendary Coach John Wooden as they relate to family, faith, parenthood and professional capacities.

Simple immutable tenets of truths about one’s character to impart a sense of kindness, decency and the tactical straightforwardness needed to build once’s strength of character. Page after page of inspirational quotes and thoughts to jot down and have at your fingertips for daily inspiration. My own three favorites are:

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ― John Wooden,

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” ― John Wooden

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.” ― John Wooden

11. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup Book

Eric Ries sets forth the new approach being adopted by today’s entrepreneurs and companies in order to direct a sustainable business and avoid startup collapse.

The author’s, “Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop is at the core of the Lean Startup model.” and building the MVP (Most Viable Product).

The book’s approach cultivates an air of creativity and efficiency as they relate to validated learning and “the essential competitive advantage that startups must possess.” The author’s philosophies rely on testing that is flexible to reflect consumer needs and demands and concrete tools to assist entrepreneurs with adaptation and shift in their company direction to ensure success.

He sums up the continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses with, “We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”

12. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Zero to One Book

‘A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.’  ― Peter Thiel

This book examines the ways to both explore and bring to life innovative inventions outside of the ever-changing advances in technology.

Peter Thiel encourages confidence to think for oneself and striving to build a unique product or idea, not just to be complacent in the notion of tweaking an existing model or improving upon someone else’s work.

The real value to build the future is to look in a direction that is idiosyncratic and exclusive, as he states, “Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.”

13. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, by Derek Sivers

Anything You Want Book

A compacted version of 10 years experience into a quick read based on Derek Siver’s lessons in entrepreneurism as a teaching tool for understanding the worth of life and the utility of time and energy spent on a selected path in business and for personal fulfillment.

Sivers describes how, “Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.”

This book will help you pinpoint and recognize anything you want to realize one’s dreams with certainty and enthusiastic fervor.

14. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang

Pour Your Heart Into It Book

This book is a reflection on the ultimate success story of an American businessman Howard Schultz and how he turned a single standalone store in Seattle known as Starbucks into a worldwide coffee company phenomenon.

The author and CEO of Starbucks shares his inspirational secrets to success and his entrepreneurial mindset of turning an idea into a powerful brand and profit as he shaped the American experience.

He discusses the importance of authentic mass advertising to propagate a successful label and how, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”

15. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company, by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

The Startup Owner's Manual Book

This book is an entrepreneur’s manual essentially on a detailed outline for building thriving and profitable startups that sustain success.

The Startup Owner’s Manual shares practical suggestions, useful pointers, complete checklists and guides regarding customer development, business model organization, targeted customer base and scalable profitability.

He directs you on which questions to ask and how to focus and fine tune your steps to building a great company, starting with, “To succeed, founders need to turn hypotheses or guesses into facts as soon as possible by getting out of the building, asking customers if the hypotheses were correct, and quickly changing those that were wrong.”

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