11 Books That Will Change Your Life, According to Highly Successful CEOs
Books have so much power. Their insights can make you rich, revamp your health, offer new perspectives or transform your relationships. These avid readers and Advisors in The Oracles share the books that are incredible additions to any library.
1. “About Face” by Colonel David Hackworth and Julie Sherman
This book is about Hackworth’s journey fighting with the U.S. Army in the Korean and Vietnam wars. While it’s not a traditional leadership book, I garneredmany insights from his experiences of leading men in combat.
Hackworth was also a balanced leader. He built good relationships with his superiors and subordinates. He took care of his people — not by letting them off easy, but by pushing them, so they were prepared to excel. As a result, he unified his team. When Hackworth took over a battalion that was having problems, he renamed it, “The Hardcore Recondos,” to change the team’s attitude. So when I became the SEAL Task Unit Bravo commander, I renamed it, “Task Unit Bruiser,” not because we were having problems, but to instill the attitude that we were going to crush it.
The world isn’t filled with great people who are thrilled to work for you. You’ve got to find them and nurture their talent so they stay. It’s easy to fire someone but do you have a suitable replacement? Someone who can do two-thirds of the work is better than no one doing any of the work. —Jocko Willink, retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer, #1 NYT bestselling author, co-founder of Echelon Front, partner in Origin USA, and host of the top-rated Jocko Podcast
2. “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman and Marc C. Winters
This book made me aware of how I operate. One of the biggest concepts for me was the distinction between Visionaries and Integrators. The Visionary is a big-picture thinker, and the Integrator is the one who makes the vision a reality.
“Rocket Fuel” showed me that I was a Visionary trying to be an Integrator, which is why I felt disconnected from my business at the time. I wasn’t operating from my zone of genius. If entrepreneurs read more about developing our strengths instead of trying to do everything, perhaps we wouldn’t burn out so much. — Ines Ruiz, former Cambridge University professor with two masters degrees (e-learning and education); founder of Pocket Learning Spanish and Diary of an Entrepreneur
3. “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino
This book is central to all my financial success. I learned that there isa secret recipe for success: becoming a slave to your high-performance habits. Whenever I’m struggling or out of balance, I identify which habit has lost steam. Whether it’s my morning routine, exercise, or something else, I reinstall it quickly.
The most important learning for me was about perseverance. The book shares a powerful quote: “I must fail often to succeed only once.” Sowing seeds for the future and putting in the “daily reps” are the keys to an unfair advantage. — Sharran Srivatsaa, angel investor and CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology execution platform for real estate; grew Teles Properties 10X to $3.6 billion in five years; follow Sharran on Instagram
4. “Execution” by Lawrence Bossidy and Ram Charan
“Execution” explains how to get the job done and deliver results, whether you’re running a company or navigating your first management job. It's the blueprint for scaling any company and changed how I manage ours.
The authors demonstrate the importance of engaging deeply and passionately in your organization. As the title suggests, it taught me how to execute: by linking people, strategy, and operations. Running a business isn’t about forming a vision and leaving others to carry it out. The real job is leading these three core processes. — Gail Corder Fischer, Executive Vice Chairman of Fischer & Company, a leading global corporate real estate firm that provides consulting, brokerage, and technology solutions
5. “Powerful” by Patty McCord
This book is for anyone who wants to create a high-performance company culture. McCord is the former chief talent officer at Netflix and masterfully illustrates how they approached recruiting, motivating, and creating great teams. She gives practical advice about driving a team and avoiding common traps as you build your teams.
As an entrepreneur, your original team may be perfect for the “startup years,” but it’s not usually the team that will help you achieve extreme growth. I’ve learned that when you experience culture shifts, some will wish for things to return to “how they used to be” because rapid growth and achievement scares them. — Kenny Rueter, CEO and co-founder of Kajabi
6.“Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza
I had this book for three years before I read it. In that time, my wife and I lost two babies, and our lives flipped upside down. I was unfulfilled, even though my business seemed successful. No matter how hard I hustled, my business and personal life suffered.
This book opened my mind to what I could create in my life. After I read it, I was no longer stuck in old ways of thinking, with past failures controlling my future possibilities. The book changed how I respond to the ups and downs of life. — Trevor Turnbull, CEO of Linked Into Leads and founder of the Expert Selling Machine, who transforms B2B sales with impactful lead generation; connect with Trevor on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.
7. “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris
This book changed my perspective on business. Ferris shows how to become more successful, effective in business, and happier in life. While a four-hour work week may be a stretch, if you want to dramatically reduce your time working while getting more done, this book is for you. No other book has had such an impact on my life. — Guy Sheetrit, CEO of Over The Top SEO, who provides customized SEO marketing solutions for ecommerce, local, and Fortune 500 companies
8. The Bible
Before you dismiss this as a religious recommendation, consider that the Bible is studied by all walks of life — from historians to poets and business leaders. And it’s the best-selling book of all time.
The Bible outlines the principles of a successful life and captures stories of overcoming obstacles. It inspires hope and gives practical steps to live meaningfully. The Bible teaches me about purpose and integrity. It changed my trajectory as an entrepreneur, refining my mindset about sales, customer service, and leadership. — Tom Shieh, CEO of Crimcheck; connect with Tom on Facebook
9. “DotCom Secrets” by Russell Brunson
This book will open your mind to the online marketing world. It’s an all-access shortcut to the processes, funnels, and scripts that Brunson’s team uses to scale companies — which we also use at our digital marketing agency.
Our clients need proven strategies. We turn to Brunson’s team because they’ve run thousands of tests and perfected what works (and doesn’t) online. We found that a strategy with amazing ROI for a client in one industry was extremely effective for another with a totally different audience. While the details changed, the foundation remains. — Jason Hall, author, founder, and CEO of Five Channels; generating $30M+ in sales revenue for clients in 2018
10. “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran
I worked at a record store when I was in college, and a customer once surprised me with a special gift — a book I’ve never forgotten. “The Prophet” is about yearning for a unity of being that is only achieved through love, according to a mystic tradition.
“The Prophet” also influenced The Beatles, John F. Kennedy, and Indira Gandhi. The book has a magical quality; it has a way of speaking to people at different stages in their lives. The more you read it, the more you come to understand the words. — Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, a real estate brokerage empire with more than $27 billion in annual sales
11. “Unbeatable Mind” by Mark Divine
As an eclectic reader, I enjoy all kinds of books, from historical books to biographies, self-help, motivational, business, and medical books. “Unbeatable Mind” shook me to my core. Mark Divine is an athlete, former Navy Seal, yogi, Wall Street CPA, entrepreneur, and martial arts practitioner. His book is a clear and precise roadmap on how to tap into your full potential.
For the first time, I realized I was not playing at my full potential. I have 20 times more in the tank than I thought. It’s all about discipline and focus.Divine breaks it down into five mountains to conquer for personal growth: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and intuitional. If you’re a performance junkie like me and want to get the most out of your life and yourself, this is a must-read.— Peter Hernandez, President of The Western Region at Douglas Elliman; founder and President of Teles Properties
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