I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction. If I learn one tip or trick from a non-fiction book, I consider the book worthy of my time. This year, I read some books that were above and beyond my highest expectations. Yes, there were tips and tricks. But even beyond that, these books made me think. They made me look at my business and my world a little differently. They inspired me and were so rich with information, that I will be reading each one of these again.
The first three were audio books read in whole or in part by the author. I love audio books because they allow me to make great use of “dead time”, such as when I’m driving. However, if you are a visual learner like me, you may wish to buy an electronic or hard cover version of these books instead.
Principles: Life and Work
by Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater, the world’s largest Hedge Fund. He is also one of the world’s richest individuals, with a net worth pegged at over $17B. He certainly didn’t need to write a book for financial gain. According to Dalio, he is in a phase of his life where he wants to “give back” and that is why he decided to share his secrets about life and his company. He will be writing a subsequent book sharing his investment secrets. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part is essentially Ray Dalio’s autobiography. What was most amazing to me is Dalio’s ordinary upbringing and shaky start in the business world where he almost went broke in 1982.
But what sets Dalio apart from everyone else is his analytical way of looking at his failures and mistakes and learning from them, which is something we can all do. And then, Dalio goes on to integrate this process into all aspects of his life and his company. He fed so much data into his company’s computers about historical investing trends that he was able to predict the financial downturn in 2008. He feeds everything into computers—company investment decisions, personnel choices—so that he created his own “big data” and “artificial intelligence” before such terms became trendy.
The book is dripping in wisdom. But the beauty is that it is written in simple and easy to understand language. And listening to Dalio read about his principles makes you feel like he is personally mentoring you. If you want to expand the way you look at the world, the way you make decisions and the way you create and contribute to a company’s culture, you will love this book.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek
I decided to purchase the audio book instead of listening to Sinek’s famous Ted Talk, so I really knew nothing about Sinek before listening to the book. I was blown away by the way Sinek inspired me to think about my own business, my brokerage and the companies I do business with. Sinek’s thesis is that we must understand “why” we are in business. This “why” is the source of our passion and what differentiates one business from another. It also explains what happens when a company (or individual) forgets their “why”, and how that company or individual will hit the downward spiral (anyone else have a TRIO or Blackberry?). I enjoyed this book because it inspired me to ask myself some tough questions.
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
In contrast to the first two books, I don’t think this book presented any new information to me. However, it was an excellent reminder that the most successful people in life focus on the “vital few” tasks that create the biggest results. It’s an engaging and easy read. The great news is that we can all figure out the “One Thing” we should focus on to achieve greater success.
Tribe of Mentors: Short Little Advice from the Best in the World
by Timothy Ferriss
I’ve been a Tim Ferriss fan since his first book, “The Four Hour Work Week”. Tim is always on the edge of self-experimentation. In this book, Tim sent out essentially the same few questions to hundreds of people and edited their answers to put this book together. What makes this book interesting is the people he chose. Some of them were people I had never heard of, but their answers were so interesting, I looked them up (for example, the NFL Player, Terry Crews, who was in the Old Spice ads). The book is divided into one section per person. One of the questions, “What is your favorite item that cost under $50?” inspired the purchase of several Christmas gifts. There is a lot of inspiration and wisdom found in the book from an interesting array of sources. It is easy and light reading, bound to put you in a positive state of mind.
Did you read something this year (fiction or non-fiction) that blew you away? Please share in the comments.