5 Books That Inspired Successful People

If it’s good enough for Obama, then it should be good enough for you

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At this point, this isn’t going to be news to you: Successful people read a lot of books.

Mark Cuban has said that his wife hates that he reads more than three hours a day. Warren Buffet claims that he used to read 600 to 1,000 pages every day when he was just starting out in his career. It’s even been reported that while the average person reads one to three books a year, most executives and CEOs read four to five books a month (where do they find the time?!  Can rich people purchase extra hours for their days?)

If you’re willing to try waiting until you get to the office to scroll through Instagram, here are a few suggestions for your commute.

‘The New Geography of Jobs’ by Enrico Moretti


“It’s six years old now, but still a timely and smart discussion of how different cities and regions have made a changing economy work for them—and how policymakers can learn from that to lift the circumstances of working Americans everywhere.” -Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama knows a little something-something about the economy and recommended The New Geography of Jobs on his Facebook last year. Written by Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley Enrico Moretti, the book explores the jobs, salaries and lives of people living in brain hubs (cities like San Francisco and Boston with highly paid and innovative workers), former industrial cities (where factory workers are losing jobs at an alarming rate) and the people trapped in the middle. 

Buy now

‘Bad Blood’ by John Carreyrou


“I recently found myself reading a book so compelling that I couldn’t turn away … There’s a lot Silicon Valley can learn from the Theranos mess.” - Bill Gates

I’ll actually let Bill take this one: “Bad Blood is also a cautionary tale about the virtues of celebrity. On the surface, Holmes was everything Silicon Valley loves in a CEO: charismatic and convincing with a memorable personal story made for magazine profiles. There’s nothing wrong with that on its own. A rock star CEO can be a huge boon for a startup. But you can’t let fame become the most important thing. Theranos is the worst-case scenario of what happens when a CEO prioritizes personal legacy above all else—but I hope that people don’t use it as an excuse to write off the next young woman with a big idea. I also don’t want Bad Blood to scare people away from next-gen diagnostics. Theranos went to extraordinary lengths to get around quality standards. The industry is highly regulated, and new diagnostics undergo rigorous testing,” Gates writes on his blog

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‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman


“It's basically the fundamentals of business, because who do you do business with? You do business with people. This particular book gives you amazing insight as to how to better understand and work with people.” - Oren Frank

Your brain makes decisions using two different methods. The first method is quick and based on instincts and emotions. The second method is slower, with purposeful and cautious thoughtfulness. This book explores when we should and shouldn’t trust our hunches and how to navigate the way we think.

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‘New Power’ by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms


“The world has changed a lot in the 50 years I’ve been in business, and power has definitely shifted... This shift is discussed by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in their book, New Power. It’s a useful lens to use when thinking about how business has changed, how to spread ideas or start a movement or create change.” - Richard Branson

As Branson writes about on his blog, New Power takes a look at some of the biggest political and cultural events and examines connectivity behind them. From the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements to the creation of Airbnb to the popularity of TedTalks to the political victories of Trump and Obama, every reader can find the “new power” that affects them.

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‘Memos from the Chairman’ by Alan C. Greenberg


“Ace Greenberg did almost everything better than I do—bridge, magic tricks, dog training and arbitrage—all the important things in life.” - Warren Buffet

Execute the basics. Fight complacency, overconfidence and conceit.  No one cares what you did last year. Don’t begin a sentence with “no.” Cut expenses. Alan C. Greenberg delivers tons of witty and wise business advice through a collection of memos from when he was running the investment bank Bear Stearns. A favorite of Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Tom Peters, this book explores Greenberg’s unique, simple yet effective management strategy.

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