6 Non-Business Books for Business Leaders

Sometimes, the best business lessons come from unexpected places

(Image: ThinkStock)
(Image: ThinkStock)

The following was written by Brittany Hodak:

I’m a voracious reader. I read at least 150 new books each year, spanning almost every genre of nonfiction and several fiction categories. I’m never far away from my Kindle, and I rarely make it through a week without a new Amazon Prime hardcover purchase arriving at my door.

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Every good book contains at least one piece of advice that makes me a better entrepreneur. Although traditional business books have many lessons, the books I’ve found most transformative for my startup (and for myself as a leader) haven’t been business books in the classical sense. Instead, they’ve been great nonfiction finds that have helped inspire me at least one specific way.

Several of the books on the list were recommended by friends when I asked them to name the most inspiring book they’d read lately. I encourage all leaders to ask this question regularly to people they admire.

Below are six books I think every entrepreneur and business leader should immediately add to his or her library. And you don’t just have to take my word for it; all of these books are international bestsellers, most touting millions and millions of copies sold. I originally read some of them on my Kindle, but I’ve since purchased hard copies of each to have on my bookshelf — they’re that helpful to have around.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art is a great motivator for anyone who works in a creative field. And, as author Steven Pressfield argues, very few fields in life aren’t creative in some way. Every entrepreneur deals with writing and presenting, to some extent. Pressfield identifies the internal hurdles we all deal with (Why do we procrastinate? What causes writer’s block?) and gives some of the best tips I’ve ever read for understanding, coping with and breaking through these barriers.

Why read this? Every writer encounters “resistance,” as the author calls it, on a regular basis. It’s part of the creative process. Acknowledge the action, and move on.

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changesby Tom Rath

When I first read Eat Move Sleep in 2013 after USA Today called it “life-changing,” an immediate change I made was ordering a FitBit. I one-day Primed it to my hotel (I read the book on a plane) and couldn’t wait to start wearing it to track my steps. I haven’t missed a day of wearing it since, because of this book’s super-logical arguments for tracking your movement. Tom Rath has serious research credit: he’s the author of StrengthsFinder 2.0,  a book millions of companies (including mine) use to help employees discover what they’re best at. In Eat Move Sleep, Rath gives practical advice (based on hundreds of academic studies) for ways to eat, exercise and sleep better, and why each area is important to living a long, healthy life.

Why read this? You succeed or fail in every moment, not over arbitrary measurements of time like a certain day or a week. Every bite you take is a chance to eat better (versus “I already cheated on my diet this morning, so I might as well make bad lunch choices, too”). Every night, not just the weekend, is a night to catch up on sleep.

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