7 Books That Will Enrich Your Life

It’s back-to-school time again. Whether you’re a student or the parent or guardian of one, you’re likely shopping for school supplies and purchasing a backpack full of books. We’re not sure if any of these are on your list but, black enterprise’s editors came together to offer you our top reads about personal finance, business, and careers.


Editorial Director John Simons’ Pick:
Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World (Simon & Schuster; $16) by James J. Cramer
You’ve seen investing guru Jim Cramer on television, yelling at the top of his lungs about this or that stock. On his daily show, Mad Money, he dons bizarre outfits, adds wacky sound effects to his “buy” and “sell” recommendations, and revels in being the clown prince of Wall Street. You’ve even heard, no doubt, the criticism of his specific stock picks and strategy suggestions in recent years. Set that aside for a moment. Cramer is actually a successful investor and former hedge fund manager. In this book, Cramer simplifies investing, stressing the point that it’s a pursuit for anyone capable of devoting the time and effort to do proper research. In his own inimitable way, Cramer offers tools that help investors identify stock moves before they occur. He details ways to calculate a company’s growth potential, and much more.

Why it’s my favorite:
Investing can be off-putting to the average person. Jim Cramer understands this (which probably explains the over-the-top antics on his TV show). Real Money offers actionable tips on how to get started and succeed as an investor.

Assistant Editor LaToya M. Smith’s Pick:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! (Grand Central Publishing; $16.95), by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Palatable for beginners or anyone looking to change the way they think about money, Kiyosaki’s book lays out the life lessons he learned as a young boy. It compares the money philosophies of his biological father, his “poor dad,” and his mentor, whom he refers to as his “rich dad.” His poor dad lived by the old adage–go to school, find a steady job, and the money will come. His rich dad knew that this wasn’t entirely true and taught him how to harness money’s power. “The rich don’t work for money, they let money work for them,” writes Kiyosaki. After reading this book you’ll dismiss the myth that you need to earn a high income or come from a wealthy family to be rich.

Why it’s my favorite:
This book allowed me to dispense with assembly-line thinking–work hard, save, and borrow. My new model: work smart, save, and diligently build a base of solid assets.


Consumer Affairs Editor Sheiresa Ngo’s Pick:
Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom (Advantage World Press; $14.95) by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox
Zero Debt guides readers through the maze of credit and debt management. It’s a handy book with helpful topics such as negotiating with creditors, correcting errors on your credit report, paying down debt, and devising a budget.
Instead of telling readers only what they’re doing wrong, this book offers instruction on how they can effectively remedy their situation. Accompanying worksheets offer an interactive experience that helps readers gauge their financial health. The “Financially Fit Check-up” and “My Financial House” worksheets assist with outlining one’s current financial situation and identifying areas that need improvement.

Why it’s my favorite:
Zero Debt addresses just about any question about credit and debt management. I like to do the worksheet exercises to perform a quick check on my financial health.


Editorial Director Alan Hughes’ Pick:
Doing Business Anywhere: The Essential Guide to Going Global (Wiley; $24.95), by Tom Travis
Globalization is a complex topic that has a variety of components and aspects. This book, however, addresses a straightforward topic: how to position your company to compete globally. Written in an easy-to-understand manner and using several insightful and sometimes humorous anecdotes, Doing Business Anywhere  uses the author’s six “Tenets of Global Trade” (take advantage of trade agreements, protect your brand at all costs, maintain high ethical standards, stay secure in an insecure world, expect the unexpected, all global business is personal) to help the reader chart a course to take his or her company to the international marketplace.

Why it’s my favorite:
Written by a managing partner at an international trade and customs law firm, this book takes the mystery out of positioning your company to engage in global commerce. Real-life examples illustrate practical, applicable strategies.

Small Business Editor Tennille M. Robinson’s Pick:
Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HarperCollins; $16.99) by Peter F. Drucker
Drucker provides insightful observations and perspectives on what entrepreneurship entails and how it corresponds with innovation. Presenting the two as inextricably linked, the book challenges what entrepreneurship is (behavior) and isn’t (personality). It also discusses successful innovation as being less about “a bright idea,” and more about a purposeful, systematic application constructed of an analysis of opportunities, conceptual and perceptual, simple and focused, that starts small and “aims at leadership.”

Why it’s my favorite:
This timeless book draws a line in the sand between those who run good businesses and those who breed innovation–the main ingredient in true entrepreneurship. I appreciate Drucker’s clean, clear writing approach. The book expels the notion that risk supersedes knowhow in birthing innovation by providing a clear, thorough formula for readers to follow and incorporate within their own entrepreneurial efforts.


Editorial Director Sonia Alleyne’s Pick:
The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts & Cultures (Harvard Business School Publishing; $32.95) by Frans Johansson
What does innovation look like? Music mogul Sir Richard Branson building a successful international airline; master chef  Marcus Samuelsson turning around a restaurant with exotic enhancements of traditional Swedish food; even music artist Shakira, whose father’s Lebanese influence inspired an eclectic sound. It’s what happens when creativity sows its seed. It’s not just thinking outside the box, but connecting, blending and intersecting boxes to arrive at innovation.
We all have the opportunity to innovate–if we relax what author Frans Johansson calls our “associative barriers” to challenges and learn to see failure as a step in the right direction.

Why it’s my favorite:
This book shows that if you can push yourself to think creatively even in the most linear business setting, you not only improve the quality of your work, you can totally change the paradigm for how the work is done.

Careers Editor Annya Lott’s Pick:
The Missing Mentor: Women Advising Women on Power, Progress and Priorities (Household Publishing; $16.99) by Mary E. Stutts
A recent LinkedIn poll has confirmed the lack of available female mentors: 67% of respondents said they don’t have strong female mentors in their lives; 76% said they don’t have time to fully devote themselves to be career mentors. The situation prompted Stutts, a seasoned healthcare and communications executive who also struggles to accommodate mentoring requests, to write The Missing Mentor: Women Advising Women on Power, Progress and Priorities to provide other professional women with insight into core career development issues including confidence building, work/life conflicts, networking, organizational management, and spirituality.

Why it’s my favorite:
What I enjoy most about this book is the “Power Up!” interviews, anecdotes from powerful female executives including Catherine Arnold, Evelyn Dilsaver, Beverly Tatum Ph.D., and Marcela Perez de Alonso discussing how they best learned to balance personal and professional decisions over the years to advance their careers.