Business Basics

Top 10 books every business leader should read

- July 17, 2017 4 MIN READ

Ben Handler, the CEO and co-founder of Cohen Handler, shares the ‘top 10’ books that he thinks every business owner should read.

  1. The Art of Happiness – 14th Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler

Whether one believes in religion or not, this books breaks down the very basics of what I see as being the real purpose of human life – happiness. By stripping back all of the stress that we get bogged down with in everyday life, this book really helped me to train my mind to think positively and create my own happiness.  When you put into perspective what really matters to you in life, you don’t sweat the small stuff and this enables you to become more resilient and efficient with your decision making. For this reason, it’s probably the most important on the list and I would recommend it to any leader.

“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

  1. How to Win at the Sport of Business – Mark Cuban

This is a slightly more unusual recommendation. Mark Cuban is an American businessman and investor. In this book, he has compiled a number of blog entries with advice on how to hustle and focus your approach to achieve results. He shares lessons learned from failure and his ‘no bullshit’ approach to success. It illustrates the very relevant correlation between sport and business that really resonates with me. Any sports fan will appreciate the analogies!

  1. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

Aurelius, an Emperor from Ancient Rome, never intended for his private notes and musings to be published into a book. But I am sure glad they were! This text should sit next to your bed and be in everyone’s carry bag when travelling. It offers an interesting perspective and is extremely relatable to today’s world, despite being written centuries ago. It is quite fascinating learn that even the powerful Roman Emperor faced the same challenges, fears and problems that we go through today. Aurelius navigated his life through Stoicism, an ancient Greek school of philosophy and a way of life I find very profound.

  1. The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

Not your average self-help book, Ryan Holiday offers a fresh perspective backed up by case studies that demonstrate how to rewire the brain to overcome obstacles. For business and in our personal lives, this is a valuable skill to have for any executive.

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life—that’s persistence.”
― Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way

  1. The Purple Cow – Transform your Business by Being Remarkable! – Seth Godin

There is so much competition in every line of work today. While Seth’s book is centred on the advertising industry, I believe it applies to all fields. This book is a masterpiece for anyone looking to stand out and differentiate themselves from all the noise that exists. For executives, personal branding is a constant challenge. This book is truly helpful in suggesting ways to think outside the box and come up with ideas to position yourself in competitive marketplaces, as well as stand out in the crowd.

  1. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

As a classic fable, The Alchemist has an extremely profound and emotive effect on the reader. Coelho has a knack for weaving morals into his stories which make you as the reader reflect on your outlook on life and yourself as a person. I think this very stripped-down and inspiring metaphor about following your dream is relevant for any up-and-coming business executive. It will help you realise that you can create whatever you want.

  1. From Impossible to Inevitable – Aaron Ross

When my co-founder, Simon and I started Cohen Handler, people didn’t believe in what we were doing. In an industry overflowing with real estate agents, being a buyers’ agent was unheard of at the time. This book really helped me, because it made me understand targeting a niche to scale hard and create predictable revenue. I would recommend this to any executive who is challenging an industry.

“It’s easy and fun to dream about success. Making it happen—and keeping it going—is a lot tougher. And far more rewarding.”
― Aaron Ross, From Impossible To Inevitable

  1. The One Thing – Gary Keller

Gary Keller’s book was such an eye-opener for me. It explains the importance of really focusing in on your key strength and stop wearing multiple hats. It taught me a lot about how to more efficiently run a business, as a team is made up of people who all have different strengths, rather than one leader trying to do it all. A fantastic book that is useful for every entrepreneur.

  1. Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Fail – Greg Kuhn

I am a firm believer in the law of attraction. This book, written by professional educator and futurist Greg Kuhn, draws on the paradigms of quantum physics in order to prove that the law of attraction is real. It delves into how important it is to mould your energy and thoughts to focus on what it is you desire. Plus, it’s a truly entertaining read! Any entrepreneur who is motivated to go after what they believe in will benefit from this book.

  1. Sleep Revolution – Arianna Huffington

This book is a revelation regarding the importance of sleep and the care we take towards ourselves and our health. It details what goes on while one sleeps and dreams and also covers the science behind it all. A fascinating read for any on-the-go executive, many of whom do not get the sleep their body needs, which in turn impacts their productivity.

“When we shrink our whole reality down to pending projects, when our life becomes our endless to-do list, it’s difficult to put them aside each night and let ourselves fall asleep and connect with something deeper.”
― Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution

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