It’s September — Time to Go Back to School

“Read an hour every day in your chosen field. This works out to about one book per week, fifty books per year, and will guarantee your success.” Brian Tracy, personal development guru

It’s September. Football season is kicking off. Days are shorter, leaves are changing colors. Put away your shorts, flip-flops and tank tees so you can buckle down — school is back in session.

I happened to hear Brian Tracy say “leaders are readers” on an audio program back in the 80’s. Over the past decade my learning goal has been to read at least 40 non-fiction business-related books a year. This how I gather ideas that help my clients succeed.

So here is my 4th annual compilation of books I’ve read in the past year from September, 2015 through August, 2016:

#AskGaryVee One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness Buy this book. Today. It’s the best practical biz book I’ve read in years. It will kick your ass to make changes like it did to me.

Elon Musk Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Visionary genius Elon Musk is right there in the “Game-Changing Techno Breakthrough Hall of Fame” with Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs, and he’s only just begun. Thanks to his efforts, we’ll someday wean off of oil with electric cars, fill our energy needs with solar power and, what the heck, colonize Mars. If you were awed by the Steve Jobs bio, this guy’s story may blow you away even more.

Every Town is a Sports Town Business Leadership at ESPN, from the Mailroom to the Boardroom The amazing story of ESPN, the game-changing cable network that’s now one of the best know brands in the world, as told by former Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer. (It’s true — he started in the mailroom. Goes to show where ambition and hard work can get you.)

Mindful Work How Meditation Is Changing Work from the Inside Out When old-line companies like Ford, General Mills and Aetna (not to mention Google, Apple and Facebook) are offering mindfulness meditation training to their employees, it’s time to sit up (with a straight spine) and take notice. Author David Gelles, a business reporter for the New York Times, documents the workplace benefits of less stress, better focus, more compassion and even a happier life from developing a daily meditation practice.

Shoe Dog A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE Walk a thousand miles in Phil Knight’s shoes and you’ll experience all the highs and lows of running the NIKE business ultra-marathon. It’s an engaging read — I swooshed right through it.

Big Weed An Entrepreneur’s High-Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal Marijuana Business We’ve come a long way from the fear and loathing of pot depicted in the movie Reefer Madness. But “ganjapreneur” Christian Hageseth, founder of Green Man Cannabis, foresees the day when anyone will be able walk into a 7-Eleven and buy their favorite brand of reefer as easily as buying cigarettes or booze. And if you think that’s just a pipe dream (pun intended), wait until Hageseth opens his Cannabis Ranch, a world-class marijuana cultivation center, like a brewery or winery for legal weed. Denver will live up to it’s name of being the Mile High City indeed.

The Self-Made Billionaire Effect How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value There are over 50 global self-made billionaires profiled in this book — think you might pick up a good business idea or two from them?
 
 Extraordinary Outcomes Shaping an Otherwise Unpredictable Future A father & daughter UCLA Ph.D. team have written a leadership book filled with sage advice. (Think you could write a book with one of your parents or kids?)
 
 The Road Headed West A 6,000-mile Cycling Odyssey through North America If you’ve ever wondered about how anyone could possibly be crazy enough to ride a bicycle cross-country, this saga will lay it out for you. 
 
 It’s A Long Story My Life And what a story Willie Nelson has to share about life, love, rednecks and hippies, desperadoes, booze, weed and 50 years on the road making music for people. A must read for the fans of the Red Headed Stranger.
 
 One Summer America, 1927 If you can’t get enough of the stories behind historic events, June to September, 1927 saw everything from Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight to Henry Ford’s Model A to the start of construction on Mount Rushmore to Babe Ruth’s home-run record season — and then some.

Traction Get a Grip on Your Business If you resonate with the teachings of Michael Gerber (The E Myth), Dan Sullivan (The Strategic Coach), Jim Collins (Good to Great) and others, you’ll love the practical Entrepreneurial Operating System in this book.
 
 Broadcasting Happiness The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change We’re all “broadcasting” our attitude to others, whether good or bad. Former newscaster and positive psychology advocate Michelle Gielan shares her ideas on how to be a positive force in the world that can lead to greater personal happiness.
 
 We Are Market Basket
The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business Never underestimate the power of one company’s loyal employees, vendors and customers take a stand again greedy shareholders. This triumphant real-world business saga set in New England reads like a suspense novel.
 
 Allen Klein The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll Allen Klein was at one point the business manager for the two biggest bands in the world. He got them a larger share of the money they rightly deserved but lined his own pockets with even more of the gold in the process. Robin Hood or a robber baron? You decide.
 
 People Tools for Business 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness Alan Fox shares useful tips from his 40+ career as a billionaire real estate investor.
 
 Let There Be Water Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World This is not only a historical recap of how Israel made its desert bloom but how it might have answers for global water shortages in the future. While we are weaning ourselves off of oil dependence, we have to fulfill the ever greater need for this becoming-scare resource. (Hey California — read this book!)

7L: The Seven Levels of Communication Go From Relationships to Referrals Although this book is geared to real estate agents, any sales professional can learn from the immediately practical ideas here. First tip: Turn your inner circle into ambassadors who are eager to recommend you to others.
 
 The Compound Effect Jumpstart Your Business, Your Life, Your Success Success magazine publisher Darren Hardy just might know a thing or two about what it takes to use incremental gains to help you dramatically improve over time.

Holacracy The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World A truly unique way to run a company where the purpose is in charge rather than a charismatic leader. Radical? Yes. Find out more by listening to Tony Hsieh talk about it — his company Zappos has taken on the holacracy challenge.

501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty If you utilize only 1% of these ideas, that’s 5 ways you can delight your customers and turn them into raving fans.
 
 The Ultimate Sales Machine Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies Let Chet Holmes share his best ideas on how to grow your business with “pigheaded discipline and determination.”
 
 Sam Phillips The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll This is the story of the man who first recorded Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records in Memphis way back the 1950’s, forever changing the music world.
 
 No Simple Highway A Cultural History of The Grateful Dead The life and times of the grand daddy of all jam bands who somehow preserved that fleeting glimpse of freedom from the psychedelic Sixies.

How to Win Friends and Influence People Your technical ability is not sufficient alone to bring on new clients/customers — it’s your ability to handle people that counts. This Dale Carnegie classic from 1936 will help you close the deal.
 
Think and Grow Rich And, since I’m sticking with “the oldies,” when was the last time you read this 1937 classic by Napoleon Hill?
 
The Blue Zones 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest You can certainly learn a lesson or two about extending both the quality and number of years left in your life from people who have lived past 100.
 
Practicing the Power of Now A book that boils down The Power of Now to its essence, which is to keep your mind out of the past or future — right here, right now is where it’s at. (Easier said than done — keep practicing!) 
 
As Tough As They Come The saga of Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation. The perfect book for me to read during my knee replacement rehab.

Everybody Matters The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family Learn how CEO Bob Chapman of Barry-Wehmiller can treat his employees like family while creating strong financial returns. The company’s Guiding Leadership Principles begin with: We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.
 
Mad Genius
A Manifesto for Entrepreneurs A little jolt of inspiration from mad genius Randy Gage.
 
We-Commerce
How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy Going from “me” to “we” is the new business model for success.

A Just and Generous Nation Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity This book makes the case that Abraham Lincoln fought the Civil War not so much to end slavery as to maintain the freedom of economic opportunity against the Confederacy’s desire to maintain an aristocracy.
 
 The Lives of Frederick Douglass A compelling biography told through the writing and speeches of former slave, free man and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, whose destiny was entwined with Abraham Lincoln.
 
Jerry on Jerry The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews If you can’t get enough about what went on in the mind of the leader of the Grateful Dead, it’s all here for ya.

Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation Tech innovator and entrepreneur Jay Samit advises you to find something to disrupt before the marketplace disrupts you.
 
 Originals How Non-Conformists Move the World Wanna make a dent in the universe? This book lets you know how to “unfollow” the crowd to do so.
 
 Primary Greatness The 12 Levers of Success Over 25 years after the publication of his landmark book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, here is a collection of inspiring ideas from the late, great Stephen Covey.
 
 Never Surrender Winston Churchill and Britain’s Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940 A lot of England’s leaders were leaning toward surrender as France had in those bleak days. If it wasn’t for the strength of character of Winston Churchill, we might all be speaking Deutsch right now.

The Storyteller’s Secret From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t Emotion trumps logic. If you want to sell your ideas, don’t use data — tell a great story.
 
 Thank You For Arguing What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion Need to sharpen your rhetorical skills to win more people to your way of thinking? Learn how in this book’s pages.
 
Season of the Witch How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll From Elvis on, rock and roll has been considered the devil’s music. You’ll find a lot of your favorite performers mentioned in these pages, although I had to take the author to task for giving short shrift to the band formerly known as the Warlocks. If that doesn’t appeal to you, try this Season of the Witch Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love. It chronicles San Francisco’ emergence as the world’s most progressive city from the mid ’60s thru the early ‘80’s.

When I Say No, I Feel Guilty This is the all-time classic book on systematic assertiveness training. It’s loaded with actual dialogues to show you how to effectively handle uncomfortable confrontations rather than avoiding them or blowing up at people.
 
 On Fire The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life If you want know someone who almost burned alive as a kid, now helps people live with burning desire, check out the remarkable John O’Leary story — it’ll light a fire under you.

The School of Greatness A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy If you don’t feel you’ve tapped into your greatness yet, let podcast master Lewis Howes school you on what it takes.
 
Just in time for the NBA Finals: Chasing Perfection A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the High-Stakes Game of Creating an NBA Champion. Analytics are influencing a lot of the decision making in sports. More proof that someday we’ll all be working for computer geeks. 
 
 Back from the Dead You may know Bill Walton as a great basketball player, sports commentator and legendary “Redhead DeadHead.” What you don’t know is how he has constantly battled through paralyzing injuries over the course of his life to keep on truckin’ through pain — an inspiring story in and of itself.
 
Million Dollar Maverick Forge Your Own Path to Think Differently, Act Decisively, and Succeed Alan Weiss is the consultant’s consultant. Find out how he used his contrarian approach to do it his way.
 
The Gospel of Happiness Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology How hope, gratitude, forgiveness and virtue fit in both spiritual and secular realms to enhance happiness.
 
Chasing the Last Laugh Mark Twain’s Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour Through his literary works, Mark Twain was perhaps the most famous person in the world in the late 1800’s. Due to bad business investments, he was also deep in debt. This is the engaging story of how he climbed out of the financial abyss with a remarkable world tour while in his 60's.

Man’s Search for Meaning A classic book by Dr. Viktor Frankl, who unflinchingly described the horrors of a concentration camp and how he managed to survive it. If he was able to keep himself optimistic in that situation, what’s your problem?

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster Why Now Is the Time to #JoinTheRide If you’re hell-bent on taking the wild self-employment ride, let Success Magazine publisher Darren Hardy share the ups and downs with you.
 
 You’ve GOT to Read This Book! 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life Think and Grow Rich changed my life — which book changed yours like the ones described herein?
 
Famous Nathan A Family Saga of Coney Island, the American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog If there was anyone who made the hot dog into an iconic American food, it was Nathan Handwerker, founder of Nathan’s Famous 100 years ago. This book is a perfect summer read, may cause you to want to go out and wolf one down.

My hope is that some of these titles will inspire your own reading habit. I’m not a super-speedy reader but I willingly plowed through these books because absorbing their ideas is a critical part of my coaching job. The good news is you don’t even have to spend a dime if you have a library card. There’s no shelf room left for more books at my place so each one listed here was borrowed from my local library. And having a return date makes it likely that I’ll finish them on time — I HATE paying overdue fines!

Why wait? If it seems daunting to begin your own reading habit, know that the journey of a thousand books starts with the first page. A good place to begin is to read one book a month, which you can accomplish by getting through just ten pages a day — that wouldn’t be too hard, would it? Whatever reading goal you choose, go back to school TODAY so you can get to the top of your field.

PS — Please let me know what books have helped you learn and grow in the past year.