6 Books that Famous CEOs Loved Reading

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musks favorite books

Parker Klein ✌️
TwosApp
Published in
9 min readMay 19

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1. Jeff Bezos

The Remains of the Day

“There is no virtue at all in clinging to tradition merely for its own sake.”

“Don’t give yourself too much to do.”

“Be careful not to interrupt people while they are preoccupied or distracted. Choose your moment wisely.”

“Travel while you still can.”

“Have a healthy anticipation for the many interesting experiences in store for yourself.”

“Have a calmness of beauty. Know your beauty, know your greatness, and feel no need to shout it.”

“Master the basic fundamentals.”

“Do not show one hint of discomfort or anger.”

“It is essential to keep one’s attention focused on the present; to guard against any complacency creeping in on account of what one may have achieved in the past.”

2. Bill Gates

The Catcher in the Rye

“People never notice anything”

“It’s not too bad when the suns out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out”

“All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to”

“If someone at least listens it’s not too bad”

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one”

“You’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior”

“Someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you”

“How do you know what you’re going to do till you do it?”

3. Steve Jobs

The Innovator’s Dilemma

“There is great value in coming to grips with “the way the world works,” and in managing innovative efforts in ways that accommodate such forces”

“Always listening to and responding to the needs of your best customers, and focusing investments on the innovations that promise the highest returns lead to successful companies ultimate demise”

“The innovators dilemma, doing the right thing is the wrong thing”

“The pace of technology can progress past the markets needs”

“Disruptive products are simpler and cheaper and promise lower margins, not greater profits”

“Companies fail because they fail to embrace the new technology until it is too late”

“Guessing the right strategy at the outset isn’t nearly as important to success as conserving enough resources so that new business initiatives get a second or third stab at getting it right”

“Culture enables employees to act autonomously and causes them to act consistently”

“Customers will prefer those products that are the most convenient to use and those vendors that are most convenient to deal with”

“Developers made it so convenient to use and continue to make it simpler and more convenient by watching how customers use the priduct not by listening to what they or the experts say they need. By watching for small hints of where the product might be difficult or confusing to use the developers direct their energies toward a progressively simpler and more convenient product that provides adequate rather than superior functionality”

“A product whose performance exceeds market demands suffers commodity-like pricing, while disruptive products that redefine the basis of competition command a premium”

“Disruptive technologies are a marketing challenge, not a technological one”

“Managers who don’t bet the farm on their first idea, who leave room to try, fail, learn quickly, and try again, can succeed at developing the understanding of customers, markets, and technology needed to commercialize disruptive innovations”

4. Elon Musk

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

“Fish and guests stink after three days”

“Progress: the concept that individuals, and humanity in general, move forward and improve based on a steady increase of knowledge and the wisdom that comes from conquering adversity”

“Personal strivings are intertwined with the progress of humanity”

“History is a tale not of immutable forces but of human endeavors”

“A man is sometimes more generous when he has little money than when he has plenty perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little”

“People are more likely to admire your work if you’re able to keep them from feeling jealous of you”

“Be extremely frugal”

“Speak truth in every instance; give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action”

“Never speak ill of no man whatever”

“A person who is too fearful will end up performing defensively and thus fail to seize offensive advantages”

“Slow and steady diligence is the true way to wealth”

“It is foolish to try and avoid all criticism”

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

“Eat to live and not live to eat”

“Diligence is the mother of good luck”

“Haste makes waste”

“He’s a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom”

“No gains without pains”

“Love your enemies for they will tell you your faults”

“Half the truth is often a great lie”

“God helps them that helps themselves”

“People will eventually give you the credit, if you don’t try to claim it at the time”

“Lost time is never found again”

“Franklin did not view penny saving as an end in itself but as a path that permitted young tradesmen to be able to display higher virtues, community, spirit, and citizenship”

5. Indra Nooyi

The Road to Character

“Example is the best teacher”

“The chief obstacle to happiness comes from the overeager desire to have people think about you”

“The self-effacing person is soothing and gracious, while the self-promoting person is fragile and jarring”

“Humility is freedom from the need to prove you are superior all the time”

“Humility is the awareness that there’s a lot you don’t know and that a lot of what you think you know is distorted and wrong”

“Only by quieting yourself can you see the world clearly. Can you understand other people and accept what they are offering”

“Self-respect is produced by inner triumphs, not external ones”

“Your job is to figure certain things out: what does this environment need in order to be made whole? What is it that needs repair? What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed?”

“If you serve the work — if you perform each task to its utmost perfection — then you will experience the deep satisfaction of craftsmanship and you will end up serving the community more richly than you could have consciously planned”

“Those who pursue struggle end up being happier than those who pursue pleasure”

“He that conquereth his own soul is greater than he who taketh a city”

“People become solid, stable, and worthy of self-respect because they have defeated or at least struggled with their own demons”

“Since self control is a muscle that tires easily, it is much better to avoid temptation in the first place rather than try to resist it once it arises”

“If you act well, eventually you will be good. Change your behavior and eventually you rewire your brain”

“Always take your job serious, never yourself”

“Every leader should have enough humility to accept, publicly, the responsibility for the mistakes of the subordinates he has himself selected and, likewise, to give them credit, publicly, for their triumphs”

“Don’t compare. Sensitive people understand that each persons ordeal is unique and should not be compared to anyone else’s”

“Change happens from the outside in. The act precedes the virtue”

“Emotion should be distrusted more often than trusted”

“The person whose mind is quiet through consistency and self-control, who finds contentment in himself, who neither breaks down in adversity nor crumbles in fright, nor burns with any thirsty need nor dissolves into wild and futile excitement, that person is the wise one we are seeking, and that person is happy.” — Cicero

“The only way to reduce ugliness in the world is to reduce it in yourself.” — Rustin

“People who see themselves as the center of their solar system, often get enraptured by their own terrible but also delicious suffering. People who see themselves as a piece of a larger universe and a longer story rarely do”

“When people behave on the basis of uncompromising individual desire, they might set off a selfish contagion in those around them”

“Fix your mind on the art, not on the public”

“If you turn into a goodie seeker, greedy for every experience and exclusively focused on self, you turn into a shrewd tactician, making a series of cautious semi commitments without really surrendering to some larger purpose. You lose the ability to say a hundred nos for the sake of one overwhelming and fulfilling yes”

“It’s always a writers duty to make the world better.”

“The first step to greatness is to be honest.”

“A man of genius is but seldom ruined but by himself”

“Greatness of the soul is not so much pressing upward and forward as knowing how to set oneself in order and circumscribe oneself.” — Montaigne

“Sin is not found in your individual self; it is found in the external structures of society — in racism, inequality, and oppression”

“Communications have become faster and busier. It is harder to attend to the soft, still voices that come from the depths”

“People do get better at living, at least if they are willing to humble themselves and learn”

6. Melanie Whelan

The Happiness Advantage

“The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” — John Milton

“What we spend our time and mental energy focusing on becomes our reality”

“Our brains are hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive”

“Be realistic about the present while maximizing our potential for the future”

“Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can”

“When we are happy — when our mindset and mood are positive — we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it”

“The best judge of how happy you are is you”

“Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential”

“Bosses should stress the positives, with encouraging words, or a reminder of the chief strengths the employee brings to the table”

“Exercise is as helpful as antidepressants”

“It takes about 3 positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative”

“The more you believe in your own ability to succeed, the more likely it is that you will”

“Everyone can change and grow through application and experience” — Carol Dweck

“When we believe there will be a positive payoff for our effort, we work harder instead of succumbing to helplessness”

“Beliefs are so powerful because they dictate our efforts and actions”

“The most successful people see adversity not as a stumbling block, but as a steppingstone to greatness”

“The most successful people, in work and in life, are those who have an internal locus of control, the belief that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes. People with an external locus, on the other hand, are more likely to see daily events are dictated by external forces”

“To be excellent we cannot simply think or feel excellent, we must act excellently”

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Parker Klein ✌️
TwosApp

Codin' 👨‍💻 + oatin' 🥣. Formerly @Google @Qualcomm @PizzaNova. Building the best place to write *things* down: Twos (www.TwosApp.com)