In my local bookshop, I used to walk through the ‘business’ and ‘self-help’ aisle as fast as possible. I grew up with the impression that the only cash-strapped dreamers read those books. Why do people pay money to read the same corny rags to riches story? Looking at the covers of successful businesspeople beaming with sparkling white teeth, I was extremely sceptical of the reviews promising to change your life. It seemed too good to be true.
However, quite recently, I grudgingly decided to pick up one of the business books after receiving it as a gift. Surely, I thought, spending four years university studying Commerce and Economics will equip me with the necessary skills and knowledge to run a successful business. How wrong I was. The emotional insight I gained from reading that one book ripped apart my university degree into a million pieces.
This was when I realised why people write business books, and why there is a growing market for it.
In the real world, 90% of the money is controlled by 10% of the people. The top 10% of people include near ‘mythical’ figures such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Rupert Murdoch. In this day and age, what is increasingly becoming obvious is that you don’t need a sparkling business degree. Some were lucky, and some were dropouts. Some have never studied business. You don’t need to be born with a golden spoon, nor do you need to slave away feeling like crap to be rich.
Business books exist because the books are richest 10% of the population share human experiences, all which are manifestations of the human condition. This is why we watch movies and listen to music. Jealously, corruption, hate, love and determination. The themes in every book are a reflection of humanity that continue to resonate through time. This is why business and self help books will continue to be sell, no matter how poor the poor continue to be. And this is why, if you don’t read these books, I suggest you do.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Although I myself have never have had a successful business (yet), and while I am still in the dreaming process of starting my own start up, I hope whatever book you read will ignite a little spark in your imagination.
Here are some of my personal recommendations (in no particular order):
1. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
- A fantastic fable of why change is good, and how to change written in plain English.
2. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- One man’s message to world of the importance of financial literacy.
3. Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
- Real life, funny economics.
4. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- An autobiographical entrepreneurial methodology book.
5. The Present by Spencer Johnson
- Appreciating life, and how to live to your fullest.
What books do you recommend, and what do you think of business books?