13 Inspirational Books of 2014 with Big Implication for World of Business That You Can’t Afford to Miss

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Amber Kapoor has a great article on Plash today. She lists 13 Inspirational Books with big implications for the world of work that you can’t afford to miss:

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1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

After taking the world by storm with his captivating message about purpose in Start With Why, Simon Sinek has turned his attention to critical questions about the how. What does it take for leaders to transform paranoia and cynicism into safety and trust? Is a common enemy necessary for cooperation? I can’t wait to read about what he’s learned from military and corporate leaders.

2. Quick and Nimble by Adam Bryant

In an increasingly competitive and dynamic economy, every organization is charged with building a culture that supports innovation. Whereas most books on innovation take a deep dive into one company’s success or failure, New York Times Corner Office columnist Adam Bryant casts a more comprehensive net, interviewing hundreds of executives to identify what’s effective across industries. Bryant offers an expert guided tour through the minds of the world’s most innovative CEOs, sharing insights that are both enlightening and immensely practical.

3. Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold

When I go to bookstores, I usually steer clear of the self-help section. In this case, I would have missed a gem. Small Move, Big Change is a rare self-improvement book that actually works. With the right mix of research evidence and practical examples from her experience as a technology leader on Wall Street, Caroline Arnold provides compelling advice for motivating ourselves to save more, eat less, get organized, boost our willpower, and even keep our New Year’s resolutions. It’s the most useful guide to getting things done since Getting Things Done.

4. Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao

When I work with leaders, I often ask them about the biggest challenge that they face. The most common response, by far, focuses on spreading and multiplying success. If you have one team that’s thriving while others are sinking, how do you export their best practices to other teams across your organization? This pair of eminent Stanford professors is the first to shed systematic light on the pervasive problem of scaling with a landmark book full of rich case studies, powerful research evidence, and actionable ideas for anyone who cares about making groups or organizations more effective.

5. Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer

Philosophy, business, and history come together in this look at leadership, creativity, innovation, and sustainability from a successful serial entrepreneur and a cutting-edge journalist. With takeaways for large global companies and small startups, this book examines what leaders can learn from Eastern wisdom, Da Vinci, and contemporary psychology.

6. Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

This is a potentially life-changing look at one of the toughest but most important parts of life: receiving feedback. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of Difficult Conversations, show how to take an honest look in the mirror, and gain invaluable insights about the person staring back at you. I’ve already taught the principles in the classroom and applied them in my own life, and the payoffs include less defensiveness, more self-awareness, deeper learning, and richer relationships.

7. Thrive by Arianna Huffington

In the quest for success, many people end up taking paths that they come to regret. Climbing up the ladder in pursuit of money and power, leaders and managers sacrifice their health and well-being, and miss out on meaningful opportunities to give back. Building on her celebrated Third Metric conference, Huffington Post cofounder and president Arianna Huffington is on a mission to redefine success beyond money and power to enhance well-being, giving, wisdom, and creativity. This book may be the Lean In of 2014—for women and for men.

8. The Humor Code by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

Humor is an invaluable resource at work: it helps leaders defuse the tension in moments of crisis, managers temper the sting of tough feedback, and employees generate creative ideas in brainstorming sessions. Thanks to the global adventures of a zany social scientist and a perceptive journalist, we can all figure out how to become funnier, and laugh out loud along the way. This book is so good that I wish I wrote it. In fact, I’ve already started telling people I did. Luckily, Peter McGraw and Joel Warner are givers, so they won’t mind. They’ve given us a remarkable look at what makes us laugh, with the perfect blend of science, stories, satire, and sweater vests.

9. Brilliant by Annie Murphy Paul

You’re either born smart or you’re not. Most people hate this notion, but never question whether it’s true. Science journalist Annie Murphy Paul shows us that it’s false: intelligence is a renewable resource. In Origins, she revealed that the nature-nurture debate has overlooked the formative nine months that we spend in the womb. Now, she marshals two decades of evidence from psychology and neuroscience to explain how we can make ourselves and our kids smarter. This book is poised to shake up our parenting habits, our schools, and our workplaces.

10. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

It’s one thing to admire the genius of the rogue economist and perceptive journalist who brought us Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. It’s another thing entirely to understand how they come up with their brilliant ideas. Their latest book takes us behind the curtain with studies, stories, and illustrations that enrich our abilities to solve problems in our personal and professional lives.

11. Invisibles by David Zweig

Why do some of the world’s most talented, accomplished people choose to fly under the radar, hiding in the shadows rather than clamoring for the spotlight? In his nonfiction debut, journalist David Zweig introduces us to some of the most successful people we’ve never heard of, from cinematographers to skyscraper engineers to United Nations interpreters. It’s a clarion call for work as a craft: for carefully honing expertise without hogging attention, for generously contributing knowledge without claiming credit, and for prizing meaningful work above public recognition.

12. Smartcuts by Shane Snow

This book by journalist and tech entrepreneur Shane Snow uncovers unconventional patterns among rapidly successful businesses and people, from innovators and hackers to daredevils and revolutionaries. Snow is one of my favorite writers, a maven of creative productivity who holds the keys to becoming an expert in less than 10,000 hours.

My Favorite

13. Zero to One, Peter Thiel

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One , legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

Greatest Lines from Literature

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BuzzFeed recently surveyed their readers about their favorite lines from literature. Here are some of their most beautiful replies.

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2. “In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

3. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

4. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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6. “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

7. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

8. “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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10. “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

11. “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

12. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

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14. “As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.”
—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

15. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.”
—W. H. Auden, “The More Loving One”

16. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

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18. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

19. “America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.”
—Allen Ginsburg, “America”

20. “It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

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22. “At the still point, there the dance is.”
—T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

23. “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

24. “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

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26. “The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved

27. “How wild it was, to let it be.”
—Cheryl Strayed, Wild

28. “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?”
—T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

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30. “She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

31. “She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
—Kate Chopin, “The Awakening”

32. “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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34. “The half life of love is forever.”
—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

35. “I sing myself and celebrate myself.”
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

36. “There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
—Bram Stroker, Dracula

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37. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

38. “I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
—Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”

39. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
—Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre

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41. “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
—W. B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

42. “It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.”
—Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

43. “For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.”
—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

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45. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

46. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

47. “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

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49. “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

50. “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

51. “One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

Did your favorite line from literature make the list?
If not, suggest it in the comments below – I’ll augment as suggestions accumulate.

25 Life Lessons from Albert Einstein

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1. Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.

2. Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.

3. Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

4. If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.

5. A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.

6. Love is a better teacher than duty.

7. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

8. No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

9. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

11. It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

12. Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.

13. Force always attracts men of low morality.

14. Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.

15. A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.

16. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

17. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

18. It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

19. Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.

20. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

21. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

22. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

23. Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.

24. Information is not knowledge.

25. Never lose a holy curiosity.

Kobe Bryant Sucks At Basketball

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You may have read that tittle and thought… “Ludicrous! What about his five rings? His 81 point game? His legacy with the Lakers??!” Well in addition to all that, The King of Clank, The Baron of Bricks, Kobe Bryant has missed more shots than any player in basketball historymissed more shots than any player in NBA history, and for that, we salute him.

Imagine that – one of the top NBA players of our lifetime has screwed up more than everyone else who has ever played the game. Want to know who else is on this ignominious list? Here’s the leaderboard, as it stands:

  1. Kobe Bryant, 13,418 (and counting)
  2. John Havlicek, 13,417
  3. Elvin Hayes, 13,296
  4. Karl Malone, 12,682
  5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 12,470
  6. Michael Jordan, 12,345

Recognize anyone else on there? Everyone else on there? How is it that some of our greatest champions in this sport are also the biggest screwups?

We have, highlighted here, one of the biggest insights to winning – not just at sports – but at LIFE: There is no failure, only feedback.

Don’t be afraid of “failing” – get out there and fail over and over and over again. That’s the only way to get ahead. See, most people are terrified of failing. They equate it with “being a failure”. That fear paralyzes them and keeps them stuck in their tracks, unable to make a move, unable to take a shot. And as Wayne Gretsky – arguably hockey’s greatest player – has said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Isn’t that ironic? The truth is, it is actually the FEAR of failure that keeps you from succeeding – not failure itself. Failure is, in fact, the only gateway to success anyone ever has.

How To Suck At Sales

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My good friend and business partner Brady Rhoades covered these points on a conference call this morning and I thought them well worth sharing.

Remember, unsuccessful habits will always outweigh the positive and progressive habits. These are the habits of unsuccessful sales professionals:

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1) Be lazy (get distracted by no-pay activity and forget the name of the game is prospecting and pitching.)
2) Have no goals (go to bed late Sunday after watching a bunch of football with no goals or vision for the week. You’ll walk into the week blind and unmotivated.)
3) Don’t create a schedule (this includes family, personal time, church, extracurricular, etc)
4) Don’t be coachable and think you always know what you’re doing!
5) Let your mommy tell you you’re better than rejection (you’re not…)
6) Find nothing in common with the prospect (people who like me buy and I only sell to people I like.)
7) Know little about the company and products you represent
8) Assume everyone is a prospect (not everyone is a buyer – they’re a suspect before they’re a prospect, reference Sandler Rules.)
9) Let personal life get in the way (ie friends who want to go out on Weeknights, family dinners, happy hour, social clubs, etc. If you respect your career and the future it promises, your friends and family will respect the time you commit to it!)
10) Don’t ask for the sale by letting your prospect think about it! (You must value your time and demand that others value it)
11) Don’t collect qualified referrals
12) And whatever you do, DON’T HAVE FUN!!! Sales don’t make happy salesman, happy salesman make sales.

Billionaire Book Recommendations

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Who are the mentors to billionaires, chess prodigies, rockstars, and mega-bestselling authors?  Who teaches them to do what they do? To achieve the success they achieve? Oftentimes…it’s books.

On The Tim Ferriss Show (iTunes, SoundCloud), I dissect world-class performers to find the tools and tricks you can use.  Here’s a full list of guests.  One of the questions I always ask is:

“What book have you gifted most often to others, and why?”  

Below is a list of answers from people like billionaire investor Peter Thiel, Tony Robbins, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, etc.. (And here are my own current answers, if you’re interested.)

You’ll see several books that appear more than once. Can you guess which they are?

The Ultimate To-Read Book List

Kevin Kelly is the founding editor of WIRED magazine, real-life Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World.”

Favorite book(s):

Peter Thiel, billionaire investor (first outside investor in Facebook) and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir…

Favorite book(s):

Tony Robbins, performance coach to Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Paul Tudor Jones, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, and more.

Favorite book(s):

Peter Diamandis has been named one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune Magazine.  In the field of Innovation, Diamandis is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight. Today, the X PRIZE leads the world in designing and operating large-scale global competitions to solve market failures.

Favorite book(s):

Joshua Waitzkin – Considered a chess prodigy and the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh has perfected learning strategies that can be applied to anything, including chess, Brazilian jiu-jutsu (he is a black belt under phenom Marcelo Garcia), business, and Tai Chi Push Hands (he is a world champion).

Favorite book(s):

Ed Catmull is a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios (along with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) and president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation.

Favorite book(s):

Neil Strauss has written 7 New York Times bestsellers, including The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

Favorite book(s):

Tracy DiNunzio is the self-taught founder and CEO of Tradesy.com, which has attracted legendary investors like Sir Richard Branson and John Doerr.

Favorite book(s):

Mike Shinoda is best known as the rapper, principal songwriter, keyboardist, rhythm guitarist and one of the two vocalists of the band Linkin Park, which has sold 60+ million albums worldwide.

Favorite book(s):

James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, and bestselling author.

Favorite book(s):

Joe De Sena is the co-founder of The Death Race, Spartan Race (1M+ competitors), and more.

Favorite book(s):

Brian Koppelman is a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. He is best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders, as well as a producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones.

Favorite book(s):

Chase Jarvis is a master photographer and the CEO of CreativeLIVE.com.

Favorite book(s):

Jason Silva , called the “Timothy Leary of the viral video age” by The Atlantic, host of Brain Games on National Geographic Channel.

Favorite book(s):

Ryan Holiday is an American author and the media strategist behind authors Tucker Max and Robert Greene. Former Director of Marketing for American Apparel.

Favorite book(s):

Ramit Sethi is an American personal finance advisor and entrepreneur. Sethi is the author of the 2009 book on personal finance, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a New York Times Bestseller, and a co-founder of PBworks, a commercial wiki website.

Favorite book(s):