Top 10 Books by CEOs

 

We’re all quick to admit that we could use a little help in our lives, but it’s so easy to lose the way. Sometimes, all we need are a few inspiring words from some of the leading businessmen and women of all time: here is a list of the best books by CEOs that gives us a peek into the smartest minds in the world, and might teach us a little bit along the way, too.

 

Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy

The simple question Bill Gates tries to help the reader answer is: ‘So, where do you want to go tomorrow?’ In the book, Bill Gates tries to teach us about how the world is growing thanks to technology and how to manage and work with information.

Read it For:
Bill Gates takes us on virtual tours of Microsoft and other multinational corporations, leaving us valuable messages and practical solutions on the way.
Don't Read it For:
Some of the information is outdated, having been written nearly a decade ago. It is suited more for business aspirants, not budding programmers.
What makes this book stand out?:
Bill Gates uses real-life examples of certain situations, which gives depth to the reader’s understanding of a concept.

Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

The author describes the inspirational story of how Starbucks began as a single store in Seattle and has grown into a company with thousands of stores worldwide.

Read it For:
The author’s motivation and drive shows in his writing and reading the story of their expansion is quite a ride.
Don't Read it For:
For a casual reader, the aggressive optimism of the author is hard to relate to, and it’s tough to sympathize with a company that earns billions of dollars a day.
What makes this book stand out?:
The author did pour his heart into narrating his story, and the story comes across as compelling and real.

My Years With General Motors

Follows the early history and the rise of General Motors written from the eyes of Alfred Sloan.

Read it For:
The detailed descriptions of the careful planning required for General Motors to become the pioneer in the industry it is today. The teachings of finance and market analysis are invaluable.
Don't Read it For:
The book has its dull moments, and the author appears detached in his writing. Moreover, it will be hard to keep up for readers who aren’t avid car fans.
What makes this book stand out?:
The still-applicable principles make this book one of the most successful CEO bestsellers of all time.

Personal History

The story of Katherine Graham and how she gained ownership and turned the Washington Post into the force it is today.

Read it For:
Katherine Graham, forced to take over the family business due to a tragedy, tells an enthralling and moving tale of how she rose to become one of the most powerful women of the age.
Don't Read it For:
Not suited for entrepreneurs, or anyone looking for business advice, really: the book focuses more on the happenings of her life.
What makes this book stand out?:
The narration is painfully honest, and Katherina Graham shares without shame her regrets, flaws, and lessons.
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The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz in this account talks of the hardships he faced in running his business, drawing from his own experiences.

Read it For:
The author not only reassures us of the fact that failure is to be expected at times and that running a company is exceedingly difficult but also provides essential teachings on how to overcome obstacles in our lives.
Don't Read it For:
The book does not serve as an excellent guide, and would not be very useful for general readers.
What makes this book stand out?:
The writing style is fun and casual: Ben Horowitz even makes references to rappers in his narration, making for an easy read.

GIRLBOSS

In this book, Sophia Amoruso describes her rise from humble beginnings and how she founded Nasty Gal.

Read it For:
The rags-to-riches story is lovely to read, and Sophia describes her mindset and works ethic very well.
Don't Read it For:
The author’s voice often comes across as detached or even arrogant.
What makes this book stand out?:
The book has plenty of humorous little stories and other interesting anecdotes that make it very popular.

Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh narrates the tale of how and why he set up Zappos, not for personal gain, but rather in pursuit of happiness.

Read it For:
Tony Hsieh sets a great example for aspiring businesspeople, and his straightforward writing makes for an easy read.
Don't Read it For:
The book is not groundbreaking in terms of new ideas: the author hasn’t really told the reader anything new he needs to know.
What makes this book stand out?:
The author’s simple start and his description of the company’s core values are truly inspiring to read.

Zero to One

Peter Thiel teaches us that progress can be achieved in any area of business, and that sometimes, just taking the step from 0 to 1 is enough.

Read it For:
Peter’s writing, opening off with the heartening quote “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system,” is concise, and he is clear in his frame of mind and overall objective.
Don't Read it For:
The author’s philosophies might seem a little bit out-of-the-box and hard to swallow.
What makes this book stand out?:
The book is thought-provoking by nature and focuses on the mechanics of start-up businesses wonderfully well.

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Lee Iacocca talks about the nine qualities that make a good leader: Curiosity, Creativity, Communication, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competence, and Common Sense.

Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Identify and Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Business

Andy Grove talks largely of "Strategic Inflection Point" and the impact it had on Intel whilst moving to the microprocessor game.

Read it For:
Even though the book was written just over a decade ago, Andy Grove neatly emphasizes on what must be done to run a successful business and how to deal with change – and his teachings still work today
Don't Read it For:
The details of the examples the author have provided have too little impact to make a lasting impression on the reader.
What makes this book stand out?:
Andy Grove’s success in making Intel one of the best companies of this century is a stirring tale.

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