A savvy entrepreneur understands that the ability to empathise with a variety of perspectives is invaluable when growing a business. One of the simplest and most effective way to do this is to read widely, across genres and from authors whose point of view is different than your own.
Whether it is a novel or history book on your nightstand or an in-depth scientific study, these successful founders have some unexpected titles that they always recommend to everyone.
1On having a positive attitude in the face of adversity
- Name: Merrill Stubbs
- Company: Food52
- Book: Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. I love children’s books in general, and a lot of kid’s books are really good reading for adults. This one in particular is not only a great story and narrative, but it’s a great study of a relationship between father and his son.
Plus, the entrepreneurial, can-do attitude of Danny and his father has always been inspiring to me. While they are meticulous planners, ultimately it’s the partnership and camaraderie between them that is more important than their scheme working out exactly as planned. I try to keep this in mind when things don’t go the way we’ve anticipated.
2On combating negative thinking
- Name: Jessica Dilullo Herrin
- Company: Stella & Dot
- Book: Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. In this book, he pulls together decades of research to show people how to shift their negative thinking into empowering ways of thinking, acting and feeling. After I read it, I was convinced that Shirzad was the real deal, and his approach and techniques really worked.
The gist of positive psychology is this: The more you train your brain to be positive, the happier you feel. For me, this has translated into taking time to quiet my brain every day to recharge and refocus.
3On how emotions affect our work
- Name: Oren Frank
- Company: Talkspace
- Book: I recommend a book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He’s the first and only psychologist that won the Nobel prize for economics. The notion that people, emotions and relationships determine so much of the decisions we make and these are deeply rooted mechanisms is something that is becoming more understood and accepted. It’s basically the fundamentals of business, because who do you do business with? You do business with people. This particular book gives you amazing insight as to how to better understand and work with people
4On a learning from a diversity of opinions
- Name: Gavin Armstrong
- Company: Lucky Iron Fish
- Book: Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia. If you’re an entrepreneur, I think that you can’t only have one point of view. That book lets you explore the concept within different frameworks and how it would work for you. It uses relevant, current issues and examples. Even if you don’t agree with the opinions, you are given enough information to make your own decision.
5On the scope of technology
- Name: Jeff Chapin
- Company: Casper
- Book: Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It is a story of the U.S. effort to build the atomic bomb. It’s a beautifully written book about the science and technology behind it. I don’t think many people think of a non-fiction book as page turner, but it sucked me in.
There’s incredible science described in a very understandable way, tension around the morality of building an atomic bomb, egos and personality conflicts, along with the fact that many of the scientists were Jews expunged from Nazi Europe creating the ultimate weapon to destroy Nazism. It’s a good read. A lot of people haven’t had great experiences with non-fiction, so I think it surprises them.
6On the golden rule
- Name: Dave Rusenko
- Company: Weebly
- Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s a nice reminder and blueprint on how to be a good person. It’s effectively saying that if you could pay more attention to other people’s needs, it will benefit you.
7On taking ownership of your journey
- Name: Melissa Ben-Ishay
- Company: Baked by Melissa
- Book: I always recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I try to read it once a year. I think everyone takes different lesson from reading that book. For me, it reminded me about the journey and that my path is my path, and I need to own it and enjoy it. It’s really all about the way you choose to perceive the events that are happening in your life.
8On the importance of sleep
- Name: Aaron Hirschhorn
- Company: DogVacay
- Book: I have been recommending – and maybe because I have had some problems sleeping as the stress of the business is sort of catching up to me – is a book called No More Sleepless Nights by Peter Hauri. It puts insomnia into perspective. It’s a really practical guide to having a better attitude around sleep. I have been recommending that a lot to people, because it turns out a huge percentage of people I know suffer from insomnia and a huge percentage of the country, too. Very practical, not a business book, but it just affects your life in a huge way.
9On questioning your own perception
- Name: Jack Groetzinger
- Company: SeatGeek
- Book: I began to think differently about chance after reading Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. That booked changed how I make decisions and interpret events post hoc.
10On taking risks
- Name: Matt Ehrlichman
- Company: Porch
- Book: Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. I think that for a fellow CEO or entrepreneur, it’s a great way to think. There are others as well. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is great to help newer entrepreneurs think about how to build a company.
11On reaching for the stars
- Name: Ryan Holmes
- Company: Hootsuite
- Book: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Canadian astronaut and International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield. He’s a friend and one of the most courageous and inspirational people I know. In the book, he shares some incredible stories from his life as an astronaut but also shows us how to make the impossible a reality whatever pursuit we’re in. I recommend this to anyone who dreams big and who strives to stay true to themselves.
Related: 5 Tips to Read 100 Books a Year
12On personal health and how it affects our daily lives
- Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
- Company: BaubleBar
- Book: I would recommend The China Study by Thomas Campbell and T. Colin Campbell. It is a really exceptional study on the impacts of nutrition on our outlook on life and how we approach basically everything. That has changed my approach to nutrition and my expectations that the things you eat do have a huge impact on everything, from your energy levels to your outlook.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.