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10 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal The Books That Changed Their Lives

These founders tell us about the books that influenced their way of thinking about life and work.

Nina Zipkin

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Good ideas don’t exist in a vacuum

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Melissa Ben-Ishay – baked by Melissa

Getting a chance to learn about other people’s lives and points of view, whether from a novel or autobiography, can help people, including entrepreneurs, change their perspective and lead to unexpected opportunities.

Everything from being inspired to launch a start-up to pivoting a business model and altering how to approach life can come from reading books.

Check out the books and authors these entrepreneurs say truly made them change the way they think about the world.

On giving back

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Gavin Armstrong

It raises interesting questions about how the private sector should be spending their money and how they should be earning their money. It all depends on the age and stage of your company and what commitment and obligation you should have to giving back.

Because we started from day one with the objective to have a social impact embedded throughout our supply chain, we were able to weave that into all of our actions and our entire process. And as we grow, that culture and value grows with us.

Related: 3 Books To Help You Become Better, Smarter And Faster

On overcoming obstacles

ryan-holmes

Ryan Holmes 

It tells the story of author Slavomir Rawicz, a Polish soldier who is imprisoned by the Soviets after World War II. To gain his freedom, Rawicz goes on a remarkable journey through the frozen Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert, the Himalayan Mountains and to India. The Long Walk is about everyday human struggle, overcoming obstacles and achieving the impossible. That’s why I keep 10 copies on my desk to give away at any moment.

On work-life balance

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Julia Hartz

It outlines the current issues around self worth and approach to time, but also gender roles and pursuit of work-life balance.

I was so moved by the book – which is chock-full of supporting data points and useful reflections – that we had the author join the company to talk about her book via Google Hangout.

On unexpected beauty

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Jeff Chapin

A professor of mine in college wrote it, David P. Billington. When I started college, I was headed down the path of becoming a chemist. I’d always wanted to wear a lab coat and work in a lab.

But when I read this book in my first year of college for a class about structural art – essentially, the beauty found in architecture and engineering – it was so captivating I switched majors and pursued a civil engineering degree focused on structures. To this day, it’s still a reference for me in my work, even though I’ve switched from structures to products and work on a much smaller physical scale.

On positive thinking

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Jessica Dilullo Herrin

It’s one of the knowledge sources that affirmed for me that a positive mind is a powerful thing – not just for yourself but for your team and the people around you. A positive mind isn’t something where you figure out how to have it and you’re set for good. It’s like personal hygiene; you’ve got to keep it up every day.

Related: 5 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business

On perspective and perception

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Melissa Ben-Ishay

I found them interesting, because it’s like I read the same story from different perspectives. It was great to see how two people experienced the same exact thing and still have different perspectives – and they’re both right. It was an eye-opening thing for me. In life, there are things you know and things you don’t know and for everything else, there are the doors of perception.

On managing a team

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Dave Rusenko

  • Name: Dave Rusenko
  • Company: Weebly
  • Book: My recent favourite book is The Rickover Effect by Theodore Rockwell about the nuclear bomb.
He’s a very controversial personality. He was ahead of his time as as far as management goes, and he had some really interesting thoughts on how to run an effective organisation. It’s more than a story. He provides compelling anecdotes and thoughts on how to get the best out of people.

On living your best life

josh-reeves

Josh Reeves

  • Name: Josh Reeves
  • Company: Gusto
  • Book: The Monk and The Riddle by Randy Komisar, a professor of mine at Stanford. The book is about the purpose of life through his own experience.

He brings up the idea of an extended life plan – the concept that somehow people think we’re going to do something now that might not be good but will enable us to do what we want in the future. But that mindset replicated over time means you never get to living the life you want. The main message is the journey itself matters. It’s the best way to build the best future.

On human nature

jack-groetzinger

Jack Groetzinger

It seems a little Machiavellian. It’s the way you use sell tactics to get people to comply with you, but I think that it can also be used for good. In the case of SeatGeek, figuring out how we can harness social psychology, human psychology, to allow people to do more stuff, have more fun and go to more events.

Related: 5 Kinds of Non-business Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read

On human flaws

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Aaron Hirschhorn

  • Name: Aaron Hirschhorn
  • Company: DogVacay
  • Book: I love books that help you understand or change your perspective on life, on humanity, on what it means to be a person, on what it means to be an animal.

There are two books that I love. Life of Pi, where the main character grows up in a zoo and talks about what it means to be an animal in the wild and an animal in the zoo, and then he sort of experiences it on a journey. I just love the perspective on humanity there.

The other one is The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is a book written from the perspective of a dog. And it’s just so pure and beautiful about how this dog views his owner. You get that the owner is a flawed human, but the dog doesn’t see any of that.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Nina Zipkin is a staff reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Self Development

(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

From doing headstands to drinking 50 cups of coffee a day, check out the quirky things that these nine creatives have done.

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Coming up with new, creative ideas can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to find a way to get inspired. After all, it’s our own unique rituals that can bring mental clarity and creativity. That could be a quirky habit or routine such as doing headstands or wearing lots of hats.

Igor Stravinksy did headstands, which he believed helped to rest his head and clear his brain. Author Dr. Seuss felt that wearing lots of crazy hats helped inspire his creativity and overcome writer’s block. However, those aren’t even the strangest routines that some of the world’s most brilliant minds have utilised. Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water to reduce stress levels while Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Check out Business Backers infographic below to learn the weird ways that nine creative minds got their ideas.

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This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful.

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Unstoppable people are like warriors. They are always ready to take on the world. They are guided by a light from within, full of boundless energy and unwavering in their goals. They have learned to activate their natural talents and develop the skills necessary to achieve whatever they aim for.

How do they do this? Where do they find the stamina and strength to keep going? Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful. Here are 15 traits that will help you go from being a solid achiever to being a truly unstoppable person.

Do you have any yet?

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Self Development

Why Confidence Is So Important In The Workplace

If you are not sure on how to gain confidence and are curious as to why it is so important in the workplace, read on for some helpful advice.

Amy Galbraith

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Confidence is not something that everyone has. Not all of us are able to walk into a room and exude charisma and panache, but confidence is a trait that can help immensely in the workplace. It can help you to interact with your colleagues, keep you motivated during stressful times and can also boost your productivity during the working day.

If you are not sure on how to gain confidence and are curious as to why it is so important in the workplace, read on for some helpful advice.

Why is confidence so important?

Assertiveness gives you an edge

Being assertive does not mean that you are aggressive or arrogant. Assertiveness means that you are able to take initiative on tasks and handle pressure without too much stress. It also means that you are willing to take on new challenges in the workplace.

Being confident and assertive will help you to reach new heights in your career. Your employer will notice that you are able to handle stressful tasks with ease and that you are able to create solutions to problems using your own ideas. Confidence will help to boost your performance in the office and this could, in turn, lead to a possible promotion as well.

Effective communication works wonders

Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is a major asset to have in any office. Having confidence allows you to do this easily, enabling you to effectively get your message across to colleagues and clients.

Putting forward an air of confidence when communicating might sound difficult at first, but if you practise, it will become easier. Communication skills are at the top of almost every employer’s list when it comes to recruiting new talent, and being self-confident will help to build these skills. A confident person believes in their communication abilities, which shows in their verbal and written language.

Productivity levels are boosted

If you are confident in yourself and in your work, you are more likely to be more productive. This is because you will not have to second-guess your work and you can complete tasks on time and on budget.

Productive workers are highly valued in any company, and confidence goes hand-in-hand with producing work. You will be able to take on more projects, challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and reach new goals for your company. Your employer will notice that you produce high quality work and this could lead to new challenges, a role change and even a promotion.

Related: Entrepreneurs And A Politically Neutral Workplace – Finding The Perfect Balance

How to gain confidence in the workplace

Shift your views

Confident people rarely think about how others impact them, rather they think about the impact they have on others. In order to gain confidence, you will need to shift your views and think about how you can and do impact your colleagues.

This shift in view will empower you as you will realise that it is what you do that matters and not what others do to you. You should also look at how you handle pressure. If you are usually someone who needs guidance in difficult situations, try to change your viewpoint to seeing yourself as someone who can give advice in stressful times. A simple shift of view can help you to feel more self-confident, and others will soon follow suit.

Tell people you will finish the task

Feeling confident starts with stating your goals. Let people know that you will finish a task at work, and go on to finish that task. By voicing your goals to your team, you are holding yourself accountable, which will help to boost your confidence.

Saying your goals out loud will give you credibility and people will take note that you always stay true to your word. You must be sure that anything you take on can be finished by the deadline, otherwise incomplete tasks and a huge workload can diminish your confidence. Be sure to manage your time wisely and you will be able to finish any task you set your mind to.

Improve your knowledge

You can easily build your confidence by improving your knowledge and learning more. This can be done easily, by watching TED Talks on topics that interest you, attending seminars on how to build self-confidence or taking online courses in your field.

Confidence grows when you learn more about a topic that you enjoy or when you gain more skills in your field. You will also have new knowledge that can contribute to your position, which will help to boost your confidence too. It is never too late to learn something new and you should never let your age prohibit you from taking courses or going to seminars.

Final thoughts

Being confident can help in many ways in the workplace. You will be more productive, you will be able to communicate effectively and you will become more assertive too. These are all traits that employers look for in potential talent, so building your confidence is a win for both you and the company. Improve your knowledge, shift your views and hold yourself accountable in order to boost your confidence and enjoy work even more.

Read next: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

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