My Ultimate Reading List
I went through all the books I ever read and compiled my ultimate list of Books I Revisit Often.
- My Favorite Books of 2020
- My Favorite Books of 2019
- My Favorite Books of 2018
- My Favorite Books of 2017
The Good Life Handbook (Enchiridion) by Epictetus (audio version): This is my favorite Stoic text by Epictetus. The ultimate guide on how to live a good life. It’s short and takes less than one hour. There is a free audio edition on LibriVox. I have listened to it many times, and will continue to revisit it a few times per year. I always listen to it on January 1.
Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos (audio version): An excellent compilation for people who want to get to know Jeff Bezos and Amazon better. Amazon has been misunderstood for decades, similarly to how Tesla is misunderstood today. I am pretty convinced that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will not only continue to compete in space, but also for the #1 most valuable company spot in the coming years and decades.
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier (audio version): Eye-opening and thought-provoking arguments against social media. The author is a Silicon Valley insider, works at Microsoft, and is considered a founder of the field of virtual reality.
The Practice by Seth Godin (audio version): Seth Godin is one of my favorite thinkers and he is occupying a rare spot on my personal “list of heroes / mentors”. This book is another masterpiece. It’s written for people who ship creative work, and offers nourishing guidance on the creative path. I currently listen to it every morning, and it helps me a lot.
Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson (audio version): I’ve been reading this book to improve the marketing and sales process of my new investing course. While I don’t agree with all tactics, it offers many valuable insights how to market an information product on the internet.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (audio version): A collection of 40 fictional possibilities of life beyond death. Each story is only a page or two long. It’s a fun and thought-provoking short read.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau (audio version): I had this book on my list for a long time and really enjoyed it. It’s a collection of case studies and lessons on how to create a lifestyle business with practically no upfront investment. If you’re looking to build a lifestyle business, this book is for you.
The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kichimi and Fumitake Koga (audio version): Wonderful book, presented in an engaging dialogue format between a master and a youth. It’s an introduction to the psychology of Alfred Adler. I liked the ideas of “separation of tasks” and “all problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinermeier Hansson (audio version): Another excellent book by the Basecamp founders. They have strong opinions about how to work smarter. I love their business philosophy.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (audio version): Re-read it after 11 years. What I missed the first time was how deeply this book was influenced by the Great Depression. I especially liked the Mastermind principle and the idea of having a Cabinet of Invisible Counselors.
Yiddishe Kop by Nilton Bonder: Fascinating exploration of the different levels of thinking and problem solving, based on Jewish wisdom. It explores the differences between information, understanding, wisdom and reverence.
Theatre of the Mind by Matt Furey: This audio program is a companion to Psycho-Cybernetics. If you loved Dr. Maltz’s work, you will enjoy this as well. I learned that “burning desire” is the most important fuel to make progress, to cultivate an inner smile 24/7 and to be a winner, not a whiner.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport (audio version): A thought provoking manifesto on how to find work you love. Instead of blindly following your passions, it urges us to focus on our skills. I especially loved the chapters about craftsmanship and practice. If you care about your work, I can highly recommend reading it.
Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggeston by Émile Coué: A wonderful companion to Psycho-Cybernetics, explaining how the subconscious mind works and how to use it to your benefit. Many others, from Napoleon Hill to Maxwell Maltz, were influenced and inspired by Émile Coué. If you are interested in the subconscious mind, I highly recommend it.
Essentialism by Greg Mckeown (audio version): Excellent book on essentialism with lots of practical ideas how to apply the principles. I especially enjoyed the ideas on “saying no”. I will revisit this book regularly to improve my ability to focus on what is truly important.
Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell (audio version): Timeless wisdom by Lao-Tzu on life and the nature of reality. It’s one of those books that you can read or listen to many times. The energy of it is very high and it has calming and elevating properties. I especially enjoyed it when I was in bed with the flu, half awake and half dreaming, the perfect food for my soul.
Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins (audio version): Jim Collins is one of my favorite business thinkers. This monograph is a 48-page addition to his masterpiece Good to Great. I can highly recommend reading all of his books. Also, his podcasts on Tim Ferriss and Farnam Street were packed with wisdom, and I enjoyed them both.
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer (audio version): Excellent and recently updated book about philanthropy. It offers a helpful guide for donors to improve their capital allocation and to maximize the effectiveness of each $1. The book inspired me to think more deeply about my own capital allocation in this regard. The author has bought back the book rights and is now giving away the book for free, so that these ideas can spread more rapidly. You can download the ebook or audiobook by clicking here.
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (audio version): This is one of the most important books I have ever read. It’s a great companion book to Levels of Energy and The Good Life Handbook. It’s a thorough study of the subconscious mind, and offers practical solutions to fundamental human problems: how to be healthier, happier, calmer, more prosperous etc. I’m taking a deep dive and will spend 1-2 months on it.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (audio version):
Great science-fiction story on Mars. It takes place in a time when the solar system has been colonized by humans. It’s great entertainment and offers a sneak peak into possible future scenarios. It’s a trilogy and I’ll continue with the story.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin (audio version): A great book for everyone who is interested in FIRE (financial independence, retire early). It offers some great tools and ideas. If you want to fix your finances in 2020, you might want to start with this book.
The Good Life Handbook (Enchiridion) by Epictetus (audio version): This is my favorite Stoic text by Epictetus. The ultimate guide on how to live a good life. It’s short and takes less than one hour. There is a free audio edition on LibriVox. I have listened to it many times, and will continue to revisit it once or twice per year.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (audio version): This is a book that keeps getting recommended over and over again. Now I understand why. It’s long, and well worth it. It’s about creativity, communism, and life. I wish there were more Dagny Taggart’s, John Galt’s and Hank Rearden’s in the world. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
Levels of Energy by Frederick Dodson (audio version): This book provides an incredibly useful framework for how to view and work with different levels of energy. Especially how to read the energy levels of other people and how to elevate your own level. I highly recommend it and will reread it in the future.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (audio version): This was a surprisingly interesting book. It especially enriches the debate about security and privacy, and offers some suggestions that may be worthwhile for further research. His main point is that the most practical solution to enhance your privacy is to use encryption.
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (audio version): This book has been recommended by one of my heroes, David Allen. It’s a thorough study of how our respiratory system works, and how we can improve it. It turns out that most of us over-breathe chronically. It prompted me to create a “Breathing” project, to study this topic further (especially in light of Wim Hof’s work), and then take the appropriate actions.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (audio version): I’ve read recommendations for Ayn Rand for many years, and have decided to take a dive. I’ve started with Anthem, a very quick read. Then I continued with Fountainhead. I loved the story and philosophy behind it. I was especially inspired by the character of Howard Roark. Next on the list is Atlas Shrugged, her most recommended book.
Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): I‘ve spent 50+ hours listening to all books of the Mars trilogy. It turns out you get used to space elevators, terraforming and humans on Mars pretty fast. I especially liked the scientific and societal aspects of the story. The books have been written between 1992 and 1996, and the science and technology feels quite realistic in 2019.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (audio version): Warren Buffett famously said that he is 85% Benjamin Graham and 15% Philip Fisher. I’ve read this book before, but I see it now with different eyes after reading 100 Baggers. Also, the audiobook is newly available in an unabridged version. An investment classic!
100 Baggers by Christopher Mayer (audio version): An excellent investing book that I plan to re-read multiple times. It helps challenge short-term thinking by focusing on long-term compounding. Instead of wasting your energy on finding short-term opportunities, it proposes to spend this energy to find big ones instead. And if you find them, you need to hold them for a long time, as it takes 26 years on average for a 100 bagger to 100x. Here’s a great video summary of the book.
Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): This is the second book in Robinson’s Mars trilogy. The story continues: life on Mars, terraforming, an overpopulated Earth. Great food for thought. I’m looking forward to the last book of the series.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): This is an enjoyable sci-fi story written in 1992. It described the journey of the first 100 people that colonize Mars. It also goes into great detail about terraforming and building a space elevator. After this book, I am actually quite happy with staying on Earth for the time being. This book is part of a trilogy and I plan to read the other two books as well.
Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (audio version): An entertaining story about the Bitcoin adventures of the Winklevoss brothers, how they turned their Facebook settlement into a cryptocurrency fortune. It’s a good companion book to Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper.
Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper (audio version): Many people have an opinion about Bitcoin. But most never actually took the time to learn about its origin story and how it really works. This book by New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper is a great starting point. If after, you want to go down the rabbit hole – as I did a few years back – I recommend this compilation of resources.
#AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): It’s a great compilation of the thoughts and principles of Gary Vaynerchuk. This finishes my quest through all of Gary’s books. I admire his energy, enthusiasm and skill, and can recommend all of his books. But if I had to pick a favorite, it’s an easy choice: it’s Crush It!
Lee Kuan Yew by Graham Allison (only on Audible): Charlie Munger is a big fan of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, so I wanted to learn more about him. This audiobook is a collection of his views and wisdom. It was fascinating to hear his views on China, India and the future of the world in general.
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy (audio version): A surprisingly good book about time management, with lots of time-tested practical suggestions. If you care about productivity or how to stop procrastination, I highly recommend this book.
Lying by Sam Harris (audio version): Is it okay to lie? What about innocent white lies? This is the second time I have read this book. Ever since reading it, this book has helped me to become much more honest in my communication. It makes a strong case against all lies, even the seemingly small and innocent ones.
The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish (audio version): As a fan of Charlie Munger and a reader of the Farnam Street blog, I really enjoyed this book. It compiles 9 mental models that you can use to improve your thinking and decision-making. In fact, I have already read it twice, and will re-read it again. This is volume 1 of a series and I’m looking forward to the next volumes.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): It’s a good book that summarizes the key messages from Sapiens and Homo Deus and brings them to the present moment. I like Yuval’s writing and recommend to start with Sapiens if you haven’t read it yet.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): After re-reading Sapiens I continued with the same author. This book focuses on the future, and what the author thinks the main directions will be. One mega-trend is the “search for happiness/meaning”. There will be a growing market for products and services in this space. I also enjoyed the discussions on “algorithms” and “humanism”.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (audio version): This is another one from the category “I wish I have read this 10 years ago”. I’m currently taking a deep dive into Nonviolent Communication and am reading everything by Marshall Rosenberg. If you speak German, I highly recommend Konflikte lösen durch Gewaltfreie Kommunikation as a starting point. It’s in dialogue form and a very light read. If I ever build a school, Nonviolent Communication will be a mandatory skill to learn. It’s remarkable how much impact this can have on your happiness and ability to build deep relationships in business and life!
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): After reading Crush It, I discovered that there was a freshly published sequel, showcasing other entrepreneurs applying the Crush It principles. So I jumped on it and enjoyed it. It’s a light book to inspire entrepreneurs wanting to start a business or side project by showing how other people have done it.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (audio version): After reading Guns, Germs and Steel, I re-read this book about the history of humankind. The first time I read it it blew my mind, and it’s great to get an occasional refresh.
Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (audio version): If I’d ever publish a “how to create a lifestyle business” curriculum, this book would be required reading (together with This is Marketing by Seth Godin, How to Make $100,000 per Year in Passive Income by Chase Andrews, and other similar books). This book has been published 10 years ago and all the principles are truer than ever. Gary’s style is loud and screamy, which I don’t always find healthy, but he applies what he preaches and has been consistent for over 10 years. I respect that, and find his material very helpful (in a healthy dosage…).
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (audio version): I’ve had this book in my library for a long time, as it is frequently recommended. Charlie Munger’s recommendation in Poor Charlie’s Almanack has finally convinced me to read it now. It’s a wonderful book about the history of civilization. If you liked Sapiens, you will like this as well. I didn’t take away any actionable things, but it’s still great to know how this all happened. I listened to it with 1.5x speed which I find perfect for these kinds of books.
How to Make $100,000 per Year in Passive Income by Chase Andrews (audio version): I am always interested to learn about new income opportunities. I stumbled upon this book while searching for a different one, and was positively surprised. The main message of the book was to not focus on the money, but to first and foremost provide value for a very specific audience, to solve a real problem or need. This is an important message and can’t be repeated enough: You need to provide real value. The strategies themselves varied in quality. I found 5 or 6 of them really good, especially the education business ideas.
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson (audio version): I finally finished this 600 page book inspired by Charlie Munger’s admiration for Ben Franklin. I have to say, I was not disappointed at all. The story was well written and I learned a lot: About entrepreneurship, frugality, how to improve one’s character, and of course a lot of history. If you like biographies, this is a must-read.
Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter Kaufman: This is one of the books I wish I had read much sooner, and one I will re-read many times. It’s a collection of Charlie Munger’s talks and a lot of accompanying wisdom. If you are at all interested in the topics we discuss here in this newsletter, this book is a must-have. It’s not available on Amazon and must be ordered on the website of PCA Publications. And while you’re at it, simply order all the books they offer. You won’t be disappointed (and shipping costs per book get cheaper…).
The Messy Marketplace by Brent Beshore: Brent Beshore has evaluated 10.000 small to midsize businesses for purchase. In this book, he summarizes his process and offers a comprehensive guide for buying and selling private businesses. It’s especially useful for people who think about selling their business.
One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (audio version): It’s the first book I read by legendary investor Peter Lynch. My main takeaways were “Invest in what you know” and “Look for stock ideas based on the products you and your family use and love”.
How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci (audio version): Good book about stoicism with some great reminders and nuggets. If you are new to stoicisim, I recommend to read A Guide To The Good Life first.
Benjamin Franklin – A Short Biography by Doug West (audio version): Inspired by Charlie Munger I want to learn more about Benjamin Franklin. My starting point was this 30 minute summary. Now I’m in the process of reading the longer version by Walter Isaacson.
Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus (audio version): I liked this book by fellow 360° life optimizer Aubrey Marcus. It’s a great summary and inspiration of how to improve your life. It inspired me to purchase a light therapy lamp to get more bright light during the dark winter months.
Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh (audio version): A great companion book to AI Superpowers, as it offers the Silicon Valley perspective of scaling up a startup. After reading both books, I still believe that China will continue to catch up to Silicon Valley.
The Fish That Ate The Whale by Rich Cohen (audio version): A wonderfully told story about Samuel Zemurray, who arrived in America in 1891 from Russia and built a banana empire from scratch, becoming one of the richest, most powerful men in the world. You also learn a lot about bananas and Central America. For example, that botanically, bananas are berries, and not fruit. Or that scorpions love banana trees, making the harvest very dangerous.
This is Marketing by Seth Godin (audio version): Seth Godin is one of my mentors and heroes. I love his thinking and I’ve read many of his books (and I will read many more). This book is a wonderful summary of how to think about marketing (and business in general) in the current age. It encourages readers to go out there and do great work. I am now reading it for the second time, so that these ideas can sink even deeper. I read this book twice.
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb (audio version): Great book about the role probability and luck, especially in the investing world. I had a bit trouble with the structure and style, but it was well worth pushing through.
Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker (audio version): Great and very short book about the art of managing oneself. The audio version is just 44 minutes. It’s a book I read regularly, as it’s quite important in today’s knowledge worker economy. I have a stack of them and gift them regularly.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (audio version): A great window into the Roman Emperor’s mind. I wish today’s leaders were as introspective and reflective. It’s worth trying different translations to find the version that speaks best to you. I will try different ones in the future as well.
On Anger by Seneca (audio version): I loved the detailed elaborations on anger. I never thought about this topic in such a deep way. It convinced me that anger is a pretty useless emotion, and I’m now making an effort to avoid it as often as possible.
The Millionaire Next Door by T. Stanley & W. Danko (audio version): Fantastic book about a study about millionaires: Who are they? How did they become wealthy? What do they do differently? If you are interested in building wealth, I highly recommend this book. Read it for the second time now.
The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli (audio version): This was the most important book I read in 2018 (I’ve read the original German version). The book was so good that I have read it twice and have scheduled to re-read it at least once a year. It gives very practical recommendations of how to live a better life, and I’ve been able to implement multiple things.
A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine (audio version): It’s a great companion to Rolf Dobelli’s book (see above), and it’s a wonderful introduction to the stoic way of life. I’ve decided to not only read it, but to study it, and to integrate these practices into my life. This little iPhone app is helping me to practice it every day.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman (audio version): What a wonderful (and funny!) biography by theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. I had this book in my library for many years, as multiple people have recommended it (e.g. Google Founder Sergey Brin).
The Why Cafe by John Strelecky (audio version): Fantastic book, helping you to face the “big” questions of life: Why are you here? Do you fear death? Are you fulfilled? I’ve read it before and recommend it 100%.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink (audio version): Great book about leadership. I also like “Discipline Equals Freedom” by the same author (the audio version is not on Audible, but on iTunes instead).
Frank Thelen by Frank Thelen (German only): I enjoyed this story about the journey of Frank Thelen, a well-known German tech entrepreneur and investor.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (audio version): Re-read for the second time, after reading it in 2015. Crazy how much has happened since. SpaceX landings were experimental. And now we’re at 18 landings in a row! Elon read hundreds of books in his childhood, and the local library was one of his favorite places (this reminds me of a great Charlie Munger quote: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.“ – Charlie Munger). If you are interested in innovation and technology, it’s a must read.
Angel by Jason Calacanis (audio version): Solid advice for aspiring angel investors. Great to understand how angel investing & Silicon Valley currently work. The author suggests to not invest more than 1-5% of your net worth into startups, as this is a highly risky asset class. Also, angel investing is hard work. After reading this book I decided against becoming an angel investor.
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by J. King & J. Faber (audio version): Fantastic parenting book. The lessons and skills are not only applicable to small kids, but also to adults. Main learnings: Always start with acknowledging feelings; then use the problem solving method to find ideas & solutions.
On the Shortness of Life by Lucius Seneca (audio version): Fantastic thoughts about life and the value of time. Makes you rethink how you live your life and spend your time. Very short read, the audio is just 73 minutes. Will re-read regularly.
Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger (audio version): Great biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger. You get insights into many habits and tactics of this high-performer, e.g. write down your goals, it’s all about sets and reps, get up early etc.
The Millionaire Next Door by T. Stanley & W. Danko (audio version): Fantastic book about studying millionaires: Who are they? How did they become wealthy? What do they do differently? It turns out that most millionaires are not immediately noticeable. They are mostly small business owners with outstanding spending and investing habits. Step 1: They are frugal and spend less than they earn. Step 2: They invest the difference. Step 3: They keep doing that for a very long time. They spend much more time finding and managing investment opportunities than regular people. If you are interested in how to build wealth, I highly recommend this book.
Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (audio version): It’s a deep dive into biology, evolution and genetics. The discussion of the Prisoner’s Dilemma showed the importance of the Tit for Tat strategy (= always start with being nice).
Pitch Anything by Oren Kloff (audio version): Surprisingly good book about pitching, persuasion and winning deals. Helped me to prepare for a recent pitch at a large corporation. I recommend you add this book to your library. It’s a great reference book to recap before pitches, sales meetings or negotiations.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (audio version): Excellent memoir by the founder of NIKE. It’s crazy how often the company almost went bankrupt. You would assume for a company like NIKE it would be a smooth ride. Far from it. I’ve learned about the importance of negotiation and the importance of having a great team. It was very entertaining and exactly the right length
Hooked by Nir Eyal (audio version): Very good book about how to build habit-forming products and the psychology behind it. If you are a web entrepreneur or product manager, this book must be in your library.
A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman (audio version): Very courageous and interesting story about a 30-day microdosing experiment with LSD by a regular mother and wife. Microdosing is taking 5-10% of a normal dose and usually cannot be felt. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD and lived until 102 years, practiced microdosing during the last decades of his life. I highly recommend this Tim Ferriss podcast with Dr. James Fadiman that goes further into this topic.
Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown (audio version): If you’re a web entrepreneur, product manager or digital marketer, developing a Growth Hacking skill is very important in my opinion. We will now implement the best practices at Exsila, and this book will be required reading for all of our developers as well.
Michael Jordan by Roland Lazenby (audio version): You can learn a lot from Michael Jordan: His competitiveness, his drive, his ability to listen to coaching, his energy, his work ethic and much more. Even if you are not interested in basketball, you will learn a lot. If you are only slightly interested in basketball or pro sports, you will enjoy it a lot, although it was a bit too detailed at times.
7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (audio version): What a powerful book. Have read it 8 years ago, an re-reading it unlocked a whole new level. I’ve decided to spend much more time in Quadrant 2 (Important + Not urgent) and Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw). Spending 2-3 hours to read and learn per day falls exactly into this category. This is definitely a book I need to re-read regularly. I especially recommend the audio version. The author is reading it personally. It feels like a personal coaching session.
Living the 7 Habits by Stephen R. Covey (audio version): Great companion book to the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Very inspiring stories by people who have applied the 7 Habits. I was especially touched by the teacher who made the 7 Habits the core of her teaching. The impact was astounding. I would have loved to have a teacher like this. I was also deeply touched by the father who was able to deeply connect with his daughter by playing the “What I love about you” game. This story made me cry!
How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement by Stephen R. Covey (audio version): Developing a Personal Mission Statement is one of the center-pieces of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. This short book serves the purpose of assisting you through this process. Each Sunday, I have scheduled an hour to work on my Personal Mission Statement. According to the author, there is no purpose in rushing the process. It can take several months, until you come up with a final version.
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (audio version): Probably my favorite business book of all time. Great blueprint for how build a responsible and long-term business. I especially loved their idea of “The 100-Year Company”.
Bertrand Piccard erzählt by Betrand Piccard (German only): Fascinating tales of adventurer and pioneer Bertrand Piccard.
Erinnerungen eines Psychonauten by Albert Hofmann (German only): Fascinating to hear about his first-hand experiences with LSD and Psilocybin.
Antifragile by Nassim Taleb (audio version): Excellent insights, will certainly need to read this book again. One point stuck with me: Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do. Examples: Ask your wealth manager not for stock recommendations, but for which stocks he owns himself. Ask your doctor not for a treatment, but for what he would do if he were in your position. Ask your business school professor about his own career and his own businesses (and discover that maybe he never had practical experience) etc. You would be surprises how different the answers will be.
The AC/DC Strategy by Peter Metzinger: 14 campaigning principles show-cased by AC/DC, how to build a fan-base and loyal customers. One core principle: Talk to your users.
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (audio version): Currently my favourite entrepreneurship book. It’s only 96 pages and packed with insights and learnings. I also recommend to check out Derek’s website and podcasts (e.g. this one).
The Power of No by James and Claudia Altucher (audio version): Good book about the importance of saying “no”. My take-away are two words: “No” as the most important word. The second is “help”. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. But also don’t be afraid to say “help”. Personally I want to use both words more often.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser (audio version): We are writing so many things: Emails, blog posts, websites, social media posts. Learning how to write well is a basic skill that everybody should master. I will certainly revisit this book.
Nexus Trilogy by Ramez Naam (audio version): Probably the best sci-fi / futurism story I have ever read. It plays in the year 2040 and is about the evolution of humanity, nano-machines, mind-to-mind communication, spirituality, global warming and many other topics. I highly recommend the audio version!
Jobs-to-be-Done Handbook by Chris Spiek and Bob Moesta: In my opinion a must-read for all product managers, entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek (audio version): For a long time, I have struggled to put certain feelings and life experiences into words. This book has helped me to get the much needed clarity. It is the most important book I read in 2016. I loved the audio version performed by the author.
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christenson (audio version): It’s my favorite book on innovation, and can be applied to entrepreneurship, investing and many other areas of life. It was the favorite business book of Steve Jobs, and now I know why.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel (audio version): Excellent contrarian entrepreneurship thinking by the co-founder of PayPal. My takeaways: First focus on a very specific segment of the market, and become the #1 there. Once you have successfully conquered this one segment, use the momentum (and hopefully profits) from that to expand into adjacent areas. Rinse and repeat.
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler (audio version): What you can learn from the sales process of Salesforce.com. My key learning is to separate lead generation from sales. The better leads you can generate, the more effective your sales team can be.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (audio version): The most important book I read in 2015. I listened to it multiple times, to get those ideas as deep as possible. Update: It doesn’t hurt to read the book, but today I would read Psycho-Cybernetics first, as The Secret has a slight touch of “conspiracy theory”.
The Martian by Andy Weir (audio version): What a wonderful sci-fi story. Loved it so much that I immediately listened to it again. As in most cases, the book is better (and more detailed) than the movie. But loved the movie as well.
How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins (audio version): Another excellent book by Jim Collins. It describes the process of how successful companies start to crumble and fall apart. The two ideas “Undisciplined Pursuit of More” and “Grasping for Salvation” stood out to me.
Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen (audio version): This book deals with the question “why do some companies thrive inuncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?” I loved the concepts of the “20 Mile March” and “Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs”.
Scott and Amundsen by Roland Huntford (audio version): What a fascinating story about the race to the South Pole between Scott and Amundsen. The teams had different strategies and made different choices. One team died, the other one succeeded. The lessons can be applied to business and life.
Currency Wars by James Rickards (audio version): An exploration of our global currency system. I enjoyed the history part. Not sure I agree with his interpretation. It has a touch of conspiracy theory.
Liberation Upon Hearing in the Between by Robert Thurmann (audio version): An exploration of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, from a modern perspective. I am fascinated by the Tibetan perspective on life and death.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (audio version): Fantastic book about the power of checklists. It describes why and how checklists became so important in aviation, and how introducing checklists in healthcare and surgery decreased complications by a very significant amount. Should be a must-read in schools and universities!
The Education of a Value Investor by Guy Spier (audio version): I enjoyed this story of how Guy Spier became a value investor. Lots of useful learnings and insights that you can apply in business and life.
The Manual of Ideas by John Mihaljevic: Excellent overview about value investing, especially how to find compelling investment ideas. I highly recommend this book.
The Little Book That Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt (audio version): Excellent book about the Magic Formula with convincing evidence. The key learning is: if you choose such a strategy, you have to stick with it for 10 years, even through times of underperformace (which is super hard).
The Little Book of Behavioral Investing by James Montier (audio version): In my opinion, the “behavioral” part is one of the most important aspects of investing. This is an excellent book about this topic.
Gottlieb Duttweiler: Exceptionally inspiring biography of Gottlieb Duttweiler, founder of leading Swiss supermarket chain Migros. The historic dimension is very interesting, as one learns about Switzerland in the early 20th century. Duttis passion was exceptional, as well as his business philosophy. He realized that a business alone is not fulfilling enough, so he added a social mission, becoming one of the pioneers of the concept of socially engaged entrepreneurship. He turned Migros into a cooperative, effectively giving it away for free to his clients. Must read for Swiss entrepreneurs.
Kopf schlägt Kapital (Brain versus Capital): Prof. Faltin proposes an innovative concept of how to create new businesses. He emphasizes the importance of a thoroughly thought through business concept, meaning rethinking and refining all the pieces of the puzzle until it truly fits. Must read for entrepreneurs, especially ones that are looking to bootstrap their business.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: The perfect social media and 21st century marketing handbook by Gary Vaynerchuk. For each major network there is a chapter with best practices and plenty of case studies that show you how to use those networks most effectively to maximize engagement and ROI. I love the concept: give, give, give, give, give, and then occasionally ask. This will probably be a winning marketing strategy in this century. Get this for your marketing team, and read it yourself. It was written in 2013 and it includes platforms like Pinterest and Snapchat as well.
The Paleo Solution: Good introduction to the paleo diet. It motivated me to excercise more often, especially regularly go running again. It also motivated me to reduce sugar, eat more fruit, eat more vegetables, eat more protein (tofu, nuts etc. since I don’ eat meat), further reduce dairy products. It also convinced me about the benefits of going to sleep early (optimally when the sun sets), at least in theory ;)
The Snowball: Detailed, valuable and inspiring biography of Warren Buffett. I truly like the principles and approach of Warren Buffett and am very happy to follow his recommendations. His description of how his participation in a Dale Carnegie course turned out one of the most valuable things in his life inspired me to finally study Dale Carnegie myself. And as you see it made it to my Top 3 as well. One of the things I was impressed most was Buffett’s approach to philanthropy. His description of his friendship with Bill Gates inspired me to study Bill Gates’ approach to philanthropy as well, which turned out to be very inspiring and valuable as well.
Banker to the Poor: Very inspiring story by Muhammad Yunus about his Grameen Bank and how micro-lending improved millions of lives in Bangladesh and around the world. A truly inspiring story of socially engaged entrepreneurship.
Creating a World Without Poverty: Again very inspiring book by Muhammad Yunus about his concept of Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. I like his approach of taking the tools of for-profit businesses and apply them to social challenges.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (audio version): Fascinating glimpse into our mortality and the death process, from a Tibetan perspective. It’s my current “reference book” on this topic.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (audio version): The most important book I read this year. I started paying much more attention to team building and company culture. The most important habit was to start doing monthly all-hands meetings and being radically transparent with the team.
Mehr Power (German only): This audio book motivated me eat more fruit, especially apples and bananas. It also motivated me to regularly go running. It’s a very short, simple and motivating audio book.
Das Geheimnis von IKEA: The story of IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad. Shows the importance of creating a unique company culture and the power of simplicity and frugality. I enjoyed this book very much.
Rework: Inspiring essays about running a modern business. Beautiful artwork inside. Refreshing and inspiring. Another great book by the founders of 37signals.
Die 11 Geheimnisse des Aldi-Erfolgs: I found it very interesting to see how Aldi is run and decentrally organized. Very inspiring in terms of execution, simplicity and focus. Business wise there is a lot to be learned in this book.
Presentation Zen: If you want to learn the skill of creating beautiful and impressive presentations, read this book. It’s full of examples that you can instantly use to make your presentation better.
The Art of Happiness: One of my first books I have read written by The Dalai Lama. Full of wisdom. Reinforced my desire to continue on the path of meditation and learning about the art of living a happy life.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (audio version): Excellent framework about how to think about money, especially assets vs. liabilites. After reading this book I started taking my personal finances much more seriously.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (audio version): The #1 most important book of Warren Buffett. And my own investing bible. In case you ever consider investing your money in stocks or bonds, read this first. This book started ignited a passion for value investing in me.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss: Great book about lifestyle design. Key takeaways: Pareto principle (80 percent of the output is achieved by 20 percent of the input), being aware of Parkinson’s Law (The law says that work expands automatically to fill all available time. If you have 3 days to finish something you finish it in 3, and if you have 12 days it takes the whole 12), Media diet (stopped watching and reading news. If something is truly important, you will hear it from friends).
Hirnforschung und Meditation (German only): Showed me the potential for meditation and the potential of buddhist wisdom for becoming a more fulfilled human being. This book motivated me to start meditating in 2009, and opened the door to a whole new perspective and life. Since then I meditate daily and it has become an integral part of my life. (Read my book review.)
Bei Anruf Erfolg: If you’re not the born salesperson and find yourself in a situation that needs sales-skills, read this book. This book and the seminars of Umberto Saxer were the foundation for our sales-team at Trigami.
Zen to Done by Leo Babauta (audio version): Great companion book to Getting Things Done. In fact, I now recommend reading Zen to Done first, because it is shorter and simpler, and then go deeper with Getting Things Done.
Don’t Make Me Think: Read this and your website will never be the same. Usability 101, perfectly explained.
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