“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” – Margaret Fuller

Reading is an invaluable skill. Good books can guide us to new ways of thinking, help us get through a hard time in our career and teach us how to live a better life. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, here are some good books to add to your reading list.

1. Tribes: we need you to lead us

Tell a story, connect a tribe, lead a movement and make changes is all Tribes is about. As one of the most famous books written by Seth Godin, an internationally known best-selling author who has once been the Vice President of direct marketing at Yahoo, it encourages entrepreneurs by telling that every idea is worth spreading.

In this book, Seth Godin tried to express his idea that the era of mass advertising is gone and we have stepped into the tribal age. Now, the product itself has become what matters. A cool brand that has strong character is just like a charismatic leader that will attract a tribe, leading many of its followers to become evangelists. These people will, in turn, roll other people and make the brand gain momentum.

There are two key factors in establishing a successful tribe: one is being a good leader and one is to have true believers.

A leader doesn’t need charisma to be a leader. But once you become a leader, you get charisma. Many times we stop ourselves because we think we’re not charismatic enough, not good or smart enough to start our own business or to lead a movement. Well, you don’t need this to become a leader. What Seth wants to convey to his readers is that to become a true leader you only need to feel authentic about what you stand for. Authenticity will attract people, authenticity is charismatic and it is leadership indeed.

True believers are also important. You feel the advertisements of your company were watered down is probably because you are not able to speak to the heart of your customers. When people are moved, when people believe in your ideas, they will spread the words for you. So find a way to connect with your true believers!

2. 7 habits of highly effective people

This book has a boring name but the lessons and guidance in it are eternal and invaluable. Its author Stephen R. Covey not only tries to teach readers the classic topic – how to be effective, but most importantly how to improve ourselves internally, which leads us to live a fulfilling life.

There are seven habits in this book, the first three habits including being proactive, begin with the end in mind and time management, teach people how to become a dependent person. The first step of being a dependent person is making things under your control. Instead of complaining or worrying about the things that cannot be controlled, you should focus on things that you have an influence on.

Based on the first three habits, habits 4 to 6 are all about how to become interdependent: having a win-win mentality, seek first to understand then to be understood and achieve synergy. It is difficult to think win-win because it requires you not only to have the consideration of working for the win of your friends but also the courage to gaining a win for yourself. Understanding others is hard as well because you need to listen to others empathically instead of using yourself as a frame of reference.

The last habit - “sharpen the saw” is about staying healthy physically and intellectually, which is the only way that would enable us to be useful for a longer time. As the last sentence of this book says “the lord works from inside out and the world works from outside in,” from the first habit to the last, Stephen taught people how to improve themselves internally, because being successful only begins with yourself.

3. Rework

Rework is a book that upends the traditional way of starting a business. In this book, Jason Fried, the author who is the co-founder of the software company 37Signals, tried to provide readers with a better and easier way to succeed in business. This book has been highly praised for its refreshing approach of starting a business but it also suffered from criticism for being too idealistic. However, there is still a lot to learn especially for people who want to start a business or already have a small business. Some of the following points have been proposed in Rework:

Do not be intimidated by starting a business. “It doesn’t work in reality,” is what people always say when you introduce them a fresh idea. The real world sounds awfully depressing and here comes the test – have a clear mind to analyze the words of others. If you think your idea is viable then do it!

Solve your problems. Jason said in his book that “there was no need for focus groups, market studies or middlemen. We had an itch so we scratched it.” The easiest way to create a great product or service is to do what you think solves your problem, best of all, you will be more than happy to solve it. Moreover, it is you who know the problem and the value of solving it well, which adds to your success.

Refusing to grow big. Many people think having a company of hundreds of people is a sign of success. But have you noticed that when the small companies struggle to become big, the big companies are finding their way to be more flexible. There is nothing to be proud of in the number of workers. The real pride is that you use the least number of people to do the most meaningful things. In the eyes of Jason, the small business is not a start, it is a great goal itself.

Despite the three books above, other books such as Choose Yourself by James Altucher, Purple Cow by Seth Godin, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and creative confidence by Tom Kelly& David Kelly are also highly recommended.