12 Business Books Every Guy Should Read

Continuing the series of books every guy should read, here is my collection of the 12 best business books every guy should read.

Modern gentlemen are motivated, ambitious, and driven to succeed. Knowledge will set you apart from the other wolves in the corporate world and bring you more opportunities. 

This is the key to success.  Finding and reacting to opportunities.

Some of these books are directly related to running a business, managing people, corporate leadership, owning and investing in businesses, and some are just focused on productivity.

Running a successful business will need all of these skills plus many more.

But these skills go way beyond the office. 

We live in a capitalistic society where business rules the world and you must understand how to play this game to be successful in life. 

Opportunities don’t only happen in the office, but can be anywhere, and you need to be ready to act.

Business Books Every Guy Should Read

12 Business Books Every Guy Should Read

How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

You can go after the job you want, and get it!  You can take the job you have, and improve it!  You can take any situation, and make it work for you!

Dale Carnegie’s rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People will teach you:

  • Six ways to make people like you
  • Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
  • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
  • And much more!

Achieve your maximum potential—a must-read for the twenty-first century!

The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.

The Tipping Point is a very interesting phenomenon that explains why some trends catch on and spread all over the world, but others do not. This is not limited just to products but can be applied to just about anything.

Gladwell does an excellent job of digging into real-life examples to help explain how three key players: Connectors, Salesmen, and Mavens can take a little thing and make a big impact.

The Intelligent Investor

by Benjamin Graham

This book might better on the 15 Finance Books Every Guy Should Read article but when I researched this topic, I learned it was a better fit under business considering its lessons and required understanding of business.

Graham’s philosophy of “value investing“, which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies, has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.

The classic bestseller by Benjamin Graham, perhaps the greatest investment advisor of the 20th century, The Intelligent Investor has taught and inspired hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Since its original publication in 1949, Benjamin Graham’s book has remained the most respected guide to investing, due to his timeless philosophy of “value investing,” which helps protect investors against the areas of possible substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies with which they will be comfortable down the road.

Over the years, market developments have borne out the wisdom of Benjamin Graham’s basic policies. Here he takes account of both the defensive and the enterprising investor, outlining the principles of stock selection for each, and stressing the advantages of a simple portfolio policy.

The Intelligent Investor may be the most important book you will ever read on making your investments a success.

“By far the best book on investing ever written.” — Warren E. Buffett

The Art of War

by Sun Tzu

If you read my other articles about the Books Every Guy Should Read, you will have noticed that The Art of War has made it on some of them.  This is a critical book that can be applied to all parts of a gentlemen’s life and required reading for any man (or woman) today.

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician, and it was believed to have been compiled during the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period.

The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time.

It has been the most famous and influential of China’s Seven Military Classics, and for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name. It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.

With a deep understanding of both strategy and human nature, this military treatise illustrates the fine craft of knowing one’s enemy and oneself.

From military officers to CEOs to those simply looking to be more powerful in their own life, The Art of War has become required reading for anyone seeking a path of success through the modern world.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
By Stephen R. Covey

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change was a groundbreaker when it was first published in 1990, and it continues to be a business bestseller with more than 10 million copies sold. Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, realizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness, so this book is a manual for performing better in both arenas.

His anecdotes are as frequently from family situations as from business challenges. Before you can adopt the seven habits, you’ll need to accomplish what Covey calls a “paradigm shift”–a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works.

Covey takes you through this change, which affects how you perceive and act regarding productivity, time management, positive thinking, developing your “proactive muscles” (acting with initiative rather than reacting), and much more.

This isn’t a quick-tips-start-tomorrow kind of book. The concepts are sometimes intricate, and you’ll want to study this book, not skim it. When you finish, you’ll probably have Post-it notes or hand-written annotations in every chapter.

This is probably the best productivity book you can read.

The Lean Startup

How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
By Eric Ries

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively.  Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on: “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
By Clayton M. Christensen

This book shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership.

Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices.

Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Sharp, cogent, and provocative—and consistently noted as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time—The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without.

The Essays of Warren Buffett

By Warren Buffett and Lawrence A. Cunningham

Warren Buffett’s letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have gained an enormously valuable informal education in the art of investing.

Broad in scope and long on wisdom, Buffett’s letters explain his principles on sound investing, selecting managers, valuing businesses, using financial information profitably, and other vital topics for investors.

Buffett’s wisdom touches on topics as the financial crisis, the housing bubble, corporate governance, Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the role of oversight in heavily regulated industries, today’s best investing opportunities, and the weaknesses of popular option valuation models.

Features investing advice in plain English from one of the world’s most legendary investors.

Includes Buffett’s insights on the current financial crisis and recession.

Offers new and potent insight on good corporate governance and other issues vital to executives and managers.

For investors, corporate executives, managers, and Buffett fans, The Essays of Warren Buffett, (latest is the Fourth Edition) features the kind of wisdom on investing, finance, and leadership that can be found nowhere else.

Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
By James C. Collins

Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question,

“Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?”

In Good to Great concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time.

They finally settled on 11–including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo–and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.

Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy.

At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.

Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not so great, the book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider.

Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come.

Barbarians at the Gate

The Fall of RJR Nabisco
By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar

The fight to control RJR Nabisco during October and November of 1988 was more than just the largest takeover in Wall Street history. Marked by brazen displays of ego not seen in American business for decades, it became the high point of a new gilded age, and its repercussions are still being felt.

The ultimate story of greed and glory, Barbarians at the Gate is the gripping account of these two frenzied months, of deal makers and publicity flaks, of an old-line industrial powerhouse that became the victim of the ruthless and rapacious style of finance in the 1980s.

Written with the bravado of a novel and researched with the diligence of a sweeping cultural history, here is the unforgettable story of the takeover in all its brutality.

Getting Things Done

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
By David Allen

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work.

David Allen recognizes that:

  • Time management is useless the minute your schedule is interrupted;.
  • Setting priorities isn’t relevant when your e-mail is down.
  • Procrastination solutions won’t help if your goals aren’t clear.

Instead, Allen shares with readers the proven methods he has already introduced in seminars and at top organizations across the country.

  • The key to Getting Things Done? Relaxation.
  • Allen’s premise is simple: our ability to be productive is directly proportional to our ability to relax.
  • Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve stress-free productivity.

His seamless system teaches us how to identify, track, and-most important-choose the next action on all our tasks, commitments, and projects and thus master all the demands on our time while unleashing our creative potential.

The 4-Hour Workweek

by Tim Ferriss

This one might be a stretch for a business book but I wanted to cover business from every angle and this one I feel is the future of business in the 21 century.  Say goodbye to the traditional business and office and hello to the new freelance society.  You are a company of 1.

Escaping the rat race and merging the lines between work and play, the new life plan is what all workers want.  If traditional business cannot provide it, then the workers of tomorrow will build it themselves through freelancing and minimalistic living.

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times.

Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:

  • How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
  • How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
  • How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
  • How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
  • How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”

This book is an incredible read, but be careful to understand the ideas over some of the actual actions.  This lifestyle is very possible but not for everyone and I suspect a merging of the nomad / family lifestyle is more realistic for the average business person today.


This list of the 12 best business books every guy should read covers all aspects of building a business, owning one as an investor, or working for one and trying to move up the corporate ladder.

We all must work and provide value to our lives and that of others but how to work well is never taught to us in schools.  These books provide those required lessons to help you get ahead.

Please let me know your thoughts and leave a comment below.  Did I miss any business books every guy should read (There are a lot of great business books but I wanted to limit the list to about 10)?

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