The Entrepreneur’s Digest: 8 Books You Must Read If You Plan to Lead



The journey of an entrepreneur is filled with learning and personal growth. Becoming a student of life and embracing change are practices that anyone aspiring to be a leader must cultivate in themselves. Seeking holistic guidance, aka guidance that encompasses the mental, emotional and professional wellbeing of the individual, can play a crucial role. If you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your knowledge or aspiring to be one someday, here are a few books from some noted names from fields of personal development and philosophy.


1. “Art of War” by Sun Tzu


Regarded as one of the most potent works in the philosophy of leadership, Art of War is a book by the Chinese general Sun Tzu. He is known to be one of the most powerful generals in Chinese history and in his books he guides fellow men on the Art of leading an army to victory. In doing so, he sheds light on the qualities that make a leader, strategy and managing a team. Sun Tzu’s wisdom from the field of war has been applied by many leaders today to guide their teams towards the desired outcomes.


2. “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu


The ‘tao’ or ‘dao’ means ‘the path/way’, and is used to explain the eternal nature of life. As the central philosophy to the practice of Taoism/Daoism, Tao Te Ching is philosophical work by the ancient Chinese saint Lao Tzu, whose advice guides an individual to live in harmony with one’s life. The core philosophy is based on principles, such as going with the flow and surrender, that may seem counterintuitive to today’s hustle culture but can prove very beneficial in pursuing a more holistic path of growth and entrepreneurship.


3. “How to Sell Yourself to Others” by Elmer Wheeler


The phrase ‘selling yourself’ has a negative connotation attached to it, which can often hinder entrepreneurs from positioning themselves in competitive markets. In reality, we are constantly selling ourselves to those around us - be it convincing a team of HRs to hire you, a new person to be your friend, motivating a team towards the targets, or your audience towards buying your products. In his book, Wheeler removes the negativity attached to the word selling and addresses it as an essential skill that entrepreneurs must learn in order to be successful.


4. “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel


Money makes the world go round and can very well send our heads for a spin. Many of us are guilty of viewing money in less than realistic lights - either idealizing, demonizing, or, as I like to call it, divinizing it (attaching it to fate, god, luck, etc.). None of these cultivate a healthy relationship with money and keep us at a distance from mastering the art of money management. In Psychology of Money, Housel breaks down the concept of money and how we interact with it in order to make it more real-world. “Financial success,” he says “is not hard science. It’s a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than what you know.”


5. “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel


A seasoned entrepreneur and an intelligent investor, Peter Theil has his name linked to some of the most popular brands, such as SpaceX, Airbnb, and LinkedIn, and was the first outside investor for Facebook. It should be safe to say that the man knows his start-ups. In his book, Zero to One, Theil outlines his strategy and wisdom for building a flourishing start-up. He touches many aspects of the start-up life, ranging from the advent of technology, legalities, and monopolies which offers the reader an insider’s view of the game.


6. “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek


Simon Sinek is a very popular name amongst entrepreneurs and his philosophy of ‘starting with why’ has repeatedly been cited by budding leaders as a guide towards clarity and direction in their journey. In his book, Sinek dives into how a start-up should define its role to the customers in order to serve them better. The ‘why’ is used to design a strategy for success and helps the company gain a clearer sight of its vision and mission.


7. “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius


Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor and a renowned stoic philosopher. His teachings, compiled in multiple publications, offer insight into self-discipline, management, integrity, and humility. Marcus Aurelius, in his book Meditations, discusses his ideology for what makes a good leader. Many refer to teachings for personal development and his stoic principles on discipline are quite popular amongst leaders from different fields, eras, and backgrounds.


8. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin


A founding father, an innovator, and a true source of wisdom, Benjamin Franklin is a name that might not need any introduction. But what most people are not aware of, are his thorough efforts at self-reflection, discipline, and ethics. His Autobiography is known for the account of his daily routine, and his meditations on self-discipline and ethics, and is popularly referred to for the author’s insight into time management.


These are, of course, a few out of many books that can help guide an entrepreneur onto a holistic path of leadership and self-growth. We have covered some others in our earlier article - Must-Read Books for Personal and Professional Growth, and we will share more as we find them.


If you’ve read any of these books, do share your reviews with our readers below, and feel free to recommend any other books that helped you in your journey of entrepreneurship and self-development.


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