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22 of the Best Business Books to Read In 2021

By: brunchwork

22 of the Best Business Books to Read In 2021

At brunchwork, we’re big believers of lifelong learning. And one of the best ways to do this is to dive into one of the best business books. So, try picking up one (or more!) of these 22 best business books to help keep your career moving forward in 2021. Additionally, if you notice an asterisk next to the name, it’s because that author has been a brunchwork speaker before! So go on, grab your highlighters and get reading.


1.Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Did you know there are two different systems that control the way our minds think? One is much quicker and taps into our emotions and instincts. Equally important is the other system, which is slower and facilitates more rational contemplation. In this book, Kahneman explains why both are essential when it comes to both our personal and professional lives. Plus, he explores how to leverage both to use your best judgement and make good decisions. 


2. It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton*

Hamilton’s story is quite extraordinary. She started her life in venture capital when she was homeless, sleeping on the floors of the San Francisco airport. Today, her company, Backstage Capital, has received $7M in funding, including $1M from Mark Cuban! And, they’ve invested in over 130 companies led by underrepresented founders. In It’s About Damn Time, she shares the steps she took to get to where she is, along with how you can do the same — no matter what your background may be.

(Check out some insights from both of Hamilton’s brunchwork talks here and here.)


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3. No Vision All Drive: What I Learned from My First Company by David Brown*

Techstars co-founders David Brown and David Cohen founded their first company — Pinpoint Technologies — in 1993. Originally operating out of a basement, Pinpoint eventually grew to have more than 250 employees and $50M in annual sales. This is the story of every lesson they learned about turning a seed idea into a successful reality. 


4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

There’s no way around it: Starting a business (and keeping it going) is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s downright hard. Whether you’re a long-time entrepreneur or just starting out, you’ll benefit greatly from reading this book full of practical advice from Horowitz, co-founder of renowned venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.


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    5. Grit: The Power Of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

    Intelligence is important. But, according to Duckworth, it’s not the only ingredient that’s key to success. What matters more is the passion you have for what you do and your commitment to never giving up. In her book, Duckworth shares insights she’s gathered from a variety of stories — like the National Spelling Bee and cadets at the United States Military Academy — as well as from interviews she conducted with brilliant minds like JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.


    6. The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky*

    Scott Belsky has created many things from scratch. Like Behance, a company acquired by Adobe, where Belsky is now the Chief Product Officer. Therefore, it’s safe to say that he knows that building something from the ground up is far from easy — whether you’re launching a new company or a bold creative project. In The Messy Middle, he provides expert insights derived from leading entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives, and the time he spent working for companies like Uber, Pinterest, sweetgreen, and Airbnb.

    (You can watch Belsky’s brunchwork talk here!)



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    7. Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See the World by Emily Balcetis*

    Award-winning psychologist Emily Balcetis has conducted rigorous research and made cutting-edge discoveries in the way people think, including what motivates them and how their perceptions can affect their ability to meet their goals. Reading her book will help you understand yourself. You’ll be able to better comprehend the behavior of your customers, too.


    8. Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers — and Seize Success by Dr. Dawn Graham

    Here’s the thing: Life’s way too short to be stuck in a job that leaves you feeling miserable and unfulfilled. And, in addition, it’s never too late to pursue a career that will make you happier. Licensed psychologist and expert career coach Dawn Graham provides a step-by-step guide on how to successfully switch careers, including strategies that will help you understand hiring managers, craft a winning resume, highlight your transferable skills, and so much more.


    9. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

    Like it or not, you’re going to have to negotiate at some point in your life (if you haven’t already). From getting the salary you deserve, to making a big purchase like a house or a car, and more. In this book, you’ll find nine highly effectively negotiating strategies that Voss learned from his time as an FBI hostage negotiator.


    10. Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M. Jones*

    If there’s one thing world-leading sales expert Jones strongly believes, it’s that the words you choose matter — a lot. So much, in fact, that they can affect the outcome of a situation and the trajectory of your success. In Exactly What to Say, he shares the words he most commonly uses to get the results he wants in his career. When you’re done reading this book, you’ll feel much more confident in every conversation you have.


    11. Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John

    John landed a role as a shark on Shark Tank for a reason: Because he knows how to seize opportunities, get down to business, and make the most of them. In Powershift, he’ll teach you how to master making an impression on others, successfully negotiating, and creating meaningful and lasting connections.


    12. Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck*

    When it comes to women in the workplace, there’s been a lot of progress. However, there’s still a long way to go. Krawcheck — a former Wall Street executive who co-founded female-focused FinTech company Ellevest — is optimistic, though. She believes that, by embracing their natural strengths, females will have the power to better their careers — and the world. And in her book, she explains just how to harness those innate assets.


    13. Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness Your Willpower, and Get Out of Your Own Way by Judy Ho

    Sometimes, the biggest barrier to unlocking your true potential or landing your dream job is you. Rather than pointing the finger elsewhere, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. At the end of the day, you’re the one who cares the most about your career, so it’s time for you to take charge. When reading this book, you’ll take self-assessments, identify the reasons you’re getting in your own way, and learn how to overcome them.


    14. Idea to Execution: How to Optimize, Automate, and Outsource Everything in Your Business by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg*

    Meisel and Sonnenberg didn’t take their time when launching their virtual assistant startup. On the contrary, they launched it in just one day. This book tells their story, outlining how mastering optimizing, automating, and outsourcing was key to their success. In addition, it provides helpful tips for how other entrepreneurs can do the same thing with any business ideas they may have.


    15. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

    In the past few years, Nike’s sales have been as much as $30B a year. That’s incredibly impressive. However, that success definitely didn’t happen overnight. This is the memoir of Nike’s founder, Phil Knight. In it, he talks about how he started out (selling shoes from the trunk of his car!), the mistakes and sacrifices he made, challenges he faced, and, ultimately, how he transformed Nike into the industry behemoth it is today. This book is an incredible resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders. It even got a ringing endorsement from Bill Gates.


    16. Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal*

    We live in the age of distraction. Just think about how many notifications you receive over the course of any hour, let alone throughout the entire work day. Frankly, it’s really hindering our productivity and success. But Eyal, a behavioral design expert and author of bestseller Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has four research-backed steps you can follow if you want to become laser-focused and, ultimately, indistractable.

    (Read more insights from Eyal’s brunchwork talk here.)


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    17. There’s No Plan B for Your A-Game: Be the Best in the World at What You Do by Bo Eason

    Former NFL player Bo Eason wants to help you achieve your wildest dreams. In order to do that, you need to follow his four-step process — Deceleration, Preparation, Acceleration, and Domination. With this process, Eason has helped military leaders, Olympic medalists, business executives, and more be the best they can be. Read his book to learn the ins and outs of each of the four steps.


    18. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

    Simon Sinek has a very important question: Why are some people (and organizations) more innovative, influential, and profitable than others? In Start With Why, he provides the answer — plus a framework — that will help you finally get people to take your product, service, movement, or idea seriously.


    19. The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time by Jim McKelvey

    Shortly after Jim McKelvey co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey, Amazon debuted a very similar product. Yet, despite competing against an industry giant, Square beat the odds — today, their product is on top. In this inspiring and entertaining book, McKelvey dives into how to embrace entrepreneurship and build a resilient, winning company.


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    20. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

    They say timing is everything — and Daniel Pink believes that mastering time isn’t an art, but a science. After doing ample research in psychology, biology, and economics, Pink has figured out how you can build the very best schedule for you, in addition to answering questions like, “When is the right time to start my business?” and “When can I switch careers?”


    21. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

    According to Liz Wiseman, good leaders should avoid diminishing their team’s talent and hard work. Instead, they should be “Multipliers,” shining the light on each team member and providing support, encouragement, and praise in order to elevate them to even higher levels. Amplifying others is the best way to achieve better results for both the team and company.


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    22. Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos by Steve Berez, Sarah Elk, and Darrell Rigby

    In order to rise to the top, companies must be nimble, able to swifty adjust to a changing
    market (and world). Bain & Company colleagues Darrel Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez make the argument that organizations should adopt an agile approach — and not just for their project management team. In this book, they explain just how to do so.


    Which of these business books did you choose to read? And what business books not on this list do you suggest? Let us know on LinkedIn or Twitter!

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