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Remarkable Business Books

Updated on November 13, 2015

Come with me on a journey through the realm of business books, the good, the bad and yes, the ugly

If you have been to a book store in the last, oh say, 10 years you as well as I have realized there are far too many good books out there. I would like to help you decipher which ones you MUST read and which would be better used as kindling at your next campfire.

We do not have time to read bad books, grab a danish, pour yourself a chai tea, sit back and read on.

If at anytime you'd like me to give a review on a book of your choice please feel free to let me know, I'm always open for a challenge!

Happy Reading!

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8 of my favs...
8 of my favs...

Who is the better author?

Who is the better author?

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What's your all time favorite book(s)?!?

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    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - By: Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell is the Michael Jordan of story telling, everyone of his books is a must read, I kid you not.

    New York Times, Business Week and Globe and Mail best seller

    Readability: 10/10

    Usefulness: 7/10

    Wow factor: 9/10

    Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant - By W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

    Blue Ocean Strategy is a book about trying to create your own market space instead of competing in the market place. A very easy read with many "AH-HA!" moments of things you knew but never realized why companies did them. Sounds confusing? Read on.

    The Good:

    Blue Ocean Strategy is a classic in the making. The thought process went about to create the methodology behind this concept is remarkable, add the examples they give in the book and you have yourself a classic. Before Blue Ocean, Jim Collins' Good to Great told us to set a vision, a goal in mind, a target to hit, then do everything you can to get there. Though Good to Great is already a classic Blue Ocean brings to our attention that we can't just have the same vision year after year, sooner or later it's going to be outdated. Blue Ocean agrees on having a vision but you also need to be revisiting it regularly to ensure it still applies to today's fast paced, ever changing marketplace. Blue Ocean is like the Good to Great of today.

    The Bad:

    Some people are bound to find faults in this one. I can foresee small business owners throwing this one out the door because to find your own uncontested market space you must have a very unique business, a business that doesn't make sense in this world. Striving for the Blue Ocean means you may have to forego profits for some time. Focusing on the long-term is very difficult for small business when all they're thinking about is small, short-term gains.

    The Ugly:

    Yes you can't always find a Blue Ocean and yes competition is good for business and there are many more excuses for not trying to be in a Blue Ocean but for humans it is much easier to come up with excuses about "why it won't work" than solutions to make it work.

    Many skeptics will hate this book and call it a pipe dream and the companies talked about that were successful in finding their Blue Ocean were just lucky but the fact of the matter is these skeptics are the very same people that called the world flat. Just because a new idea comes out that is different from the norm people don't like it, well if you are in the category I feel sorry for you, as for the rest of us that understand what this book is getting at good luck at finding your Blue Ocean, see you in twenty years when you're a CEO.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within - By Donny Deutsch and Peter Knobler

    I had never heard of Donny before this book but now he one of the people I look up to. In an amazing account of how he struggled to become what he is now, this book keeps you entertained throughout.

    The Good:

    For any entrepreneur or young aspiring individual trying to do something with their life they will love this book. Donny tells it like it is, speaks the way we would talk, swearing and really holding nothing back. He takes you through his hard times and his good, some chapters you're cursing him for what he did and the next you are laughing out loud at the situation he got himself into. I liked it so much that there wasn't a doubt about buying his next book "The Big Idea".

    The Bad:

    Well this one will raise some flags, but it should, any good business book should. Donny is an amazing individual and he has a brand that he carries with him, that brand is very easy to identify in the book. Donny's the badass, the "don't take no guff from anyone" kind of attitude, I like it, but many won't. The young movers and shakers of this world, the people trying to achieve something in this world will find his attitude contagious, he's good at what he does and he knows it. Yes cocky but also confident, I am sure that is why most of the older generation wont like Donny, because he is everything they are not, that's why I look up to him.

    The Ugly:

    What's is ugly about this one? Well besides the fact that every wannabe entrepreneur should have a copy of this book there is not much ugly at all, well except from his critics. I'd put this in the must read category for sure!

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 8/10

    Wow factor: 9/10

    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion - By Robert Cialdini

    Influence is an instant classic for any marketer, sales rep, manager, advertiser, presenter and basically anyone that deals with people on a regular basis.

    The Good:

    In this fascinating look at how our minds are persuaded Dr. Cialdini takes you through the six main principles used to influence. With well thought out examples and interesting stories, it is sometimes difficult to put down. You will be able to apply these principles in your day to day once you've read this but what's even more intriguing is realizing how others attempt to use these on you and the people around you daily.

    The Bad:

    It may be difficult for some to get the real world application of this book and to keep track of which of the six principles to use. Other than very elementary readers this should not be a difficult read and there is at the very least some application you will be able to apply to your dealings with others. At the very least the reciprocity chapter, if put into action will make this world a better place.

    The Ugly:

    Out of the 304 review on Amazon, 241 are five stars, need I say anymore? There isn't much ugly, I'm sure some of the critics out there will go after the three letter (PH.D) after his name saying its too academic and doesn't apply to real life. I'd say that's a copout, for a PH.D he is a very good writer and his points are clearly stated, if you deal with people do us all a favor and read this one.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 10/10

    Wow factor: 9/10

    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die - By Chip & Dan Heath

    Ever wondered why some ideas stick in our minds and others we can't recall no matter how hard we try? In this insightful book you will learn the six methods of making ideas stick.

    The Good:

    Made to Stick was not a difficult read at all and the thought process behind the six principles was well laid out. Using stories, Chip and Dan have a delightful way of letting out the secret of why humans remember certain things much better than other ideas.

    The Bad:

    If you are a scholar or a very smart marketer you may already know these quite well. Here, if you don't want to read it I'll let the cat of of the bag....the six are:

    Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional, Stories. Now use these as a grading system for the next time you have an ad, radio piece, website, presentation or any idea for that matter. Just rate your idea if you think it fits in any or all of the categories (is it unexpected?, is it a story?, is it emotional?). Most rememberable ideas will be at least 3 out of the 6 but there are exceptions. So how good is your idea?

    The Ugly:

    Now that I told you the six you don't really need to read the book unless you DO want to find out how else you use these. If every marketer in the world read this book I think our advertising community would be a much better place.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    What is better to read a book on?

    What is better to read a book on?

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    Small is the New Big: and 183 other riffs, rants, and remarkable business ideas - By Seth Godin

    This book is basically reading Seth's blog but 310 pages worth. If you haven't started reading his blog I suggest you do, very unique thought process that will keep you entertained every morning.

    The Good:

    Amazing short stories and many helpful hints. Seth has become one of my favorite bloggers/writers/speakers. This book will not disappoint even the most forward thinkers.

    The Bad:

    If you are looking for specific help on something, or innovative business ideas are not the reason you wake up in the morning then I'd suggest for you to pass on this one. It is written like no book I have seen, just small, short stories that cover a range of topics. There is no theme or main thought or any elements of a traditional book, maybe this is the future of books?

    The Ugly:

    Personally I don't think there is any ugly to this one but I know some people will hate it, if you go into it skeptically you may not like it. Have an open mind to it and you never know what you'll find out in the 183 amazing short stories. Oh did I mention that every the titles of each story go in alphabetical order? What will Seth come up with next!

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 7/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference - By Malcolm Gladwell

    Another classic from none other than Mr. Gladwell himself. This book looks at the the moment when something like a fad, an idea or a trend take the World by storm for unexplainable reasons, until now.

    The Good:

    Are you a maven, sales person or a connector? You'll find out when you read the Tipping Point, a vast look at the science being a spreading trend. How they happen, why they're so unique and examples of many ideas that "tipped".

    The Bad:

    Once again our friend Malcolm writes a thrilling tale of spreading ideas but does not set up the frame work for you just to plug it into your company. Leaving his arguments on the table you are left to do with them as you may. Some will enjoy this style but others will find it frustrating and want something more concrete out of the book. With Malcolm you won't get it.

    The Ugly:

    Personal opinion; Love his style. Malcolm Gladwell has may critics out there and for the most part I think I would disagree with 90% of them. He is a wonderful story teller and he gives you ideas to apply to your next project or to chat about with colleagues. I don't mind the Four Hour Work Week style of setting up a framework to get rich but I enjoy an open ended style of writing like Malcolm's much better. I hope you do as well.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 8/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything - by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

    Levitt and Dubner exploded onto the book scene with this classic that has been read world wide. Taking an economic approach to various issue this delightful tale will keep you asking questions, agreeing and disagreeing and at some points just shaking your head at what they uncover.

    The Good:

    Freakinomics was very popular when it came out and for good reason, the way these two rogue economists approach issues is ground-breakingly clever (the word ground-breakingly was invented to describe this book). Sometimes offensive but always with mounds of research backing up their arguments they uncover things normal science wouldn't dare to look at.

    The Bad:

    About halfway through the book you hit a dry spell. Difficult to read without being board in some parts but if you can make it through the "lull" you're gravy. Keep a VERY open mind when reading, their intention was never to offend, just inform.

    The Ugly:

    A classic that should be read by all just to give everyone a different perspective on our world. If more people thought like Mr. Dubner and Mr. Levitt I think this world would be quite an exciting place.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 8/10

    Wow factor: 7/10

    The Big Idea: How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the Aha Moment to Your First Million - by Donny Deutsch & Catherine Whitney

    Donny and Catherine have put together a great story book on some recent successes of people in business. Intriguing stories but if you are looking for the frame work of how to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true you won't find it here.

    The Good:

    Great examples of how people have overcome all odds to reach their goals and find their calling in this world. Using the lesson learned learned in this book, all small to medium sized business owner should read this one. And soon to be entrepreneurs definitely should have The Big Idea on their radar.

    The Bad:

    Just offering stories of how people became successful should not be a compelling book that we tell our friends about at dinner party's, I guess that is why none of us have? At least I don't think I have. That was a bit harsh, I thoroughly enjoyed it I just think others may not have the same love for this book.

    The Ugly:

    If you like an interesting read and stories that inspire you buy this book today! If you like the methodology of getting rich laid out for you in one grand scheme don't buy this, you will be disappointed.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 7/10

    Wow factor: 7.5/10

    The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers - By David Meerman Scott

    A radical new book on how marketing and PR have changed and how you can take advantage of it. Helpful step by step instruction, DM Scott lays this one out very nicely for us.

    The Good:

    A down to Earth, well thought-out book book on why we can't be marketing the same anymore. Substantial arguments supporting his points, Mr. Scott is becoming a voice worth listening to about new media. He ads stories to keep the reader engaged and I don't believe there were very many dull moments within this interesting read.

    The Bad:

    Unless you are in a marketing/PR position, have your own company or find the marketing industry interesting you may not get much from this book. Then again if you are non-of-the-above then I don't think you should be buying this book in the first place.

    The Ugly:

    A book like this does not have much ugly at all, in fact I would say this is a must read if you want to understand the landscape of marketing for the next couple of years. Pay close attention to David Meerman Scott, he's a heavy hitter in the industry, if you have a chance to see him speak, TAKE IT, he is slowly becoming a guru in his industry.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow factor: 8.5/10

    Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy - By Martin Lindstrom

    The most expensive marketing study ever done ($7 Million) to understand some of the fundamental principles in marketing and advertising.

    The Good:

    A VERY interesting read from front to back, Mr Lindstrom keeps your attention with great stories of the studies he did and the results he found. Things we have believed for years, or just assumed to be true, he refutes with compelling evidence.

    The Bad:

    The was some critics that said his arguments were not substantiated and some of the testing with flawed but it sounded like old marketers trying to complain because they don't want to change what they are doing. The only people that would complain about this book would be the ones that are stuck in their ways or are just too old to change. But yes not everyone will agree with Mr. Lindstrom's findings.

    The Ugly:

    MUST READ, all marketers, advertising execs, anyone in the industry, B. School students, and anyone else who wants to understand why our minds work the way they do when stimulated. Every chapter you'll have a new discussion piece for around the dinner table (this is why it gets a 9.5 on the Wow factor rating)

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow factor: 9.5/10

    Outliers: The Story of Success - By Malcolm Gladwell

    The Story of Success, or what I like to call "If you have ever read a book by Malcolm Gladwell he could call his next book anything he wants because we're all going to buy it anyway." Sorry, a little rant on one of my favorite authors.

    The Good:

    Mr. Gladwell takes on trying to determine whether or not there is a proven methodology for success. And, well he does, I would ruin it for you but this is an amazing book to read. The process he uses to find what he is looking for in like no other author, an enjoyable experience.

    The Bad:

    Like most books, half way through it gets a little bland. The stories are fine but it seems he captivates the reader for the first half but loses me in the second. Strong ending but the middle to latter part could have been better.

    The Ugly:

    This would still be considered in my best buy list, even though it wasn't perfect. Still the overall book is a great read and you will learn something in this one!

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 7/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    The Cool Factor: Building Your Brands Image through Partnership Marketing - By Del Breckenfeld

    The Cool Factor is a useful book pertaining to event marketing/sponsorship marketing, using someone else's brand to make yours better. You'd be surprised at what you can learn in this book and how many marketers ignore a large segment of partnership marketing opportunity.

    The Good:

    Mr. Breckenfeld works at Fender and throughout the book tells stories of how they partnered with "so-called" cool brands to elevate their own. Any small business owner would find this book enlightening in the fact that this type of marketing is very underused.

    The Bad:

    There isn't a lot of "take away" from this book if you don't like his stories and can't apply his thought process. Many of the points are open ended and left for you to do with them as you please. Some people will be frustrated reading this book, if you are try to use examples in your own life and work to apply them to.

    The Ugly:

    Yes all marketers should read this but it is difficult for old dogs to learn new tricks so if you have a great idea of how to utilize this and present it and your boss shuts you down don't be discouraged, when it finally gets approved one time, it'll be worth it!.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 7/10

    Wow factor: 7/10

    Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons - By Seymour Schulich with Derek DeCloet

    I was president of the Business Students Society at the University of Regina and a fellow executive on our way to Calgary gave me this book to read for a bit. I got about half way done when we arrived and I had to purchase the book immediately.

    The Good:

    Broken down into short one to two page chapters this book is like a blog about life. Everything from oil to friendships are covered in this short book on life lessons. It is one of the easiest reads out there and you may learn something along the way.

    The bad:

    Being small with short chapters, Get Smarter doesn't have any high level thinking or difficult concepts if that is what you were going for. You will not learn about complex problems or secrets of business, just down to earth facts about life and business.

    The Ugly:

    If you have a short attention span like I do you will love this book. Even though it does not uncover and complex problem in our business world it does offer small pieces of very useful material. Lessons like how to make big decisions in your life, how to structure partnership deals and so on. This small book packs a big punch.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 8/10

    Wow factor: 8/10

    Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior - By Geoffrey Miller

    I wish Geoffrey Miller was my Consumer Behavior prof in University, I would have got much more out of that class. He takes a different approach to why we buy, more thought provoking in the sense that he strips it down to the human core of what motivates us.

    The Good:

    A very intelligently written book, he almost loses you at some points and you need to have some sort of education to understand his style of thinking. Once you get past his opinionated disposition it is a very pleasant book with much to learn. One chapter is entitled "Mama's don't let your children be marketing consultants" I still got a lot out of this book even though he is opposed to my profession.

    The Bad:

    Sometimes it can be confusing when he dives deep into an argument but usually at the end of the chapter he brings you back. I can see some people not liking this book at all, you must go in with an open mind and try to see things in a different light, then and only then you will get the most out of this book.

    The Ugly:

    All marketers need to read this book. It explains a lot about the advertising community and why somethings work and more importantly why others do not. It isn't in my top 5 but like I said before I got more out of this book then taking a university class on consumer behavior. $500 class or $17.79 book on Amazon, you choose.

    Readability: 7/10

    Usefulness: 7.5/10

    Wow factor: 7/10

    The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It - By Michael E. Gerber

    One of the best books on running a small business I have ever read, Mr. Gerber simplifies it down so anyone can understand how to run a small business.

    The Good:

    You find out why most young companies fail and why many entrepreneurs burn themselves out trying to make their business a success when in reality they have just made a job for themselves not a business to run. He clearly explains what it is to "own" a business not just run one. Any business owner needs to read this book.

    The Bad:

    If your business relies on specialized labour, extremely talented individuals and/or workers that are not a commodity then you may not get as much out of the second half of this book. The second half will still will help out in your day to day operations but if you could never franchise your business then you may disagree with some points.

    The Ugly:

    Though it is directed at a certain type of business you can still learn a lot from this book. Just like any other book you will take bits and pieces from The E-Myth but I am positive you will have some "Ah-HA" moments!

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 8.5/10

    Wow factor: 8.5/10

    Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't - By Jim Collins

    A look into the corporate landscape of how some companies have achieved outstanding results. Using very strict criteria a list was made from the Fortune 500 companies that qualified for the Good to Great study. The small group of companies that made the cut were then dissected to determine the cause or causes for their successes.

    The Good:

    If you enjoy corporations and taking a closer look at why they're successful at what they do then you'll very much enjoy this read. It is an interesting read, full of stories and examples of these multi-national companies achieving success in ways that most of the general public would never think of.

    The Bad:

    If you hate corporate America and don't know what ROI stands for please don't buy this book. It is an amazing read for those who it is intended for but to those it is not may not finish the first chapter. Also if you think this is the book that will transform your company overnight into a sensation think again, it's full of long term strategy and high level implementation that takes years to perfect, but still very helpful to the average manager.

    The Ugly:

    This has been a best seller for quite some time, anyone remotely interested in business probably has this book already or has it's predecessor Built to Last. Just buy it, I promise you that you will learn something in this book.

    Readability: 8/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow factor: 9/10

    Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self - By Alan M. Webber

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one, short chapters, well written concepts explained through stories. Highly recommended.

    The Good:

    Short, concise, to the point, you have to love a book like this, you'll learn a lot in a short amount of time. Alan Webber was one of the co-founders of Fast Company magazine so he has seen it all. I would love to hear this man speak in public, I'm sure he has many more stories to tell.

    The Bad:

    This is not a plot heavy story book, as noted earlier it is filled with short chapters and "to the point" writing. If you don't like that well there is something wrong with you.

    The Ugly:

    Buy it. You'll find yourself referencing this book again and again, it's worth the money.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 8/10

    Wow Factor: 8.5/10

    Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust - By Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

    Dear anyone doing marketing in the next, oh, say 10 - 20 years. READ THIS BOOK

    The Good:

    Trust Agents is a well researched book on our changing marketing landscape. Mass media has turned to the internet where we can't just throw a message into someone face anymore, we must build trust first.

    The Bad:

    It gets a little wordy at some points but nothing too serious, the majority is written very well.

    The Ugly:

    The stories these gentlemen tell throughout are so captivating at some points you may find yourself in a battle to keep reading and not put it down.

    Readability: 9/10

    Usefulness: 8.5/10

    Wow factor: 9/10

    Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity - By Hugh MacLeod

    Get off your computer/laptop right now, grab a jacket, get in your car and go to your nearest Chapters and buy this book. Yeah it's that good.

    The Good:

    Hugh MacLeod is one of the most amazing authors I have read, his blog http://gapingvoid.com/ is where it all started. I like him because "he draws it like he see's it". He started drawing on the backs of business cards, it was his way of expressing himself. Now he continues to do so but his audience has ballooned. Pick up his book and it's easy to understand why.

    The Bad:

    He swears a bit in the cartoons, I like this a lot, keeps me interested, it's different so it sticks out in my mind but I'm sure some people don't like the swearing, %$#& off.

    The Ugly:

    If you have a dream you are following or you are attempting to take a not so mainstream path in life, read this book it will help you. When I started reading it I read half the entire book, then, first thing the next morning read the rest of it. I have never done this with a book but it was so incredibly interesting I couldn't put it down. Thanks Hugh for all you have done.

    Readability: 10/10

    Usefulness: 9/10

    Wow Factor: 10/10

    Thoughts from really, really smart people

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      • capital44 profile image

        capital44 4 years ago

        Great list Jeph, tons of books on here that I haven't read but now want to, not sure whether to thank you or not yet... ;)

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        Very nice reviews. Thanks!

      • profile image

        mitchgallant 4 years ago

        SOOOO MUCH MEAT in this lens. Nice work!

      • dogface lm profile image

        dogface lm 3 years ago

        I really like the book Getting Real by 37signals (http://gettingreal.37signals.com). It's written for software developers, but they have a similar book for other businesses as well. The book's called Rework (http://37signals.com/rework). :-)

      • strategylab profile image
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        Jeph Maystruck 3 years ago from Regina, SK

        @dogface lm: Thanks for the recommendation, will have to pick it up!

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