While you’ve had your head down taking care of business, the presses have been busy printing off the freshest business books on every topic imaginable, from the perspective of fellow entrepreneurs, journalists, academics, and beyond.
Our collected list of 2016’s best business books compiles 19,064 pages of implement-now tactics and stories to inspire and help you through your biggest challenges. Whether you’re looking for a quick pep talk, worldview-expanding research, or the tools to build full-blown business strategies, this list has it all.
With books across 15 different topics, from personal development handbooks to cutting-edge HR strategy materials, we know you’ll find more than a few books you’ll love.
Tales and tactics from and for self-made women and men
The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Daymond John (Founder of FUBU, Shark Tank star) – January 2016 – Did you know that not having funding can actually be your greatest competitive advantage? You’re forced to think more creatively, work more efficiently, and connect more authentically. In this book, learn how to translate your situation into success.
The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs by Amy Wilkinson (Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business) – March 2016 – Compiled from interviews with over 200 leading entrepreneurs, Wilkinson puts forward six essential skills to turn small ideas into big companies.
Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business by Paul Downs (Entrepreneur) – August 2016 – New to paperback. Named a Forbes Best Business Book of the Year, 2015. What does a real small business look like? We often read tales of life inside large corporations, but portraits of the day-to-day entrepreneurial life are far and in between on the bookshelves. A former NYT blogger, Downs shares what it’s like being the boss of a small business, warts and all.
The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World by Aaron Hurst (CEO of Imperative) – October 2016 – New to paperback. Hurst distills knowledge from interviews with thousands of entrepreneurs to uncover that connecting people to their purpose is what drives our new economy. Personal and practical, this book paints a picture of how to become a purpose-driven entrepreneur.
The Network Entrepreneur: Leveraging Your Social Network for Success by William Brennan (CEO of Kalologie) – September 2016 – Brennan spells out an method for using your relationship assets (your network) to drive entrepreneurial success, from funding ideas to finding leads and closing deals.
Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters (Entrepreneurs) – April 2016 – Wickman and Winters argue that it takes two personalities—an Integrator and a Visionary—to make a company successful. Together, they argue, the combination is like rocket fuel. This is a good read to help you discover your own strengths as an entrepreneur and identify where a complementary view might help.
Memoirs and in-depth analyses to elevate your game
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham (Editor at Inc.) – July 2016 – Jim Collins, author of the bestselling book Good to Great remarks, “This well-written book should inspire thousands of entrepreneurs to reject a mantra of growth for growth’s sake in favor of a passionate dedication to becoming the absolute best.” Burlingham profiles 14 companies that choose to do things their own way.
To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History by Lawrence Levy (Former CFO of Pixar) – November 2016 – Levy shares the story of how Pixar, a company on the verge of failure, made a comeback to become one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories. Told from his perspective as a Harvard-trained lawyer and Silicon Valley executive-turned-student of Eastern philosophy, To Pixar and Beyond is an inspirational tale of risk-taking, with lessons for all areas of our lives.
Chasing Perfection: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the High-Stakes Game of Creating an NBA Champion by Andy Glockner (Sportswriter) – March 2016 – Sports enthusiasts will appreciate Glockner’s in-depth examination of the factors that go into creating a championship-winning team. With lessons for business, this book examines what it means to not only work hard, but to take advantage of technology to work smart.
Tales of business past and future on where work fits into our modern world
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford (Computer Design and Development Expert) – July 2016 – New to paperback. Ford’s NYT-bestselling book won the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award for its in-depth research on the future of work. Ford lays out what accelerating technological gains means for our economy and society as a whole.
The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case (Co-founder of AOL) – April 2016 – In this book, Case pulls on his 30+ years of working with the internet, from the early years when only 3% of Americans were online to modern day, to describe the “Third Wave” of the internet, where entrepreneurs transform society and day-to-day life in “real world” sectors like health, education, transportation, energy, food, and beyond.
The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross (Innovation Expert, Fellow at Johns Hopkins University) – February 2016 – In this book, Ross shares insights gained from working as former Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, deep diving into robotics, big data, and the impact of digital tech on money and markets, all in simple, easy-to-understand language.
From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives by Jeffrey E. Garten (Dean, Lecturer at Yale School of Management) – March 2016 – Instead of looking at globalization through the lens of broader industry trends, Gartner tells the story of globalization from the perspective of 10 impactful individuals. From Silk to Silicon will help you understand the past and future of one of the most powerful forces of our time.
Guides to ground you in proven best practices
The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Todd Sattersten (Owner of BizBookLab) and Jack Covert (Founder and President, 800-CEO-READ) – August 2016 – Lists on lists! Just as we’re curating 2016’s best books in this post, Sattersten and Covert, who are in the business of buying and selling business books, draw on their experience to do the same for the thousands of top business books published through the years.
Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results by Christina Wodke (Designer and Entrepreneur) – February 2016 – Want to get started with setting goals Objectives and Key Results-style (OKRs), but not sure how? Wodke draws on her time leading redesigns and initial product offerings for such companies as LinkedIn, Myspace, Zynga, Yahoo!, Hot Studio, and eGreetings to lay out the nuts and bolts of this approach.
Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes by Ellen R. Auster (Professor, York University), Lisa Hillenbrand (Marketing at Procter & Gamble) – March 2016 – Stragility details an action-oriented approach to building a business that can make continuous strategic change, with frameworks tested by both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses.
Frameworks for pinpointing problems and remedies
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz (Designers at Google) – March 2016 – Do you know how take a project idea from dream to reality? Three Google designers share their proven, practical framework to help you solve problems and test ideas, fast.
Mapping Experiences: A Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams by James Kalbach (Customer Success at MURAL) – April 2016 – Great for marketers, product managers, brand managers, and business owners alike, Kalbach’s essential reference book walks you through how to create impactful customer journey maps.
Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity by Ken Segall (NYT Bestselling Author) – June 2016 – Segall worked for 12 years as Steve Jobs’s ad agency director, both at NeXT and Apple. The most powerful lesson he learned? Keep it simple. This book explores how 40+ entrepreneurs working across a range of industries, at companies big and small, both famous and lesser-known build simplicity into their businesses.
Design for Executives: How the World’s Top Designers Build Organizations and Drive Innovation by Mariya Yao (Founder of Xanadu) – June 2016 – If you’re in the business of developing technology products and platforms, Yao’s book serves as a useful reference for hiring and managing effective teams and driving product development by design.
One Plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking by Dave Trott (Chairman of The Gate London) – July 2016 – How do you build something out of nothing? Through anecdotes and practical advice, Trott shares bits of unconventional wisdom to help you work through your toughest problems.
Simplify: How the Best Businesses in the World Succeed by Richard Koch (Management Consultant) and Greg Lockwood (Venture Capitalist) – October 2016 – Process, prices, and product offerings would all benefit from a dose of simplicity. Koch and Lockwood’s method is grounded in 40+ years of entrepreneurial experience and features case studies of famous companies in everything from finance to fast food.
A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger (Journalist at NYTimes, Wired, GQ) – September 2016 – Similar to Simon Sinek’s 2011 bestseller Start with Why, Berger explores the seldom-asked yet obvious question that can help us develop game-changing ideas: “Why?” Berger grounds his book with stories from Google, Netflix, IDEO, Airbnb, and more.
Methods to make you a compelling communicator
The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t by Carmine Gallo (WSJ Bestselling Author) – February 2016 – The brain is hardwired to love stories, but do you know how to best use storytelling to drive change, transform your businesses, and inspire others? Gallo shares the success stories of 50 icons and leaders to show why stories are your most valuable asset.
Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols by Nancy Duarte (CEO of Duarte) and Patti Sanchez (SVP, Duarte) – February 2016 – With Illuminate, Duarte adds another book to her set of impactful books on designing great presentations, this time laying out a plan to help you inspire others to support and execute your vision, turning your ideas into movements in the process.
The Etiquette Edge: Modern Manners for Business Success by Beverly Langford (President, LMA Communication) – August 2016 – With technology woven into the fabric of our professional lives, what’s the best way to ensure your actions aren’t being negatively interpreted? Do you know how to check your email for tone, maintain a polished image on social media, and when it’s okay to use your smartphone in the office? In this book, Langford explores these sticky situations.
Books to make you better, faster, and stronger
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (Professor at Wharton, NYT Bestselling Author) – February 2016 – Grant is one of HR’s most influential international thinkers. In this book he explores how you can champion new ideas and encourage originality in your organization, using studies and stories from diverse fields including politics, sports, and entertainment.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin (Writer and Social Worker) – July 2016 – Morin outlines 13 tried-and-true, honest practices for increasing your mental strength through good, old-fashioned practice and hard work.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (MacArthur Fellow and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania) – May 2016 – According to Duckworth, advisor to the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs, the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called “grit.” In this personal book, she shares why positively processing failure is more likely to lead to your success than raw talent or luck.
If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan (Professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business) – April 2016 – If you’re feeling stuck, Raghunathan’s provocative book will help you develop a powerful new perspective on your work, goals, and relationships, no matter where you are in life.
How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life by Caroline Webb (Economist, McKinsey) – February 2016 – Day-to-day work in the office can grow mundane and uninspiring. If you’re stuck in a rut, Webb’s book will give you the tools to help you navigate the challenges of modern workplaces (think meetings and overflowing inboxes) and love Mondays again.
Prescriptions to supercharge your skills
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (Professor at Georgetown) – January 2016 – Deep Work is an in-depth follow-up to So Good They Can’t Ignore You, exploring why the ability to focus on cognitively demanding tasks is the single most valuable (and rare) skill in our modern world of work.
Hell Week: Seven Days to Be Your Best Self by Erik Bertrand Larssen (World-Renowned Mental Trainer and Bestselling Author) – June 2016 – In Hell Week, Larssen introduces you to a military-inspired technique for making critical changes to achieve long-term professional and personal success. His challenge: live just one week as your best self. Can you?
Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future by Erika Andersen (Founding Partner of Proteus International) – March 2016 – Andersen wants to make you a “master of mastery,” someone who is proficient in the kind of high-payoff learning you need to succeed in today’s fast-paced world. She’ll teach you how to embrace being a perpetual novice in order to learn more information, faster.
Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter for the New York Times) – March 2016 – Smarter Faster Better shares eight key concepts that explain why some people and companies (and not others) get so much done: they view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.
Step-by-step advice and stories on building bold careers
Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do by Chris Guillebeau (NYT Bestselling Author) – April 2016 – Guillebeau continues the work he started with The $100 Startup and The Happiness of Pursuit, sharing practical and inspiring advice to help you go beyond discovering your passion to create the life of your dreams.
Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé by Jason Wachob (Founder and CEO of mindbodygreen) – March 2016 – Wachob wants for us to chase fulfillment, not mere material success. In his first book, he coins a term for a new philosophy, wellth, which is “a new and more valuable life currency for a life exemplified by abundance, happiness, purpose, health, and joy.”
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt (NYT Bestselling Author) and Daniel Harkavy (Expert Leadership Coach) – March 2016 – In Living Forward, Hyatt and Harkavy share a step-by-step plan for designing your life deliberately to get you where you really want to be.
Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way by Nely Galán (Emmy-Winning TV Producer) – April 2016 – Galán’s book, recommended for lovers of #GIRLBOSS and Shark Tank, shares no-nonsense lessons cultivated on her path to success as a self-made entrepreneur, TV producer, and real estate mogul.
The Mentor Myth: How to Take Control of Your Own Success by Debby Carreau (CEO and Founder of Inspired HR) – April 2016 – Are you over-reliant on your mentor (or on finding one)? In this book, Carreau wants for you to rethink the role of mentorship in your career development plan, arguing that overreliance on a mentor can actually hinder your success.
The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves by The Arbinger Institute – June 2016 – Your mindset governs how you view the world, what you do, and how you do it. Learn how to shift from an inward to an outward mindset to spark innovation, increase accountability, and feel more fulfilled.
The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want by Dave Kerpen (Bestselling Author and CEO of Likeable Local) – March 2016 – In today’s world, Kerpen argues that it’s the professionals with people skills rather than hyper-competitive streaks—those who can teach, lead, and inspire—who come out on top. Learn how to master 11 core people skills to help you get what you want at work, at home, and in life.
The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World-Class Excellence in Your Life and Work by Bob Bowman (USA Head Swim Coach, Coach to Michael Phelps) – May 2016 – In this motivational book, Bowman will teach you how to set goals and motivate yourself to achieve them—no matter how difficult they may be.
Processes to help develop cutting-edge, impactful people ops practices
How Performance Management Is Killing Performance and What to Do About It by M. Tamra Chandler (CEO of PeopleFirm) – March 2016 – Everyone dreads performance management because it focuses so heavily on the negatives of employee performance. Chandler helps you build a step-by-step plan to help your organization create a more enjoyable performance management alternative that’s unique to your company.
Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus (Professor at Oral Roberts University, Bestselling Author) – March 2016 – Take everything you know about modern business management and turn it on its head. In this book, Burkus challenges many established aspects of business management, showing how many popular practices are actually counterproductive.
Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit From Ditching Generational Stereotypes by Jessica Kriegel (Talent Strategist at Oracle) – February 2016 – Discover why viewing generations through a divisive lens hurts more than it helps progress. Kriegel paves a path to greater intergenerational collaboration, sharing how to refine this aspect of your organizational strategy.
Transforming Workplace Wellness: Practical Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Change by Margaret Stockley (CEO of Aspire2 Wellness Group) – February 2016 – Do you know what goes into a modern workplace wellness strategy? Uncover how to freshen yours up with 101 low-to-no-cost ideas to support wellness in your workplace.
Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts by Jon Younger (Partner at RBL Group) and Norm Smallwood (President of RBL Group) – February 2016 – Younger and Smallwood deliver a roadmap with tools and templates to help you assess, develop, support and retain outside talent. Agile Talent is packed with case studies from companies like IBM, Bain Capital, Apple, Uber, and more.
The HR Paradox: A Manifesto for Change by Scott McArthur (Organizational Development Consultant) and Cary L. Cooper (Author, Professor at Manchester Business School) – December 2016 – Is your HR working with or against your company’s strategic goals? The authors of The HR Paradox help leaders and HR professionals develop initiatives around what really matters by fixing ailing practices around innovation, efficiency, employee engagement, and more.
Inclusive Talent Management: How Business Can Thrive in an Age of Diversity by Stephen Frost (Harvard Business School) and Danny Kalman (Talent Management Expert) – June 2016 – To be truly competitive, your company must merge talent management practices with diversity and inclusion initiatives. Frost and Kalman show you how, with practical models for integrating these two strategies.
What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet (Behavioral Economist at Harvard) – March 2016 – Draw on new insights into the human mind and data from companies, universities, and governments around the world to learn dozens of evidence-based interventions to tackle gender bias, de-bias organizations, and improve performance.
Tactics to guide you through taxing times
Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts by Dr. Daniel Shapiro (Professor at Harvard Business School) – April 2016 – Discover a new paradigm for resolving your most emotionally charged conflicts. Created by Shapiro, who also serves as Founder and Director of Harvard International Negotiation Program, this method will help you get past conflicts in every area of your life.
Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer (NYT Bestselling Author) – March 2016 – Guy Kawasaki calls this book “a landmark book in the history of customer service.” Backed by dozens of interviews, Baer gives us a step-by-step primer to grow the impact of your positive customer interactions and get a grip on the negatives.
Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (without Money or Muscle) by Deepak Malhotra (Professor, Harvard Business School) – April 2016 – Learn three approaches to breaking deadlocks and resolving conflicts, with tons of actionable lessons and stories from every sphere of life—government, sports, and beyond.
First-rate advice on becoming an amazing leader
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier (Coaching Expert, Founder of Box of Crayons) – February 2016 – For most overworked leaders, coaching employees is often an afterthought. Stanier shares seven transformative coaching questions to help leaders make a bigger impact on their teams and organizations.
Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston (Founders of Cultivating Leadership) – March 2016 – Learn three integral practices to help you navigate the unknown as a leader. This book will help you better understand yourself and become more nimble to guide organizations to success.
Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein (Professor, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth) – February 2016 – Do you know the difference between a good boss and a Superboss? Read stories about Superbosses across every industry and learn how to emulate their practices to create networks of extraordinary talent.
Tools for transforming teams from the inside out
The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni (Bestselling Author and Founder of The Table Group) – April 2016 – In this book, Lencioni expands on his ideas from the popular business classic The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, sharing a framework and actionable tools to help you identify, hire, and develop ideal team players.
Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance by Mario Moussa, Madeline Boyer, and Derek Newberry – March 2016 – Drawing on their experiences observing over 100 groups working together in the Executive Development Program at Wharton, the authors developed a simple, repeatable framework for generating high-performing teams.
Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yaeger (NYT Bestselling Author, Editor at Sports Illustrated) – July 2016 – Learn 16 habits that drive high-performing teams, drawn from first-hand accounts of some of the most successful organizations in the country.
Management in Minutes by Phillippa Anderson (Author) – September 2016 – Anderson’s concise handbook outlines all of the tools you need to successfully manage your own business. Dive into key management techniques and practices, ranging from branding to understanding the supply chain.
Be the Innovators: How to Accelerate Team Creativity by Peter Ling (Dean at RMIT University) – June 2016 – How do creative people innovate? Ling offers practical models to help you build more creative teams, whether you’re leading a private, public, or non-profit organization.
The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate by Jon Gordon (WSJ Bestselling Author) – April 2015 – Infused with 21 practical insights and exercises, Gordon’s book will inspire you to be the best teammate you can be.
Clear counseling on how to build a killer culture
The Purpose Effect: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization by Dan Pontefract (Chief Envisioner of TELUS) – May 2016 – Merging personal and professional purpose is not just possible, but desirable, and the benefits should be felt by employees, teams, your organization, your customers, and society as a whole. Pontefract shows you how to arrive at this “sweet spot” of purpose.
Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and Practices to Motivate Any Team by Jurgen Appelo (Management Expert) – June 2016 – Appelo wants for you to find the passion that drives your business and make it contagious. Packed with tools, games, and practices to put joy into work, this book is an indispensable resource to help elevate your organization to a more impactful, joyful place.
An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Laney (Harvard Graduate School of Education) – March 2016 – Kegan and Laney share why and how to develop a Deliberately Developmental Organization, where you’ll prosper by aligning with employees’ strongest motive—to grow.
Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out by David Gelles (New York Times Writer) – March 2016 – Mindful Work explains how diverse businesses and workers can benefit from mindfulness techniques in the workplace, sharing how companies like yours can adopt these practices.
No Jerks on the Job: Take Back Control of Your Workplace by Ron Newton (President of PEAK Training Solutions) – March 2016 – Newton writes about the parallel patterns between troubled adolescent behavior and value-challenged managers and employees, drawing on his experiences to help handle difficult people at work.
O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition by David Novak (Executive Chairman and Former CEO of Yum! Brands) and Christa Bourg (Writer) – May 2016 – When was the last time you told your colleagues how much you value them? Novak distills his experiences into fun story form, with lessons that are useful for leaders at every level of professional life.
Extreme Trust: Turning Proactive Honesty and Flawless Execution into Long-Term Profits by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers (Bestselling Co-authors and Founders of Peppers & Rogers Group) – June 2016 – Raves John Costello, Chief Global Marketing and Innovation Officer of Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., “This book is a must-read for anyone leading an organization.” Peppers and Rogers will teach you why success in a world of total transparency comes from earning and keeping the trust of your employees and customers.
Odds and ends for businesses with unique models and management
The Franchising Handbook: How to Choose, Start & Run a Successful Franchise by Carl Reader (Affiliate Chairman of the British Franchising Association) – October 2016 – Starting a franchise has some distinct differences from starting a small business. In this handbook, Reader walks you through the special details involved in franchising.
Family Enterprises: The Essentials by Peter Leach (Family Enterprise Consulting, Deloitte) – September 2016 – Relative to other types of businesses, family enterprises have unique strengths and challenges. Leach reveals the techniques and strategies you need to avoid common family enterprise tensions and pitfalls on your path to success.
Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology by SC Moatti (Stanford Lecturer, Silicon Valley Veteran) – May 2016 – Moatti, who has executive experience with Facebook, Trulia, and Nokia, shares what businesses need to develop winning strategies for mobile products.
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