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I enjoy reading non-fiction books – ones that encourage, motivate or inspire me. Books that – if widely read, could affect and improve billions of lives.

On my 35th birthday, Aditi got me a gift that keeps on giving. A Kindle Oasis. An amazing high resolution eInk reader that’s light as a feather and that let’s me read eBooks even in the dark with no strain on the eyes.
Prior to having a Kindle, I had been buying paperbacks from Amazon. The device ties very well to the minimalist life style I have become accustomed to living.  I carry it everywhere I go. I don’t buy physical books anymore. But the ones I did buy – I can’t seem to let them go.
Here is a list of the 15 brilliant books that have influenced, inspired and guided me in my journey of entrepreneurship. They’re in no particular order – in fact, I don’t think I’m even qualified to sort them using any criteria.

1. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

Richard Branson’s inspiring, intimate and enjoyable autobiography. Walks you through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship from the quintessential entrepreneur.
Teaches you the value and power of branding and marketing.
A couple of factors influenced why I named my company “Zindagi“. One of them was a result of getting influenced by a quote in his book about the definition of a business – “A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better”.

2. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

When someone asked Elon how he learnt how to build rockets – he nonchalantly replied “I read books”.
This book taught me that “dreaming big” is not just a phrase you’ll read in almost every second self help book. It’s something that can be implemented.
Taught me that it’s okay to be reckless at times.
Reminded me that if you really believe in something – give it your everything! You’ll be much happier pursuing something you’re truly passionate about.

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

I like to read books from cover to cover – so at first, this concept a book being like a buffet of sorts didn’t make sense to me. It still doesn’t – So why do I think it’s a must read..
The author, Tim Ferriss has this incredible ability to distil a lot of information down to crisp actionable items.
The book puts into perspective that time is your most valuable asset. It teaches you how to put that time to the best possible use to get successful fast.

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

I almost felt like the author knew me and offering me advice specific to my company. He explained why small business fails because the owner’s three personalities are in constant clash – The Entrepreneur, the Technician and the Manager.

5. Rework by Jason Fried,  David Heinemeier Hansson

Crisp advice for smalls businesses by the creators of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp.

6. Direct from Dell by Michael Dell

An old book but the concepts are evergreen! The story of how a college dropout built a $30 billion company.

7. Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World by Stuart Diamond

Didn’t make me a good negotiator (I still end up going to the movie that Aditi decides).
Kidding – I think the advice is sound and if practiced daily, will make me a better negotiator.

8. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The brilliant TED Talk speaker goes into more details on how great leaders have changed their companies by focusing on Why!

9. Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar

Convinced me that that good salesmen are not “shadowy master manipulators who just want to sell you something just because they’ll meet their numbers”. Selling is a “transfer of feelings”, when you’re genuinely trying to help the other person.
Taught me that the best time to sell is Always! “Timid salesmen have skinny kids”
It taught me that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
It taught me that people will do business with you only if they trust you!

10. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Opportunity and time on the task determine success – not a high IQ.
The chapter of “The trouble with Genuises” had a tremendous influence on me. It has a section on Chris Langan, the man with an IQ of 195 (30% higher than Einstein).
Gladwell indicated that IQ is important only up to a certain threshold. After that, IQ, or “Analytical Intelligence” can’t help you as much as “Practical intelligence” can – i.e. the knowledge that helps you read situations correctly to get what you want… the skill of knowing what to say, to whom, at the right time, in the most effective manner is more important than being a genius.

11. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

A brilliant book about the power of persuasion. This books delves in to the 6 “weapons of influence” which cause people to say “Yes”. While it’s well researched and written by a PH.D, the language is simple and relatable to everything we see around us. You’ll learn how to become a skilled persuader and how to protect yourself against them.

12. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss

A book about how to pick up girls using seduction. However, It’s perhaps one of the top books for anyone wanting to become a salesman as it teaches you the value of the 30 second pitch, first impressions and the power of marketing.

13. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The story of how Jeff Bezos created a $500 Billion company by taking retail online, by always putting the customer first, and by constantly innovating.

14. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Warns you about the risks of spreading yourself too thin. Reminds you to apply selective criteria for what is essential and helps you “getting the right things done”.

15. Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher

Thought provoking and practical advice. Reinforces ideas about having an attitude of gratitude, finding positive influences, and how to be an “idea machine”.
For the readers of this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I’d love to know which books have you read which have had a positive and inspiring impact on you. Please type them in the comments section below. Thank you!
Abhijit Anand

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