The Entrepreneur’s Hardcore Drug Of Choice

Most of us have at least one addiction. Maybe for you it’s reality TV, or pop tarts, or lemon-scented shower gel. I’m not sayin’. I just judgin’.

Me? I’m addicted to business books. Well, business books and crystallized ginger. I know! Weird. Your turn to judge.
Before you get your undies in a bunch, it is possible to be addicted to business books. I mean if you can be addicted to eating plastic, you can be addicted to anything. 
Let me share with you the severity of my affliction: Guy Kawasaki’s book The Art of the Start caused me to miss Super Bowl XXXIX—and the commercials. I was an hour late to my own wedding rehearsal because of Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited. (In case you’re wondering, the wedding itself went off without a hitch. I was only 15 minutes late, thanks to Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think and Grow Rich.)
I’d rather read business books than do almost anything else. I get excited when my flight is delayed because it’s more reading time for me. And the invention of the Kindle was like a revelation—I am now mainlining business books like there is no tomorrow. That is how addicted I am to business books.
So why should you get hooked on reading business books? 
1. Value. You can watch the greatest speeches of all time. You can spend the day with a genius. One day with the master, while pretty friggin’ cool, pales in comparison to a lifetime of knowledge consolidated down to one book. A business book gives you full access to the author’s brain, organized perfectly into categories (chapters), and the notes are already taken for you. Just fork over $20 and you receive endless value—because hey, you can read it over and over again and still discover something new.
2. Availability. A book is yours, to take with you wherever you go, to pick up when you have time, night or day, to start and stop, and flip through as you wish. Try calling the guru at 3am to hear his thoughts. I don’t think that call would go down to well.
3. The Great Ones Are Easy to Find. I have yet to find a site that offers hundreds of reviews of speakers, or specific speeches/seminars. (Hey—new business idea for one of you go-getters out there.) Just browse Amazon or Barnes & Noble and you’ll be able find something great just by looking for books with the most reviews. I usually wait for a book to hit the 200-review mark, and then check out the best and worst reviews before I decide if I want to buy it. 
Here’s how I read a book:
With a pen (and a highlighter on occasion.).
I underline every inspired, useful thought, and fold the corner of that page so I can easily refer back to it. I jot down notes on the back pages of the book (or use the Kindle tracking functions). When I’m done with them, the best books look like they’ve been tagged by a gang of mini graffiti artists.
Some business books suck. Some are awesome. Most have something of value, a golden nugget that will help us improve our chances of making it as entrepreneurs. The best business books give, and give, and give more. They open our minds, or help us push past obstacles, or validate some of the choices we’ve made so far. The great business books, the classics, well—they do all of that and more. And for $20 (or less). That’s mind-blowing.
So, because addicts don’t like to party alone, I’ve decided to make it my mission to get you hooked, too. Whenever I discover a new business book that’s worthy of my pen, I’ll post my review of the book here, on this blog. 
Here are the rules I’m playing by:
1. I will NOT review and/or recommend a book that I have been asked to recommend. I never recommend anything when asked because a) it’s not real, and being not real, well, blows, and b) I have a few major sponsors (thank you AMEX for being the biggest one… I think I love you) and my agreements with them restrict me from promoting stuff. The only loophole I have is, I can share stuff that I have not been asked to promote. (So by asking me to review your book, you’ve pretty much killed your chances of me discovering the awesome stuff you make and do and talking about it here.)
2. I use Amazon’s affiliate program (and you should too) for tracking purposes and to generate HUGE volumes of income. Well, if you consider five and ten cents per referral to be huge, that is. I don’t spend my pennies willy-nilly, mind you. I might splurge a couple of times a year and buy a pair of socks, maybe a pack of gum. Once I bought a slice of crystallized ginger with a month’s worth of profits… and it was worth every penny.
Whew. I feel better just having shared my addiction. I’m not planning on getting any help for it, though. It’s served me well—helped me grow three successful businesses, for starters—and it’s just too much fun to quit. 
What are your favorite business books? Tell me in the comments below.   
Bonus: If there is a lot of discussion about book addictions below, I’ll work up another post about my second addiction… Charlie’s Angels posters. And I mean the real Charlie’s Angels, you know, from the 70s—when feathers was not just about beautiful hair, they were connected to roach clips too.


22 thoughts on “The Entrepreneur’s Hardcore Drug Of Choice”

  1. Mike you are truly a “nut-genious”! I too have an addiction to great business books and ginger anything! I put ground ginger on steak ,chicken, in tea, etc. Kinda Forrest Gumpish!
    Back to the books I LOVE, Think and Grow Rich, TPE, Anything John Maxwell, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,How to win friends…, 7 Habits, Pumpkin Patch! I read about a book every 2 weeks. I do this by NOT watching TV daily. “I can not sit for hours watching someone achieve their goals and I haven’t achieved mine”.
    Toni Denson

    1. Thanks Toni! I am trying to get back to a book every 2 weeks myself.  It is hard to keep that pace. I plow through books when I travel.  Actually look forward to being cramped up on a plane for a while, since I can read like crazy.

  2. Hey Toni – I too avoid TV.  But that being said, I have built a little bit of a passion for Modern Family.  That is one funny show.  Back to books…. I am trying to read 1 a week, but have fallen off my pace and am doing about 1 per month.  The key to me is airplane time.  If I am on a plane I am reading.  I have a flight from NYC to LA in a few weeks, and have two books I want to bang out.

  3. Right on, Mike! I also share this addiction and owe my career path to a single book I stumbled upon in 2000 — “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman. I followed up that book with “The Millionaire Next Door.” From that point on, I was unemployable — I knew I wanted to start my own business. Narrowing down a favorite business book is tough. Like you mentioned in your post, I feel like I get at least one golden nugget out every book I read. What’s great about reading business books is you never know what will trigger a new idea.

  4. My favorite business book of all time is actually NOT a business book, but it’s mandatory reading for all entrepreneurs — because entrepreneurs are creators. The book is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He talks about resistance, and how we can combat it. Procrastination is the dirty little secret of entrepreneurs, and “The War of Art” is a surefire way to kill it.

  5. I feel ya Mike, I went into a cold sweat when I donated business books to the library, I had a moment of no return there. She kindly told me “You can come visit them anytime you like” I had a hard time releasing them, but it was refreshing in the end. I had made it through a addicts withdrawal moment. I LOVE my business books! 🙂

    1. Letitia – Totally on the same page with you. I have a basement of books that I am afraid to give away. It really is an addiction.  Logically I will never read them again, maybe 1 time more in 100 years.  Yet I can’t give them away. 

      They are like trophies.  My “wall of honor”

  6. Hi, my name’s Giovanni and I am a Kindle business and neuroscience book addict. I have 3 Amazon widgets on our webpage, was very depressed when I figured out that you can’t get paid for the books you buy through your own Amazon Associates account 🙁 Which lead me to an idea- a book buying exchange for TPEer book addicts so that someone earns a commission on all the books we’re buying- I’m buying one to two a month and would happily swap with someone who’s buying about the same number. You can check out the widgets and what I’ve been reading here:

    Question, why no Amazon widget here on your blog?

      1.  Hi Mike yes, when you sign into your Amazon Associates account, click on the widgets tab and you will see a page full of the different widgets available (I’d post a link but you have to be signed in to see this page, see the screenshot below). You select the widget style you want then you can populate it with your books, the books you are reading, the books you’d like people to buy through you… actually anything that is for sale on Amazon can go on there. I include a Amazon gift card, a Kindle Fire and a iPad just in case viewers are feeling the need. You can see the three widgets (maybe overkill but their distinct categories of books) that I have on my (WP) website here:

        PS When you are ready to buy your next viper I’ll load it onto my widget so you can purchase it there…. and we’ll have a big party to celebrate!

        1. I love it! Thanks.

          Amazon sells Vipers, huh, who would of thunk. I realize they don’t, but I am sure it is coming…

          1.  You’re welcome and sorry for using their instead of they’re- D’oh! It’s one of my pet peeves and the worst is when I do it. 🙂

            Anyway let me know when you’re ready for the next Viper!

  7. I am also a addict and about a year before finding you I had quit reading any of todays business books because I was not getting anything fresh which caused more frustration then value!  Now I am not blaming all of the authors it was probably a huge defect on my   I started reading business books written in the 1800s all the way through the Great Depression.  I have no clue of some of the obscure authors I read but I did get a fresh insight to business that I did not have before.  My favorite author was Napoleon Hill, he could of wrote on the back of a napkin and if I could get my hands on it I would of read it!

    Then you came along and I discovered your books.  Thats all that needs to be said!!  I still read some turn of the century books but spend more time than ever reading blogs written by entreprenuers who are very talented and give some great insights to the business world today!

    1. Hot Diggity!  Thank you. Thank you so much.  My life purpose (as I have defined it for myself and have written above my desk) is to inspire, educate and empower entrepreneurs.  I really think the nausating “get rich quick” talk blankets out the reality. 

      Entrepreneurship is not about getting rich quick, it is about getting rich, right.  In other words it is about the richness of experience that entrepreneurship brings.  

      As an entrepreneur you WILL fail and you WILL succeed.  You just can’t predict the order.  

      The winners in the entrepreneurial race are not the folks who accumulated wealth and held on to their last day.  The winners are the folks, who explored the richness of life’s experiences through entrepreneurship (and yes that includes the lows just as much as the highs), and built finanicial wealth that allowed them to explore entrepreneurship and themsleves further.

      As an example, I think one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time is Mother Theresa. She had a super rich life experience.  And money?  She managed millions.  She used money to further express herself, to further live her happiness.  To me, she is a bad ass entrepreneur.  Richard Branson is too… yet he has become the “only” perception of success. “He makes and keeps a lot of money, living a playboy life.”  But that too is a perception, a misperception. I believe he is filled with joy too. I think he too has felt the crushing blows of failure and the highest of highs in success.

      The key here is to get rich, right. If you want to do anything quick… skip get rich quick, and instead do “get happy quick”.  Follow what drives you.  Expect to experience the darkest days and the brightest.  Value the struggles as enriching your connection with yourself and understanding of others.  Value the lessons of the valleys.  And embrace the highs, value them too. Know that the entire journey is the reward… and use the millions (or billions) you make on the way, to do more of what drives you and brings you happiness.  Not momentary happiness (a Dodge Viper does that for me, but its thrill dies quickly), but pursue soul happiness.  Use your wealth to make your soul even happier… that is what Richard Branson does, and that is what Mother Theresa does.  That is what entrepreneurship truly is.

  8. Your “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” is the first business book I’ve ever read. Since then, I build my reading list based mostly on your recommendations from your Open Mike’s call and other talks and writing. Your book open a new world to me (I was a designer trying to start a business). So, I think “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” is my favorite business book.

  9. My favorite business book is Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy. I buy everything he writes. This book encourages you in spite of all obstacles. I did not believe I could have my own office before I read this book. There was so much to know and I thought others were just naturally good at things.

    It turns out that absolutely everything you want to do can be learned. Every day you go forward and keep learning. You have no limits.

    I think most of us feel we are limited. We don’t even start things, because we think we can’t do it.

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