Best business books for a startup CEO

What should a fast growing tech company CEO read? Here are my recommendations. Read the books with thought and implement the insights thoroughly. Each book will save you a year of trial and error.

Must read

All Peter Drucker books and the article Managing Oneself
Good to Great and all books by Jim Collins
Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore
Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni
The No Asshole Rule, Robert Sutton
Blue Ocean Strategy, Kim & Mauborgne
Influence, Robert Cialdini
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
The Lean Startup, Eric Ries
Four Steps to Epiphany, Steve Blank
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz
Playing to Win, Lafley and Martin
Good Strategy Bad Strategy, Richard Rumelt

Should read

Zero to One, Peter Thiel
American Icon, Bryce G. Hoffman
Managers, can you hear me now?, Denny Strigl
The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Jeremy Rifkin
The culture map, Erin Meyer
The Circle, Dave Eggers
Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet
Business Model Generation, Alexander Osterwalder
Blueprint to a Billion, Dave Thomson
The Referral Engine, John Jantsch
Delivering Happiness, Tony Hseih
Behind the Cloud, Marc Benioff
Beating the Commodity Trap, Richard D’Aveni
Open Leadership, Charlene Li
Strategic Speed, Jocelyn Davis
Screw It Let’s Do It, Richard Branson
Like a Virgin, Richard Branson
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
The Speed of Trust, Covey & Merrill
The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
High Output Management, Andy Grove
Only the Paranoid Survive, Andy Grove
The Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker
The Delta Project, Hax & Wilde & Thurow
Managing with Power, Pfeffer
Leadership and Self-Deception, Arbinger
The Goal, Goldratt
On Bullshit, Frankfurt
Drive, Daniel Pink
Execution, Larry Bossidy
The Go-Giver, Burg & Mann
Made to Stick, Chip & Dan Heath
Tribal Leadership, Logan & King & Fischer-Wright
Smart BIG Moves, Paul Strebel
Maverick, Ricardo Semler
Nuts!, Kevin Freiberg
Peopleware, DeMarco & Lister
The Mythical Man-Month, Frederick Brooks
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy
Rework, Heinemeier Hansson & Fried
Mojo, Marshall Goldsmith
Polarity Management, Barry Johnsson
The One Minute Manager, Blanchard & Johnson
The Dip, Seth Godin
Getting to Yes, Fisher & Ury & Patton
Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy
Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, Paul Graham
Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, Jessica Livingston
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, Richard Koch
What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, Mark H. McCormack
anything by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt

Book lists

Bill Gates reading list

27 books for entrepreneurs

Must-read books for startups and entrepreneurs

Best business books

15 Great Books Recommended by Successful Entrepreneurs

Quora: What books should entrepreneurs read?

Are any important books missing? Please let me know.





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  1. One book that I keep referring back to, which is not on the list is:
    “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive” by Mark H. McCormack

  2. I have 3 books for certain:
    Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
    Personal MBA by Josh Kauffman
    Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries

    Surprised not to see any Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar or any other Malcolm Gladwell on the list. Maybe some of my choices are more self help than business?

  3. Another classic that I don’t see here or on any of the book lists is “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It” by Michael Gerber. This is an eye-opening read for anyone wishing to lead any sort of organization – big or small, for profit or not-for-profit.

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