Great authors teach us, motivate us, inspire us, and make us think. For professionals, great authors can change the way we work, help us realize new opportunities, build a business, and lead others.
My recent post, 9 Business Books That Will Change Your Life, led to over 1,200 comments from readers agreeing or disagreeing with the list, and adding their own favorites. So I've followed up that post with this list of prolific, impactful authors, each of which has written at least three business books. Below are my 11 must-read authors, along with six more up-and-coming authors worth reading:
1. Seth Godin
Godin is my favorite author and has been an inspiration to me as a writer, marketer, entrepreneur and thinker. Permission Marketing is my favorite Godin book, but I've enjoyed so many of them, as Godin always challenges readers to think about things in a new way. Other must-read books of his include Purple Cow, Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke The Box.His latest and boldest, The Icarus Deception, calls on people to look at their work as an artist does.
2. Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni is the owner of a management consulting firm and a prolific author and speaker, having written ten books to date. He writes simple, well-told fables, all with leadership and management lessons to take away. His most famous book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - and that is a great one, as are The Advantage, Death by Meeting, and Getting Naked. But my favorite is The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family, because it addresses not only business, but leading a family, something most important to me.
3. Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell is a longtime writer for The New Yorker magazine and the author of four uber-successful, thoughtful books which stimulate not only business professionals, but all of his readers, to think about things in a new way. Named by Time Magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Gladwell's works include The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink and What the Dog Saw.
4. Jim Collins
Collins is both a teacher and a student of great companies - having devoted the better part of his life to studying, analyzing and writing about the differences between good companies and great ones - companies that perish and those that endure. His books are all thoroughly researched and his theses are data-driven. Collins' works include Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall and Great by Choice.
5. Daniel Pink
Pink is truly one of the great business minds of our time. Having now authored four provocative books, Pink was named one of the Top 50 business thinkers of the world by Harvard Business Review in 2011. His most recent book, To Sell is Human, is particularly appropriate for salespeople. But Pink's previous Drive and A Whole New Mind are classics as well.
6. Tim Ferriss
Ferriss is an incredibly successful author and speaker, despite apparently not working on any one thing more than four hours a week. The ultimate "work smart over work hard" guy, Ferriss's first book, The Four Hour Workweek, has sold many millions of copies and been translated to 35 languages. The concept for professionals has proved so popular that Ferriss followed up Workweek with The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef.
7. Ken Blanchard
Blanchard is a long-time writer, speaker and consultant and one of the top leadership experts in the world. Like Lencioni, he writes using stories and simple, easy-to-understand language. Three of his many books, the One Minute Manager, Raving Fans, and The One Minute Entrepreneur all deeply influenced the way I've run our businesses and helped clients grow their businesses.
8. Stephen Covey
Covey wrote a plethora of excellent leadership and inspirational books, but the one you've likely heard of is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book single-handedly changed the way millions of people live their lives, at work and beyond. The SPEED of Trust and The Leader in Me are two more good ones. Covey's books are excellent reads if you're looking for inspiration beyond your job. Sadly, Covey passed away last year.
9. Peter Drucker
Drucker, the 2nd posthumous member of this list, passed away in 2005, but he was considered the management expert of the 20th century, authoring over 25 books. The teacher, reporter, philosopher and consultant was perhaps best known for mentoring longtime General Electric CEO Jack Welch. His books included The Effective Executive, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, and The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.
10. Jeffrey Gitomer
Gitomer may have been a college dropout, but his books have helped many a salesperson make an incredible living. His books are small, easy to read, and packed full of both inspiration and practical advice. My favorite is the Little Red Book Of Selling, but others include Customer Satisfactions Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, and The Sales Bible.
11. John Maxwell
Maxwell is a longtime leadership expert, speaker and coach who has sold a remarkable 19 million books. His books inspire better leadership skills and communication skills. My favorite is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; other noteworthy books include The 5 Levels of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, How Successful People Think, The 360 Degree Leader, and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.
The above 11 are all must-read authors for professionals. Their many books have stood the test of time and continue to sell millions of copies. As I looked for great business authors, though, I was devastated by the dearth of women authors - plus I wanted to introduce you to a few great authors you may not have read yet. Here, then, are six more terrific authors worth reading, including three awesome female authors:
1. Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg, the famous and at times controversial Chief Operating Officer of Facebook just launched her first book: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The guaranteed bestseller has already created a lot of buzz, and is worth a read, whether you're a woman or a man.
2. Guy Kawasaki
I am proud to call Kawasaki a mentor, and he easily could have made the list above. His latest work, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is a must-read for all authors and wanna-be authors. Other excellent books include The Art of the Start, Enchantment, Rules for Revolutionaries, and Reality Check.
3. Ekaterina Walter
Walter is a new author and a long time speaker and social strategist for Intel. Her first book,Think Like Zuck, inspired me so much I bought copies for my staff at Likeable. I have a strong feeling there's more to come.
4. Erik Qualman
You may not have heard of Qualman yet, but you may be amongst the 5 million people who have seen his "Socialnomics" videos on YouTube. Qualman's first book of the same name,Socialnomics, is an excellent read, as is his newest, Digital Leader.
5. Meg Cadoux Hirshberg
Hirschberg is the wife of Stonyfield CEO Gary Hirshberg, and writes extensively for INC Magazine on entrepreneurship and family. I whole-heartedly recommend her first book, For Better Or For Work, not only for entrepreneurs but for their spouses and families.
6. Michael Maddock
Maddock is an entrepreneur, inventor and innovation expert. My favourite of his three books is Free The Idea Monkey, which is great for both the idea people and the operators who help make those ideas actually happen.
Those are 17 of my favorite authors- although I've read dozens more I've loved. I'm also an author of course, and I've written a couple of books that I hope have inspired people- Likeable Social Media, about the role of social media in today's society and how organizations can best leverage it, and, recently,Likeable Business, about how to leverage 11 simple principles of customer-centric, staff-centric leadershipto succeed in today's social-business world.