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20 must-read books in tech, business, and productivity..

You are what you read.

If your body is a reflection of what you eat, then your mind is a reflection of what you read and study.

At AMS we believe in continuous improvement. The Japanese have a beautiful word for it: Kaizen.

It means: Change for the better and it interlocks with our value of creating an energetic working environment where everybody can become the best version of themselves.

We often talk and share book suggestions with each other. Most of them are business, tech or self-development related but you’ll also find the occasional psychology or spiritual book in this list. We’ve divided this article into sections where you can find the related books per section. All of them have 3.5 stars or more on Goodreads. Enjoy!

Tech

Life 3.0

Life 3.0

Life 3.0

A well thought out look at the dangers of creating artificial intelligence. Tegmark talks about every possible argument and point of view regarding AI. We are approaching times when machines start to understand our world. There is a possibility, that in the near future we will be working with Artificial Intelligence as equal partners. This idea divided people into two groups. Some people expect androids to be our slaves, and others think that people will be working for AI. How should we approach this new age? Max uses popular stories to better show ways AI development could go and kept it simple. A must-read to better understand AI.

Superintelligence

Superintelligence

Superintelligence

What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? This book is an examination of the risks involved when that happens. Bostrom runs the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford so you might say he’s qualified to shed some light on the issue. We do want to slightly warn you, it is a pretty dense book with some mathematical language. Not the best one to start with but definitely worth the read!

The Business Blockchain

The Business Blockchain

The Business Blockchain

Just as the Internet created new possibilities that we didn’t foresee in its early years, the blockchain will give rise to new business models and ideas that may still be invisible. The Business Blockchain helps you to understand the business potential of the blockchain. Look at it as an executive summary version of the blockchain.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project

This book takes a dry subject and turns it into an understandable narrative. Explaining complex concepts into easy to conceive stories. It is basically a business/IT management book disguised as a novel. It is a must-read if you want to learn more about how IT needs to integrate with business goals to actually achieve anything.

Business

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

The inside story about the company’s early days as a start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic brands. Told by the founder and CEO Phil Knight. He covers all of it in detail. The ups and downs. The moments where he felt like he could lose it all, which seemed to happen at least once a year. His personal struggles as a leader and a manager. The people that drove him crazy in the beginning, but were ultimately indispensable to the company. His momentary conflicts about whether or not the struggle was worth it. The breakthroughs — mostly understood in hindsight — when he realized they had gotten to another level. If you are a founder, this is a must-read.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Zero toOne

Zero toOne

Probably one of the more controversial books on this list since Thiel enjoys being a contrarian a lot. And that is also exactly the point he is making in this book. You only go from zero to one if what you create is something new. As the books opens with:

“Every moment in business happens only once.
The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

It immediately sets the tone. Nonetheless an interesting perspective of one of the most outside-of-the-box thinkers of our time.

The Hard Things about Hard Things

The Hard Things about Hard Things

The Hard Things about Hard Things

Written by one of Sillicon Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs. Offering practical and essential advice from his experience in building companies that business schools don’t cover. It is one of the best books you’ll ever read about entrepreneurship and being a CEO. This is one of the reviews we came across while we were writing our own:

I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I cannot say more strongly: read it. If you know me — email me at my personal address and I’ll buy it for you.

What’s more to say.

Principles: Life and Work

Principles

Principles

Here, Dalio explains his rational (system engineering-like) process to achieve any goal. His principles are applicable to decision making, productivity, building company culture and many other aspects of business and life. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is about the purpose and importance of having principles in general. The second part is where he explains the most fundamental life principles that he applies to everything he does, and the third part is about the management principles that he applies at Bridgewater. One of the most successful investment management firms in the world.

Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last

An essential book for leaders, helping them to build a company culture people want to be a part of. Best known for writing Start With Why, Simon Sinek explains once the company’s why is clear, how to get people on board with you WHY. How to inspire deep trust and commitment to the company and one another. This book will tell you that always making a profit for your company, being number one, or successfully accomplishing your mission does not make you a good leader. That is determined by how you go about achieving those results. Leadership is not a position you have, but the person you are.

Marketing / Sales

The B2B Social Media Book

If you still think social media is not a place for businesses to be, think again. There’s almost no-one who is not engaging on some social media platform. That means your customers are on social media. So you should be there too. The B2B Social Media Book provides B2B marketers with actionable advice on leveraging blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more, combined with key strategic imperatives that serve as the backbone of effective B2B social media strategies.

Building a Story Brand

Building a story brand

Building a story brand

This book gives you a proven framework to engage people in your story brand. From the first moment of existence, humans preserve memories and experiences in stories. We tend to remember stories way better than facts and theory. It describes how the majority of companies communicate in a way that is confusing their customers. Miller makes a case for the importance of the narrative. He also addresses the question of how you communicate your offer in a clear and simple way while you have more than one product or service. Rather new on the market but one of the best marketing books in our opinion.

Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com

Predictable Revenue

Predictable Revenue

Do you sell something? Then read this book. The knowledge in this book gives you a huge competitive advantage. It outlines the sales process, summarizes the different steps to take and goes into just enough details. He emphasizes on best practices to minimize effort and maximize sales. Improving focus by putting a clear sales process in place and automate tasks, where possible.

Lean Analytics

Lean Analytics

Lean Analytics

This book shows you how to validate your initial idea, find the right customers, decide what to build, how to monetize your business, and how to spread the word. Skewed towards analytics in terms of building & developing a lean startup. The authors believe that there are six business models: e-commerce, SaaS, mobile apps, media site, user-generated content, and the marketplace. They describe these models in details and introduce the important metrics for each one. Packed with case studies, it is definitely worth the read.

Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success

Hacking Growth

Hacking Growth

Growth Hacking, one of the hottest business methodologies in Silicon Valley and beyond. Behind the companies that are world-known today, like Airbnb, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn, there was a carefully implemented methodology behind their rise to the top. Hacking Growth offers the mindset and the toolkit needed to increase a company’s customer base and market share. Read this if you want to create and execute your own growth hacking strategy.

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness

#AskGaryVee

#AskGaryVee

Being a marketing genius, Gary Vee can tell us a thing or two about social media, entrepreneurship and personal branding. In this book, he distills the most useful and interesting questions Gary has addressed on his show #AskGaryVee. It is one of the most straightforward no bullshit book on topics like leadership, company culture, building a business, the power of gratitude and providing value for your customers.

Self-development / productivity

The One Thing

The One Thing

The One Thing

The enemy of everyone who is trying to be productive is trying to do many things at once, ultimately doing nothing really. In the One Thing, Gary gives you a plan that is easy to understand and follow. The way he is breaking down big goals into small chunks is amazing.The genius is the simplicity. A great book on time management and productivity.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

If everybody would read and apply the knowledge in this book, the world would be a lot nicer. The book contains proven strategies from a decade-long effort to accurately measure and increase emotional intelligence. The authors describe the 4 skills of Emotional Intelligence — Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management and the strategies to optimally manage them. A must read to improve your EQ.

Ego is the Enemy

Ego is the Enemy

Ego is the Enemy

Ryan Holiday is amongst the most popular writers in our team. He writes in such a practical way, distilling powerful concepts and philosophies. Ryan explains why ego is our biggest enemy. Early in our careers, it can prevent us from learning and developing our talents. When we taste success, ego can blind us to our own faults, alienate us from others and lead to our downfall. In failure, ego is devastating and makes recovery all the more difficult. It is only by identifying our ego, speaking to its desires, and systematically disarming it that we can create our best work. Definitely one to put on your reading list!

The Obstacle is the Way

The Obstacle is the Way

The Obstacle is the Way

Another Ryan Holiday classic. This one is packed with examples from history of people who made it through adversity into greatness. It also offers a system for approaching life as a more average person, turning obstacles into advantages, and using relentless persistence to achieve what you want. We all face obstacles in our lives, what matters is how we perceive them and work with them to move on. Holiday uses Stoicism as a basis for the book, but it’s not a dry philosophy book by any means. He makes the words from thousands of years ago come alive through modern example. If you’re someone who aims high in life this is a book for you.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

The Power of Now

The Power of Now

Eckhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. He teaches us the importance of the present moment and that we are not our thoughts.

“The very fact that we can objectively observe our thinking, he reasoned, suggests that the constant and often negative dialogue in our heads is separate from who we are.”

This is a must read for everyone who tries to understand why it is so important to live in the present, how the mind works and why it works in that way.

We hope this list has given you some new ideas to put on your reading list. They are truly books we have selected from a long list of literature and have contributed to where Story of AMS is now and where we are headed.