Business Book Notes

Personal MBA

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

RATING: 10/10

A short but comprehensive guide on all there is to know about business. If you want to learn the fundamentals of business, start with this book.


All Marketers Tell Stories

All Marketers Tell Stories by Seth Godin

RATING: 9/10

My favorite Seth Godin book. I feel this is his magnum opus on marketing. Perhaps his most misunderstood book (originally titled “All Marketers are Liars), It breaks down the importance of creating a story around what you sell, whether that be a product, service, or yourself. Like most of Godin’s books, it’s a quick read. If you’re a fan of Seth, but have not checked this out, you are in for a treat.

Personal MBA

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

RATING: 9/10

One of the best books on time-management / clarifying life choices. Essentialism keeps illustrating the value of focus and cutting out all distractions.


Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugarman

RATING: 9/10

An amazing guide to copywriting. Several people and websites have recommended this book as the go-to copywriting book and it delivers. Expensive to buy, but a super useful resource for writing well and learning persuasive copy.


Anything You Want

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

RATING: 9/10

A very quick read by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers who chronicles his business and life lessons. A small little book that packs a lot of punch; one of my favorite books on entrepreneurship.


To Sell is Human

To Sell is Human by Dan Pink

RATING: 8/10

Dan Pink exploring the power of selling in our lives, both professionally and personally.



Purple Cow

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

RATING: 8/10

A close contender for my favorite Seth Godin Book. Purple Cow breaks down how you’re product must be remarkable (a purple cow) in order to spread. Godin gives numerous examples of companies that have created companies built around a purple cow and how they have become successful. An excellent book on making sure you’re creating a spreadable product (or business) from the start.

Power Negotiating

Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson

RATING: 8/10

Master negotiating and sales advice. If you’ve felt like you got less in a deal than you hoped for, want to gain the confidence to negotiate for more, and sell more in life, I highly recommend this book.



Maverick by Ricardo Semler

RATING: 8/10

The Amazing story of Semco, a Brazilian machines company that completely restructured their workplace by ditching the Henry Ford style of management for giving great autonomy to workers. Through constantly adapting to change, Semler shows how to give power to employees and have management get out of the way.


Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

RATING: 8/10

A systematic way to analyze and disrupt markets, creating uncontested market space aka a Blue Ocean. Somewhat academic in language and has a “corporate” feel, but the strategy as a whole makes this a noteworthy read.


Ad Contrarian

The Ad Contrarian by Bob Hoffman

RATING: 8/10

Traditional marketing is dead! Social Media is King! – This is the advice ad man Bob Hoffman rejects in this book, ignoring the cult of social media marketers claiming its the future of advertising. Instead, it’s a book of well tested advertising principles that have existed throughout history, not a fad of the moment–ignoring such jargon like “branding” being an action instead of a result of great products and services.


101 Ideas About Advertising

101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising by Bob Hoffman

RATING: 8/10

A complement to the Ad Contrarian. The basic philosophy of this book: We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.” Nuff said.


Common Sense Marketing

Secrets from the Lost Art of Common Sense Marketing by Brad Antin and Alan Antin

RATING: 8/10

Common Sense marketing contains 12 overlooked “secret” ways to improve your marketing. The tone is very conversational and feels like a friend is talking to you. The authors were proteges of marketing guru Gary Halbert. An overlooked book that’s highly useful.



Culturematic by Grant McCracken

RATING: 8/10

An exploration of the culture change from Reality TV, Burning Man, Starbucks’ Third Space, Pie Lab, to the Old Spice Man Commercial. This book does a great job of making sense how and whey we got to our current culture combined with practical how-to advice. With a general theme urging for continual experimentation and constantly asking “what if…” Culturematic offers a sobering view culturally of where we are going and how to thrive in uncertain times.


Trust Me I'm Lying

Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

RATING: 8/10

A look behind the scenes of how the modern day media system works. The first half gives the tactics of media manipulators, while the second half explains the consequences of how damaging these tactics have been. Despite being a media manipulator himself, I feel he still stays on the “ethical” side of these dark arts. It’s a book sure to piss off many. I knew modern media was corrupt, but not to the extent laid out in this book. Highly Recommended.

Against the Odds

Against the Odds by James Dyson

RATING: 8/10

The crazy story of James Dyson and his super-human persistence getting his revolutionary Vacuum to market. A super inspiring story for instilling the want to make things and fight industry giants like great inventors from the past.


Small Giants

Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham

RATING: 8/10

A Book that profiles companies that choose to remain small, despite the external pressures to become big. I found this book most useful for an alternate angle on what it means to be an entrepreneur and how you can create happiness for yourself & the world through entrepreneurship without losing your mojo.



Unlabel by Marc Ecko

RATING: 7/10

The autobiographical story of how Marc Ecko built Ecko Clothing, his rise, struggles, losing his way, and lessons learned. My favorite part of this book was learning about Marc trying to hang out with celebrities/become some mega huge Ralph Lauren type clothing company, losing his way, and then becoming authentic to who he really is.

Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become

Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become by Michael Schrage

RATING: 7/10

The title says it all: Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?–All business, marketing, and design decisions should stem from this foundational question. Includes numerous examples throughout. The book is short and to the point. How Business books should be.

How to Win at the Sport of Business

How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban

RATING: 7/10

Mark Cuban on kicking ass at Business.



The Education of Millionaires

The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg

RATING: 7/10

How to get a REAL World Self-Education in today’s society with a large entrepreneurial focus. A great book on Networking tips alone. A bias towards marketers/infopreneur/techie case study examples–but nonetheless a solid read.


Body and Soul

Body and Soul by Anita Roddick

RATING: 7/10

The amazing journey of Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. Written in 1991, Anita details her journey into social entrepreneurship and her status quo challenging principles ahead of its time even today. The book is 40% focused on business and 60% on her biographical story with many chapters devoted to body shop’s social causes involvement. A great insight into a go-with-your-gut entrepreneur.

Anyone Can Do It

Anyone Can Do It by Duncan Bannatyne

RATING: 7/10

The biographical story of Duncan Bannatyne, the guy from the Dragon’s Den. I knew little about him before reading except he got a later start in entrepreneurship. A great look into a millionaire who didn’t have contacts, money, expertise, or a USP —he just hustled and was ambitious. Some of the later chapters wean a bit, but overall highly recommended.

Fashion Label

How to Set Up & Run A Fashion Label by Toby Meadows

RATING: 7/10

While this is a good primer into the business of fashion 101, it is very very mainstream, meaning if you into bootstrapping, this book will leave much to be desired. Innovative this book is not. It’s more of a primer of how business has been done, will be done, and will continue to be done. A good book for challenging conventions.


100 Startup

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

RATING: 6/10

A beginners book to the vast world of beginning an online based business today. An inspiring book more than anything with numerous case studies of people who have began low overhead businesses. Would have liked more depth, but if you are new to information marketing or online businesses, this book is a good start.


Growth Hacker Marketing

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

RATING: 6/10

A primer on Growth Hacker Marketing–with marketing baked into companies using analytics and social metrics to grow a company without spending money.


Method Method

The Method Method by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry

RATING: 6/10

The Story and Principles of how Method came to be. A Great Story of how two individuals disrupt the giants of the cleaning product industry and the insanely emotional hard work that goes into it. A valuable book for navigating the world of retail and what big business “2.0″ looks like.


Jobs War

The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton

RATING: 6/10

The World Gallup Poll found what the whole world wants is a good job. This book is a frightening look at where the United States stands economically and the daunting measures it will need to take to continue it’s leadership position for another 30 years. With a huge focus on the call for more entrepreneurs, some of the prescriptions seem a bit simplistic and overlook the question of should GDP be growing indefinitely or is being the GDP leader the primary goal of a country.

Publishing for Profit

Publishing for Profit by Thomas Woll

RATING: 5/10

A basic book outlying creating a small publishing company.