The best books on how to be successful in business and life

Jeffrey J. Fox Author Of How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients
By Jeffrey J. Fox

The Books I Picked & Why

Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman

By Robert R. Updegraff

Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman

Why this book?

Obvious Adams is a gem of a “book.” It is 58 pages long, and was originally published as a short story in the Saturday Evening Post magazine in 1916. Adams becomes an advertising superstar because he does one hard thing: he thinks. By thinking, he discovers obvious solutions to knotty problems. Did you ever here someone say, “I wish I thought of that?” The answer is simple: you didn’t study, analyze, think, hard enough. When my mother read my first book, “How to Become CEO,” she said, “Jeffrey, much of this is obvious.” “Correct Mom, but nobody does it.”


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Confessions of an Advertising Man

By David Ogilvy

Confessions of an Advertising Man

Why this book?

Confessions is an unparalleled, iconic book on advertising, marketing, business ethics, integrity. Unlike the fictional Adams (in Obvious Adams) David Ogilvy was a living genius, an imagination giant, and the creator of timeless headlines and taglines.

Quoting Olgivy: “We admire people who work hard, who are objective and thorough. We detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses. We abhor ruthlessness. In promoting people, we are influenced as much by their character as anything else.”


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How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why this book?

This book of eternal wisdom was published in October 1936. Today Carnegie’s advice would be characterized as “emotional intelligence,” although his book is better than any current writing on “EQ.” Carnegie advised never to complain or criticize; smile; listen to the other person; learn to correctly pronounce a person’s name and never forget that name; and to see the problem, the issue, through the other person's eyes. Still rare and uncommon skills.


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Think and Grow Rich

By Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich

Why this book?

This book was published in 1937, and like Carnegie’s classic, came out in the midst of the Great Depression. The book launched motivational literature. Napoleon (such a cool first name) offers thirteen principles for success, including be a continuous learner and have an unshakeable belief in one’s self. My favorite principle is to be persistent. Stay determined. Aspirando et Perseverando.


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The Old Man and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea

Why this book?

Hemingway deliberately wrote Old Man to be a commercial success; to avenge a scathing critical review of a prior novel; to sell books; to make money. And on his way to more fame and fortune, Hemingway produced a 128-page masterpiece. The Old Man (Santiago) and the Sea (life) is about courage, toughness, grit, invincible hope. Never give up. Never rely on luck. Fight. There can be a success in failure (just ask Thomas Alva Edison). That Santiago idolized Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankee baseball Hall-of-Famer, is another reason to read and reread this magnificent story of struggle and dignity.


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