36 books like Unapologetically Ambitious

By Shellye Archambeau,

Here are 36 books that Unapologetically Ambitious fans have personally recommended if you like Unapologetically Ambitious. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Jenny Foss Author Of Do This, Not That: Career

From my list on taking charge of your career.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a California beach lifeguard. Considering I grew up in Michigan, this was a rather aspirational choice. To my parents’ relief, my career goals shifted over time, as I realized my gift for writing. I became a journalist then went into marketing. But after years of cranking out corporate content, I (sadly) burned out on it, dropped everything, and became a recruiter. Within months, I missed writing – so much so that I started a career-related blog, which became a thriving business dedicated to helping people move their careers forward. Gratefully, this work led to an amazing assignment, writing Do This, Not That: Career

Jenny's book list on taking charge of your career

Jenny Foss Why did Jenny love this book?

It’s hard to not want instant gratification, especially in our “get what you want, and now” culture. We see the shiny objects and opportunities for a quick win, and we chase them. Unfortunately, as Dorie Clark maps out in The Long Game, this frenetic behavior isn’t helpful if you want to achieve big goals. 

I discovered this book when life was starting to feel like a giant game of Whac-a-mole. Sure, I was achieving success, but I could never seem to find the time to get to a couple of long-range projects that really matter to me. 

The Long Game gave me several tangible tips for staying focused on my long-term goals in a world that pushes me, and all of us, to grab for those immediate, more shallow victories.

By Dorie Clark,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Long Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Your personal goals need a long-term strategy.

It's no secret that we're pushed to the limit. Today's professionals feel rushed, overwhelmed, and perennially behind. So we keep our heads down, focused on the next thing, and the next, without a moment to breathe.

How can we break out of this endless cycle and create the kind of interesting, meaningful lives we all seek?

Just as CEOs who optimize for quarterly profits often fail to make the strategic investments necessary for long-term growth, the same is true in our own personal and professional lives. We need…


Book cover of The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America

Gena Cox Author Of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

From my list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 

Gena's book list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion

Gena Cox Why did Gena love this book?

The First, The Few, The Only is the first book I have read that accurately captures the angst of my day-to-day experience as a high-achieving woman of color in corporate America. I love that the book also proposes empowering systemic and individual actions to enhance those experiences.

By Deepa Purushothaman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The First, the Few, the Only as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deeply personal call to action for women of color to find power from within and to join together in community, advocating for a new corporate environment where we all belong-and are accepted-on our own terms.

Women of color comprise one of the fastest-growing segments in the corporate workforce, yet often we are underrepresented-among the first, few, or only ones in a department or company. For too long, corporate structures, social zeitgeist, and cultural conditioning have left us feeling exhausted and downtrodden, believing that in order to "fit in" and be successful, we must hide or change who we are.…


Book cover of Leadership Reckoning: Can Higher Education Develop the Leaders We Need?

Gena Cox Author Of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

From my list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 

Gena's book list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion

Gena Cox Why did Gena love this book?

The message of Leadership Reckoning is that we need do a better job of developing human-centered business leaders who can meet the challenges of a disrupted world. I believe the approach in this book will also achieve the goal of building more inclusive organizational cultures in which all employees can thrive, regardless of their variations.

By Thomas Kolditz, Libby Gill, Ryan P. Brown

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leadership Reckoning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its inception, higher education in the U.S. has claimed to develop leaders. This bold claim appears in college mission statements and mottos, and it is reinforced in recruiting materials and ad campaigns. But is this claim justified? Leadership Reckoning takes to task American colleges and universities for their haphazard, incoherent, evidence-free approaches to developing students as leaders and offers a principle-driven, outcome-oriented blueprint for how effective leader development can occur. Higher education has both the opportunity and the responsibility to take leader development seriously and create the leaders we need. It's high time that happens, and Leadership Reckoning points…


Book cover of Think Big: Take Small Steps and Build the Future You Want

Gena Cox Author Of Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See and Feel

From my list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an organizational psychologist and executive coach for more than two decades, advising high-level executives, including Fortune 500 leaders, to build workplace cultures in which all employees can flourish. Yet, for many employees of color, the workplace is so challenging that many feel professionally stifled. I realized many years ago that to accomplish my own goals; I needed to take control of my career and not depend upon the vagaries of individual leaders. I needed to set goals, take a long game view, be honest with myself and my leaders, and help leaders understand how changing some habits could help them and me succeed in a disrupted world. 

Gena's book list on the need for DEI and workplace inclusion

Gena Cox Why did Gena love this book?

Think Big is a science-based roadmap to help a reader achieve their wildest dreams, by taking small and big steps that move you incrementally toward the goal. Sometimes the steps require doing things you have not done before but sometimes they require stopping or reducing or changing your current patterns of dealing with the realities of life.

By Grace Lordan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Think Big as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What are you doing today to make your dream future come true?

'A rare self-help book that's actually informed by evidence. A host of perceptive, practical tips for getting out of your own way and making progress toward your career goals.' Adam Grant, bestselling author of Think Again and Originals

'A practical and accessible guide to using behavioural science in your career.' Caroline Criado Perez, author of Invisible Women
________________

We all have big ambitions for the future but those dreams only become reality if we do something towards them regularly. To achieve audacious goals, we need to take action…


Book cover of The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Uri Adoni Author Of The Unstoppable Startup: Mastering Israel's Secret Rules of Chutzpah

From my list on startup entrepreneurs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love innovation! In today’s world, a lot on the innovation is coming from startups who are challenging the status quo and the existing solutions, and trying to offer a new product or service. Being a venture capitalist for many years, I’ve seen thousands of motivated entrepreneurs as well as highly innovative startups, but unfortunately most of them fail. The books I recommend, all share advice from highly experienced and successful entrepreneurs, enabling new entrepreneurs to learn from their experience. These books are not theoretical ones but rather very practical, so any entrepreneur can adopt operational advice as well as an entrepreneurial mindset that has proven to lead to success. 

Uri's book list on startup entrepreneurs

Uri Adoni Why did Uri love this book?

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most successful venture capitals in the world.

However, he chose to write a book from his experience and perspective as an entrepreneur. Ben’s descriptions and storytelling enables the reader to really feel what he felt, and completely identify with the challenges he went through.

I loved his references to rap music throughout the book– very creative. 

By Ben Horowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hard Thing About Hard Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup-practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn't cover, based on his popular ben's blog. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he's gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with…


Book cover of A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM

Grant Tate Author Of Hand on the Shoulder: Finding Freedom in the Confluence of Love and Career

From my list on disillusionment and transformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

For years, I’ve asked myself why I crashed. What was the complex web of principles and circumstances that landed a successful, upstanding, highly qualified person into a psychiatrist’s office? And, further, what inner strengths led me to ultimate transformation and a better understanding of myself and my environment? This book has been a project of self-exploration, of the stories and decisions that helped me climb, fall, and recover—exploring the confluence of love and career.

Grant's book list on disillusionment and transformation

Grant Tate Why did Grant love this book?

This book, the transcript of Thomas J Watson Jr.'s 1963 lecture at Columbia University, describes the core values on which the IBM corporation was built: respect for the individual, best customer service of any company in the world, excellence in everything we do. The small book is rich with guidelines for good management and examples of real-life incidents where the principles were applied.

Watson's book is fundamentally important today because it provides a foundation for understanding how IBM, the company for which I invested much of my career, lost its way when it deviated from Watson‘s core values.

By Thomas J. Watson Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Business and Its Beliefs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the timeless business book that still brings perspective and guidance to today's bottom-line executives. When first published in 1963, IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr.'s "A Business and Its Beliefs" gave readers an unprecedented look inside IBM's executive offices. Watson-son of IBM's founder - candidly discussed how the company clung to its values during the first great technological shift, and how this refusal to compromise became IBM's strength. He also became one of the first CEOs to question business's place and responsibility in society, and openly discuss how firms could meet expanding social expectations while still turning a profit.…


Book cover of Uncanny Valley

David Buckmaster Author Of Fair Pay: How to Get a Raise, Close the Wage Gap, and Build Stronger Businesses

From my list on the importance of expecting less from your workplace.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked with business leaders on pay projects all over the world, at companies like Nike and Starbucks, in places like Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Singapore, the UAE, and all over Europe. While many business books are written from a theoretical or academic perspective, I bring an operator’s perspective. I get to work out the ideas in my book, Fair Pay, on a daily basis, and so I wrote the book to be a realistic and practical guide for understanding the perspectives of business leaders, human resources, and the typical employee. 

David's book list on the importance of expecting less from your workplace

David Buckmaster Why did David love this book?

Changing careers from publishing to tech is a path not often traveled. Wiener made this jump from a world legendary for its light pay compensated by romanticism, to an industry best known for generous “perks that landed somewhere between the collegiate and the feudal.” Wiener’s experience makes for one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in years—she is a gifted writer and unafraid to call out the over-seriousness of the tech bro mentality as an ultimately “dreary” worldview. 

By Anna Wiener,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Uncanny Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2020.

Named one of the Best Books of 2020 by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, ELLE, Esquire, Parade, Teen Vogue, The Boston Globe, Forbes, The Times (UK), Fortune, Chicago Tribune, Glamour, The A.V. Club, Vox, Jezebel, Town & Country, OneZero, Apartment Therapy, Good Housekeeping, PopMatters, Electric Literature, Self, The Week (UK) and BookPage.A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and a January 2020 IndieNext Pick.

"A definitive document of a world in transition: I won't be alone in returning…


Book cover of Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

Julie Barlow Author Of The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed

From my list on understanding the French.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about France and the French for two decades. The adventure began when I moved to Quebec in my early 20s and married a Quebecker. He became my life partner and co-author. I learned his language, immersed myself in Canada’s French-language culture and began writing articles in French. In 1999 we moved to France for three years to study the French. Three books later, we returned to Paris with our daughters to try to demystify French conversation. The result is The Bonjour Effect. I am grateful to the authors on my list for helping me refine my understanding of France, the French and their language. 

Julie's book list on understanding the French

Julie Barlow Why did Julie love this book?

Alexander’s book is a sort of memoir that recounts how, at a quite advanced age, he set out to become fluent in French. It’s funny, insightful, peppered with great observations, and has quite an amazing twist in the plot. His determination to master French – but also the research he explores about language learning in the process – will be inspiring for readers of all ages. A fun and motivating read.

By William Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flirting with French as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Alexander is not just a Francophile, he wants to be French. It's not enough to explore the country, to enjoy the food and revel in the ambiance, he wants to feel French from the inside. Among the things that stand in his way is the fact that he can't actually speak the language. Setting out to conquer the language he loves (but which, amusingly, does not seem to love him back), Alexander devotes himself to learning French, going beyond grammar lessons and memory techniques to delve into the history of the language, the science of linguistics, and the art…


Book cover of HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

Jon Younger Author Of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

From my list on talent management.

Why am I passionate about this?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

Jon's book list on talent management

Jon Younger Why did Jon love this book?

This book brought global survey data, case examples, and thought leadership together in recommending a new approach to HR that has since become a standard: driving the organizational capabilities the business needs to flourish competitively, and deliver superior value to customers. Six critical HR competencies based on research are described and best practices shared. The new model of HR proposed in this book has been broadly adopted.

By Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank , Mike Ulrich

Why should I read it?

1 author picked HR from the Outside In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This definitive work on HR competencies provides ideas and tools that help HR professionals develop their career and make their organization effective."
-Edward E. Lawler III, Professor, University of Southern California

"This book is a crucial blueprint of what it takes to succeed. A must have for every HR professional."
-Lynda Gratton, Professor, London Business School

"One single concept changed the HR world forever: 'HR business partner'. Through consistent cycles of research and practical application, Dave and his team have produced and update the most comprehensive set of HR competencies ever."
-Horacio Quiros, President, World Federation of People Management Associations…


Book cover of Ingenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

Matthew E. May Author Of Winning the Brain Game: Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking

From my list on creative thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long I can remember, I’ve been an ideas guy. I even like the idea of ideas…I guess that makes me a meta-idea guy. But not just any ideas. Ideas that achieve the maximum impact with the minimum means. Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I’d give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Creative ideas are the main event of the imagination, and the simpler the better. I've written and published several books, hundreds of articles and blogs, and even had dozens of songs published. But by far my favorite creative accomplishment is winning the New Yorker cartoon caption contest in 2008.

Matthew's book list on creative thinking

Matthew E. May Why did Matthew love this book?

This book is a practitioner’s guide to applied creativity in business, from yet another Stanford University professor. What is it about Stanford? I learned Design Thinking at Stanford, and I’ve had the honor of spending time with Tina Seelig. In many respects, this book is volume two of Creativity in Business a few decades apart. She introduces a conceptual model she calls the Innovation Engine, which explains how creativity is produced on the inside…our “in-genius,”…but is then influenced by the outside world. For anyone looking to create something from scratch, this book is for you.

By Tina Seelig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ingenius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is the ability to creatively tackle problems innate or can it be learned? Like most human traits, both answers are correct. Some people are inherently more innovative than others. But, just like maths, or writing, everyone can improve with practice. Tina Seelig, PhD teaches creativity every day in her courses on innovation at Stanford School of Engineering. After ten years of experience, she confidently asserts that not only can creativity be taught but that there are a clear set of tools, skills and approaches that can unlock anyone's creative potential.

In InGenius, Seelig reminds us that creativity is not just…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Silicon Valley, presidential biography, and entrepreneurs?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Silicon Valley, presidential biography, and entrepreneurs.

Silicon Valley Explore 26 books about Silicon Valley
Presidential Biography Explore 18 books about presidential biography
Entrepreneurs Explore 283 books about entrepreneurs