January 3, 2018

Tony’s Top 10 list of business reads for 2018 (that can make you appear smarter, richer and even a little more popular at parties).

Reading is essential - Jim Rohn

Hello friend and fellow reader. As we closed out the year (and took a minute to rest and reflect before hitting ‘reset' to charge into 2018), I reviewed some of my favorite non-fiction reads from the past 12 months.

Though I consumed many great books in 2017, this is my list of the top 10 business/marketing and self-development titles that have made me appear smarter, richer and even a little more popular at parties!

The books on this list should be particularly appealing if you are:

  • A small and/or new business owner (including service providers, artists, and freelancers).
  • A seasoned sales professional looking to ‘up your game' and equip yourself with a new set of sales tools.
  • In a corporate job that you're itching to leave so you can go start your own business, but maybe you need some guidance in creating your business plan (or exit plan as the case may be).

I've included some books that I consider good ‘desk reference' resources containing actionable steps that you can refer to over and over again. There are also titles focused on a key concept or ideal that will more than likely provide you with a few nuggets of knowledge you can add to your current arsenal.

1. Duct tape selling: Think like a marketer – sell like a superstar, by John Jantsch.

If you've read Duct Tape Marketing, this is a great companion book. With tips for the modern sales process, the book teaches how to incorporate marketing strategy into the sales function and redefines the current process into something that will add value and build relationships that lead to profit and a loyal customer base. To be successful in sales in this day and age you need to think of yourself as a marketer, and this book gives you a step-by-step map to get there.

2. The Power of Broke: How empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage, by Daymond John.

Straight talk from ‘The people's Shark', Daymond John tells the story of how he started with a $40 budget and against the odds turned FUBU into a $6 billion global brand. He also shares inspiring case studies from artists and entrepreneurs who have made their name via a similar ‘Power of Broke' formula. This book is insightful, motivating and shows how a good idea, tight budget and relentless drive can be the keys to entrepreneurial success.

3. Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age, by Mark W. Schaefer.

If you're looking to build your online platform or increase your current online presence, this is a good book for you. ‘Known' contains actionable advice gleaned from insightful stories pulled from a vast array of career fields; it is particularly good if you've recently left a corporate career and are trying to establish your identity away from your previous corporate life.

4. #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's take on leadership, social media, and self-awareness, by Gary Vaynerchuk.

I love this book with its straight-from-the-gut advice containing no fluff and equally no filter. Vaynerchuk tells it like it is… taking on marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, storytelling, company culture and more in an easy-to-read question and answer format (answering questions we've all asked or likely will ask at some point). Whether you're starting a business or have an ongoing business and you're looking for a few nuggets of ‘tell-it-like-it-is' advice from a successful entrepreneur, this very well may be the ‘all in one' business desk reference for which you've been looking! Bonus note – I very seldom say this, but I recommend both the print and audio versions of this book. The audio version is read by the author who goes off on a few good tangents that aren't in the print version. Secondly, the questions in the audio version are asked by noted personalities such as Dave Ramsey, Jack Welch, John Legend, Seth Godin and many others. The audio version is definitely educational and entertaining (fair warning: there's a bit of language… so it may not be appropriate around kids). As far as the print version, I like it because I can highlight, make notes, and it's easy to find a page I want to refer to later.

5. Captivate: The science of succeeding with people, by Vanessa Van Edwards.

I so needed this book decades ago & I still need it today. I've read many books on human behavior, body language, and other similar subjects. I like this particular title because of it's down to earth delivery and simple ‘take action' steps (and in full disclosure, because I'm not naturally comfortable in social situations). ‘Captivate' is a science-based manual on human behavior hacking with subjects like how to work a room, how to read facial expressions, and how to talk to anyone. It's an easy read as in it's not technical or filled with jargon, yet it is very informative. I particularly liked the sections on microexpressions and how to best work a room at an event. If you tend to struggle with social awkwardness, like I do, you'll like this book of actionable tips and suggestions.

6. Dynamic Communication: 27 strategies to grow, lead, and manage your business, by Jill Schiefelbein.

This is a fantastic book that covers business communication skills on many levels. It's in an easy to read format arranged to be easily accessed from any section (i.e. you don't have to read from Chapter 1 forward); it truly makes for an intelligent, easy to read reference when you need help navigating through a particular situation.

7. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it, by Chris Voss.

I've read books on negotiation before, and this might just be my favorite. It contains practical applications that can give you a competitive edge using stories from the author's time as an FBI negotiator weaved in as examples. And yes, the book is written for all aspects of negotiations from buying a car to negotiating salary, from buying a home to deliberating with your partner.

8. Disrupt You!: Master personal transformation, seize opportunity, and thrive in the era of endless innovation, by Jay Samit.

So you don't think anything can disrupt you or your current industry? That's what many people in the music industry thought as they struggled to keep control of the empires they created while a new form of music consumption disrupted the old school business structure. The same thing can happen to us as individuals. This book discusses how being adaptive and creative is crucial if we're to survive and thrive in our rapidly changing world. It will challenge you to think deeply about the value you offer and how you can use disruption to create opportunities and prosper.

9. Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.

The title of this book says it all; it's an insightful read containing personal stories and real-life experiences with examples ranging from West Point cadets to National Spelling Bee champions. While there may not be many secrets here, I frequently need to be reminded that hard work, focus and perseverance (or ‘Grit') really do pay off… even winning out over sheer talent alone. The key concept of this book is the reminder (or realization) that you haven't even come close to reaching your true potential.

10.  Killing Marketing: How innovative businesses are turning marketing cost into profit, by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose.

Over the past couple of decades the marketing world has changed, yet most marketing departments continue to operate the same as they always have. This book is a great assessment of the current state of marketing and provides some interesting examples of companies that are achieving better results from their marketing by creating a strategy that turns a profit and pays for itself. If you're looking to get updated or brush up on how marketing is changing in our current age, this book will certainly be enlightening.

There you have it, my top 10 books from 2017… any of which would be a great way to kick off your 2018 should you be in the market for your next good read!

If you have a book suggestion for me, or if you have your own top list of favorite books, please comment below.

Do you have an idea for a subject you want me to cover? Do you have a question you'd like me to answer? I'd love to help! Contact me at

3 Comments on “Tony’s Top 10 list of business reads for 2018 (that can make you appear smarter, richer and even a little more popular at parties).

Mark Schaefer
January 4, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Thank you for including me in your list Tony!

Tony De La Rosa
February 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Thank YOU Mark, for putting so much well-needed info into a single book, and for explaining it in a way that make it easy to understand and practical!


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