With 2020 mercifully coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the non-fiction books that I have read this year. With two small children in our home, there is not a lot of uninterrupted free time to focus on a book. Consequently, most of my reading has shifted over to audiobooks through Audible. I devote my morning and afternoon commute to listening to audiobooks, which gives me about 45 minutes of listening time each day. While my consumption method has changed, I am still a big believer in the value of reading and continuing education. I try to read two non-fiction books each month and encourage you to do the same.

Here are some of the non-fiction books I have read this year (in no particular order):

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – Written by the founder of Nike, this book tells the story of the history of the Nike brand and the challenges that the company faced during its early years. The lesson that I take away from this book is that building a large successful company requires decades of hard work, commitment, and grit.
  • Startup Communities by Brad Adele – This book discusses what cities can do to build a vibrant startup community in their area. Based on successes that communities like Boulder and Boston have, it highlights what types of leaders are needed, what works and what doesn’t.
  • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma – This is one of the most unique business books that I have ever read. It teaches principles you might find in other non-fiction books using a narrative story of a group of business leaders that go on a retreat. This is the type of book that you will either love or hate given its unusual structure and surprise ending.
  • Crushing it in Apartments and Commercial Real Estate by Brian Murray – Having recently made some commercial real estate investments, I have been trying to learn more about commercial real estate investing at every opportunity. This book tells the story how Brian Murray built a portfolio of commercial real estate investments and provides practical advice on all aspects of real estate investing.
  • What it Takes by Stephen Schwarzman. Written by the founder of the Blackstone Private Equity Group, What it Takes tells the hard-earned business lessons that Stephen Schwarzman picked up during his decades in business.
  • Gaining by Losing by JD Greer. This is a book for Christians about what a church’s priorities should be. Greer argues that churches should be focused on sending believers out into the world as missionaries and not on growing church attendance.
  • Ready Fire Aim by Michael Masterson– Written by one of the principals of Agora, this is a must read for anyone in the financial publishing industry. This book was uniquely helpful to MarketBeat as many of our advertisers are financial newsletter publishers.
  • Tribes by Seth Godin – Despite being a long-time best seller, I had not gotten around to reading Tribes until 2020. I was encouraged by Seth Godin’s thoughts around building communities based on identity, which I have tried to incorporate into MarketBeat and Startup Sioux Falls.
  • Fix This Next by Michael Michalowicz – I was a big fan of Michalowicz’s previous works including Profit First and Clockwork, but didn’t find anything that new or unique in this book about setting business priorities that hasn’t been said before.
  • Turn The Ship Around by L. David Marquet – This is one of many books in the newer category of military leadership books. It tells the story of Marquet’s command of a naval submarine and how he turned around the crew to help the submarine reach peak efficiency. It was a fun and quick read, but not especially applicable in business situations.
  • Changing the Channel by Michael Masterson – While this book is a bit dated, it provides a good primer on multi-channel marketing. How do you seamlessly run a marketing campaign that uses your website, email, direct mail, SMS and social media? Masterson has some thoughts about planning and tracking multi-channel marketing campaigns that many marketers would find useful.
  • The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey – This book is written for financially successful people that have completed Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. I have read it before a few years back and thought it would be worth reading again. I don’t agree with all of Dave Ramsey’s cookie-cutter financial advice, but there’s something good that can be taken out of all of his books including this one.
  • The Index Card by Harrold Pollack and Helaine Olen – This book is an attempt to simplify personal finance advice down to an index card. It has some good basic financial advice, but doesn’t contain any groundbreaking information.
  • Traffic Secrets by Russel Brunson – Written by the founder of ClickFunnels, this book provides introductory-level strategies of how to get people to visit your website.
  • Overdeliver by Brian Kurtz – Written by a direct marketing legend, this book packs a ton of lessons about marketing and business building into less than 300 pages.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear – This book is about how small habits compound into big life change over time. I read it after seeing it on my friend John Meyer’s reading list. The book can be summed up into the phrase “Every small action you take is a vote on who you want the future you to be.” I highly recommend it.

What non-fiction books have you read this year? Let me know in the comments below.

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