Oh, the magic of a great business book.

The classic trope of a hard-charging, inspirational, and insightful business book abounds, on the dusty shelves of now-empty corner cubicles, in the dark corners of dark libraries, and half-chewed in home-offices-turned-nurseries. Some of these business books are life-changing, others are pure drivel. So how do you know which ones are worth your precious time?

Well, in honor of Mandel Marketing founder Phillip Scott Mandel’s new business communication book, An MFA For Your MBA, we asked some of the experts across the globe, What’s your favorite business book, and why?

This is what we learned.

Great business books

  • Embrace Effective Habits with Covey
  • Netflix’s Culture of Reinvention
  • Ries’ Lean Startup Methodology
  • The Personal MBA: A Business Primer
  • Sandberg’s Empowerment for Women
  • Weinstein’s Niche Marketing Mastery
  • Keller’s Focus on the Crucial Task
  • Embracing Fear in Artmaking

Embrace Effective Habits with Covey

Hands down, it’s got to be The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) by Stephen Covey. This isn’t just a book; it’s like the Swiss Army knife of business tools tucked into my back pocket. Why? Because it’s real, it’s practical, and it’s like Covey is chatting with you over coffee, sharing secrets that transform not just your work, but your whole vibe.

Each habit Covey lays out is a game-changer. From being proactive (basically, grabbing life by the horns) to putting first things first (hello, productivity boost!), it’s all about shaping up to be the best version of yourself. And then there’s the biggie: “synergize.” It’s like, why compete when you can collaborate and create something epic?

I use these lessons daily. They’re not just theories; they’re actionable steps that have amped up my business game. It’s like having a mentor whispering in your ear, ‘You got this,’ guiding you to make moves that matter. So, yes, that’s my business bible. It’s all about getting effective, and it’s totally changed the game for me.

Will Hawkins, Owner, Digital Business

Netflix’s Culture of Reinvention

One of my favorite business books is No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention (2020). Netflix, as a company, has had to dramatically evolve throughout its history. This book is both a business and a management book that connects with people across industries because of its structure and the fact that Netflix has a polarizing reputation as a company.

The book has helped shape my management approach as I’ve implemented variations of several concepts from the book across my teams. At the center of this is the mentality of ‘information generals’ and the idea that everyone has chips in the game.

Having the opportunity to read about a company that has a controversial culture and has continued to evolve to meet the moment is always interesting. No Rules Rules delivered on its promise because of its access and the structure of providing multiple perspectives throughout the book.

Joe Frye, Account Group Director, Nonprofit & Cause, Town Hall Agency

Ries’ Lean Startup Methodology

My top choice is The Lean Startup (2011) by Eric Ries. People in the startup community really look up to this book. It’s like a must-follow guide for every entrepreneur. The book constantly pushes you to learn quickly and efficiently. Eric Ries, in his lean startup method, suggests creating a basic version of your product (Minimum Viable Product or MVP) and getting it out there for the initial users.

This book will change the way you think. Once you understand this method and start using it in your business or even in everyday life, you’ll see how useful it is. It’s great for building big, lasting businesses worldwide. There’s a lot you can get from this book, even if you’re not deeply into business. Whether you run a small store, make content, or have a side project, this book offers an approach that will be valuable for your whole life.

Craig Focht, Cofounder & CEO, All Pro Door Repair

The Personal MBA: A Business Primer

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business (2010) by Josh Kaufman is a book that really stands out for me. After years of intensive business networking, research, and hands-on experience, I stumbled upon this book and was amazed at how it encapsulated almost everything I had learned. Its value became clear to me precisely because of my prior experiences.

I’d recommend it to anyone, whether they’re launching a full-time or part-time business, or simply employed in a regular job. It covers a broad range of topics from business model fundamentals, and creating value, to marketing, sales, product development, personal mindset, team building, and automation. The book presents these concepts in a clear, concise, and actionable manner. It’s like a comprehensive Business 101 course, offering a great overview of essential business concepts.

Danilo Miranda, Managing Director, Presenteverso

Want something a little less “business-y” and a bit more literary? Check out our sister publication, the literary magazine Abandon Journal.

Sandberg’s Empowerment for Women

I am a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In (2013). It is one of my all-time favorite business books. It speaks to me so much about women’s workplace issues and how to overcome them and succeed in a male-dominated industry. As a woman entrepreneur in the beauty sector, I have faced many obstacles and prejudices. Sandberg’s book gives me a lot of practical tips and ideas on how to overcome them. “Lean In” inspires women to be ambitious and confident in their careers.

Sandberg’s focus on mentoring, networking, and self-advocacy resonates with me because they resonate with my experiences and beliefs. Her ideas about building strong communities and promoting diversity and inclusion in organizations align with the values we stand for at Perfect Locks. Overall, Lean In isn’t just a business book. It’s a woman’s journey to pursue her career goals unapologetically. Sandberg’s words remind us that we can break glass ceilings, challenge social norms, and make a difference in the workplace. As CEO of Perfect Locks, I’m a big fan of this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking to navigate the ever-changing business world while remaining true to their values.

Priyanka Swamy, CEO, Perfect Locks

Weinstein’s Niche Marketing Mastery

One of my favorites is Handbook of Niche Marketing: Principles and Practice (2006) by Art Weinstein. This guide offers practical principles and real-world examples that exemplify the intricacies of targeting specialized markets. It is unique in that it offers a new perspective that challenges conventional marketing wisdom by putting emphasis on understanding and capitalizing on niche opportunities. Through its thorough examination of niche marketing practices, this book equips readers with the knowledge and strategies needed to carve out a distinct competitive advantage in today’s crowded marketplace.

Matias Rodsevich, Founder, PRHive

Read more about marketing in our blog. We write about it. A lot.

Keller’s Focus on the Crucial Task

One of the business books I really enjoy is The One Thing (2012) by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s all about practical tips on organizing your day and prioritizing tasks to get the most done. The key idea is focusing on that one crucial task that moves you closer to your goal instead of spreading yourself thin across many tasks.

Diane Howard, RN and Founder, Esthetic Finesse

Embrace The Fear In Your Artistic Side

Here’s a bonus recommendation from Phillip Scott Mandel himself: Art & Fear (1985) by David Bayles and Ted Orlando. This book was an inspiration for An MFA For Your MBA, because it talks honestly about the fear of being an artist. The subtitle of the book, “On the perils (and rewards) of artmaking” tells you what you need to know: that, like starting a business, making art is scary, difficult, punishing, and incredibly rewarding.

So, what’s your favorite business book?