6 Books You HAVE to Read Before Starting Your Career

You will not be successful if you do not read these books.

6 Essential Books

  1. Mastery by Robert Greene
  2. Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  3. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack
  4. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  5. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  6. The School of Life by Alain de Botton

Essential Lessons From Each Book


By Robert Greene

  1. Read broadly. Read 100 books per year.
  2. Talk to a wide variety of people.
  3. Find your passion (Life's Task).
  4. Don’t rigidly follow a path. Your Life’s Task is a living, breathing organism.
  5. Develop one skill at a time. Keep training whenever you get time. Put in more hours than the competition to win. Time is the magic ingredient when mastering a skill.
  6. Practice deliberately. It takes 10k hours to master a skill. 10k hours can become 5k if you challenge yourself.
  7. The only real impediment is your emotions — boredom, panic, frustration, insecurity.
  8. We need to consume motivation and growth mindset content to overcome our emotions.
  9. Over time, what seems like pleasure comes to seem like a distraction. Real pleasure comes from overcoming challenges, feeling confidence in your abilities, gaining fluency in skills, and experiencing the power this brings.
  10. Know yourself. Study philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Read The School of Life by Alain de Botton. Do meditation, philosophical meditation, and therapy. Write an autobiography.
  11. Know others. Study human nature, power, and persuasion. Read The Laws of Human Nature, The 48 Laws of Power, and Robert Cialdini.
  12. Put yourself out there ASAP. Start a blog. Start YouTube. Start a business.
  13. Become a lifelong learner.
  14. Whenever you feel like you are settling in some circle, shake things up and look for new challenges.


By Jeffrey Pfeffer

  1. You have to play the “power game” and “office politics” or you lose by default.
  2. Source power strategies and tactics from everyone — even people you don’t like or respect.
  3. One of the best ways to acquire and maintain power is to construct a positive image and reputation, in part by coopting others to present you as successful and effective. Promote the people who can give you a promotion or raise as successful and effective.
  4. Watch those around you who are succeeding, those who are failing, and those who are just treading water. Figure out what’s different about them and what they are doing differently.
  5. Good performance does not necessarily mean you will succeed in your career. Poor performance does not necessarily mean you will fail in your career.
  6. Job performance matters less than your boss liking you. Your ‘boss’ is the person who can give you promotions and raises.
  7. You need to be noticed, influence the dimensions used to measure your accomplishments, and most importantly, make sure to enhance the ego of those above you.
  8. Fit in with company culture & mirror those above you.
  9. Help the people below you. Help new hires. These connections will be worth a lot in a decade.
  10. Get noticed. Do not assume that your boss knows or notices what you’re accomplishing. TELL THEM WHAT YOU’RE ACHIEVING. But only tell your boss—your peers will become jealous and envious if they hear.
  11. Stand out physically. Be extremely stylish.
  12. In many cases, being memorable = getting picked.
  13. In self-promotion, emphasize what you do well and ignore what you don’t do well. Define your performance criteria in a way that makes you look good.
  14. Figure out what really matters to your boss—it’s not always performance. Ego is a big one—boost your boss' ego. Be deferential, ask for advice, make your boss your mentor.
  15. Ask your boss what aspects of your job they think are most crucial and what they think you should be doing. Ask your boss for advice. Act on their advice and then tell them how their advice helped you.
  16. Asking is flattering. Ask for advice, a job, or a connection. Obama asked 1/3 of senators for advice when he got into the senate.
  17. When doing a cold ask, it’s best to emphasize the importance and accomplishments of those we ask and remind them of what we share in common.
  18. “Follow the money.”
  19. The way to build power if you have none: give people time and attention (network). Small things matter: attend birthday parties, funerals, visit them, go to lunch with them. Be polite. Genuinely listen.
  20. Everyone has to eat and exercise. Might as well do them with other people.
  21. An occasional note, email, lunch, text, or phone call keeps you at the front of people’s minds. Send a text every few months and genuinely ask how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do to help them.
  22. Not everyone is equally valuable for networking. Focus on connecting with people in your industry or people with huge potential.
  23. In networking, cast a broad net. Don’t develop close social ties. Just send them a text or call every few months. Casual acquaintances are just as likely as close friends to recommend you to a job.
  24. You must be able to act powerful, like an actor in a movie. “My chief trait in business is that I’m an actress.” — Atoosa Rubenstein

What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School

By Mark McCormack

  1. Analyze people’s egos. Most successful businessmen have huge egos. A huge ego is often representative of low self-esteem.
  2. Values matter much more than celebrity, position, or appearances.
  3. People put on a mask during formal business settings (like meetings). Pay closer attention to how they act before or after the meeting.
  4. Notice how people act when they are outside of their comfort zones.
  5. Notice how people act in casual situations. Notice how they treat a waiter or airline attendant. Get them into a casual setting: Ask them to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  6. Watch out for people who believe their own lies. They are delusional and cannot be trusted.
  7. Always introduce yourself with eye contact and your first and last name.
  8. Your clothes, correspondence, and introductions matter. These are what people use to judge you.
  9. The details matter. Ex) The alcoholic drink you choose says something about you.
  10. Even if you have something worth saying, if you express it in a tone or a manner that is a turn-off, it guarantees no one will listen.
  11. People will forgive all sorts of ‘out-of-character’ behavior in you if their overall lasting impression is a favorable one.
  12. Say you don’t know very much about a topic you know a lot about.
  13. You can use someone’s more harsh persona as a way to spin yourself as a victim. Ex) If they are from New York.
  14. Emails, letters, and correspondence need to be professional and have no typos.
  15. Personalize all of your business correspondence. Write a couple of sentences or paragraphs that refer to some personal interest of the recipient which has little or nothing to do with the subject of the letter. It is most important to do this with your first-ever letter to them.
  16. Business is about making personal friendships.
  17. Give out Christmas cards and gifts every year.
  18. The way you dress forms an immediate, strong impression about who you are. In general, it makes more sense to be dressed conservatively.
  19. Set yourself up to have a good impression. Ex) Schedule a call for 10 AM, then call at 10 AM sharp.
  20. The quickest way to make a lasting negative impression is to waste someone’s time: use it cavalierly, or take up more of it than you need.
  21. Always keep your promises.
  22. Connect people together. This is the best favor you can do.
  23. Humor is useful in business settings.
  24. Deeply understand the companies and people you are dealing with.
  25. As Gary Player once said, ‘The harder I practice, the luckier I get.’
  26. Don’t react to crisis. Take the time to analyze the situation and figure out your move.
  27. Be diplomatic. There is a right and a wrong way/time to say something.
  28. People who succeed in their careers have technical skills and people skills.
  29. The projects people take on which are not part of their day-to-day job description, which have not been assigned to them, are those projects for which people get the most credit and recognition.
  30. The vast majority of people working in your company have absolutely no idea what you do there – including your boss. Compare notes with your boss. What does he think you are doing here, and what do others think you are doing here?
  31. Continually redefine your job. Take on new tasks and constantly create new challenges for yourself. If you reach a goal (personally or corporately), that goal should immediately become a step in the learning process towards another more ambitious goal. This is how people grow in their jobs, and grow in importance to their company.
  32. If you’re bored it’s your fault. You just aren’t working hard enough at making your job interesting. It is also probably the reason you haven’t been offered anything better. Find out what you love to do and you will be successful at it.

The 48 Laws of Power

By Robert Greene

  1. Don’t talk too much. You'll expose yourself and miss the opportunity to learn about others.
  2. Take credit from people below you and give it to people above you.
  3. Pretend to be empathetic towards victimized groups.
  4. Recreate yourself. Don’t let society or your past define who you are now.
  5. Be bold.
  6. Frame your accomplishments as the final fruits of a mighty struggle that you only overcame because of hard work. Then motivate others to do the same hard work.
  7. Use stories and emotion to persuade, then use logic to close the deal.
  8. Look for contrasts. An overt trait often conceals its opposite. People who thump their chests are often cowards; a prudish exterior may hide promiscuity; the uptight are often screaming for adventure; the shy are dying for attention.

The Psychology of Money

By Morgan Housel

  1. Your personal experiences with money make up maybe 0.00000001% of what's happened in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. So equally smart people can disagree about how and why recessions happen, how you should invest your money, what you should prioritize, how much risk you should take, and so on.
  2. Not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.
  3. A plan is only useful if it can survive reality. And a future filled with unknowns is everyone’s reality.
  4. Doing something you love on a schedule you can't control can feel the same as doing something you hate.
  5. Sunk costs—anchoring decisions to past efforts that can't be refunded—are a devil in a world where people change over time. They make our future selves prisoners to our past, different, selves. It's the equivalent of a stranger making major life decisions for you.
  6. Bubbles form when the momentum of short-term returns attracts enough money that the makeup of investors shifts from mostly long term to mostly short term.
  7. Few things matter more with money than understanding your own time horizon and not being persuaded by the actions and behaviors of people playing different games than you are.
  8. Behavior is hard to fix. When people say they’ve learned their lesson they underestimate how much of their previous mistake was caused by emotions that will return when faced with the same circumstances.
  9. People believe what they’ve seen happen exponentially more than what they read about has happened to other people, if they read about other people at all. We’re all biased to our own personal history. Everyone. If you’ve lived through hyperinflation, or a 50% bear market, or were born to rich parents, or have been discriminated against, you both understand something that people who haven’t experienced those things never will, but you’ll also likely overestimate the prevalence of those things happening again, or happening to other people.
  10. Every investor is making a bet on the future. It’s only called speculation when you disagree with someone else’s bet or time horizon.

The School of Life

By Alain de Botton

  1. It is human nature to forget to do things – even important things. That's why we need to develop habits to help us achieve our goals.
  2. A degree of insanity is a part of human nature.
  3. Anxiety is normal. It is mostly a hugely reasonable and sensitive response to the genuine strangeness, terror, uncertainty and riskiness of existence.
  4. Psychotherapy is the best tool for understanding yourself. It is essential for finding and overcoming your weaknesses. And developing your strengths.
  5. Meditation is the second best tool for understanding yourself. Do Zen meditation and philosophical meditation.
  6. What we call depression is in fact sadness and anger that have for too long not been paid the attention they deserve.
  7. We should try to be more polite. Consider other people’s differences, understand the nuance to both sides of an argument, and realize that we can learn something from everyone.
  8. Paradoxically, interesting people are the best listeners, not the best speakers.
  9. Assume that people who are cold in the beginning are actually self-analytical and anxious. As you continue to talk, maybe after multiple encounters, they will warm up.
  10. You should act as a therapist when you talk to people. Get to the details. Find out their emotions.
  11. You need to have ambitious goals. You cannot just follow the rules. You cannot follow the common path and think it's safe.
  12. The biggest businesses in the world today meet the lower needs on Maslow's hierarchy. The biggest businesses of the future will meet the higher needs on Maslow's hierarchy.

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