25 Books Every Business Leader Needs to Read Now

25 must read books

Whether you work in marketing, sales, support, product, etc., if you want to become a master of your craft and a leader in your field, here’s my best advice for getting an edge:

Read books.  

Sure, it sounds simple. And obvious. But at the same time, not a lot of people are actually putting in the time and doing it.

Our own VP of Marketing, Dave Gerhardt, admitted that when he first joined Drift, he had maybe read 10 books in his entire life up until that point.

In the past two years alone, he’s read more than 100.

☝ That’s what happens when you start working at Drift. And that’s because, at Drift, we make reading a priority.

In addition to keeping the shelves in our offices stocked with amazing books that employees can take home and read, we dedicate a significant portion of our podcast, Seeking Wisdom, to sharing what we learn from books and making book recommendations.

Over the past year, I’ve recommended dozens of books — some old, some new — that have helped me improve both as a business leader and as a person. So I thought I’d take a look back in the Seeking Wisdom archives and put together a list of the best of the best. Here are the 25 books I ended up with:

Ode to Legendary Management Consultant Peter Drucker

In January of 2018, we dedicated an entire episode of Seeking Wisdom (episode #109) to legendary management consultant and author Peter Drucker. If your goal is to become a better manager, there’s no better book out there than Drucker’s The Effective Executive, which is full of timeless management lessons. Drucker’s book Managing Oneself, meanwhile, is the perfect read for anyone, regardless of role, who wants to take charge of their career and grow as an individual.

1) The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
2) Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

The Key to Creating Great Customer Experiences? Looking Outside Your Industry.

Want to create the most stellar experience possible for your customers? For all of you who work in the SaaS and B2B worlds, here’s some advice: Look outside of your own industry for inspiration. That was the biggest takeaway from episode #98 of Seeking Wisdom, in which we interviewed Drift’s VP of Customer Success, Julie Hogan. During the episode, we talked about the three books listed below, which are must-reads for founders and for anyone looking to improve the quality of the customer experience they’re providing.

3) Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service by Ari Weinzweig
4) Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
5) The New Gold Standard by Joseph A. Michelli

Be Customer Obsessed: Lessons from Three Retail Kings

To be fair, I’ve recommended Sam Walton’s book, Made in America, which is about the rise of Walmart, in multiple Seeking Wisdom episodes. But in episode #120 in particular, I talked about this book alongside two others that contain similar themes: The Everything Store, which explores the rise of Amazon, and Built From Scratch, which explores the rise of The Home Depot. While these three books are set in the world of retail and have nothing to do with B2B sales & marketing, I still find myself coming back to them for inspiration. And that’s because the core lesson you learn from all three of these books — the importance of being customer-obsessed — is universal.

6) Made in America by Sam Walton
7) The Everything Store by Brad Stone
8) Built From Scratch by Arthur Blank, Bernard Marcus and Bob Andelman

Essential Reading at Drift (And For Anyone Looking to Master Branding & Marketing)

What do the 10 books listed below have in common? As I explained in episode #122 of Seeking Wisdom, these are all books that we keep in the lobby of our Drift headquarters in Boston. More specifically, they are all books that have been instrumental in helping us build our brand and that have left an imprint on Drift’s DNA. We consider them essential reading for all Drift employees, and for anyone who wants to understand branding and marketing. Of course, looking at the list below, you might not consider Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk to be the best people to learn about marketing from, but trust me: after reading their stories, you’ll change your mind.

9) Radical Candor by Kim Scott
10) The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
11) Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler
12) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
13) Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
14) Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
15) What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
16) Principles by Ray Dalio
17) Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy
18) Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

Our Favorite Books From Summer 2018

In August of 2018, Dave and I dedicated an episode of Seeking Wisdom (episode #126) to recapping some of our favorite books that we’d read over the summer. As you can see from the list below, not all of these fall neatly into the “business book” bucket. One of the standouts from my summer reading list: They Call Me Supermensch by Shep Gordon. It’s the memoir of a rock-and-roll manager who also happens to be a PR genius, which makes it a particularly insightful read for marketing and PR teams.

19) The Tao of Charlie Munger by David Clark
20) High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil
21) They Call Me Supermensch by Shep Gordon
22) The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
23) The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
24) The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle

The One Book Every Business Should Know Cold

In episode #118 of Seeking Wisdom, we dubbed Influence by psychology professor Robert Cialdini “the one book every business should know cold.” It sits up there with The Effective Executive and Made in America as one of the best business books of all-time. Why? Because inside, you’ll learn about Cialdini’s six principles of influence — reciprocity, social proof, commitment, authority, scarcity, and liking — which explain why buyers (and people in general) behave the way they do.

25) Influence by Robert Cialdini

And Our Very Own Book

*I had to add this bonus book to the list because if you’ve been listening to Seeking Wisdom lately, you’ve probably heard us mention it. In 2019, our book Conversational Marketing will be hitting shelves. This will be the definitive guide to adapting your marketing & sales strategy for today’s customers, who prefer to buy and have their questions answered NOW, not later.

26*) Conversational Marketing by David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt

Conversational Marketing Book

Learn more about Conversational Marketing and how to reserve your copy here.