I read A LOT of business books this year. Find out which ones are my favorite (the BEST business books) and which ones you can pass on.

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I read a total of 11 books this year. Not all of them would be classified as a business book, but they are at least tangentially related to my at some level.

I also listened to my first audio book through Audible and absolutely loved it. I think if I had read this particular book, it would have been a super dry read. In fact, the person who recommended it to me said it was dry as they read it and now they plan to “re-read” it by listening to the audio book.

This experience listening to a book on Audible) opened my eyes (and ears!) to the option of consuming certain books via audio rather than  purchasing a physical book. But here’s the thing — I like to underline and take notes when I read, so many times, I will prefer the experience of an actual book in hand. I know that it’s possible to use Audible to take notes. But for me, there’s just something about a pencil to paper that helps me to bridge the connection. But I digress…

stack of business books on a sofa with text overlay "A Must-Read List for Business Owners".

The Best Business Books I Read This Year

I’ll list all the books that I’ve read, if I recommend them, what I learned from them and a favorite quote, if I have one. I’ll save my top three for the end.

Vivid Vision 

I listened to Vivid Vision by Cameron Herold via Audible.

The biggest takeaway from this book for me can be summarized by this quote:

The role of a CEO is to create the vision, it’s the role of leadership to figure out how that comes. 

This book forced me to dream again.

I’ve always told myself I don’t set goals. This way I’m not disappointed if I don’t meet them. But there’s something to be said about having a dream. He likens it to building a house.
The timing for when I read the book could not have been more perfect, as it was right before my mastermind meetup in Nashville.

I told my fellow mastermind group members that I need to come up with my three year Vivid Vision and I asked them to help me dream. Their words spoken over me were so empowering.

The author of the book instructs you to write out your Vivid Vision somewhere other than your office. I went to a remote work space in Portland and with pen and paper, poured out my soul. It took me 3 hours, and a lot of coffee.

It was the most exciting thing I’ve done in my business to date.

Vivid Vision unlocked the ability for me to dream big. Highly recommend.


My favorite idea from Les McKeown’s Do/Scale book was the distinction between Organic growth vs. Exponential growth — scaling — maximizing share in the shortest time possible.

Scaling means a relentless primary focus on maximizing market share. Organic growth does not. Scaling is built on the mundane. It’s daily activity, hour-by-hour. Repeating the same boring mantra about having consistency and repeatability.

I Recommend.


The next book I read is Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. I really like this author. I’ve also read his book Profit First and actually apply a modified version of it in Simple Pin.

I only got through a portion of this book but I appreciated his takeaway–to book a four week vacation away from your business each year. I do take at least four weeks off from the biz, but spread it out mostly in the spring and summer.

I take a full week in March with my CEO ladies mastermind. Then in the summer, I typically take two weeks off (not back to back) in July where I’m totally unplugged.


Traction by Gino Wickman was recommended to me by a friend after they had implemented it into their business. It’s a bit of a dry read but the EOS method (Entrepreneurial Operating System) has helped to transform our business and give it structure.

Combined with Vivid Vision, we now have a three-year plan and implement quarterly “rocks” as part of our system to complete that three-year vision. In addition, we use the Traction meeting system for all of our meetings and have found that it works really well. You’ll have to tweak some of their methods if you’re a virtual company but overall it’s great for structure.

We’ve used the Traction People Analyzer system as a starting point to create our own Feedback Framework method of assessing team work performance. We believe feedback is good for coaching people into being great at their job.

How to Be a Great Boss

Written in the same vein as Traction, and also written by Gino Wickman, How to Be a Great Boss was just okay. I felt like it piggy backed on some of the traction methods on how to lead well.

Leadership is something that I do understand inherently, so much of the content felt like old hat to me. This book is part of a suite of books that all go together (Traction and Rocket Fuel).

I passed it onto my team director to read. It was memorable.

Building a Storybrand

by Donald Miller
I love the Donald Miller’s  Storybrand podcast. I read Donald Miller’s other work, Blue Like Jazz over 10 years ago before he transitioned into marketing. I really like him as a thought leader and business owner.

I got half way through his book, Building a Storybrand, and stopped as I felt like I had the gist of his message:

Be the guide not the hero to your customers. Let them shine instead of you.

That was an amazing mental shift for me in how I approached my writing, products and promotional material. He outlines in the book how to come up with your story marketing based on a how you write movies. It’s so good.

I Will Teach You to be Rich

(Not business but read it) by Remit Sethi
Remit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich is technically, this is not a business book. It was okay, not my favorite.

We really follow the Dave Ramsey plan. I read this book primarily because I wanted to see what he said about investing. Truth be told, I skimmed it really fast.

What I took away is we all have things we prioritize when it comes to spending money. Some people like to go out to eat so they will live in a place that is not as fancy in order to be able to afford the going out frequently. Other people will focus on their home and sacrifice going out to eat so that they can make their homes beautiful.

We save in one place in order to spend in another.

The Legacy Journey

As mentioned above, my family implements Dave Ramsey’s cash method and we follow the rule of no debt in the business as well. At SPM, we just completed our goal of saving up an emergency fund for the business. Dave Ramsey’s The Legacy Journey  focuses on how your work matters and that it’s part of your legacy, as well as giving.

Dave doesn’t like the term giving back, as it implies the money was someone else’s to begin with.

His message is:

Just give. That’s it. It’s your money and you are called to be generous with it to the places you are called to give. 

In addition, I love this quote:

If I matter to God, and if God’s given me something to do for forty hours a week, then that must mean my work matters to Him. — Dave Ramsey

He believes we should not compartmentalize work and life. They are all intertwined. This also forced me to think about having a legacy company where we give from that as well.

The Road Back to You 

The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile is about the Enneagram.

I’m a 3 subtype 1-1. Some call it Sexual, but I’ll just say I hate that term. I have a few friends at church who are 3’s so we have gotten together to talk about those struggles and how to move past them.

I’m married to an 8 and the book has helped us to understand one another more. I also understand the people who work for me. For example, my executive assistant is a 2. She wants to be so helpful all the time, which is great, but it’s not what makes me like her. Just as my performance is not what makes people like me.

I have learned as a 3 i have to constantly challenge myself to not worry about getting it right. I’ve learned that it’s okay to fail.

The Ideal Team Player

The Ideal Team Player (by Patrick Lencioni) is the BEST if you have a team. The best. I’ve also read his companion book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which will help you to realize that healthy conflict is good. Really good. We believe in feedback as the best way to grow.

This book proposes that there are three qualities of an ideal team player:

  • being humble
  • being hungry
  • being smart

It’s a fiction book that includes a section with practical assessments.

We have used these assessments to identify areas where team members can grow. It’s REALLY good.

stack of business books on a sofa.

The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You

The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You (by Lydia Fenet) was my favorite book of 2019.

I underlined this quote a total of 17 times:

The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is a woman who knows how to effectively communicate herself and her message to a group of people. She is a woman who leads by example and shows those around her that there is strength in numbers, in those who choose to lift others up to lead with her. It is a woman who sets a goal, articulates that goal, and follows through; who understands that leadership is about the human connection, about inspiring and connecting not only by herself but encouraging other people to do it as well. There is an unbelievable amount of strength in numbers, in groups, in support, in connection. Connect, engage, inspire, and lead. The most powerful woman in the room doesn’t need to have the loudest voice in the room because she has the conviction it takes to sell her vision. She doesn’t do it alone’ she doesn’t want to do it alone. She wants everyone to succeed as much as she wants to succeed. Strength in numbers. Power in numbers. But most importantly, power in leadership.

She also talks a lot about networking and the power of community. She invites you to Be a Joiner.

This is my #1 pick. It’s beyond powerful. I really want to interview Lydia Fenet on the podcast. If you are connected to her, please let me know!

That’s a wrap on my best business books for 2019. What books made YOUR list?

For Further Reading/Listening:


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