15 Books that Will Change Your Life and Business

January 19, 2015


Lukas & Suzy VanDyke

The past four years have been nothing but magical for my wife Suzy and I. In addition to shooting forty weddings every year, we also opened The McGee House wedding venue in Kentucky, and started the Chasing Lockets client gifting service, all while still sleeping at least nine hours a night. Much of that success I attribute to the books we've read.

After college I was so tired of reading boring textbooks that I had regulated my reading habits down to a diet of fiction, a few biographies and Christian literature. Then one day a friend recommended I read “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. I had never considered reading business books before, and the book was so insightful that it opened up a whole new world to me! Since then I've read well over 50 business books. I recently narrowed all those down to a list of the 15 that were most life changing for me and my businesses.

  1. How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
 – I actually read this one when I was seventeen and have read it every year since. A MUST read for maintaining relationships and resolving conflict if you're going to interact with people in your life on any level (that's everyone).
  2. The E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
 – This is about why most small business fail, and how to avoid it. It's goes over how you need to create systems and structure to succeed. The book takes you through a story that starts on page one and doesn't fully make sense till the last page. A lot of people read the first half of this book, don't finish it, and miss the whole point. So commit to finish this one.
  3. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
 – Keith goes over how to meet the people who will help you be successful and how to create real relationships that are mutually beneficial. I have this book to thank for some of my sweetest and dearest friends today.
  4. The Fine Art of Small Talk by Deborah Fine 
- If you're an introvert like me, parties, events, or weddings can be super draining and awkward to be at. The principles in here made events so much easier for me, and actually made me excited to meet new people! The page on suggested conversation starters is genius.
  5. Getting Things Done by David Allen — I know a lot of people to have read this book, but very few who applied it. The few who have applied it seem to have a lot of time and energy, the ones who haven't live in a life of chaos. It goes over how to organize your entire life. The one thing about this book is it's all or nothing. You need to put everything he says into effect, or don't even bother reading it.
  6. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
 – This is a fantastic perspective on ways to earn money. This changed all of our ten-year plans and got us thinking of how to make money without working as much. The one caveat is I would only read this book if you're debt free. If you have debt I would start with Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover to get out of debt. I would then follow Rich Dad Poor Dad up with Kiyosaki's other book The Cash Flow Quadrant.
  7. The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris — This book is genius in so many ways. It has a 1000 great tips on how to save time, outsource, and make money without working. A lot of what he says is unethical, so I always recommend this book with some reserve. But the good is so helpful it's worth slushing though the bad. This book gave us the idea to start our client gifting service.
  8. Rework by Jason Fried & David Hansson — Much of this book is common sense things when building a business. But reading the short succinct chapters made me realize the huge benefits of being small. You can make decisions fast, you can launch a half finished website, you can make mistakes and correct them quickly, and you don't have a board of directors. It was a giant encouragement to help me keep things moving fast.
  9. Tribes by Seth Goden — This is a concept you really need to fully understand in the modern world of marketing. Cheaper and better doesn't sell things anymore, loyal followers do.
  10. The Purple Cow by Seth Goden
 – Another concept to embrace is how to make something incredible. A good follow up to this book is the book about Starbucks called Onward.
  11. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Goden — Fantstic book talks about how it's pretty rare you will be able to change someones worldview, so an easier way to market is tell a story about your product, and tell the story to a group of people who already embrace the worldview in your story. It sounds complex, but the book explains it well.
Love is the Killer App by Sanders 
- Loving and serving people seems to be a simple concept. But I'm constantly amazed by how many people create enemies where they could be building friendships. This is a fantastic book on how loving and sharing helps everyone. I have 100 stories I could tell from our life to prove this concept.
  13. Good to Great by Jim Collins
 – Key features of why some companies have gone from average to amazing. These features apply to a single person just as well as they apply to a billion dollar company. This book is researched base, so there are a lot of words. But the succinct concepts you pull from it are super valuable.
  14. Built to Last by Jim Collins — Many of the business' that went from good to great in the first book eventually failed. The second book talks about the concepts you need to embrace to keep things going once you've built something great. This is also a huge research book, but every page is fascinating.
  15. Influence by Robert Cialdini — We are influenced so easily in so many ways. This is the best book I have read explaining the psychology behind each way. It explains how to use the powers of influence on others, and your ethical obligations behind using those powers, followed by ways to resist the powers of influence when others attempt to use them on you. Fascinating and helpful!

Originally I tried to list these books in value of importance. But each person is at a different place in their business and personal growth. So I would just pick one that sounds interesting and go for it. If you don't like reading, most are available in audio format as well. Happy reading!


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