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LaNella Hooper-Williams

Personal Branding Tips and Tools for An Authentically Empowered Career

10 Books that Transformed My Thinking

February 6, 2020

Ever since I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to finish my schoolwork so I could curl up with a great book.  I loved escaping to the fictional stories in a Danielle Steele or Harold Robbin’s novel.  At the end of the school year, my favorite trip was to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to check out several books to read during my summer vacation.

As an adult, I often have a few books going at the same time. I’m usually reading a business book, a fiction one on my iPad for my book club, and a self-development book. On a nightly basis, I set the timer on my phone and commit to 45 minutes to one hour of reading time. And depending on how interesting the book is, I might read even longer. The timer also helps me avoid getting caught up watching television all evening.

Like many of you, I value learning something new. It’s been said that investing in yourself is better than investing in a job! The reality is—knowledge is power!

This week, I thought it would be great to share some of the business and personal development books that have transformed my thinking and changed my life. I read most of the books years ago, but others are more recent adds.

  1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – Covey believes the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – One of my all-time favorite books. This classic was written in 1937 and is just as relevant today. While the book’s title and much of the writing concerns increasing income, Hill insists that with the right mindset, people succeed in any line of work they do and can be anything they can imagine. Desire is the turning point of all achievement. 
  3. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates – Quite frankly, when someone chose this book for our reading club, I didn’t think I was going to like it. However,Gates talks about the women who have inspired her, starting with her mother and other colleagues. She also emphasized how empowering women lifts up everyone—especially in third world countries, as well as the United States. When we lift up women, we lift up humanity. 
  4. Start with Why by Simon Sinek – I had the pleasure of hearing Simon Sinek speak at a conference shortly after his book was published. According to Sinek, the guiding principle of our endeavors should be based not on what we do or how we do it, but rather on why we do it. The book focuses on why some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential and more profitable than others.
  5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – The focus of the book is on what the rich teach their kids about money that the poor and middle class do not! Kiyosaki tells the story about growing up with two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend who happened to be rich and the ways each Dad shaped his thoughts about money and investing.
  6. Becoming by Michelle Obama – From the moment I began reading this book, I felt like Michelle Obama and I had grown up together. Although I won’t be serving as first lady, we certainly had a lot of experiences in common. Her story was deeply personal and intimate and certainly showed her vulnerabilities as an African American female growing up in the inner city. When I met her last summer in Martha’s Vineyard, I was as comfortable talking with her as with a girlfriend.
  7. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. –  This is a short, insightful, simple parable that reveals profound truths.  I finished it on a plane returning from Dallas Texas to Newark, NJ a few years ago. It is the amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example, a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. It also focuses on how people deal with change
  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie –A classic that breaks down the fundamentals of how humans interact, what it takes to make people like you, and how to handle people in various situations and bring them to your way of thinking.
  9. The Miracle of Mind Power by Dan Custer – In print since 1960, this is an astounding work. The fundamental philosophy is about using one’s own inherent mental and spiritual power to change one’s life.  It covers just about every topic in life.  I lent my copy to my niece last year and she loved it so much that she bought copies for several friends.  I even bought her a copy for Christmas, and I still haven’t gotten my copy back!
  10. The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn – This book is about customer service and going the extra mile in whatever you do.  It features a postal worker who didn’t just deliver mail but made it his business to know everything about the customers he served. 

Which books have influenced you the most?  Share in the comments section below so we can all benefit.

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