50+ Personal Development Books for Creative Business Owners
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About this list
Below you will find my master list of personal development books for creative business owners, broken down by category. I have personally read every one of them, at least once.
What makes it different
It is live! I am constantly, and rapidly picking up new reads. As I consume and find value, I will add new books to this list. I’ll send an email out to alert new email subscribers whenever this post is updated.
I’ve been an Audible member for over three years now and it has been the method in which I’ve consumed most of the books on this list. If I found the listening experience to be particularly enjoyable, you’ll find a notation under the book cover.
To try out Audible for free, for 30 days (plus download two free books), click here.
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Books to Help You with Creativity
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s easy to get swept up into the frustrating aspects of being an artist. In this book, Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us of the joys of being a creative, and how we can use those gifts to not only fuel our work but overcome challenging life situations. As someone who is a bit “woo woo,” I was delighted to find the book sprinkled with personal stories from the author which fueled the notion that whatever you wish for can surely come to be. Almost like magic. ????
Joyful, by Ingrid Fetell Lee
I first thought that I was doing myself a disservice by listening to the audio version of a book on the subject of visuals, yet quickly changed my tune as I was swept under the spell of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s gorgeously, descriptive writing. Her book explores how small tweaks in our surroundings can have a profound impact on the way that we experience life. Warning: this book will leave you pining to redecorate your home, if not the world.
UnThink, by Erik Wahl
It’s so funny how books find their way into our lives. After a last minute decision to go out for a fancier dinner on a random weeknight, I overheard our server recommending this book to a diner at another table, and I practically rushed home to add it to my Kindle. As someone who can be kind of uptight about my creativity (for years I deemed myself a “left-brained creative”), this book challenged me to unleash the true artist within me, without fear, or judgment. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is currently feeling like they are in a creative rut.
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
Some books are just meant to be savored, and this one fits the bill (see what I did there?). As I began my journey in writing my first book (currently in progress), Bird by Bird kept showing up on all of the lists on “books about writing.” While it didn’t provide me with the step-by-step instructions on setting up my word document, as I had hoped, it gave me what I needed: assurance that the art of writing (and really any creative endeavor) is one without clear guidelines. Through her hilarious stories and engaging language, Anne Lamott will leave you feeling comforted and encouraged to take on your next project.
Books to Help You Make More Money
You are a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero
After reading, Jen Sincero’s first book, You are a Badass (also on this list), I became a fangirl for life and wasted no time getting my hands on this one. To be honest I wasn’t even really looking for money advice, just another chance to “hang out” with Jen, through her relatable and hilarious outlook on attaining everything that you want in life. While this book won’t teach you how to balance your checkbook, you’ll learn something even more valuable: how to let go of all of your negative beliefs about money so that you can start attracting and accepting all that you desire into your life.
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, by Denise Duffield-Thomas
Much like how I felt after consuming Jen Sincero’s books, I felt like I wanted to be Denise Duffield-Thomas’s friend, after listening to just the first chapter of her audiobook. With her sweet Aussie accent and chill demeanor, she truly transformed the way I looked at money. I’m not a “math person” and numbers always felt like a necessary evil to me. At the completion of this book, I came to understand that finances could actually be fun, once you learned how to look at them in the right way.
The Abundance Book, by John Randolph Price
This book is definitely not for everyone but can profoundly impact those who are open to the ideas presented by John Randolph Price. After deeming 2019 “my year of abundance,” I picked up this book on the recommendation of one of my mentors, James Wedmore. It is one part book, one part exercise, which lasts forty consecutive days. I have to admit that I didn’t fully feel like I was grasping the concepts or even believing the message to be entirely true, but I powered through the forty-day exercise anyway. In the end, I felt that my mindset around abundance had truly changed for the better, inviting more of what I wanted into my life.
Smart Women Finish Rich, by David Bach
I first picked up this book in 2006, just after I had graduated college and had begun my foray into the working world, armed with a meager salary and a 401K that seemed inconsequential at the time. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a middle-class home, where most of my needs were met, but my dad was the guy who worried about the finances. I really had no idea how any of it worked, or what I would need to do to accumulate the wealth that I knew I wanted for myself. Through this book (and several others that David Bach has written), I became educated and empowered on how to grow wealth, simply by making smart decisions that would greatly impact my future. Many of the books listed in this section will prepare you for the mindset needed to generate and attract the money that you want. Smart Women Finish Rich will be the one to give you the tactics on how to make it all happen.
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
Written in 1937, this book’s concepts have stood the test of time, making it one of the most popular books on generating wealth and abundance. If you can get past some of the old-timey references (which I actually find to be delightful and entertaining), you will find all of the instructions that you need in this book to find success. Yes, it is about generating more money, but also about developing into the best version of you (my favorite kind of book).
Dollars Flow to Me Easily, by Richard Dotts
A tiny book with a big impact. If you grew up learning the old adage, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” you’ll soon find a new perspective on where money actually does grow, and how you can get your hands on more of it. Be open as you read, even if it means that challenging your old beliefs means feeling a little bit uncomfortable. It will be worth it to attain the wealth that you desire.
Books to help you become more confident
You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
This book is the winner. The first one I jump to recommend. The one I’ve listened to countless times. The one that leaves me repeatedly asking, “why didn’t anyone tell me this!?” If you haven’t read this book yet, please make it a priority. It has truly and radically changed my life and the way I view the world.
Quiet, by Susan Cain
The first time I watched the author’s TED Talk, I practically cried. Susan Cain has made it her mission to empower introverts and has in turn, inspired me to do the same. Through thoughtful research and powerful statistics this book celebrates the quieter types and paves the way for us to find success in our noisy world.
The Power of Self-Confidence, by Brian Tracy
A lack of confidence is something that holds too many people back from going after and achieving the things that they desire. This book gives you practical strategies to help you mentally condition yourself to think and act, without hesitation. I enjoyed it so much, that I encouraged my sister to pick up a copy, which she went on to do. We still joke that she couldn’t find the confidence to read the book on the subway. If you can relate to this, get yourself the audio version, or one of those false front book disguises.
The Alter Ego Effect, by Todd Herman
In reading this book, I found it so fun (and somewhat relieving) to learn that a method that I had been secretly practicing was actually a proven success strategy. After years of experience in working with high-class performers (athletes, business leaders, and artists), Todd Herman shares the methodology that he has been using to help his clients reach the next level: adopting personas. It’s not a traditional approach, but it’s one that doesn’t cost anything, and personally, one that I find very fun and effective to implement. If you are looking to go after bigger goals that feel out of reach, pick up this book, and try Todd’s method. You’ll find that there’s a part of you that is more capable than you imagined.
Books to help you develop the right mindset for success
The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, by Joseph Murphy
After You Are a Badass (above) got me interested in the subconscious mind, I began grabbing every book I could on this topic. This one caught my eye because it is a classic, but also because it is read by the same narrator as The Magic of Thinking Big (below), who I have an affinity for. I liked that this book struck a great balance between feeling a little woo-woo, but then went on to back it all up with science. If you’re someone who needs the proof that all of this positive thinking will actually work, this book will be the one to convince you.
The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks
This book was a wakeup call, as it introduced me to a concept that I had not been aware: self-limiting beliefs. In reading it, you’ll learn to identify yours, along with realizing that you (we all) have what author Gay Hendricks calls “an upper limit problem.” Even though it’s not my favorite from an entertainment standpoint, it is worth reading a few times to ensure that these powerful concepts have really sunk in.
The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz
I’m going to try to be objective here but I ADORE this book and have read it at least once a year since first discovering it. Like classics Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People, this book was written in another era, but its concepts have stood the test of time (which to me, means they are ones worth following). It is a book that will challenge your thinking, change your mindset and encourage you to go after more of what you want. If you’re an old soul, like I am, you will find the audio version to be particularly charming. Especially every time the word “fellow” is dropped.
Be Obsessed or Be Average, by Grant Cardone
Otherwise, read, go big or go home. If you want to live small, safe, and to forever stay in your comfort zone, do not pick up this book. The photo of author Grant Cardone, perched atop his private jet, which appears on the cover, sets the tone for what you can expect from the pages inside. While his personality is so different from mine, I found this book, and Grant’s energy to be downright infectious. Even if you only take one ounce of his advice, your life and business will surely change for the better.
The School of Greatness, by Lewis Howes
I would have never expected to connect so deeply with a former elite athlete, but this book reminded me that entrepreneurship is a mold that fits all types of people. While it was not a role that author Lewis Howes ever thought he would step into, it became one that he owned. You’ll be so inspired by the story of how he used the principles that were already a part of him, from his time as an athlete, to build an online empire.
The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday
Wait, what? Problems are a good thing? Through many examples and rich historical accounts, author Ryan Holiday managed to leave me feeling inspired and ready to take on any challenge that came my way, armed with the knowledge that they would change me for the better. In adopting the concepts from this book and putting them into action, you’ll undoubtedly emerge with a competitive edge.
The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss
Don’t let the title of this book deceive you. If you are someone who literally aims to work four hours a week, you can certainly make that happen, but what Tim Ferriss really teaches you is how to hack life and make it work best for you, no matter your lifestyle. With equal parts inspiring stories and tactical advice, this book will transform you into a person who looks for creative solutions, rather than continuing to accept things for how they are.
You Are a Badass Every Day, by Jen Sincero
I was practically doing cartwheels when this book was released, because, as you may have noticed from this list, I am a Jen Sincero fangirl. Unlike her other two books, this one is very short and was designed to be a pick-me-up rather than a full-on self-help session. I recommend keeping this one on your nightstand or downloaded on your phone so that you can use it to snap you out of a bad moment and be reminded that you are an awesome person with unlimited potential.
Books to help you market your products and services
This is Marketing, by Seth Godin
Marketing has never come naturally to me, that is until I read this book. Through relatable examples, genius Seth Godin so articulately explains the psychology behind buying and offers smart solutions for marketing just about anything. A must-have for your bookshelf.
Traction, by Gino Wickman
I made the unfortunate mistake of listening to this book in audio form. The quality was great, but there were so many takeaways from this book that I couldn’t scribble them down quickly enough. I also want to give the disclaimer that after reading this, I wanted to tear my business down to the studs and build it back up again. If you are just getting started, you’ll find this book to be an invaluable resource, as it teaches you how to craft a business that is positioned for success.
Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuk
I’ve gifted this book to people in my life more than any other on my list. It also holds the honor of being the book that launched my online business. I’ve probably romanticized it at this point, but this book opens your eyes to the incredible opportunity that we have been given to operating our businesses in an online world. It’s also no secret that reading this book, over ten years ago, has made me a Gary Vee fangirl for life. You’ll find every book he’s written on this list.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk
Crush It teaches you how to reach massive audiences through internet marketing. This book hones in on social media tactics and audience building. When you grasp the concept described in the title, it’ll forever change the way you show up, serve, and sell.
The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is the lesser known title in the Gary Vee library, but I consider it to be a hidden gem. Even though Gary is very future-focused, he’s smart enough to understand that human behavior doesn’t change. In this book, we learn how looking into the past can help us to best serve in today’s world.
Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller
After listening to countless episodes of the podcast of the same name, I didn’t think twice about using one of my Audible credits to purchase this. In consistent form, Donald Miller delivers solutions and tactics to better communicate with our audiences through the vehicle of storytelling— an imperative skill for anyone who wants to make more sales, and connections.
Will it Fly? by Pat Flynn
I found so much comfort in reading this book, not just because I adore Pat Flynn, but because I was just coming off of a “failed” launch. This book showed me how things could have gone differently if I had only taken the time to test my idea before assuming that it would be a success. In this easy-to-follow guide, Pat gives you the framework to ensure that your next product or service launch won’t be a dud.
Ask, by Ryan Levesque
A great companion to Will it Fly, this book is more of a resource than a story. For that reason, I’d definitely recommend a paper or Kindle version, rather than listening on an Audiobook. Survey expert Ryan Levesque shares all of his knowledge on this greatly underused tactic, of asking your audience what they want, so that you can ensure that you are delivering (and in turn, ensuring the success of your business). You’ll definitely want to have a pen and notebook handy for this one!
The 10X Rule, by Grant Cardone
You can’t help be motivated by Grant Cardone’s success story and larger than life delivery. You’ll either love him or hate him, especially if you choose to listen to the audio version. Spoiler alert: I’m a huge fan and you’ll find another of Grant’s book above. If you want to make a massive impact on our world or if you want to live your life at a higher level, this book will offer insights on how to make it all happen.
Books to help you be more productive
Procrastinate on Purpose, by Rory Vaden
Did that title catch your eye the way it did for me? This book is brimming over with simple but smart productivity techniques and is written in a very easy to follow manner. I was especially intrigued and challenged by his concept of “multipliers.” I’m confident that after reading this book you will feel more empowered to use the time that you have in a far more efficient way.
The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy
If you’ve ever wondered how some people seem to get far more done than others, you are likely to find your answer in this book. It will teach you to make smarter decisions and create momentum, leading to massive shifts in your business and life. It has been awhile since I’ve read this but I plan on revisiting it sometime soon because I remember how empowered I felt after reading it!
Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy
This book is an easy-to-read and easy-to-follow book in adopting more productive habits. Of all the books in this section, I’d deem this one to have the most tactical instructions, although it is also filled with wisdom and mindset messaging from author, and personal development guru, Brian Tracy.
The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst
This book came highly recommended by my dear friend and mastermind partner, Kalyn Brooke, as the topic was one that both of us have been battling forever: indecision. While I didn’t necessarily connect with the author in ways that I have with some of the other books on this list, Lysa TerKeurst has a lot to wisdom to share on this topic, and reading The Best Yes absolutely changed the way that I view and make decisions (for the better)!
The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller
It turns out that we are doing far more than we need to. No wonder we always feel like there is never enough time! This book radically changed the way that I approach my work, teaching me to focus on the things that matter most so that I could start making the progress I had always been wanting to make. I’ve recommended this book to every one of my students, and it’s likely that you’ve seen me mention it on social media and in webinars as well.
Essentialism, by Greg McKeown
How ironic that there are two books that are equally so valuable on the topic of honing in on a singular focus. I would describe Essentialism in the same way I just did The ONE Thing (above). They are really so similar that I have a hard time distinguishing the differences in my memory. I am so passionate about this topic that I recommend reading both, as one author’s style may be more appealing to you than another. Greg is British if that plays any way into your decision when listening to the audio version.
Finish, by Jon Acuff
Hands down, the most entertaining book on this list. I recommend reading this gem, even if you don’t struggle to finish what you start. It’s a bonus that the book helped me to navigate a problem that has plagued me my entire life. I’ve not yet mastered all of Jon Acuff’s strategies, but I think that he’d consider that to be a win. If you identify as a perfectionist, get a copy of this book asap, and bring along a highlighter.
Books to help you form better habits
The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins
I’ve thought about Mel Robbins almost daily after reading her book and adopting her 5-4-3-2-1 trick for launching into anything, whether it be getting out of bed, or working up the courage to take a bold action. Whether you’ve hit rock-bottom or are just inches from the top, in reading this, you’ll be motivated and propelled into action.
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
Even though this book felt very clinical, I consider it to be an essential read for anyone who is seeking success. The concepts that I learned through this book have not only given me a better understanding of people but provided me with a foundation as I began the study of psychology. This book will help you to realize that habits profoundly effect the way we live and work, for better or for worse.
The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod
When I was a wee, fresh-eyed business owner, I picked up this book and then proceeded to follow its teachings to a T. While Hal Elrod serves up an inspiring story to set the tone for the instructions that follow, I didn’t feel that were sustainable for my lifestyle. Since I am a self-employed adult who works from home and doesn’t have children, with quite a bit of flexibility, I’m going to guess that you might feel the same. However, do not let this discount the concept of setting yourself up for success. To this day, I practice my own version of the Miracle Morning and it has changed life for the better.
Atomic Habits, by James Clear
This book is an entertaining manual of sorts. While it does include inspiring stories and anecdotes, they are used with the utmost intention. This is to say, there is not an ounce of your energy or attention will be wasted in reading or listening to the wealth of information that you’ll find in this book. In it, you’ll learn why adopting small habits are so powerful, and find very practical ways on how to implement them. Each tip is backed by science (the fun kind, not the boring kind) and a compelling story that will motivate you to put it into practice. If I were recommending a book on adopting new habits, this would be the first one that I would hand over.
Inspiring stories from successful creatives
Crushing It, by Gary Vaynerchuk
In his follow-up book of a brighter color, this book chronicles stories from successful online business owners and personalities who used the concepts found in Gary’s first book, Crush It, to make an impact on their audiences and our world. Prepare to be inspired.
The Magnolia Story, by Joanna and Chip Gaines
When I first added this book to my Audible queue, I thought it would be nothing more than an autobiographical account of America’s favorite couple. While there are plenty of family stories and heartfelt moments, The Magnolia Story is a business story. Not only did I learn some valuable lessons, but was reminded that there really is no such thing as an overnight success. If you’re feeling like you’re never going to “make it,” this book will serve as a wonderful encouragement.
#Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso
The one that almost didn’t make this list. There is no doubt that author Sophia Amoruso’s story is an inspiring one. A true rags to riches tale. However, I personally didn’t feel connected to her, or any of the #girlboss success stories featured in the book and because of that, I found it difficult to even finish it. I’m including it here because I know it’s a great book and I’m confident that many of you would love it!
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
I picked up this book purely because I adore and admire Mindy Kaling. Much like The Magnolia Story (above), I wasn’t expecting anything other than an autobiography. What you get from reading this book is so much more than that— inspiration, confidence, and motivation to go after exactly what you want.
Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss
I’ve technically not completed this book yet— on purpose. This very large (but surprisingly lightweight) book is compiled by Tim Ferriss but holds the stories of countless business owners and world-class performers. You can spot this book on the shelf behind my desk in much of my online content and I keep it within close reach so that I can pick it up and easily read a page or two (often over breakfast). My favorite part about reading this book has been discovering how many interesting, dynamic people that there are in our world. Reading it will leave you inspired to become one of them.
Educated, by Tara Westover
This is not a book that I thought would end up on this list. It’s labeled as a memoir, but I deem it a personal development story and a great one at that. I usually avoid anything that has a somber tone, but Tara Westover’s writing was so rich, and her tale so compelling, that I couldn’t put it down. Although I had a hard time relating to her beginnings, I was challenged and inspired by what came next. This story will encourage you to challenge your truths and encourage you to seek the ones that most align with who you really are.
Books to help you get organized
L’art de la Simplicite, by Dominique Loreau
Since reading (listening to) this book for the first time, four years ago, I’ve made it my little tradition to kick off the year by re-reading it every January. I consider this book to be a refresher, not only for your home but your life. Written by a French woman, with a deep understanding of Japanese culture, the audio version of this book is narrated by a lovely British woman who leaves me feeling calmer, lovelier, and with clarity for how I want to conduct my life. If you are familiar with The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, you’ll find some similarities, but overall, I found this book to be far more comprehensive.
A Simplified Life, by Emily Ley
If you follow Emily on Instagram, you’ll soon fall in love with her sweet southern style and adorable family. I could not, not purchase this beautiful book after feeling like Emily has been a lifelong friend. Amid the big, beautiful photos and heartfelt stories are fantastic tactics for keeping your life and business in order.
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
Does this one need a description? I think we are all aware that we’re carrying around far too much, and I’m not just referring to the things in our homes. If you haven’t read this book or watched the Netflix series, you’ll be inspired to live a simpler, and in turn, happier life.
Books to help you find community
A Tribe Called Bliss, by Lori Harder
After getting to know beautiful soul and inspiration, Lori Harder at the start of this book, she wastes no time giving you the exact steps (including detailed scripts) on how to form a support system. I’ve been part of a mastermind group for most of my time as a business owner, and I could not imagine operating without the friendships of my partners Kalyn Brooke and Lauren Lanker. If you’ve been searching for deep connections and people to keep you uplifted on your journey, this book will give you everything that you need to make it happen.
Books to Help You Become a Better Leader
Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo
Many of us love watching TED Talks and have felt the effects of their compelling stories. As business owners it is our job to communicate in the best way possible so that we are able to bring the maximum value to our customers and clients. This book teaches you how to speak and present in the best way possible. I found this book to be helpful, not just in learning how to speak at events but how to craft more effective messaging for my audience.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
I put off reading this book for years, despite the fact that it appears on just about every “must-read” list. When I finally came around to it, I learned that it was not a book that teaches you how to become a sleazy salesperson, but in fact, a better human being. This book opened my eyes to many human conditions and quite honestly, helped me to be less self-centered. Even though times have changed, people, at the heart, are still really the same, and this classic will teach you how to be more in touch with not only your customers and clients but your loved ones.
How do I read so many books, while running a business and a household? I owe it all to my Audible subscription. Most of the books on this list have been consumed while listening. What a gift!
To try out Audible for free, for 30 days (plus download two free books), click here.