10 Best Books for Inspired Entrepreneurs from 2010

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I’ve always believed your life is changed by the books you read, experiences you create and the people you meet. Today, I still embrace reading at least one book per week sometimes more (sometimes less).

Here are the most important books that I’ve recommended, sent to my team, talked about or ones that had an impact on me this past year.

Building A Great Business#1: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business by Ari Weinzwieg

My favorite book for 2010 is from the co-founder of a company that INC magazine described as “The coolest small business in America”.

I met Ari at the recent INC500 conference and his message really struck a chord. Perhaps you’ve heard of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, MI or the Zingerman’s group of companies. They’ve built a totally unique business and service culture there that thousands of people have studied their companies. (It’s weird – as soon as I started studying Zingermans random people were sending us Zingermans delicious food. Odd but yummy coincidence for sure.)

Just one of the sections I’ve found incredibly compelling in the book is Ari’s concept of Visioning for the future. It’s been proven that when people use visioning instead of simply problem solving, energy levels increased, innovative ideas flowed and people were excited about eager about their future. What’s more, visioning also gets you clear on what you do NOT want to do in your business so that you can easily turn away, seemingly, golden opportunities that come your way. I’ve sent copies of this book to our team and now before we begin a major project or hire a key team member, we work on visions first. If you missed the interview I did with Ari on visioning you can check it out –
link: http://www.surefiremarketing.com/zingermans/

Note: I’m planning on leading my Millionaire MasterMind group to a “field trip” at Zingermans for our first meeting in April 2011. If you’d like to be considered for the group – see details here.


Brains On Fire#2: Brains on Fire by Phillips, Cordell, Church & Jones

I’m not sure where I stumbled onto Brains on Fire blog – but I’m glad I found it. Brains on Fire has some really awesome stuff when it comes to creating movements for your customers, advocates and zealots. They’ve done a superb job of breaking down the 10 elements that go into the mix for creating movements and tight communities.

With traditional media having less impact it may be time for marketers to stop defaulting to the yo-yo of advertising campaigns and instead really look to “ignite” a word-of-mouth movement. Some of the advice here really hits home for the conversations that are taking place around your business or brand driven from the bottom-up.

The Brains on Fire crew hands you 10 rules for how they’ve engineered self-sustaining and extremely passionate (and successful) movements like the Fiskateers and Rage against the Haze for anti-smoking in South Carolina. Those are the two you hear the most about in the book and both are worthy of case studies by themselves. Fiskateers took a 360-year old company that makes scissors and helped double their profits by tapping into advocates in key markets. If you read this book with an open mind you might just see some significant changes to make in your marketing and business.

51m0yG6x81L#3: The Business of Happiness by Ted Leonsis

I read this book early in 2010 and really enjoyed it on a lot of levels. In fact, I got so much out of it – it went out to Maverick1000 members along with my exclusive interview with Ted.

In fact, Maverick 10000 member, Kim Pingleton, told me this book was one of the most impactful for her this year.

Many of us think if we can just be successful in business, we’ll be happy. But all too often we see this isn’t the case — AT ALL. There are plenty of miserable rich people — you probably even know some.

There’s another theory though — Being Happy Leads To More Success!

In case you aren’t familiar with Ted – he is an Internet industry pioneer who helped build AOL into a global phenomenon. He is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple successful businesses over three decades, culminating with the recent sale of Revolution Money to American Express for $300M+. Plus, he’s the owner of two successful sports franchises, including my favorite team, the Washington Capitals.

Side note: Ted Leonsis will be one of the featured keynote speakers at Underground 7 on March 3-5, 2011. High caliber guests like this are just one reason the Underground is THE top learning and networking event for online marketers – and it’s SOLD-OUT each year.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Passion, Profits and Purpose by Tony Hsieh#4: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Passion, Profits and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Keeping on the same theme of combining happiness with business – my friend and former Underground® 4 & 5 keynoter, Tony Hsieh’s outstanding book on his story building Zappos and “delivering happiness”.  I’ve learned so much from Tony especially about how critical core values are for your company. Quite frankly, I sorta thought most of that stuff was bullshit or only for big companies to create meaningless ones like Enron’s use of “integrity” as a core value.

Tony is a firm believer that a happy culture creates profits and not the other way around. Pick this one – it’s a pretty fast but extremely engaging read.

Pow! Right Between the Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise by Andy Nulman#5: Pow! Right Between the Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise by Andy Nulman

I think incorporating surprise into your business might just give you the most important (and totally overlooked) advantage for your business today.
It’s the ‘zag’ while others ‘zig’ that makes your product or service buzz-worthy, spreads positive worth-of-mouth and bonds customers like cement to you.

I stumbled onto an outrageous book called “POW! Right Between the Eyes! Profiting from the Power of Surprise” written by Andy Nulman. As soon as I read it I knew we share some common “DNA” as I’ve been talking a lot about my concept called Astonishment Architecture™ lately.

Andy has been a ‘surprise marketer’ before the term even appeared. He’s the former (and now current again) CEO of the ‘Just for Laughs’ comedy festival in Montreal (the largest comedy event of its kind) and founder of mobile entertainment company, Airborne Media, which he sold for nearly $100M.

59-seconds#6: 59 Seconds: Think a Little Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman

Though not technically a business book, I really enjoyed 59 Seconds by Prof. Wiseman, because it takes scientific, peer reviewed researched on areas like happiness, creativity, goal setting, motivation, decision-making and more. It gives you proven research on what works and what doesn’t in these areas. The concept of the book is to take one of the main concepts – show the best peer reviewed research and then provide a 59 second action you can take.

9781929774876#7 Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less by Sam Carpenter

This was a book recommendation from Maverick 1000 member, Kevin Wilke, while thee for our World Cup and Safari expedition in South Africa. I really, really liked this book. Previously I’ve grasped the importance of systems but never had the desire or motivation to get them implemented. This book has changed that for me.

I have a confession here – I hate systems but I realize how important they are. In fact, there’s an interesting section on systems in Ari’s book (#1) that talks about systems freeing you up to be more creative. I like that.

Making-Ideas-Happen-9781591843122#8: Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

I like this book because it gives a framework around taking ideas and actually implementing them. As entrepreneurs, we often don’t lack for ideas but rather clear execution. This has a great left-brain/right-brain sort of process to it that works in the real-world.

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon#9: Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

Written by one of the most popular Harvard Business School professors, Different is exactly that. It’s a good take on how to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace by being different. Most businesses talk about being ‘different’ but so many fall into the trap becoming mediocre because they look at their competitors and try to copy some of their strengths. This only leads to being average across a bunch of different aspects instead of being unique in just 1 or 2 differentiable points.

This book is a fairly easy read and not a dull, boring college textbook.  And as one reviewer on Amazon said, just skip the Harvard MBA and get this book! 😉

Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures by Dan Roam#10: Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures by Dan Roam

Financial Times, Businessweek and Amazon named Dan’s “Back of the Napkin” book their ‘book of the year’ in 2008 and this the follow-up “How To” manual for solving problems and communicating with simple pictures. I admit it – I love doodling and I really get excited about these kind of hand drawings. In fact, I’ll make a prediction that the kind of powerful Powerpoint video sales letters you’ve seen a lot of in 2010 will be eclipsed by the effectiveness of these kind of drawings (even if you cannot draw).

What’s been inspiring you? Leave a comment and let me know which ones you’ve read or which ones I should have added to the list.


  1. December 27, 2010, 3:16 pm

    I do a fair amount of reading and am shocked that I have not read one of these, will order, thanks Yanik!

  2. December 27, 2010, 3:56 pm

    Delivering happiness is on my to-read list… Now I have a few more on my list.

    May this year be better than the last.

  3. December 27, 2010, 4:03 pm

    Ahoy Yanik,

    I too, am a big reader. Hey, I just bought a Kindle a few weeks ago.

    But I have to admit I have only read one book on your list, Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness. Which is a great book by the way. I guess I best head on over to Amazon and do some downloading!



  4. December 27, 2010, 4:29 pm

    Just wondering why one of my favorites, “The Pledge” by Michael Masterson isn’t on the list.

    I gave it to several on my Xmas list this year, and so far response has been great.

    Thanks for sharing your recommendations. Too many books…too little time?

  5. December 27, 2010, 4:35 pm

    Thanks Yanik,

    For providing a great list of books to start 2011 off strong!!!

    As Always, Here’s to Your LifetoSuccess,

    John Clark

  6. December 27, 2010, 5:01 pm

    […] 10 Best Books for Inspired Entrepreneurs from 2010 | Yanik … […]

  7. December 27, 2010, 5:55 pm

    @Jane – I haven’t got that one yet. I’ll have to pick it up. I like a lot of Michael’s writing.

  8. December 27, 2010, 6:09 pm

    Funny, but you can actually SEE the most important part of The Business of Happiness on the Amazon preview for free:
    – Ted’s 101 point “Life list”,
    – and the “happiness questionnaire”

    For me, it was the best book for 2010.

    Also, if you seek happiness, try John Izzo’s “The five secrets you must discover before you die”

  9. December 27, 2010, 6:15 pm

    Thanks Yanik, what a great list, most of these i have not seen in Australia, so guess I better head off to Amazon get them.

    Rowan Shead

  10. Mike Vetrano
    December 27, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Thanks Yanik,

    Looks like a great lits for 2011!

    I thought I had a wide selection but I definitely need to add these.


  11. December 27, 2010, 7:07 pm


    Great list!! Yes, I really enjoyed Tony’s book Delivering Happiness!
    I’ll have a look at the others on the list and order a few of them!

    Happy Holidays to you and the family and here’s to a great 2011!


  12. December 27, 2010, 7:12 pm

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  13. December 27, 2010, 11:01 pm

    His book was all good. The question is whether there is a book that has been translated into Indonesian?

  14. December 28, 2010, 6:48 am

    Great list, Yanik! I would also add “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence,” by Tom Peters. The main message of the book is that excellence is the result of many small tasks, all of which can be practiced and mastered.

    Check out “LifeExcellence Treasury of Quotes” too! It’s a great compilation of inspirational quotes.


    All my best to you and your family in the New Year!!


  15. December 28, 2010, 7:24 am

    I’m surprised that I’ve not read most of these except for Delivering Happiness and I bit of Making Ideas Happen. I’ll be sure to add to my reading list for 2011.

    Thanks Yanik!

  16. December 28, 2010, 10:58 am

    @Brian – thanks. I haven’t read Tom Peters book – will check it out

  17. December 29, 2010, 5:43 am

    […] 10 Best Books for Inspired Entrepreneurs from 2010 | Yanik Silver’s Internet Lifestyle Blog […]

  18. January 3, 2011, 2:20 am

    Thanks for your top book list,

    I will make sure to pick these up, hopefully they all have kindle or iPad versions.

    So many books so little time! Is there an online book club that discusses books like these in a forum setting?

    Happy New Year everyone!

  19. January 3, 2011, 9:07 am

    @Tamara – I don’t know about the online book forum. You might try Goodreads.com

  20. January 4, 2011, 4:04 pm

    Hi Yanik,

    Thanks for the great book suggestions. Have you ever heard of the personal mba book list? I’ve been trying to make my way through that list for the past two years, but it’s hard to digest so many technical business books in sequence. Just wondering what your opinions were on these books. http://personalmba.com/best-business-books/

  21. January 4, 2011, 7:55 pm

    i am so inspired by the first book here. i also want to read the 8th maybe just the ebook. :-)

  22. January 4, 2011, 9:16 pm

    […] 10 Best Books for Inspired Entrepreneurs from 2010 | Yanik Silver’s Internet Lifestyle Blog […]

  23. Eileen Burns
    January 5, 2011, 8:43 am

    Happy New Year Yanik! What a wonderful way to share inspiration with the world. We surely appreciate you and all your efforts.

  24. January 5, 2011, 11:10 am

    Hi Yanik,

    I think I will opt for no6, as it seems to be ideal for someone like me with very little time on their hands.

    I have to admit I have never heard of any of those titles before, makes a change from the usual books recommended.


  25. January 5, 2011, 11:46 pm

    @Paul – I think I’ve seen that list before. Just checked it out again. I have not read through all those but probably a good 40% of them. From the ones I know – it looks like a very solid list!

  26. January 18, 2011, 11:02 pm

    The business of happiness has been on my to-read list for a long time now.

    Seeing your review has made me decide to put it on my schedule.

    Thanks Yanik,

  27. January 26, 2011, 4:57 am

    It really doesn’t matter what business your building. These books can help anyone. I’ve not heard of them all and will certainly be off to check them out.

    Thanks for bringing these to our attention Yanik!

  28. January 27, 2011, 2:54 pm

    “I have a confession here – I hate systems”
    Spoken like a true 9 Quick Start!!!

  29. February 27, 2011, 9:46 pm


    Wow, I have not heard of any of these books and I do quite a bit of reading.

    Thanks for sharing!


  30. March 15, 2011, 11:34 am

    On your reccomendation I read 59 Seconds and Different.
    I wanted to read several others, too, but my library didnt carry them.

    (With so many great books out there – and my propensity to read many books in a month – I try to limit my choices to what I can borrow from the library.)

  31. jon
    May 25, 2011, 6:18 pm

    I’m kinda reading freak, I have downloaded a copy of all the five of these which I don’t have on my kindle. Will be looking forward to learn from them. Thanks for this post Yanik!


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