There’s no shame in finding business tips and tricks on TikTok. But if you want to follow in the footsteps of your favorite entrepreneur or tech titan — think Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett or Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example — you might want to open one of the books where they picked up some of their most valuable lessons.
Zuckerberg, for example, wrote in a Facebook Post 2015 that he enjoyed reading “first-hand accounts of how people build great companies”. The 37-year-old billionaire turns to these books, he said in another postfor an overview of “what drives innovation – what kinds of people, issues and environments”,
He is far from alone, especially among his fellow successful business leaders.
Below, four entrepreneurs share the books that have shaped their careers, their business strategies and, in a few cases, their way of thinking:
1. Marc Zuckerberg
In 2015, Zuckerberg read “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration,” by Alice Wallace and Pixar co-founder Edwin Catmull. He tells how the animation studio became a titan of entertainment innovation.
It seems Zuckerberg learned at least one lesson from the book: “Don’t wait for things to be before sharing them with others,” Catmull wrote in the book. “Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”
“Done is better than perfect” was painted on Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Zuckerberg wrote that he was also struck by Jon Gertner’s “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” which tells the story of Bell Labs – which was founded by Alexander Graham Bell and is now owned at Nokia.
“Shark Tank” Investor Daymond John told CNBC Make It in 2018 that a handful of books had changed her life. Some of these titles include “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter.
But John — and fellow Sharks Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec — also recommended Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” The 1937 business book features interviews with Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Charles M. Schwab, and it dissects the psychology behind why people make fortunes – or why not.
“The book teaches you: If you can imagine it, you can do it,” Corcoran said in a 2017 documentary based on the book, titled “Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy.” She also said the book taught her that she can “always praise the attributes of the next guy that you don’t have yourself.”
Buffett also learned that the best trading advice comes from people who know the industry. In the documentary ‘Becoming Warren Buffet’, the billionaire investor said that at the age of 7 he had already ‘virtually memorized’ FC Minaker’s ‘A Thousand Ways to Win $1,000’. The book – now out of print – contains anecdotes about retailer James Cash Penney, of JC Penney fame, and other successful entrepreneurs.
In 1988, Buffett told Fortune magazine that the book – which divulges practical business lessons on compound interest, sales and investing – inspired him to start selling Coca-Cola, newspapers and gum door-to-door.
To develop business acumen, prominent businessmen Bill Gates and Warren Buffett also recommended “Business adventures“, journalist John Brooks’ description of defining moments in the history of iconic American companies like Ford and General Electric. Buffett lent the book to Gates in 1991 and Gates noted that he still had it in an article from 2014.