Dave Kerpen | 21 Amazing Authors That Just Might Change Your Life
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21 Amazing Authors That Just Might Change Your Life

21 Amazing Authors That Just Might Change Your Life

If it weren’t for the authors on this list, I might not have built a successful business. I might not have gone into marketing. I might not have self-published a book. Heck, I might not even have a happy family- my most important accomplishment by far.

Great authors teach us, motivate us, inspire us, and make us think. For professionals, great authors can change the way we work, help us realize new opportunities, build a business, and lead others. Great authors and great books can change your life.

My post from last year, 9 Business Books That Will Change Your Life, led to over 900,000 views and 1,500 comments from readers agreeing or disagreeing with the list, and adding their own favorites. So I’ve followed up that post with this list of prolific, impactful authors. The first twelve authors on the list have each written at least three business books, but all 21 have written books that just might change your life:

1.Seth Godin

Godin is my favorite author and has been an inspiration to me as a writer, marketer, entrepreneur and thinker. Permission Marketing is my favorite Godin book, but I’ve enjoyed so many of them, as Godin always challenges readers to think about things in a new way. Other must-read books of his include Purple Cow, Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke The Box. His latest and boldest, The Icarus Deception, calls on people to look at their work as an artist does.

2.Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni is the owner of a management consulting firm and a prolific author and speaker, having written ten books to date. He writes simple, well-told fables, all with leadership and management lessons to take away. His most famous book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – and that is a great one, as are The Advantage, Death by Meeting, and Getting Naked. But my favorite is The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family, because it addresses not only business, but leading a family, something most important to me.

3.Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is a longtime writer for The New Yorker magazine and the author of four uber-successful, thoughtful books which stimulate not only business professionals, but all of his readers, to think about things in a new way. Named by Time Magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Gladwell’s works include The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink and his latest, What the Dog Saw.


4.Jim Collins

Collins is both a teacher and a student of great companies – having devoted the better part of his life to studying, analyzing and writing about the differences between good companies and great ones – companies that perish and those that endure. His books are all thoroughly researched and his theses are data-driven. Collins’ works include Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall and Great by Choice.


5.Daniel Pink

Pink is truly one of the great business minds of our time. Having now authored four provocative books, Pink was named one of the Top 50 business thinkers of the world by Harvard Business Review in 2011. His most recent book, To Sell is Human, is particularly appropriate for salespeople. But Pink’s previous Drive and A Whole New Mind are classics as well.


6.Tim Ferriss

Ferriss is an incredibly successful author and speaker, despite apparently not working on any one thing more than four hours a week. The ultimate “work smart over work hard” guy, Ferriss’s first book,The Four Hour Workweek, has sold many millions of copies and been translated to 35 languages. The concept for professionals has proved so popular that Ferriss followed up Workweek with The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Chef.



7.Ken Blanchard

Blanchard is a long-time writer, speaker and consultant and one of the top leadership experts in the world. Like Lencioni, he writes using stories and simple, easy-to-understand language. Three of his many books, the One Minute Manager, Raving Fans, and The One Minute Entrepreneur all deeply influenced the way I’ve run our businesses and helped clients grow their businesses.

8.Stephen Covey

Covey wrote a plethora of excellent leadership and inspirational books, but the one you’ve likely heard of is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book single-handedly changed the way millions of people live their lives, at work and beyond. The SPEED of Trust and The Leader in Me are two more good ones. Covey’s books are excellent reads if you’re looking for inspiration beyond your job. Sadly, Covey passed away recently.


9.Peter Drucker

Drucker, the 2nd posthumous member of this list, passed away in 2005, but he was considered the management expert of the 20th century, authoring over 25 books. The teacher, reporter, philosopher and consultant was perhaps best known for mentoring longtime General Electric CEO Jack Welch. His books included The Effective Executive, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, and The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.


10.Jeffrey Gitomer

Gitomer may have been a college dropout, but his books have helped many a salesperson make an incredible living. His books are small, easy to read, and packed full of both inspiration and practical advice. My favorite is the Little Red Book Of Selling, but others include Customer Satisfactions Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, and The Sales Bible.



11. John Maxwell

Maxwell is a longtime leadership expert, speaker and coach who has sold a remarkable 19 million books. His books inspire better leadership skills and communication skills. My favorite is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; other noteworthy books include The 5 Levels of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, How Successful People Think, The 360 Degree Leader, and Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.



12.Guy Kawasaki

I am proud to call fellow LinkedIn influencer Kawasaki a mentor. His latest work, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is a must-read for all authors and wanna-be authors. Other excellent books include The Art of the Start, Enchantment, Rules for Revolutionaries, and Reality Check. Guy is an amazing speaker as well- make sure you see him speak if you ever have the opportunity.


13 .Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg, the famous and at times controversial Chief Operating Officer of Facebook just launched her first book last year: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The bestseller created a lot of buzz, and is well worth a read, whether you’re a woman or a man. Sandberg, now a billionaire, continues to run Facebook and may have another book in her future – or a run for public office.


14.Ekaterina Walter

Walter is a new author and a long time speaker and former social strategist for Intel. Her first book, Think Like Zuck, inspired me so much I bought copies for my staff at Likeable. Her next book, the Power of Visual Storytelling, launches this March, and I can’t wait for it!

15 .Erik Qualman

You are likely amongst the 5 million people who have seen his “Socialnomics” videos on YouTube. Qualman’s first book of the same name, Socialnomics, is an excellent read, as are his latest, Digital Leader and What Happens is Vegas, Stays on YouTube.



16.Meg Cadoux Hirshberg

Hirschberg is the wife of Stonyfield CEO Gary Hirshberg, and writes extensively for INC Magazine on entrepreneurship and family. I whole-heartedly recommend her first book, For Better Or For Work, not only for entrepreneurs but for their spouses and families, who all go through it together whether they like it or not.


17.Michael Maddock
Maddock is an entrepreneur, inventor and innovation expert. My favorite of his three books is Free The Idea Monkey, which is great for both the idea people and the operators who help make those ideas actually happen. He is also the author of Brand New and Flirting with the Uninterested. If you want to learn about innovation, Maddock is your man.

18. Adam Grant

Grant, the youngest ever tenured professor at Wharton Business School, wrote my favorite book of 2013, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. A fellow LinkedIn influencer, Grant writes in a way that’s both surprising and delightful – insightful and intelligent, research-driven and yet fun-to-read.

19. AJ Jacobs

AJ Jacobs is the senior editor of Esquire and has written for The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and here on LinkedIn- but it’s his books that are the best way to get his quirky humor and very useful insights. A TED talker known as “the human guinea pig”, Jacobs has four New York Times bestsellers, in which he documents his adventures: The Year of Living Biblically, The Know it All, My Life as an Experiment, and Drop Dead Healthy.

20.Gretchen Rubin

Rubin is a prolific writer and speaker and expert on happiness. Her The Happiness Project has been a long fixture on the New York Times bestseller list, and her follow-up, Happier at Home, gives fans like me even more to read. I can’t wait for her next book, out next year, on habits, called Before and After– as I’m spending this year working on my diet habits myself.

21. Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Last but certainly not least is Claire Diaz-Ortiz. Best known as a longtime Twitter employee who got the Pope on Twitter, (and Hilary Clinton, by the way), Diaz-Ortiz is author a prolific blogger and author- of Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time, How to Be Social, The Present Principle, and Lead by Morning.

Those are my 21 favorite business authors, that have changed my life and many others. But there are so many others. So now it’s your turn. Who is your favorite of these 21? What is your favorite book that inspires your professional life? How do you feel about these 21 authors? Who did I miss?

I’d love to hear your favorite authors and book, and your thoughts and questions, in the Comments section below! And please consider sharing this post with your network on LinkedIn.

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