photo credit: Kate Hailey
photo credit: Kate Hailey

This article is part of CreativeLive’s 12 Days of Giving series. To catch a free rebroadcast of Josh’s 2-course Personal MBA bundle, click here.

Here’s the dilemma –  hundreds of new business books hit the shelves of big box retailers and online stores and  24 hours simply isn’t enough time to read them all. So how do you narrow it down to the books you should read that will help your business move forward and still have time to actually implement the strategies learned while reading? The answer is simple – be more selective. According to best-selling author and business coach Josh Kaufman, a good business book “must touch on the fundamentals of business principles or the human psychology, productivity or systems of a business.”  Josh doesn’t flip open the NY Times to find his next book either; “ I tend to read way off the beaten path – some of the best stuff out there doesn’t appear on bestseller lists,” Josh told us. With so many to choose from, select those that are thought-provoking and contain fundamental mental models that you can apply directly to your business. To help lead you in the right direction, here are a few of Josh’s favorite books of 2013. He’s been kind enough to include one from five key business categories and provide a short synopsis of each book.

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DECISION MAKING: Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath.

“A simple process for making better decisions in changing circumstances with incomplete information. Doubles as an introduction to cognitive biases, managing uncertainty, and the psychology of choice.”

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COMMUNICATION:

Power Questions by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas.

“Asking useful questions is an extremely valuable, highly underrated skill. This book contains examples of over 300 seldom-used but valuable ways to ask prospects, customers, clients, employees, and peers for information. Well worth browsing to level up your conversation, rapport, and research skills.”

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MANAGEMENT/LEADERSHIP:

The Gervais Principle by Venkatesh Rao.

“A field guide to organizational behavior, explained via examples from the hit TV show “The Office.” The theory is more than a bit cynical, but your ability to understand office politics, status games, and power plays will improve dramatically. (A mark of the author’s skill: I’ve never watched the TV show, and I still found the examples illuminating.)”

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MEASUREMENT/ANALYSIS:

Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll & Benjamin Yoskovitz.

“An end-to-end guide to measuring the effectiveness of every major part of a startup or small business. Extremely detailed, with great examples of what each measurement is and why it matters. It’s not an easy read, but if you’re willing to follow the math, you’ll learn a ton of useful analysis techniques.”

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SYSTEMS:

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

“ A comprehensive look at how different types of systems handle changes in the surrounding environment. Some systems (like large banks) look strong, but are quite vulnerable to unexpected shocks, while other systems (like the human body) progressively get stronger in variable environments. Very helpful in understanding how to design resilient business structures and systems.”

For more book recommendations, check out Josh’s full reading list here.