What The World's Top CEOs Are Reading

What The World's Top CEOs Are Reading

By Michelle Drucker , Apr 7th 2016

ceo book picks

These 11 CEO book picks will change how you do business.

The world's smartest and most successful CEOs are avid readers. More and more businesses are starting CEO book clubs, where the entire organization is required to read a title selected by the company's CEO or president. We've curated a list of the top CEO book picks to inspire you to start a CEO book club of your own!


1. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

the happiness advantage

Author Shawn Achor believes that the conventional formula for success is all wrong. Citing recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology, he argues that happiness brings success — not the other way around). Achor explains how we can fix the broken formula for success and reprogram our brains to be more positive. Spread happiness organization-wide with this insightful title.

Recommended by Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle


2. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

the checklist manifesto

In the modern world of information overload, Atul Gawande recommends we use the simplest of organization methods: the checklist. By telling riveting stories, he reveals how checklists can help us manage life's complexities and change the way we do things. Increase productivity and efficiency by promoting this organizational method throughout your company.

Recommended by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square


3. Good to Great by Jim Collins

good to great

How do good, average companies make the jump to great companies? This is what Jim Collin's aims to explain with the studies presented in Good to Great. After extensively researching a set of elite companies that made the jump to great and comparing them to similar companies that never made the leap, he reveals the key findings in this book. Adapt these findings to your business so you too can make the leap!

Recommended by Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss


4. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

the design of everyday things

Design plays a role in everything we touch and use, from a light switch to an oven. In The Design of Everyday Things, cognitive scientist Don Norman shows that good, usable design is possible by following a few simple rules. Whether you sell a product or service, apply these rules to your organization's designs in order to provide an optimal user experience.

Recommended by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo


5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

the boys in the boat

How did a team of underdog rowers make it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and defeat the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler? Find out in this compelling true story of nine, working-class American boys and their journey to glory. This book will inspire your team to achieve the unachievable.

Recommended by James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley


6. Business Adventures by John Brooks

business adventures

Hailed as the best business book Bill Gates has ever read, Business Adventures is financial journalism at its finest. The book includes 12 stories about Wall Street infused with drama and adventure. Educate your employees on the intricacies of corporate life and how it plays a role in the world of finance.

Recommended by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft


7. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

the innovators dilemma

This influential business best seller shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right and still fail to control the majority market share. Author Clayton Christensen argues that most companies are missing out on new waves of innovation. At what point should a company abandon traditional business practices to capitalize on disruptive innovation? Read the book to find out and be sure spread the word!

Recommended by Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple


8. The Road to Character by David Brooks

the road to character

New York Times columnist David Brooks challenges his readers to focus on deeper values — kindness, bravery, honesty, and faithfulness — rather than superficial ones like wealth, fame, and status. Brooks looks to some of the world's most influential leaders as examples of people who have built strong inner character. Develop a workforce of character by handing out copies of this insightful book.

Recommended by Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo

9. Mindset by Carol Dweck


Carol Dweck writes about her research on mindsets and how they influence our actions and behaviors. People with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence is set in stone and cannot be changed while those with a growth mindset believe their intelligence can continue to grow and expand. Promote a growth mindset throughout your organization and help people fulfill their true potential. (To learn more about the concepts introduced in the book, watch our Mindset Webinar!)

Recommended by Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group


10. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

the art of happiness

The Dalai Lama is not just the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, he's also a Nobel Prize winner and highly sought-after speaker and statesman. Luckily you don't have to see him speak in person in order to learn his teachings! In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement through conversations, stories, and meditations. Share his wisdom with members of your organization to promote happiness and a positive work environment.

Recommended by Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn


11. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In

In 2010, Sheryl Sandberg gave a TEDTalk that launched an entire movement that subsequently resulted in her book Lean In. Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, candidly admits that women cannot have it all. Not only do women need to make certain sacrifices, but their employers, husbands and male counterparts need to do their part as well so women can combine personal fulfillment with working achievement. Encourage everyone in your business to "lean in" with this paradigm-shifting title.

Recommended by John Chambers, CEO of Cisco

Ready to start your very own CEO book club?

We've got you covered! Check out our how-to guide on launching and running your very own book club.



This post was written by Michelle Drucker, the manager of marketing at BookPal. She is currently reading Sprint by Jake Knapp.


• Trending: The CEO Book Club
• 25 Books Top CEOs Recommend You Read
• Books That Changed My Mind This Year: CEO Selections

Recent Posts