19 Popular Business Book Summaries in 3 Sentences or Less

According to the International Publishers Association, there over over 300,000 business books published in the United States each year.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time for that kind of reading.

Still, the insights from reading can have a huge impact on your business. Huge names like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates cite reading as one of their most important business investments.

When interviewed by Michael Eisner, Buffet commented that reading was the bulk of his job:

“Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action. And Charlie [Munger]—his children call him a book with legs.”

Other marketers running smaller businesses use reading recommendations as the basis for their email marketing.

But on the off-chance you don’t have the time to read 500 pages a day like Buffet, we’ve put together 19 popular book summaries—in three sentences or less.

We absolutely think it’s worth reading these books in their entirety. But for the core insights, these popular book summaries are a place you can start.

1. Zero to One, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Competition should be avoided at all costs.

Instead of creating products or services in a crowded market (going from 0 to n), achieve massive success by creating something new (going from 0 to 1).

The “something new” should: be at least 10x better than what exists, generate network effects, create economies of scale, have a strong brand.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

2. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

What’s the difference between a good company and a great one?

Great companies have outstanding leaders, bring on the right personnel before specific business actions, and confront brutal facts.

They also focus on only the unique proficiencies that drive their economic engine, build a culture of discipline, and use technology as a business accelerator rather than business foundation.

We previously published a review and book summary of Good to Great in this post.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

3. Drive, by Daniel Pink

Clearly defined tasks respond well to simple reward/punishment, but knowledge work increasingly relies on complicated reasoning that does not.

Human motivation is closely related to personal freedom, a feeling of competence, and the desire to be part of something larger than ourselves.

Structuring work around this form of motivation can improve efficiency and create a more fulfilled workforce.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

4. Pre-Suasion, by Robert Cialdini

It is possible to influence people well before the point of sale.

People believe that what they pay attention to is important whether it actually is or not, so directing and maintaining attention is powerfully important for marketers.

Threats and changing environments can attract attention—self relevant, incomplete, or mysterious messages maintain it.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

5. Content Chemistry, by Andy Crestodina

To grow business through content, learn how to generate and convert traffic by creating and repurposing valuable content across channels.

Content should be scannable and high-quality, republished in different formats, and promoted through search engine optimization, email marketing, social promotion, and guest posting.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

6. Content Inc., by Joe Pulizzi

First, identify a sweet spot for content, likely at the intersection of skills, passion, and market need.

From there, differentiate your message, choose a single platform to dominate, collect subscribers, and diversify messaging channels.

Finally, create a content marketing-based business by monetizing the audience.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

7. Insanely Simple, by Ken Segall

The easy path and the simple path are not the same—and the simple path is better.

Like Apple, focus on simplifying products, teams, processes, and messaging to create profound connections and business results.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

8. Inside the Magic Kingdom, by Tom Connellan

Repeat business is founded on customer satisfaction.

Creating an outstanding customer experience requires listening to customer needs and feedback through all available channels.

From there, every iota of your organization must work on improving experience through extreme attention to detail.

Our Director of Education Chris Davis and Product Designer Austin Smith discussed Disney’s customer experience, the example used in this book, during a podcast episode on enhancing the user experience.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

9. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland

Most teams are inefficient because of excessive optimism and poor communication.

Instead of laying out timelines for overall deliverables, break work into smaller chunks that can be taken to 100 percent completion.

Communicate daily to identify and overcome roadblocks.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

10. Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi

Genuine personal connections are a powerful business asset, and it’s easy to meet people by doing background research, offering value, and following up.

Build those connections by spending quality time with contacts—even if the quantity of that time is small.

Maintain a human, personal touch to achieve that quality; automate your processes for networking, not the relationships themselves.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

11. Turn The Ship Around!, by L. David Marquet

The key to effective and efficient leadership is empowering employees.

Instead of dictating duties, encourage individuals to take on more responsibility and solve problems on their own.

Do this through action: ask questions instead of providing answers and give regular, immediate feedback.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

12. Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy

Advertising must be tied back to sales.

Effective advertising is based on deep customer research and product knowledge, as well as ceaseless testing and use of data.

The headline is worth 80 percent of the ad.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

13. The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

Don’t assume that a business or personal goal is impossible—at the least, run the numbers to determine what an individual goal requires.

Ruthlessly eliminate unnecessary demands on time and energy.

Common culprits include unnecessarily long email conversations, meetings, and approvals from upper management, and the book provides specific strategies to deal with each.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

14. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

People don’t use pure logic to make decisions, and there are several psychological principles at play when people form opinions or decide to take action.

Reciprocity, consistency, authority, social proof, scarcity, and liking can spur action.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

15. Trust Me, I’m Lying, by Ryan Holiday

The media generates buzz by “trading up” the chain from smaller blogs and outlets to larger ones.

Pitching stories that generate blog traffic is an easy way to spread an idea—and large media outlets will often take their cues from smaller ones.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

16. Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Human decision making is hugely influenced by how options are presented.

People have a bias towards maintaining the status quo, and changing how choices are structured can change how people make decisions for the better.

Particularly powerful methods are changing default options and making some options more accessible than others.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

17. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Some ideas stick in your brain more than others.

Understanding what makes messages easier to remember can make sure your ideas don’t die.

Simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, stories create visceral reactions that survive.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

18. Your Move, by Ramit Sethi

A business must constantly ask the question “who will pay for this?”

Once a specific niche audience with the willingness to pay is identified, you can build a valuable product—even at a high price point.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

19. Words That Work, by Frank Luntz

“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.”

The way you use language greatly impacts how people perceive your message.

Use simple, short, aspirational language that employs visualization and helps people reach a conclusion on their own.

Like the business book summary? Get the book here.

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