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Season’s Readings: 9 Must-Have Books for Professional Growth

Here’s a little secret: there’s no single formula for career success.

There isn’t one thing separating successful people from their counterparts, but instead, the compounding effects of hard work, sacrifice, and continuous learning and improvement. 

But the people you surround yourself with (mentors, coaches, and colleagues) and the content and media you consume can positively influence your career trajectory. For example, did you know CEOs read 60 books per year on average?

That doesn’t mean you need to hit that target, but you may want to consider grabbing some of the books successful leaders, business owners, and professionals are reading.

So whether you need a last-minute gift to share the love of learning or some new books for your self-growth journey, here are nine books recommended by the expert guests on our LEARN podcast.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Craig Walker, CEO and Founder of Dialpad, recommends Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which inspired the Oscar Award-winning film Lincoln

This biography explores the former president’s leadership style, philosophies, and experiences, including assembling a diverse cabinet of individuals who were initially his political rivals. The book recounts Lincoln’s strategic decision-making and ability to handle conflicts, demonstrating how he turned adversaries into allies. 

Craig also recommends reading Amp It Up: Leading for Hypergrowth by Raising Expectations, Increasing Urgency, and Elevating Intensity by Frank Slootman, CEO, Snowflake. 

Slootman shares his leadership approach after leading Snowflake to the largest software IPO ever and demonstrates that leaders can improve organizational performance by aligning on mission-critical priorities and executing with urgency and intensity. 

Read more: Stay Ahead or Fall Behind: Leveraging AI with Craig Walker, CEO, Dialpad 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Kevin Chiu, COO & Co-Founder, Catalyst, joined the LEARN podcast to dive into customer-led growth and recommended this book from Ben Horowitz, a well-respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Horowitz explores the challenges entrepreneurs and business leaders face and shares invaluable insights on navigating the unpredictable landscape of building and managing a successful company. 

Grab the book for practical advice on decision-making, crisis management, and fostering a resilient corporate culture. 

Read more: 3 Ways to Create a High-Performance Culture at Work

Kind Folks Finish First

Sam Jacobs, CEO & Co-Founder, Pavilion, uncovered the flaws in the traditional sales model on the LEARN podcast. Sam also wrote a book based on his experiences and business philosophies.

In Kind Folks Finish First: The Considerate Path to Success in Business and Life, Sam shares his perspectives on achieving success, drawing from his experience building a nearly $200-million business prioritizing kindness, reciprocity, and solid values.

Sam’s experience proves you don’t need to be ruthless in your career-growth strategies and that being a good person and helping others can lead to long-term success. 

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

David Kingsley, Chief People Officer at Illumino, recommends Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, which explores the fundamental act of breathing and its profound impact on our health and well-being. Discover how our modern lifestyle has led to widespread breathing dysfunction and explore techniques to optimize respiratory health. 

Learn how optimal breathing can improve sleep, boost energy, and enhance overall physical and mental performance. 

Check out the podcast episode: Building a Feedback Culture with L. David Kinglsey, 3X CPO 

Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book Without Instructions

Jamie Davidson, CEO and Co-Founder of Vitally, joined the LEARN podcast to share his perspective on why CS teams should ditch QBRs for Monthly Value Reviews.

Jamie also recommended reading Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book Without Instructions, which challenges conventional thinking about spirituality and belief systems and encourages readers to embark on a personal journey of introspection. 

Listen to the podcast for more insights: Time to Retire QBRs? Jamie Davidson, CEO & Co-Founder of Vitally, Weighs In


Cara Brennan Allamano, CPO at Lattice, explores the future of work and why L&D is essential to maximize business impact on the LEARN podcast.

Cara also shared what she’s reading, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. In this collection of personal writings, the Roman Emperor shares the Stoic philosophy that guided his life. His reflections explore themes of virtue, self-discipline, and resilience, providing practical wisdom for navigating life’s challenges. 

Discover timeless principles for cultivating a resilient mindset, fostering inner peace, and navigating the complexities of the human experience. 

Listen to the podcast episode for more: LEARN with Cara Brennan Allamano, CPO at Lattice

Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

John Schoenstein, CRO at Sprout Social, recommends this book that explores the differences between two types of leaders, Multipliers and Diminishers. Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter highlights the characteristics that amplify or stifle the intelligence and capabilities of those around them. 

The book provides valuable strategies for becoming a Multiplier who inspires and empowers their team to achieve extraordinary results. Discover the behaviors that contribute to effective leadership, fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning. 

Check out the podcast LEARN with John Schoenstein, CRO at Sprout Social

High Output Management

Aaron Levie, CEO & Co-Founder, Box, shared how he uses the principles of High Output Management to create outstanding teams and results during his keynote session at WorkRamp LEARN virtual summit

In this book, Andrew S. Grover draws from his experience as the former CEO of Intel to offer practical insights and strategies for enhancing organizational productivity. Grove shares valuable principles on effective management, team dynamics, and operational efficiency. 

Read more: High Output Management for Today’s Businesses with Aaron Levie, CEO, Box

Come up for Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work

Come up for Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work helps teams move away from the hustle culture and old concepts of time management to reduce burnout and get more done. 

Nick Sonnenberg, a leading efficiency expert, author, speaker, and Founder and CEO of Leverage, shares his CPR Business Efficiency Framework, a proven system for decreasing busy work, preventing burnout, and increasing efficiency.  

Read more: How Teams Can Come Up for Air and Reduce Burnout

Reading for professional growth

Add these books to your wishlist or gift them to a friend and share the love of learning and development. 

What are your favorite books that have inspired you in your career or personal endeavors? Follow us on LinkedIn and let us know your top picks.


Happy holidays and happy reading! 

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