The Top 15 Business Books We Read in 2021: Staff Picks

As you start to build your reading list for 2022, set your 2022 Reading Challenge in Goodreads, and prioritize which books are worth your time, we want to share our favorite business books that we read in 2021.

This list covers a lot of ground and we're confident that each book will help fuel your business growth in 2022 and beyond.

In no particular order, here are our top 15 business book recommendations from 2021:

1. No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

There are several takeaways that any business can implement. Here are three:

1. Their philosophy of generous severances for an adequate performance inspired our Curaytor Transition Program this summer.

2. Their development philosophy: They develop people by giving them the opportunity to develop themselves, by surrounding employees with stunning colleagues, and giving them big challenges to work on. Mediocre colleagues or unchallenging work is what kills the progress of a person’s skills.

3. 360-degree feedback: I did this personally and solicited feedback from above, the side, and below on what I should start, stop, continue doing. Very useful exercise! 

- Tim Harvey, COO

2. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

I really enjoyed it because it was the first thing I have read that challenged all the sales training I have received in my life and validated my preference of building a relationship and using facts and numbers to provide a solution, rather than just figuring out how to make a customer buy. 

It introduced me to the concept of "Principle Negotiations." Essentially, this means consciously taking emotions out of the decision and treating it more like an equation. It's about being clear with both parties and working toward a mutually beneficial agreement, rather than worrying about margin/profit.

It's a very "cards on the table" mentality, which is my favorite style of communication. It's about finding the option that gives BOTH of us as many wins as possible, with the understanding that we may not get 100% of what we want. 

- Spencer Hernandez, Paid Search Analyst

3. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

It’s a great introductory overview of data science/computer science. It's framed in a very relatable way – applying the various algorithm concepts to things in our everyday life. We hear about "algorithms" all the time, but most people don't really understand what that means. This book helps demystify it. 

– Jonathan Dioli, Director of Services

4. Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

Wilding introduces the concept of being a “Sensitive Striver” and how to channel sensitivity into a force for good in the workplace.

Her website says “If you’re an empathetic, driven person trying to navigate your career and learn how to believe in yourself in the process, Trust Yourself offers the mindset and tools you need to succeed.” 

That’s absolutely true. It offered a really interesting perspective around boundaries and achievement. There were a bunch of exercises and worksheets in the book as well which made it really interesting to read and interact with. 

- Danielle Cassaro, Manager of Services

5. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge is all about decision-making and the psychological processes that happen without notice. It shows the reader how to change their environment to alter their choice architecture for better overall decisions. 

– Parker Weil, Internal Marketing Assistant

6. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

The intention of this book is to teach and reinforce why it's important that we rethink our thought process – even, and especially when our instincts have served us well in the past.

I love it for the number of frameworks and clear examples it provides such as the helpful (and not helpful) roles you can take on when problem-solving, the sweet spot of confidence between the Dunning-Kruger effect and Imposter Syndrome.

Grant is an excellent storyteller. He includes anecdotes and studies in each chapter that really help the concepts stick. 

- Steve Smith, Communications Manager

7. Atomic Habits

It makes a distinction between systems and goals and shows you how to set up for sustainable change and ongoing achievement rather than "I've reached my goal, now back to the bad habits."

It also deals with making small changes to see small, incremental improvements and getting 1% better at something every day vs. having to radically change everything. 

- Matt Paterson, Sr. Inside Sales Representative

8. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

This book is really written for product managers, but it outlines useful frameworks for team structures, etc. The biggest takeaway for me is how critical it is to be close to the customer. 

– Jonathan Dioli, Director of Services

9. The Effective Executive

This book provides timeless principles that can help new and experienced managers build the skills they need to run world-class organizations -- at any size. 

- Jimmy Mackin, CEO

10. The Go-Giver

It's centered around the idea that your income is congruent with the number of people you serve and how WELL you serve them. Taking the focus off of receiving and putting it on giving instead – that's the "Go-Giver" strategy for attracting prosperity. 

This is profound if you consider that most people - especially in the current social climate - are all about me, my, mine, etc. Very narrow way of thinking that limits what people can truly accomplish... alone... and together. 

- Wendy Herndon, Community Engagement Manager

11. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

They share a great framework of understanding the jobs, gains, pains for customers and how to rank them. It's a very visual book which is a nice change of pace.

- Alnur Ismail, CTO

12. They Ask, You Answer

Sheridan presents an SEO framework that is very approachable. I think people get overwhelmed by "keyword research" and all the other very technical things that can come with SEO strategies. 

He uses a very simple approach: Think about the questions that you get from your customers and answer those questions.

My favorite piece of advice was to avoid (at all costs) your instinct to shy away from difficult decisions. "What do Realtors get paid?" and "How do I FSBO?" are classic examples of questions that can be touchy for some, but they are questions that are on the mind of homeowners. By answering them honestly (from a neutral position) you have an opportunity to build a lot of trust with your potential future customers. 

– Jonathan Dioli, Director of Services

13. Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise

I like to look outside our own industry to get a sense of what World Class Customer Service/leadership is like. 

Horst is truly one of a kind and his approach to a top-level experience for his guests is second to none. He overlooks no details & spares almost no expense (Famously allowing even the maids to spend up to $2000 to make for a mistake) for the betterment of the guests.

Very old school in his philosophy (in a good way) which is rarely seen in many of the business books written by more contemporary writers.

- Joe Mackin, Customer Success Manager

14. Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it

The way she reframes fundamental marketing principles to level-up professionals and helps companies to better understand their unique value proposition(s) is unlike any marketer out there. Her tangible case studies and examples of how the right positioning to the right people at the right time can have an immense impact are amazing. 

Plus, April Dunford is just genuinely super smart, wildly experienced, and really fun to read/listen to in other forums (on podcasts, in interviews, etc.) as well!

- Stefanie Tracey-Calash, Research & Consumer Insights Manager

15. Th E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

All about how to build a business through repeatable and well-documented processes that are refined over time. You build the business like a franchise.

- Alnur Ismail, CTO

Now it's time to fire up your kindle, start your free Audible trial, or treat yourself to a hard copy and start building your 2022 business book library.

Let's get to work!

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