If I’ve learned anything from interviews with the world’s wealthiest people, it’s this: Almost all self-made millionaires and billionaires say when they’re ready to read, they reach for a biography. Most notably, they claim reading a variety of books about successful people greatly contributed to their professional prowess.
All 13 must-reads are brimming with billion-dollar tips on how to achieve success, but there’s much more to them than their helpful business strategies.
Carried by compelling anecdotes, these page-turners offer rare glimpses into the lives of history’s most prominent entrepreneurs through intimate and inspiring lenses. And if you’re looking to get rich on your own terms, you’ll definitely want to take notes.
Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
Even though it debuted back in 1992, this Bill Gates biography continues to be a bestseller. Many call it the most thorough account of the self-made billionaire’s Microsoft journey ever written. And I won’t argue with that.
Incredibly detailed and insightful, Hard Drive is a dynamic exploration of Gate’s sharp mind, innovative mission, and unprecedented journey to becoming the world’s longest-reigning billionaire.
If you’re looking for something a little more current, 2014’s Bill Gates: A Biography is a close second.
Thrive: The Third Metric to Success
Ever wondered how the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post truly defines success? No matter how you answer that, you should seriously consider reading this one.
In this national bestseller, Huffington gives an autobiographical account of how she turned her online publication into one of the fastest-growing media companies in the world. She frankly discusses the struggles that came with staying on top in her field, and what the self-made millionaire calls her “wake-up call.”
Above all else, Thrive is an autobiography about prioritizing one’s well-being over everything else, but especially money and power.
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
There are a ton of books about Steve Jobs out there. However, this #1 best seller offers its readers a more visceral portrait than most, as it’s told through many intimate perspectives.
Walter Isaacson conducted over three years of interviews with the late co-founder and CEO of Apple. He also interviewed his family members, friends, colleagues, and even some of his biggest competitors.
For anyone who wants to learn from Job’s innovative mind and barrier-breaking career, this is definitely a must-read. Becoming Steve Jobs is a great alternative. In fact, many former executives at Apple called the bestselling bio the “the most accurate” book about Jobs ever written.
Both biographies provide invaluable perspective through stories about the Tech Visionary you likely never knew.
The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century
The People’s Tycoon is a critically acclaimed account of how Henry Ford went from Michigan farm boy to one of the richest men in America. And it’s downright fascinating.
As noted by The New York Times, Watts convincingly portrays him “as not just a business genius but a cultural pioneer.” This mostly flattering portrait highlights what a truly complex, and often contradictory, character Henry Ford was.
It also showcases how lasting success is not about being the first to do something, but figuring out how to be the best at what you do.
What I Know For Sure
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential public figures in the entire world. The reigning queen of all media is also the nation’s first African-American billionaire, but her unprecedented path to mega fame was anything but easy.
In What I Know For Sure, Oprah opens up about the hardships that shaped much of her childhood, what she did to survive, and how she ultimately made her own way in this world.
Oprah’s introspective autobiography is about personal transformation at its heart, giving a sentimental, insightful, and often heartwrenching look into how she built her one-woman empire.
In 1848, Andrew Carnegie began his well-documented journey from rags to riches. There are a number of books written in his honor, but this illuminating biography is by far the most captivating.
Acclaimed writer/Historian David Nasaw explores how the Scottish-born entrepreneur turned a few nickels into a jaw-dropping fortune. Perhaps most intriguing, he discusses why the prominent businessman turned peace-centric philanthropist decided to give it all away.
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt is frequently credited with being the father of capitalism. For those who’ve read The First Tycoon, you know exactly how and why.
This meticulously researched bestseller examines the railroad tycoon’s character and how he was never concerned with his public image. Or rather, how not caring about his “hard as nails” reputation greatly contributed to his lasting success and evergrowing fortune.
When Vanderbilt died in 1877, his net worth had reached over $100 million.
The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life
Warren Buffett began his billionaire business journey when he was just 11 years old. In fact, that’s when The Snowball says he bought his first stock.
As for the philanthropist’s greatest achievements and hardest-earned lessons, you’ll have to read this bestseller for yourself.
The business wisdom found in these pages is well worth the cover price, including lessons on ethics and the financial markets. However, that’s not the only selling point. This solid biography focuses on this larger-than-life figure as a person, making it all the more interesting.
The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur
How did Mary Kay Ash build a global independent sales empire worth millions? She’ll tell you all of her success secrets in The Mary Kay Way.
Ash’s forty-five-year success story stands in a league of its own. Mary Kay Inc. managed to weather even the worst of economic storms. At the time of her death, the self-made makeup mogul had amassed a fortune of $98 million. This autobiography is her carefully laid out, timeless blueprint for success.
Her most filling food for thought? “Every achievement, big or small, begins in your mind.”
Losing My Virginity
Anyone looking to master their brand can benefit from this autobiography by Richard Branson. In the span of twenty-five years, the Virgin CEO has churned out hundreds of successful ventures, and a pretty high volume of books. But this one is often said to be the best.
Losing My Virginity makes one thing abundantly clear throughout; Branson never stopped having fun while getting so many things done.
In Sir Richard’s firsthand account of how he built his business ‘his way’, he also divulges how we all can make the world a better place through our own unique talents. It’s his tale of and guide to “personal and business survival.”
Considering the business magnate’s currently worth 4.5 billion, it couldn’t hurt to take his insights to heart.
Rise and Grind
Rise and Grind became an instant New York Times bestseller for very good reason.
Yes, it’s the follow-up to Daymond John’s best-selling autobiography, The Power of Broke. But if you’re looking to be pushed beyond your limits for the better, this is a worthwhile read to start with.
The FUBU founder intricately unpacks how he overcame some of his biggest professional and personal obstacles. And he’s not just focusing on his own journey.
“The People’s Shark” sheds light on how many successful entrepreneurs have risen to unique challenges and hustled their ways to the tiptop of their fields. Overall, this empowering book encapsulates how “grit and persistence” fueled his own perseverance, and how you can grind with more gumption every day.
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller
Who was John D. Rockefeller really? In Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Ron Chernow masterfully sifts through the American oil tycoon’s life with a fine-tooth comb.
And you may have a surprising amount of trouble putting this one down.
Rockefeller famously came from rustic origins and worked as an accountant before evolving into the richest man in the world. As noted by the New York Times, this enlightening biography reads more like a gripping novel than your typical biography.
Billionaire businessman Charlie Munger says it’s one of his top picks, especially for anyone looking to build a forward-thinking business. If you want to learn even more, John D. Rockefeller: The Original Titan is an equally engrossing analysis of this quintessential industrialist.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Once upon a time, Jeff Bezos was running Amazon out of his garage. Seemingly overnight, the self-made billionaire’s modest online bookstore took off, rapidly evolving into “the everything store” it is today. This bestseller covers his business journey, long-held success strategies, business-building how-tos, and who he really is.
Written by Brad Stone, this easy read is full of intriguing tidbits about the world’s richest man. From start to finish, Bezo’s story is as resourceful as it is remarkable, chalked full of helpful insights for just about anybody. It also continuously notes how Amazon’s founder has always been an avid reader, attributing much of his unmatched success to endlessly learning from others.