Top 5 Books to Launch Your Career Into the Stratosphere

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Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett have all talked about how important reading is to their work and lives. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a billionaire, top managers and leaders still espouse the benefits of constant learning. One good book can fundamentally improve your career, changing your trajectory from a car to a rocket ship. But what if you’re too busy with work and life to make time for reading?

Enter Shortform, home of the world’s best book guides. Our expert team of writers extracts key ideas, arguments, and analyses from dense books, providing you with core knowledge without the fluff. Shortform guides are no simple “five-minute summary”—they are carefully constructed, detailed guides, designed to provide you with all the key insights within hours of reading, not days or weeks.

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We are so confident that you’ll find value in our product that we are offering a 1-week free trial for all our blog readers. Shortform membership includes thousands of detailed summaries in over 20 categories, ranging from management to self-development to psychology. Authors covered include Ray Dalio, the Dalai Lama, Stephen Hawking, Dale Carnegie, and many more of the world’s most well-known and esteemed thinkers. There’s something for every working professional in Shortform’s catalog!

#1 Business Adventures

TITLE: Business Adventures
AUTHOR: John Brooks
TIME: 20
READS: 32.5
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: business-adventures-summary-john-brooks

Published in 1969, Business Adventures is a collection of essays about the unpredictability of corporations and Wall Street—and the people behind them. Longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks explores how businesses and economies can rise and fall based on people’s behavior, which is often driven by emotions, habits of thinking, and human tendencies. Brooks’s essays are so insightful and engaging that Microsoft’s Bill Gates has called Business Adventures the “best business book ever.”

In this guide, you’ll find out how human nature led to corporate scandals, stock market setbacks, and major events that shaped the financial world as we know it. As the book was published half a century ago, we also include updates and commentary about the lasting impact of these case studies and connect them to contemporary events and issues.

#2 The Personal MBA

TITLE: The Personal MBA
AUTHOR: Josh Kaufman
TIME: 17
READS: 97.2
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-personal-mba-summary-josh-kaufman

In The Personal MBA, bestselling author and entrepreneur Josh Kaufman offers a comprehensive overview of how businesses work. He argues that there are five key processes underpinning every business and suggests ways to optimize them for successful results. You’ll come away knowing how to identify profitable opportunities and make informed decisions to ensure business success.

In this guide, we’ll discuss these five key processes and present Kaufman’s advice for managing them to create business success. Additionally, we’ll clarify his ideas with complementary research from management professionals and we’ll suggest actionable strategies to help you apply these concepts to your business.

#3 On Writing Well

TITLE: On Writing Well
AUTHOR: William Zinsser
TIME: 50
READS: 152.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: on-writing-well-summary-william-zinsser

No matter your current skill level, William Zinsser believes anyone can practice the craft of writing. On Writing Well offers a back-to-basics approach, focusing on honing essential writing skills rather than trying to employ complex stylistic techniques. Even if you’re not a professional writer, you’ll often find yourself in a position where you need to express an idea with words, and whether you’re crafting an email or a resume, you can apply Zinsser’s principles of simple, clear, and engaging writing. This book explores how to approach the discipline of writing and effectively put your ideas into words.

In this guide, we’ll explore Zinsser’s principles of simplicity, clarity, and identity, how to achieve each of them, and the specific challenges of creative nonfiction genres. Along the way, we’ll examine how his principles align with or differ from other writing experts, and we’ll provide actionable tips so you can apply Zinsser’s ideas to your writing.

#4 Principles

TITLE: Principles: Life and Work
AUTHOR: Ray Dalio
TIME: 59
READS: 33.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: principles-life-and-work-summary-ray-dalio

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. In Principles: Work and Life, he shares the guiding principles powering his success and Bridgewater’s.

Principles is a manual for rational thinking. The main theme is that finding the truth is the best way to make decisions, and that ego, emotion, and blind spots prevent you from discovering the truth. Dalio shares his major strategies to circumvent these weaknesses, including total receptivity, extreme honesty and transparency, productive conflict, and credibility-centered decision making.

In our Principles guide, you’ll learn how to get past your ego in pursuit of your goals, why you need other people to improve your probability of being right, and the five-step process for getting what you want out of life.

#5 The Art of Thinking Clearly

TITLE: The Art of Thinking Clearly
AUTHOR: Rolf Dobelli
TIME: 61
READS: 69.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-art-of-thinking-clearly-summary-rolf-dobelli

In The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli breaks down the most common logical fallacies that inhibit decision-making, including confirmation bias, social proof, and hindsight bias. Dobelli aims to help people recognize and overcome these fallacies so they can make better decisions.

In this guide, we’ll explore Dobelli’s main fallacies, including those caused by humanity’s past as hunter-gatherers and those caused by other sources such as misinterpretation of cause and effect. Along the way, we’ll compare and contrast Dobelli’s ideas with other experts on logical thinking, such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Daniel Kahneman. We’ll also provide concrete steps to overcome illogical thinking and explore why logical fallacies occur.

Key Insights, Without the Fluff

Most books take hours, if not days, to read. Some books may have tons of value, but the reader has to wade through tangents and anecdotes in order to glean the main points. By this time, the reader is often so confused and overwhelmed that they fail to understand the primary messages in the book. You lose important wisdom in the noise. And in a world with so much information to consume, it’s hard to break out of the echo chamber and get a wide variety of viewpoints.

Shortform takes key insights from books and presents them succinctly without eliminating important points. This is the best of both worlds: the reader get to learn what’s important, and they get to do it quickly. Our summaries provide original examples, summarized insights, analysis, & counterpoints, to provide you with the full context of a piece of a key point.


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This flood of information can feel overwhelming. How do you choose among a seemingly infinite number of books, articles, podcasts, and videos? How do you make sense of the thousands of viewpoints people have about a topic?

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Top 5 Books to Launch Your Career Into the Stratosphere

Want to fast-track your learning? With Shortform, you’ll gain insights you won't find anywhere else .

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  • Complicated ideas explained in simple and concise ways
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