Top CEOs Reveal the Books That Changed Their Lives

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  • I'm a big advocate of micro-learning. That is the whole reason why I started Radiate.

    But there's also something special and transformative about diving deeper into a subject. That is ... when you have the time.

    Many books have changed my view on the world. A Turn in the South by V.S. Naipaul altered my entire approach to a part of America that was unfamiliar to me. Spencer Johnson's 100-page parable Who Moved My Cheese—as corny as the title sounds—is probably as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1998. I would argue even more relevant in this age of rapid technological change. And when I first began to think seriously about starting our company, a CEO friend recommended I read Ben Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things. That book helped open my eyes to the reality of starting a business. And it made me want to plunge in head first.

    On Radiate, we've asked a few of our experts what book changed their lives. Here are a few of our favorites and some to note for the year ahead:

    Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman, Quicken Loans: "Tom Peters was very influential on me from the late '80s. He wrote In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence ... they had a big influence on me. His thought process and his thinking on culture and business."

    Arianna Huffington, founder, Thrive Global: "A book that changed my life is one by Marcus Aurelius, who was an emperor of Rome for 19 years and a stoic philosopher. He wrote a book called Meditations. This was a man who dealt with the plagues and invasions and betrayals, and yet he managed to remain in the eye of the hurricane. He managed to remain imperturbable. I love that book, I have it by my bed, because I feel if the emperor of Rome can do that, surely I can."

    Richard Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations: "Probably the book that made the biggest difference to me, intellectually, was a book by an Australian academic whom I got to know when I was a graduate student at Oxford. His name is Hedley Bull, and the name of the book is The Anarchical Society, and, in that title, it tells you everything I needed to know. At any moment in history, there are forces of anarchy or disorder or, to use my favorite word, disarray. At the same time, there are forces of society or order or organization, and, at any moment in history, it's the balance, it's the competition between forces of anarchy and forces of society that give the era its character."

    Originally published on Linkedin Pulse

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  • Betty Liu

    About Betty Liu

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