Top 10 Books of 2016

In the winter of 2015, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the 8 billionaires that live in Tampa, FL.  The meeting was inspiring on many levels.  But the one takeaway that most impacted my life was when he shared that he reads nearly 4 hours a day.  I thought to myself, “I haven’t read 4 hours in the past year!”

This wasn’t the first time I heard from exceptionally successful people that they like to read.  In fact, reading seems to be the intellectual equivalent of property: All of the wealthiest people in the world invest in it.

So in 2016 I set out to read 12 books.  I put on my day planner “Read AM” to make sure I would start off every day with a win.  By the end of the year I had read 38 books.  I crushed my goal!  By the end of 2016 I had gained 2 major things in my life:

#1 – A vast amount of knowledge that I didn’t have previously

#2 – My Happiness

That second one may seem a bit strange, so before I launch into my top 10 out of the 38 books I read, here’s the quick back story.

In March of the same year I got a dog.  Anyone who knows me knows that, but most people don’t know why.  I was suffering from anxiety and clinical depression.  I had been for many years.  I never wanted to take anti-depressants, but it was getting to the point where I thought I might give in and take them.  In a last ditch attempt at avoiding meds, I adopted Macie.  I thought getting a dog might take my mind off my stresses in life, and bring me some joy.  And she did.  She definitely helped me, and I made big strides, but was far from out from under my dark cloud.  When I began reading in January of 2016 I started to feel a shift.  I was feeding my brain something it desperately needed.  I have no idea what it was, but reading became the endorphin for my brain that helped me to start me day out with a more positive outlook.  And it didn’t matter what I read, just the act of reading was activating parts of my brain that desperately needed stimulation.  As of April, 2017 I’m happy to report that I’ve pretty much won my battle with depression.  I have better strategies for handling stress, I don’t get impacted by negative things as much and I’m 100% absolutely certain it’s because of two things that I changed in my life.  So if anyone is battling with this crippling mental challenge, my advice would be to get a dog, and get a book.  They did wonders for me.

I read only three types of books:

  1. Books that make me a better business person

  2. Books that make me a better human

  3. Books that make me a better citizen

Out of the 38 books I read, here are my top 10 most favorite for 2016.  (I know, I know, it’s April.  Top 10 lists of the previous year are supposed to be released in January.  I’ve been busy reading – So far, I’ve read 19 books this year. My goal is to read 40 – yeah, I’m gonna crush it again.)

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2016

(Each of the book covers below are linked to Amazon if you would like to purchase them)

#1 – The Book of Joy


This was my #1 book for helping me to be a better human, AND my #1 book overall.  The writer was exceptional in his ability to make you feel like you were right in the room with these two spiritual leaders.  I’ve never read a book that made me laugh out loud so hard, or tear up from both joy and sadness.



#2 – The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business

I’ve owned this book for 3 years and never cracked it open.  Man was that a mistake.  While it’s #2 overall, it’s #1 in my area of books that make me a better business person.   Keith is a damn genius and has a way of making business so remarkably simple to understand.  I’ve met Keith before and was impressed at his character.  I walked away thinking, “What a great guy!”  Now after reading his book I think, “I want to be that guy!”  If you haven’t read this book, your business is suffering as a result.  You owe it to your business to read this.


#3 – Walkable City

Jeff Vinik recommended this book to me and I’m so glad he did.  This was my #1 choice for books that make me a better citizen and as you can see, #3 overall in my top 10.  I get it, you might not want to read a book on urban planning, but I think you would be better if you did, and you would be able to make a far more informed decision when voting on key issues in this city than just reading propaganda and campaign ads.  Many of the things you take for granted are explained in this book, and it might even make you rethink your position on certain transportation issues.


#4 – The Dip

I haven’t read a book by Seth Godin I haven’t liked.  This one is a super fast read – it’s what I call a “2 Crapper.”  The biggest thing I got from this book was that any pursuit in life to be anything less than the best in the world at what you do isn’t worth pursing.  BUT!   You can change the size of your world anytime you wish.  For example:  Elon Musk may not make the best cars in the world, but he damn sure makes the best cars in the world of electric cars.  What world do you want to be the best at?


#5 – Breeding Gazelles

I loved this book so much it’s back on my reading list again for 2017.  Dan Bradbury, aside from being a dear friend of mine, is one of the smartest people in business I’ve ever met.  One of those reasons might be because at age 19 he was the third fastest reader in the world.  Safe to say, he’s read more business books in his short life that all of us reading this blog will read combined in our entire lives.

If your desire in business is a fast growing company built to scale, this book is a must!


#6 – Slicing Pie

Want a team of people working for you but don’t have the cashflow to do it?  No excuse after you read this book.  It lays out a step-by-step process for how to fairly and equitably distribute ‘theoretical shares’ into your business so that people can work for you without compensation up front.  This read should be required for all startups and anyone wanting to scale, but bitching about cashflow.



#7 – Never Split the Difference

This isn’t just a good sales book.  It is, in my opinion, the best damn sales book ever written!  It was, after all, written by a former FBI hostage negotiator.  Think he might have a few good tips for your negotiating skills?  He doesn’t overcomplicate the process.  He keeps it simple.  So simple, that during the emotional pressure of a sales process you can stay calm and cool.  FBI hostage negotiator cool.

Plus, the book has some damn interesting stories.


#8 – The 5 Temptations of a CEO

Thanks to Daniel Nyiri for recommending this one to me.  It’s a fast read and one of those books that is an entertaining escape of reality at the same time.  The book is about a CEO forced to take the subway home one night and meets a janitor (the Yoda of the story) who questions his decisions in business and has him discover just how the things he things make him great as a leader are the things that most likely hold him back.  You’ll be reading it thinking, “Me too.  Guilty.  I’ve done that.  Yep that’s me.  Guilty.  Me too.  Did he record me secretly to write this?  Guilty again.  Still me.”


#9 – The Happiness Advantage

For the most part, I despise self-help books.  I was in the business probably a bit too long, and became embittered by how many so called “thought leaders” were just hypocritical douchebags trying to make a fast buck off someone in crisis.  So now I’m far more skeptical and don’t accept advice just because it sounds nice or feels good.  It has to pass my litmus test of logic.  This book does that.  It doesn’t just throw out overused hackery phrases like, “take your life to the next level” “live an authentic live” “speak your truth” or “you were born to succeed.”  Instead, it uses actual research, statistical data, and evidence  based conclusions to show you why the happier you are the greater the advantage you will have in life.

#10 – The Seamless City

With my political ambitions becoming more widely well known, this book spoke to me in so many ways.  It’s how Rick Baker laid out his plan to have St. Petersburg, FL become the fast-growing city it is today.  Cities can learn something by seeing what they are doing over there, and people could become better citizens if they took the time to read this book on what it takes to make a city a success.  Many of the things outlawed in this book laid the foundation for the success their current Mayor, Rick Kriseman is enjoying during his current reign.


2 Bonus Books!

I wanted to put these next 2 books in my top 10 list but since one was written by my business partner, Daniel Priestley, and the other, my work wife, Jodi McLean, I thought it might be too self-serving to list them.  So instead, I’ll leave them as bonus books for you to enjoy.


How many business owners can say they have an employee who invested their own time and money into writing a book solely for the benefit of that company?  I’m guessing very few.  But that’s exactly what Jodi did when she wrote the book entitled, “Buckle Up – Everything You Need to Know to Kick Ass Your First Year on the Job” and we send a copy to each person throughout the world that worked for Key Person of Influence.

The book was so good, and after some encouragement, she re-wrote the book eliminating the specific info about our company and providing more universal advice for employees with the entrepreneurial spirit.  It’s an amazing book written for those misfit employees who care way to much about the company they work for – who put in way too many hours – who never shut off and are as dedicated to the business as if they owned it themselves.  And the book shows them how to be the best damn intrapreneur that company will ever know.


This book is a recipe for ensuring demand outstrips supply for your product or service, and you have scores of customers lining up to give you money.   There really are companies who don’t have to chase clients, the clients chase them. In a world of endless choices, why does this happen? Why do people queue up? Why do they pay more? Why will they book months in advance? Why are these people and products in such high demand? This book shows you how you can get a slice of that action.


This wasn’t easy to choose just 10 (12).  I liked all the books I read.  If you’ve been wanting to read more, but haven’t started, do what I do.  Set a goal to just read 1 page a day.  It will become easy; you’ll read more, then soon you’ll set a goal to read 1 chapter a day.  Then you’ll start reading faster.  What used to take 30 minutes will soon only take 15 and then you’ll be consuming twice as much as you used to.  And who knows, you might just become a happier person in the process.

Got some books you’ve loved that you think I might enjoy?  Please leave me some suggestions in the comments!


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