TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2023

It’s that time of year for me to share my top 10 books from the previous year.

Do you like to read? Well, here are my top 10 books for 2023. And for the first time in my annual book list, I have an author who has made the list with 2 of his books!

Before I share my top ten, you should probably know I read books for three main reasons:

Become a better businessperson
Become a better citizen
Become a better human

To make it on my top 10 list, these books usually tick at least 2 of those criteria, and the #1 book most definitely always ticks all three.

Also, If you have any recommendations for books that might fall into one of those three categories, please leave the book title in the comments section of this video. For now, here’s a recap of my top 10 books for 2023

#10 “Friend & Foe” by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer

In my opinion, this title is a bit misleading, but I loved the premise, and when I read it, I did so through the lens of a business owner. The book pulls from Social Sciences to show how you can maximize success by navigating between cooperation and competition. As a leader, I think it gives some great strategies on how to balance being the nice guy boss who is friendly and fun and being the stoic leader who means business. I like books that address juxtapositions, and this one does that, showing you when to have a heavy hand and when to have a light heart.

#9 “Do Hard Things” by Steve Magness

This book pulls from the ancient Stoics philosophies on life and puts a modern twist on them. And if you haven’t read from The Stoics, I highly recommend it, especially if you are a supporter of personal development, because there’s a really strong chance that if you’ve heard something from a modern-day motivational speaker that you like, they probably stole it directly from one of the greats like Seneca, Epictetus, or Marcus Aurelius. On a side note, I will take this moment to recommend any book by Ryan Holiday; he’s a modern-day stoic who has written multiple books on stoicism, and I’ve loved every book I’ve ever read from him. So why didn’t he make the list this year? I didn’t read any of his books this year.

#8 “25 Ways to Win with People” by John Maxwell & Less Parrott

This book was written to simplify and summarize in small digestible pieces one of John’s other best-selling books, Winning with People. The first book, Winning with People, is great for CEOs, but this book, 25 Ways, I think, is a book that every manager and their team members would love. If your company encourages employees to read a book of the month, this should be an absolute must. I’ll tell you why. I’ve read many of John Maxwell’s books, and I love them all. I ended up closing the book, wishing that one day I could be as good a leader as he is. This is the first book I closed the cover thinking, I hope I get to meet him one day. But not just meet him but get to be in his presence for a while. It made me realize the guy isn’t just a great leader; he’s a great human being, and I want that to rub off on me. So if living by these 25 principles can in some way have me become a reflection of how I perceive he would be in real life, then these are 25 ways to live worth pursuing.

#7 “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari

I especially recommend this book if you or someone you know deals with depression like I do. This book gets to the root causes of depression and anxiety, which challenge conventional theories about mental health – mainly that people who are depressed have lower levels of serotonin. He destroys that concept in the first chapter and then proceeds to share various environmental causes that he feels are the real sources of depression, and it’s not just his opinion either; he traveled the world and interviewed over 200 experts in the field of depression. The book suggests that societal factors, such as disconnection from meaningful relationships and purpose, play a significant role in our mental well-being. By the way, Johann was the author with two spots in my Top 10, and that other spot is #1, so keep reading to learn about his second book and my favorite of 2023.

#6 “Woke Racism” by John McWhorter

This book made me squirm, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it overall, but John is one of my favorite authors, and I think he’s brilliant. So, even though I had to struggle to get past some of his claims, I kept an open mind and kept going, and I’m glad I did. He’s got me thinking about many different social constructs, and this is one of those books that, once you put it down, keeps coming up in your mind when you see the references he makes in the book. His overall concept is essentially that wokeness is a new religion. And he’s very clear; he’s not saying it’s like a religion; he says it’s an actual religion, and he makes some compelling arguments for why.

He discusses some very hot and controversial topics like the removal of statues, anti-racism, left-wing and right-wing ideologies. And, if you just picked up the book and started reading with no knowledge of who John McWhorter is, it wouldn’t take long for you to be sure he’s a white man who loves Trump. But you would be wrong on both accounts. And he addresses that in the book as well. The book is not written for the ultra-liberal who is proud of their wokeness; the general view with them is that they are too far indoctrinated into the religion of wokeism. This book, instead, is written for people like me. Independent, most likely left-leaning, but not so far down the liberal path that they can’t look at things objectively. He also provides some really specific ideas on how to stand up to the ultra-woke who are trying to push their new religion on you. Trust me, if you are a liberal or an independent, this book will challenge some of your beliefs and most likely some of the things you’ve even been guilty of yourself.

#5 “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff

This book will most likely piss you off and make you second-guess ever wanting to get online ever again. It explores the impact of technology on privacy and society, particularly focusing on the rise of surveillance capitalism – which is the art of translating all of your actions online to create predictable revenue for big tech. She doesn’t mix words. This book is a direct attack on Facebook, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Apple. The book investigates how large tech companies collect and utilize our personal data, raising important questions about the implications for democracy and individual autonomy. I think we all realize that social media and search engines are tracking our every move, but this book takes it far deeper by revealing just how much data they collect and just how easy it is to manipulate us once they have our profiles established.

#4 “Smart Brevity” by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz

The founders of Axios wrote this book, And if you’ve ever read an Axios article, you know that it communicates everything you need to know in a very short amount of space. It’s almost creepy how they can do it. Well, turns out the reason they are so good at doing that is because they have an actual system for how to communicate information in the shortest space possible, and that process is called Short Brevity. The book is, not surprising, a short read but packed with tons of almost fill in the blank style formats for every possible form of communication, from emails that get read, to phone messages that get heard, this book shares the art and science behind brief but effective communication. Read it.

#3 “The Motive” by Patrick Lencioni

I love all of Patrick Lencioni’s books, and this one is no exception. It’s written in his typical parable style that weaves lessons of leadership in a story about a guy getting advice from another guy, but there’s a plot twist, and something happens that I won’t spoil, but in the end, it has one over-arching theme, which is summed up in the title. Specifically, what is your motive for wanting to lead? It’s a very short read, like all his books. Get it!

#2 “Clear Thinking” by Shane Parrish

Shane Parrish is a retired Canadian spy, so this book reminded me of one of my other top tens from an earlier year, “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. Which, by the way, is another book you should read. Chris is a retired FBI hostage negotiator, so the best way I can describe Clear Thinking is that it’s like Never Split the Difference, but instead of focusing on negotiating, it focuses on critical thinking and decision-making. It draws from cognitive science and philosophy, but Shane offers some really tangible suggestions on making sure you are making the best decisions possible. If you are a leader, in my opinion, this book is a must.

And finally, we get to my #1 book of 2023.

#1 “Stolen Focus” by Johann Hari

Have you noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to focus lately? If so, then this book should be a must-read for you, and if you are a parent, I beg you to read this book for the health and well-being of your children. ”Stolen Focus” investigates the effects of attention theft in the modern world, where constant distractions and demands vie for our attention. The book explores the impact on mental well-being and productivity, offering insights into reclaiming focus and fostering a more meaningful and intentional life. And just like in his previous books, he traveled the world, interviewing the world’s leading researchers on focus and attention. He identifies 12 environmental factors that are attacking your ability to focus and provide remedies on what you can do to counterbalance their effects. This book will most likely piss you off or scare the shit out of you, sort of like the Age of Surveillance Capitalism I mentioned earlier did.

To put into perspective how good this book is, I have recommended it to all of the CEOs in my CEO Mastermind. They all loved it, and in turn, some of them have incorporated the lessons into training for their staff. I recommended it to a client of mine in the UK, and he, in turn, recommended it to about 60 other CEOs, and I kid you not, without exception. Everyone who has read this book has said it’s one of the most powerful books they have ever written and that it is changing how they organize their days to stay more focused. I don’t think I’m exaggerating if I say this book will change your life for the better.

Okay, that’s my list; if you have a book you’ve loved, please put it in the comments below so we can all benefit from it, and who knows, it might end up in my top 10 for 2024!

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