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Six Must-Reads for MBAs

One of the nicest things about winter is curling up in front of a roaring fire with a good book. Business students may think they're too busy to read, but reading – for pleasure or to develop your knowledge – can help you succeed and will make you more competitive. So, if you're an MBA student, add these books to your Christmas list and get reading!

Dec 8, 2015
  • Student Tips
Six Must-Reads for MBAs

Reading just a few pages a day can help you improve your reading comprehension and reading over a wide variety of topics will keep you informed and relevant – a must for MBA applicants and interviews. And you don't have to limit yourself to dense, industry-related tomes. Novels, biographies, and magazines can all help you polish your reading skills (and help you ace the GMAT). What's important is that you read and understand the material. But if you need some ideas for great business books that every MBA should have on their shelf (and in their head), check out this list of six books, and then find yourself a comfy chair and get reading!

1. Anyone can do it, by Sahar and Bobby Hashemi

"Anyone can do it" is the story of Coffee Republic, the British chain of coffee shops founded by siblings Sahar and Bobby Hashemi in 1995. The book isn't your typical memoir or business history – it's written so that even non-business readers can enjoy the inspiring story of the brother-sister team who started with a single coffee shop in South London. Aimed to inspire young and beginning entrepreneurs, Anyone can do it shows that operating a successful business doesn't require special skills or innate talent, but rather hard work and inspiration. This feel-good book is a great one to get your business ideas brewing.

2. On the Edge: the art of high impact leadership, by Alison Levine

"On the Edge" takes all of the rules of business and leadership and turns them on their head. Using her experiences climbing Mount Everest, as well as the insight of extreme sports figures, military leaders, and great business minds, Levine makes the case for looking at tough business situations the way you'd approach life-or-death sports challenges. "On the Edge" is inspiring, challenging, and controversial but Levine's strategies pack a lot of punch. The book has been on the New York Times Best Seller List and is recommended reading at Wharton, so this is a great one for anyone trying to climb to the top.

3. Data smart: using data science to transform information into insight, by John Foreman

Most books about data science rely on theory and can be very technical and one dimensional. In "Data Smart", Forman jumps into the practicalities and gives the reader models for analysis that actually work (and make sense). Forman uses Excel as the basis for data analysis, making this book and its techniques accessible to both the tech-minded and the initiate. This is a great book to read before launching your tech-start-up or if you really want to learn how to analyze market data and excellent for students studying for an MBA in Business.

4. Now discover your strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

"Now discover your strengths" is based on the concept of 'talent themes' – a pattern of traits that inherent in individuals that help them succeed. This self-help book aims to help people identify their 'talent themes' and focuses on developing those, rather than concentrating on improving weaknesses. Buckingham and Clifton use the revolutionary argument that there is little point in trying to improve areas in which you do not excel and that developing your strengths is the key to success (both individual and institutional). For many it's a new way of thinking, but the book, coupled with the online assessment can help you gain clarity and direction for your goals.

5. Getting everything you can out of all you’ve got, by Jay Abraham

If you work in marketing or are looking for a new way to brand yourself, this book is a must-read. Abraham explains in simple, concise language how to maximize your potential and find opportunities that others have missed. The book uses real-life examples from Abraham's extensive experience in marketing to outline opportunities and how to find them. Read this one before you head out into the job market or when you're trying to figure out a new challenge during your MBA studies.

6. The Icarus Deception, by Seth Godin

It's easy to get caught up in the rules and patterns of the corporate world, but "The Icarus Deception" challenges readers to break free from convention and embrace their creativity. Godin reminds his readers that while most people remember the moral of the Tale of Icarus (who flew too high and fell to his death), hardly anyone remembers that Daedelus, Icarus's father, also warned the boy that flying too near the sea was also dangerous. The takeaway – overconfidence and lack of caution can destroy the loftiest ambitions, but so too can lack of faith and enthusiasm. This is a great one to read when you're feeling downtrodden or lacking self-actualization. Read "The Icarus Deception" and find your wings!

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