Five Books Every Young Professional Should Read

In my book Three Things Matter Most, I conclude that time is the most valuable resource we have, and the choices we make will make all the difference. For those just beginning a career -or even interviewing for their first internship- there is no better use of time than unlocking the indispensable professional wisdom found in the pages of these five books. Truth be told, I could recommend 20 books you should read, but these five alone will give you (or your children) a boost in confidence and the critical insights to leap closer to whatever the ultimate goals may be. 

Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

There is nothing more self-destructive than insecurity and fear of rejection, and if you aren’t completely comfortable asking for what you want, then start right here. Jia Jang’s short book is a brilliant account of his experiment to spend 100 days pushing the envelope to fight through rejection. It is both entertaining and insightful, with the obvious lesson shining through clearly by the end. 

Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal

An easy-to-read compilation of short stories about some of the most successful businesspeople in the world. Whether you read it piece-by-piece or in a single sitting, it is an incredible window into the highs and lows of a career. There are very few overnight success stories, and nearly everyone points to the biggest mistake they made as the most valuable lesson they learned.   

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

Actual interpersonal communication skills are in high demand and short supply for younger people these days, particularly with the ubiquity of smartphones and other technological advances. There will never be a replacement for the skills and willingness to have direct conversations, particularly when it feels awkward or uncomfortable. There are basic lessons here, but don’t confuse that with unimportant. 

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

You could read a half-dozen books and still not get the breadth of value Morgan Housel delivers in The Psychology of Money. It’s an easy read that mixes the art of growing money intelligently along with different perspectives about money itself. The earlier in life you think about these ideas, the more impact they can have in so many ways. 

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday 

The Daily Stoic is intended to be read a page at a time, each day for a year. It won’t be a surprise if, when you finish the book, you start over and continue reading a page a day. Like I did. Life wisdom that has held up for centuries from some of the greatest minds in antiquity. Making important life decisions requires having the right counsel, and it would be difficult to find better companions than the Stoics.