Ten Best Books For MBA Students

February 9, 2021
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In the new year, pastimes like writing and reading return for many eager and intellectually hungry students. Some of the top topics that many reach for range from fiction to autobiographies and self-help books.

For some MBA students, reading is a part of their journey to learning new ways on how to effectively communicate, lead organizations or find tactics to utilize for their next promotion or raise. For others, reading is a way to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the world, analyzing their methods and errors.

If you are looking to start your year off strong with books about business and leadership, take a look at our top ten best books for MBA students:

    The Lean Startup

    1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

One of the most recognized and referenced books for business professionals, The Lean Startup teaches the fundamentals of organizing a new business using a model of fast and continuous learning through testing and experimentation. Written by lean manufacturing expert and Yale alumnus, Eric Ries, the book introduces the concept of "validated learning", or ongoing experimentation and adjusting your trajectory based on your findings. Using a scientific approach, The Lean Startup explains how entrepreneurs of all business sizes need to learn to continuously test, adapt and improve their methods based off their results. Recommended by numerous professionals and top CEOs from around the world, we have a feeling you might learn a thing or two about the process of beginning, failing, repeating and-hopefully-succeeding.

    The Hard Thing About Hard Things

    2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Written by technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things provides a full-frontal view of the challenges and mistakes that might come along with running a business. Covering topics such as layoffs, employee loyalty, customers and different ways of capturing potential investors, Horowitz uses real life examples to illustrate how the, "...right things are the same as the hard things." Recommended by many technology gurus including Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page, this book is packed with great and gritty information to help anyone navigate the harsh realities of business.

    How to Win Friends & Influence People

    3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Wanting to read about an incredible study on human behavior? How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936 and is considered one of the most successful books in American history. Written by Dale Carnegie, this book looks into how people can relate to other consumers by just becoming a better salesman. Using practical tactics, Carnegie writes about interpersonal human behavior and how people want to be treated when joining a business relationship, how to handle demanding clients and win them over. While this book is a little older, it is still considered one of the top bestselling non-fiction books to date.

     Scaling Up Excellence

    4. Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao

Written by Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao, professors at Stanford University, Scaling Up Excellence is a researched guide on how to successfully manage both small- and large-scale companies. Through a series of stories based on their personal experience at Silicon Valley, this book reveals how organizations strive cultivate good practices, but often fail due to intense challenges during the implementation process. Known to be both a very practical and light read, this book is perfect for any MBA student looking to learn more about management skills and how to become a better employer overall.

    The Wisdom of Crowds

    5. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

    Written by The New Yorker contributing writer James Surowiecki, this book explains the importance of adopting ideas and themes from larger groups and implementing them in companies that might seem small-minded. Arguing that larger group ideas are more concrete and can provide foster innovation faster, Surowiecki looks into various topics including human psychology, culture, history and politics to uncover how the many of these crowd-like thoughts affect the business world. Recommended by some of the top publishing firms, The Wisdom of Crowds is a neat read for anyone interested in seeing how other professions play a role in business.

      48 Laws of Power

      6. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    If you're looking for a book to spark reflection, then 48 Laws of Power might be for you. Greene uses the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and even Carl Von Clausewitz to condense nearly three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws. With some laws teaching the need for prudence to others focusing on confidence, this book is considered one of the boldest and most interesting books about total domination in any area of life or profession. Whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game of life, this book is perfect for any MBA student looking to see how philosophy and business can collide.

      The Tipping Point

      7. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell's extraordinary book The Tipping Point looks at that magical moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold and spreads like wildfire. Giving examples from various fields, Gladwell uses both contemporary and historical anecdotes to explain his thought process and how chain reactions occur both in life or business, whether we like them or not.

      The 4-Hour Workweek

      8. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

    If you're looking for an easy read, then The 4-Hour Work Week is perfect for you. Looking specifically at online entrepreneurs, Tim Ferriss explains the new industry of remote, independent entrepreneurs that outsource their business, manage their own day and choose for themselves what to do and when. Throwing in humorous concepts of mini-retirements, Ferris shows how the business world has been altered due to these "work smarter, not harder" innovators online. Whether you're thinking about hopping on The 4-Hour Work Week bandwagon or just curious, this book is a great choice for some light reading.

      Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love

      9. Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

    Presenting a proven perspective on product development, Marty Cagan lays out concepts in a clear, intuitive manner aimed at working professionals. Looking at the non-product challenges faced by managers daily (for example, sales, design, marketing, executives, customers, stakeholders) and applying real ways to overcome the pressure without breaking the bank or risking your professional relationships. While this book isn't a technical guide for upper management personnel, it is a great book for upcoming managers starting new positions in the consumer product spectrum.

      Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love

      10. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer

      Written by a contributing writer at The Atlantic, Franklin Foer, this book uses soccer as a way to explain globalization in our ever-changing world. Compiling a wide range of reporting, historical documentation, and civilization clashes, Foer argues that soccer is the perfect sport to analogize the way globalization is affecting the business and economic models of our world. With rave review from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, this book dives into the theory of globalization and both the positive and negative connotations that come along with it.

    From our Hankamer School of Business faculty and staff, happy reading!


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