Keeping it Simple: Six Business Classics (as inspired by the Amish)

shelved under Business

I spent a lot of time with Amish people while researching my Amish business book.

One thing I discovered is that the Amish aren’t reinventing a lot of wheels — but relying on time-tested principles to achieve 5-year business success north of 90%. Not bad when you consider the general population’s mark is less than half that.

In that vein, here are six classics on a range of business topics. The nice thing about principles is that they don’t go out of style — and tend to work in any range of places, cultures, or circumstances.


Productivity: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Practically everyone's heard of this one; it's sold 15 million copies in over 3 dozen languages, and is that uncommon book appreciated by business readers and non-business types alike. One of Covey's Seven: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."


Economics: Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy

by Thomas Sowell

Economics has been called the "dismal science." Many Econ 101 survivors would agree with the description. Basic Economics is, well, basic — in the sense that it ladles out the meat-and-potatoes of a seemingly simple subject that, in fact, is often misunderstood or misrepresented. But it's also anything but boring — thanks to Sowell's real-world examples which aim to convey why an understanding of economics matters in the decisions we make every day. That and Sowell's subtle humor make Basic Economics a much livelier read than the vanilla title would suggest.


Management: The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management

by Peter F. Drucker

Revered in the field of management, Drucker wrote nearly 40 books before expiring in 2005 at age 95. This one compiles his greatest hits. Packed with insights that have shaped modern management thinking.


Marketing: All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

by Seth Godin

You could probably stick a number of books by Godin, one of today's most influential marketers, on this list. I chose ...Liars because of the key idea at its core: we buy not products, but the ideas and feelings and experiences they represent. Liars is a fun and fast read as it relentlessly hammers away at one of the core truths of consumption.


Leadership: Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer

by Stephanie Capparell, Margot Morrell, foreword by Alexandra Shackleton

Not so much a classic book (at least not yet) as a great leadership book based on a classic tale of perseverance and survival. Timeless leadership lessons interspersed among a page-turner of a true-life adventure story, that of Ernest Shackleton's failed 1914 trans-Antarctic expedition.


Sales: The Greatest Salesman in the World

by Og Mandino

The camel-boy-with-big-ambitions plotline and the ancient scrolls Mandino uses as a vehicle to deliver his message struck me as a bit corny at first. But the story quickly grows on you, and the habits promoted in this slim tone are simply invaluable — as any salesperson who has used Mandino's work to battle that early AM pit-in-the-stomach knows.