7 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read To Succeed

By Chong Jinn Xiung

Here's a list of recommended titles that have helped Gen.T honourees navigate life and business

Tatler Asia
Photo: Getty Images
Cover  Photo: Getty Images

There is a quote from Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, which goes, "Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary."

Depending on what you want to learn more about, there are thousands upon thousands of books—and more than 400,000 new reads get published every day. So where do you begin? We tapped on our Gen.T community for recommendations. Here are some of their suggestions. 


Kingsley Leung, the co-founder and chairman of Great Bay Bio, says Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens gave him insights on the evolution of the world, how politics-economics-social are so clearly intertwined and how mistakes of the past continue to be repeated today.

"Especially at times of high social unrest and racial discrimination, the book tells us that there is more that connects us than separates us," Leung says. "Not much [about us] has changed as a species. Only when we understand our history and respect our differences can we build a better tomorrow."

Read more: How AI Can Help to Revolutionise Drug R&D

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Tatler Asia
Photo: Neenu Ton
Above  Photo: Neenu Ton

Anca Griffiths, the co-founder and CEO of OM, finds Eckhart Tolle's book inspiring. The author describes the three modalities of awakened doing: acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm.

In the book, Tolle wrote, "You need to be vigilant to ensure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all, from the simplest task to the most complex."

"Each modality is appropriate to certain situations," says Griffith. "I try to come back to one of those modalities, especially when the task at hand is tedious, not my strength or especially overwhelming."

Read more: How Anca Griffiths' Company is Giving Women a Space to Learn About Sex-Specific Health Subjects

A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions

V'air Hong Kong's co-founder and director Natalie Chung was inspired by author Muhammad Yunus' book to look into the importance of social businesses and how they spark change in the existing capitalist system.

"For instance, micro-financing is an empowerment tool that can perform and change the system internally without interfering with capitalism. It was part of the reason why I founded V’air," she says.

She was also moved by what Professor Yunus told a group of university students about how they were privileged and had many talents. "If we can’t find a job that fits our goals and visions, another option is to start your own social business to solve existing problems in the world because we have the responsibility to make society better."

Read more: Young Women Lead Climate Change Activism, But Who Sets the Policies?

Invent & Wander

Invent & Wander by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was a book that inspired fintech entrepreneur Prajit Nanu personally and professionally. For him, it highlighted what was important in life and business and how it was essential to keep the long-term in sight. 

"I have always admired the success of high-growth companies such as Amazon and I hope to emulate this at my company, Nium," says Nanu. "With a strong long-term vision of the future, I aspire to lead Nium with the same boldness to achieve record-breaking growth." Nium attained unicorn status last September.

Read more: How Prajit Nanu’s Fintech Startup Nium Became A Unicorn—And Where He’s Taking It From There

The Dip

Social entrepreneur Zikry Kholil describes how The Dip by Seth Godin resonated with him and helped him through several challenging periods in his life.

"This book taught me so much about how to avoid or get out when you're experiencing a dip, which is a phase where you feel stuck and are struggling to bring yourself up," says the co-founder and chief commercial officer of charity platform Incitement.

Zikry later applied some of the lessons from the book to his organisation. "I want my team to be able to tell [their leaders] if they are experiencing a dip in their life or career, so that we can [find] ways to help them," he says.

Read more: This Startup is Making Giving Easier and More Transparent in Southeast Asia

The Alchemist and Maktub

Nattinee Dora Sae-Ho, the founder and CEO of Thrive Venture Builder, rereads The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho every year to remind herself that dreams are wonderful and magical things may be right in front of you, but if you do not act upon them, you won't achieve them.

She also recommends Coelho's Maktub and has one of its Arabic quotes, which translates as "It is written" in English, tattooed on her arm. "This is to remind me that creating the change I want to see in this world is part of my destiny, I just need to go out to make it happen!"

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