11 Self-Made Millionaires Reveal the Book That Helped Them Get Rich
Sure, becoming a self-made millionaire takes a lot of hard work and maybe a little luck. It also involves listening to some very good advice.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Rich in knowledge…and, as a result, actually rich
Money can buy you a lot of things, but nothing can make you feel as rich in knowledge as a great, influential book. Self-made millionaires are generally well-read people who have explored many different avenues in terms of how they approach business, investments, savings, management, and life. While not all advice is a perfect fit, these business-savvy men and women have found the perfect approaches for them, thanks to a few good books. By the way, if you have these 10 traits, you could become a self-made millionaire, too.
As the cofounder of Apple, Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, is one of the most lauded American entrepreneurs of our time. An avid reader, Jobs was inspired by many books, but Be Here Now by Ram Dass was of particular influence. It’s a guide to meditation, and for Jobs, who really found his spirituality in college, it helped him train his mind for life and success. “It was profound,” Jobs reportedly said of the book. “It transformed me and many of my friends.” If you’re looking to fatten your bank account, check out these money-saving tips from self-made millionaires.
Billionaire Warren Buffett is quite the well-read businessman. But it was The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham that truly changed his life. “I knew what everybody thought [about investing] and all of that at an early age, but what Graham wrote made sense,” said Buffett while speaking at an event at Columbia University. “I just happened to pick up that book up at a bookstore in Lincoln, Nebraska.” He was 19 at the time, and he really responded to Graham’s philosophy of “value investing.” This method of buying stocks when they’re undervalued and holding onto them for a long period of time became one of Buffett’s trademark moneymaking techniques. Looking to get more involved in the market? Here are 17 things you need to know before investing in stocks.
Say what you want about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but one thing you can’t discount is that the man is successful. This self-made millionaire touts Henry Kissinger’s World Order as incredibly influential, in how he deals with business, life, and even parenting. “It’s about foreign relations and how we can build peaceful relationships throughout the world,” Zuckerberg wrote for his book club, A Year of Books, on—you guessed it—Facebook. “This is important for creating the world we all want for our children, and that’s what I’m thinking about these days.” These are the careers that could make you a millionaire before you retire.
In a Q&A with the New York Times, Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, shared that Built to Last by Jim Collins changed the way he views management and leadership. “If you really want to get the best out of people, you have to really hear them, and they have to feel like they’ve really been heard,” said Ballmer. Here are another 24 golden rules to being a great boss.
Not only is Factfulness by Hans Rosling one of Bill Gates’ favorite books, but he also says it’s one of the most important he has ever read. “It explains more clearly than almost anything else I’ve read why it’s so difficult for people to perceive progress,” Gates said in an interview with Time. “[Rosling] offers clear, actionable advice for how to overcome our innate biases and see the world more factfully. This is one of the most educational books I’ve ever read, and I think everyone can benefit from Hans’ insights.” If you’ve ever been curious, this is how self-made millionaires and other rich people think.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he learns more from fiction novels than he does from non-fiction tomes, and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is among those he considers most influential. “If you read The Remains of the Day, which is one of my favorite books, you can’t help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret,” Bezos told Newsweek. What else should you add to your Kindle? These 100 books everyone should read before they die.
Particularly after the advent of her official book club in 1996, Oprah Winfrey became well-known as a reading advocate and lover of books. But one book in particular has influenced her career the most. It’s The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. In a speech she gave at Skidmore College, Winfrey explained why. “In it, [the author] talks about how every action is followed by a reaction, which we all know is the third law of motion in physics,” she said. “But he also said, before there’s even a thought or an action, there is an intention. Something struck me about that. That an intention precedes every thought and every action, and the outcome of your experiences is determined by the intention.” Don’t miss these 8 Oprah quotes that will help you seize the day.
In an interview with the New York Times, the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In gives major props to Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values by Fred Kofman. “[It] had a profound effect on my career and life. I think about his lessons almost every day—the importance of authentic communication, impeccable commitments, being a player not a victim, and taking responsibility,” said Sandberg. “I have given this book to so many team members at work, and I’ve seen it inspire people overnight to be more aware of their actions and impact on others.”
There are many books that self-made millionaire Elon Musk—co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, among other companies—cites as favorites. But The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams hits a particularly poignant note. “I was reading various books on trying to figure out the meaning of life and what does it all mean,” he said in an interview with Fresh Dialogues. “So then I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is quite positive, I think. And it highlighted an important point, which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part.” See if you can solve the riddle Musk asks in job interviews.
Spanx founder Sara Blakely has created an empire out of the brand’s shapewear, and she attributes at least some of that success to a certain audiobook she began listening to when she was 16 years old: How to Be a No-Limit Person by Wayne Dyer. “My dad introduced it to me randomly, and it felt really incredible at the time because I felt like I’d been taught so much about what to think but not how to think,” she told New York magazine. “It’s all about visualizing what you want and manifesting it and not caring what other people think or fearing failure.”
Shark Tank star, Dallas Mavericks owner, and self-made millionaire Mark Cuban knew he didn’t want to live the life of a poor college student forever. The book that changed his life and helped him make stellar financial decisions is Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst. “The whole premise of the book was if you could save up to $1 million and live like a student, you could retire,” Cuban told Money. “But you would have to have the discipline of saving and how you spent your money once you got there. I believed heavily in that book. It was a big motivator for me.” And FYI, these are the Shark Tank products worth your money.