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Reading will set you free. Reading will challenge your intellect. Reading will inspire you, stimulate you and keep you growing. Reading can be the secret to your success, and the wise north star guiding you to fulfillment and peace.

So how about it? Here are six books to change your life for the better:

1. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson

This book is brilliant for anyone. It’s about being decisive in your speaking, about thinking more about the audience than yourself, and how to keep a through line of storytelling front and center.

If you speak for a living, read this book. If you will never get in front of an audience to speak, still read it. It will help make you a better communicator. And we can all use help with that.

Key Takeaway: 

Public speaking, when done well can change the world. Literally.

2. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy

I had seen the TED talk delivered by Amy Cuddy and became intrigued. We all know that good body language can help us interact with others. But did you know that good body language can help your personal biology?

Tricking your brain and setting a mental tone? Yep. Body language first, feelings second. Not the other way around. Whoa.

Key Takeaway:

The mind-body connective theory had me reeling. So you’re telling me that if I put my body in a power pose, it will change my mood, how people perceive me, and release positive hormones in my body?

Click Here to Learn More

I’m in! **hands on hips, chest out, head held high**

3. Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday

I’m becoming a bit obsessed with Mr. Ryan Holiday. I first read one of his books about online PR and the sad state of blogs and information in an age of low-integrity fact-checking in Trust Me, I’m Lying. I then moved on to the Obstacle is the Way. A lot deeper and more intense. A fascinating read on it’s own, but it didn’t rock me to the core like this one.

I’ve since listened to the audio book over and over. The lessons, and the destruction of our worship of ego, has been burned into the deepest recesses of my psyche. It’s the most thought-provoking book I’ve read in five years. I can’t recommend it more highly.

Read it. Then read it again. Then share it with those you love and admire. The title says it all.

Key Takeaway: 

When you confront yourself, the manner in which you conduct your business, or even your life, it will have a profound effect. In an age of chest-pounding and bombast, you’ll want to retreat in quiet solitude to a monastic life. Just kidding. But it will get you thinking, I promise.

4. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story, by Dan Harris.

Have you ever tried to meditate? Have you ever gotten frustrated and said meditation is not for you? Have you enjoyed your meditation practice? No matter where you fall on this spectrum, you should read this book.

Dan Harris takes us on a journey of high-octane corporate wrangling that leads him to drug abuse and an on-air melt down of epic proportion. Dan then discovers meditation and takes us on a journey of discovery.

Often saying the things we wish we’d said when we first learned of some of the characters in the world of meditation, it’s a first-person, high-speed, punch-you-in-the-jaw account of a real-world person seeking otherworldly healing.

If you consider yourself a spiritual seeker, or even if you’re just curious about meditation, read this. It will make you want to try meditation, then renounce it, then try it. Ommmmmm….

Key Takeaway: 

Anyone can meditate and tame their monkey brain. You don’t have to be a new-age guru to be 10 percent happier.

5. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal, by Oren Klaff

It’s a sales book first. But a deeper look reveals more. Much more. It’s based in scientific theory about our brains. Focusing on how we judge certain situations, it challenges how (if we’re aware of these truths) we can manipulate situations to our advantage.

The red flag for this one is you have to see the playful side of everything that Oren talks about. He’s not encouraging anyone to manipulate anyone (well, sort of). He’s laying out a theory, backing it up with evidence–which is comprised of mostly entertaining, sometimes hard to believe stories of his own sales victories.

He then says, go out and have fun. Don’t use this to control people. Use it like mental gymnastics and own the room, close the deal, and save the day.

It’s the most entertaining sales book I’ve read. I even interviewed Oren for my own book.

Key Takeaway: 

If you have no power in a situation, i.e., you NEED this sale, deal, meeting, etc., use time as your leverage.

For example, when replying to a potential sale, say, I can meet with you, but I only have 30 minutes on Thursday afternoon. Now you’ve shifted some power in your direction. Voila!

6. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, by Olivia Fox Cabane

Have you ever wished you were more charismatic? Me too. Hence my unhealthy obsession with this book.

Backed by science, the author breaks down the basic elements that make someone charismatic. She then maps out how you can become more charismatic yourself. It’s nuanced and intellectual, and I adore every bit about this book.

Cabane’s techniques are not gimmicks, and their not manipulative. They’re practical daily things you can add to your interactions with those who you love admire and respect.

The aim is help you communicate your love, admiration, and respect more powerfully. If that sounds intriguing, buy the book.

Key Takeaway: 

When making eye contact, relax the muscles around your eyes and think of someone you love. Use that face to listen. Powerful.

Wrapping it all up.

I love to read, because I love to learn. To save time and energy, I listen to audiobooks. If you have any recommendations for me, find me here and let me know. I’m always looking for the next groundbreaker. Happy reading everyone.


This article was originally published in my column for INC.com

Hi, my name is Chris Dessi. I’m CEO of Silverback Social. I’m also author of the book Remarkable You: Build a Personal Brand and Take Charge of Your Career

If you’d like the first chapter of Remarkable You for free, just head here. 

“I’ve known Chris for a long time and adore his work ethic, standards and passion… I am sure if you are lucky enough to get to know him through this book you will agree.”

 Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO Vayner Media and NYT Bestselling author

“The definitive book on personal brand building that everyone is talking about. Two huge likeable thumbs up!” 

Dave Kerpen, NYT Bestselling Author of The Art of People

Here are my most popular articles from my column on INC Magazine. 


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