Jahlon's recomended Professional Development Books

Professional Development Books

To start this off as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. What does that mean? If you click on a link and buy a book I recommend, I get a commission.

I’m not putting these books up here in order to try to make money, I’m putting these books up here because I have each and every one of them on my shelf behind me. If you ever want to call me out on that, swing over to one of my Live Streams on Twitch and I can walk back to the shelf and grab the book and show you that I do in fact own it. The entire collection of books I recommend is available here

With all that out of the way, let's take a look at each of these books and why I recommend them.

Overall Self Improvement

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is probably one of the most important books I’ve ever read in my life. Dealing with people is hard, especially when they have all the power, you have none and you need them to do something for you. Most people would rather die than be in a position where they are at the mercy of someone else, but sometimes that is exactly the position you want to be in. Knowing the other person has all the power, and appealing to that fact, is sometimes the very best way to get exactly what you need. It doesn’t sound like a good position, but Dale Carnegie breaks down situations like that and helps you to understand you, how to understand the other guy, and how to really influence people. For anyone worried that this is about manipulation let me tell you, yes of course it is. Don’t think of manipulation as a bad word. Malicious manipulation is, but in order to get people to do something you need, something you have to know how to appeal to them. This book is going to teach you that.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digitial Age by Dale Carnegie & Associates

So one problem with How to Win Friends and Influence people is that it was written for a different era, a different time, when business was done differently. Things were done with physical mail, personal notes, and handshakes. Now we live in a digital world where a text is acceptable but the wrong emoji could spell disaster. Do the lessons of Dale Carnegie still hold true in the digital age? They certain do, and this book based on his original lessons updated for the digital age is a great read. I would however, recommend you read the original book first since this builds on that book.

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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Another book by Dale Carnegie, this book is his reflections on worry. Did you know that 40,000,000 American Adults (19.1% of population) suffer from anxiety? Think about that. This isn’t just worry, this is crippling anxiety which impacts your ability to live. Chapter 30 of the book says that 70% of all worry is about money. The chapter goes on to give some reflections, that it's not about not having enough money, it's about not spending the money you do have properly. This is just one of the lessons and true stories found in this book. I’m not going to tell you that this book cured my anxiety, but it certainly made an amazing difference in how I felt about some of my worries, and some of them just melted away.

How to stop Worrying and Start Living Cover

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

I recommend this book, not because it is a book on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) but because happiness is this thing that people believe they should have, but they don’t know what it is. People really start to focus on all the bad in their life, but they don’t really focus on the good in their life. Let’s be honest for a moment. If you have enough money to come home and not worry about rent, to go to your fridge and not worry there won’t be food, if you have clothes on your back, a bed to sleep on, and a little entertainment distraction, shouldn’t you be happy? A lot of people are worried about reaching some external level of happy, and that is the happiness trap. This book also helps to break down some of the misconceptions about emotions. Fear, guilt, and anger aren’t always bad, sometimes they are justified. Love and joy aren’t always good, if they come with that guilt. We live in a world where we have assimilated many preconceived notions, but have we ever stopped to reflect on them?

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Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

This book goes hand in hand with How to Win Friends and Influence People, but it's from a perspective of understanding yourself first and then understanding others. Not everyone operates the same way you do. Some people love praise and public recognition. Maybe you are one of those people. Would you be surprised that some people despise praise and public recognition? Would you also be surprised to learn that some people actually find that to be demotivational? I’m one of those people. I don’t want praise. I don’t want public recognition. When I was working, I just wanted to be given my work, given honest feedback on my work, and given my paycheck. Again, don’t think of this book as a book on manipulation. Learning what works for you, and what works for others isn’t a mark of manipulation, it's a mark of leadership.

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The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

How many people are guilty of procrastination? I am. I’m sure you are too. The trick to this technique is to give yourself 5 seconds to do something and literally count it down. “I’m going to spend the next hour reading about Marketing” 5…4…3…2…1… GO! Do it. Think about how many minutes you wasted in bed this morning. Me personally since it was a lazy day it was close to 60. I just did not want to get up. As I sit here now, I won’t get all these book reviews done before I have to go do a “must-do” activity. If only I had those 60 minutes back. We can never get them back though, can we? 5 4 3 2 1 - GO

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Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

While there are a lot of books that are going to talk about Leadership (and there are several I am going to recommend) those books are going to teach you the hows of leadership. No book is as powerful as Extreme Ownership for understanding the WHY of leadership and why you must do certain things if you want to be a successful leader. A lot of this is based on the military stories of why a leader must take extreme ownership of their problems, because in the military there is no room for passing the buck or blaming your subordinate. If your subordinate didn’t understand the command, the fault lies with you because you weren’t clear enough.

Extreme Leadership

Lincoln on Leadership by Donald Phillips

So this is probably one of the most important leadership books I’ve ever read. It is so good, I have two copies of the book, because I travel with it often and I end up giving away copies of the book to young leaders. Lincoln was a leader who teaches us that the immediate response isn’t always the best response. Lincoln would draft letters admonishing people. He would write them to make himself feel better and then he would never send them. He knew what would happen if he sent the immediate response letter, he would lose the person as an asset. Instead he wrote letters to make himself feel better and then later built the person back up. This is a must read if you want to improve your leadership skills and style.

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

I was first given a copy of this book by my boss when I was headed off to Officer Training School for the United States Air Force. After reading this book, you can see I sort of became a follower of Maxwell and his philosophies. Not just because he’s one of the best names in the business, but because what he said has turned out to be true more often than not. I feel leadership is both an art and a science. If you aren’t a natural born leader (art) then this book can help develop your leadership skills (science).

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Developing the Leaders around you by John Maxwell

One key part of leadership is that leaders can’t do it alone. Leaders cannot handle everything in an organization. Leaders need to develop leaders around them. This is hard to accomplish but easy to do. Always be taking the time to improve the leaders around you. Must like a content creator, who creates a professional development list, and shares those books that have made him successful. Not everyone is going to read them, but some people will and thus a network of leadership is born.

Developing the leaders around you

The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell

A key component of this book is that leadership doesn’t have to be from the top. Sometimes you are a leader and you are assigned to work under a manager. You don’t have to sacrifice your ideas, your strengths, your anything. You can lead from any position in the organization. There will come a time when you are assigned a team, and you can build the best leaders on that team. How do you do it? Is it leadership or followership that is most important? It can be both. A good follower often times makes the best leader when the opportunity arises.

The 360 Degree Leader

Three Books in One Volume by John Maxwell

As I said, I sort of became a disciple of the Maxwell philosophy. This three in one volume is a great read when you are doing your professional development time. This book will help you with your attitude, becoming a person of influence, and it has an earlier version of developing the leaders around you included with it. Really a three-for-the-price-of-one deal.

Three in One Cover


Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

I have been a guerrilla since 1998 when I first got introduced to this method of marketing. Traditional marketing (what you probably are thinking of as advertising) has always maintained that in order to spread your message, in order to get results, you have to invest money. You can certainly do this, but most small business doesn’t have money. What they have is time, effort, energy, imagination, and information. How can you leverage those things that you do have, and get the same results as if you had money? This book, and many of the other books by Jay Conrad Levinson are exactly what you need to grow your business or your side-hustle and make it profitable.

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Continuous Process Improvement

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

So these two books go together with each other. You can certainly read Leading Change without Our Iceberg is melting, but I wouldn’t try to do that the other way around. Change management is a key skill in the current business world. People don’t want to change. They embrace “that’s the way it’s always been done around here.” John Kotter embodies the idea of “Good is the enemy of best, but best is the enemy of better.” There are always improvements you can make in an organization, you just have to be ready to face resistance. That is where Our Iceberg is Melting will come in. The Penguins don’t know the disaster that awaits them, even though one of them is smart enough to know what’s going on.

Leading Change

Our Iceberg is Melting by John P. Kotter

The second book in the series, education by story.

Our Iceberg is Melting

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

So I’m not going to lie, this is a pretty heavy book in Continuous Process Improvement, but it really is the definitive work on the philosophy of Lean, Six Sigma, CPI, etc. This book needs to be digested slowly, very very slowly. Most of it you need to read two or even three times before moving on. You are going to be reading this book and have your pen and paper at the ready and be jotting down ideas and be ready to run off and implement things. Please DO NOT DO THIS. Of course, make notes as you go along, but do not rush off to implement things. Read the entire book through, read each chapter, and each section of each chapter several times. Only when you get to the very end should you start to execute process improvements.

The Toyota Way

The Classics

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

The price is a political treatise written in the early 16th century. At its core it is, or at least attempts to be, an instruction manual for rules on how to acquire and maintain power. The book has a recurring theme that a ruler sshould prioritize stability and security. Additionally, Machivaelli discusses the importantance of military strength, and the necessity of being prepared for conflict. The phrase "Machiavellian Outlook" often refers to a mindset that priortizes pragmatism, strategic thinking, and often times ruthlessness in acheiving one's goals. This book will give you an insight into both politics and human nature.

the Prince Cover

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations is the collection of writing sby Roman Emeperor Marcus Aurelius who reigned from 161 to 180 CE. It is considered one of the greatest works of Stoic philosophy. Aurelius encourages readers to cultivate inner tranqulaity and equanimity, even in the face of adversity. The major recurring theme is the idea to live in harmony with the natrual order, which means accepting things we cannot control. If you read How to Stop Worrying and Start Living then you recognize this as one of the major points from Dale Carnegie. He also encourages readers to engage in self-examination and self-awarness to acehive inner peace and fullfillment, which is reflected in Personality Plus.

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The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Ralph D Sawyer)

There is probably no better book about strategy and tactics in warfare than The Art of War written by Sun Tzu, a legendary military strategist believed to have lived around the 5th Century BCE. A recurring theme in the Art of War is the idea of "know yourself, know your enemy" All too often we either look at only what the other guy is doing, and we forget to focus on ourselves or we focus on ourselves and we forget to look at the other guy. Do you have a brillant idea? Are you sure its brillant? Are you sure its original? Is someone else doing it and if not, as soon as you start doing it will someone be able to come in and do it better and faster. These are the things that make this book relevant to everyone, not just military leaders.

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On War - Carl von Clausewitz

On War is a collection of writings by Prussian military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz which was published in the 19th centure and yet remaines one fo the most influential treatises on military theory and strategy. While the entire collection is valuable to military members, the key parts of his works that anyone can benefit from include the ideas of fog and friction which mandates that leaders be both adapable and creative in overcoming challanges on the battlefield (or in the boardroom). Additionally, he explores the characteristics of effective leaders and the important of morale, discipline, and motivation among troops, which can almost directly correlate to the workforce.

On War Cover