An Escape Velocity Bookshelf

I just used PopShops to build an “Escape Velocity Bookshelf.” (Can’t see it below? CLICK HERE). You’ll recall that I’ve been very big on escape velocity (the ability to leave a situation that isn’t helpful or desired) for a little while now. It’s actually my big thing for 2010-2011 (and maybe beyond). My goal is to help people humanize business, and find their escape velocity.

In saying this, I’m talking about either adding a few bucks to your bottom line, and/or people who break out of their employee role and take on an owner’s view of the world.

To that end, here are some books that have helped me. Here’s my Escape Velocity Bookshelf. Descriptions are below.

An Escape Velocity Bookshelf

HOW TO GET RICH – by Felix Dennis (founder of Maxim, amongst other magazines) is a great book to give you a sense of a mindset outside that of an employee. Felix starts from poverty and becomes one of the 12 wealthiest people in the UK. It’s not that we might all aspire to be rich, but without seeing another perspective, it’s hard to think beyond where you are.

THINK AND GROW RICH – by Napoleon Hill. This is one of the first self-improvement books of the modern day, and still one of the best. You see a theme here? It’s not “rich” simply in the sense of wealthy, but again, the mindsets in the book help us see something different. Biggest takeaway in the book: the law of attraction type stuff.

RICH DAD, POOR DAD and CASHFLOW QUADRANT – by Robert Kiyosaki. Okay, these books are about getting rich, but what I got out of it was how middle class people see money, and it totally changed my view of money. One example: I used to want to pay my house off, and thought that meant that I’d own an asset. He explains why it’s still a liability, and taught me how to better understand assets.

BUSINESS STRIPPED BARE – Richard Branson. I used to think my ideas for how to build a business were crazy. Well, if I’m crazy, then so is Sir Richard. This book is the best of Branson’s books. I liked it exponentially more than the old books. My copy is written in about once every page or so with notes and ideas.

ESCAPE FROM CUBICLE NATION – Pamela Slim. Pam’s a friend. I think her book is a great way to plunge into thinking differently about life outside of standard employee roles. There’s lots in here and it’s definitely a great book to dip your thoughts into, if you’re still living as an employee, but thinking about whether or not you want to break out and do your own thing.

THE 4 HOUR WORK WEEK – Tim Ferriss. I should qualify this. I like Tim. I like his book. Parts of it are a bit deceptive. It’d be like reading a book by Michael Jordan where he says, “Just throw the ball in a hoop.” But, understanding lifestyle business people’s mindset certainly comes in handy, as does understanding how people outsource this and that.

THE POWER OF LESS – Leo Babauta. Leo’s book is a great way to remind us that multitasking isn’t the be-all, end-all mindset. It’s a book from someone who succeeded quite a lot, and who did it quite differently than most of us. It’s a really great book, and helps me get into a great state of mind every time I read it.

TRUST AGENTS – Me and Julien. Okay, I can’t talk about this without sounding full of myself, but I put it on the list, so let me explain why I think this is important to escape velocity. Make Your Own Game is about differentiating. Between that and several of the other lessons, Julien and I wrote the book for people thinking about achieving escape velocity, even though we didn’t label it that way.

A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS – Donald Miller. This book is about the importance of story. I think there’s a lot of application in it to understanding how to craft your own story. This is vital to making your own path for escape velocity.

SWITCH – Chip and Dan Heath. If Million Miles is about the importance of story, SWITCH is about the best way possible to effect change. This book is the winner for making change work. This book has helped me immeasurably.

LINCHPIN – Seth Godin. Linchpin is a book about becoming indispensable. What it does most for me is remind me that there are lots of mental land mines between me and success.

7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE – Stephen R. Covey. This book changed my life. It gave me a strong sense of realizing that I write my own story. It gave me a sense of how to organize my goals. It told me how to align my priorities. And ultimately, it taught me that you don’t do any of that just once, but over and over in a continuous way.

UNLIMITED POWER – Anthony Robbins. I re-read this a few weeks before I went out to meet Tony Robbins in California to shoot a video project with him. It reminded me about his approach to neuro linquistic programming (NLP), and it gave me a few techniques that I hadn’t used in a very long time. It’s a very tactics-minded book, but has helped me tune some of my approach, and that’s worth it.

SELF-ESTEEM – Matthew McKay. If there was one book to plug a hole in what a lot of us feel bad about, this is it. Self-Esteem by Dr. Matthew McKay has helped me more than most any other book ever written. It did a lot to help me rewrite the insides of my head and give me an internal assessment system instead of needing external validation.

THE WORLD IS FLAT – Thomas Friedman. There are a few parts of this book that changed how I understand business. The part on “value chain disaggregation” was very important to me. It’s already helped me with business decisions several times since the late 90s.

FREAKONOMICS – Steven Levitt, Stephen Dubner. This book teaches us that no matter what we think SHOULD happen, it’s all about understanding incentives. The stories are great; it’s well written. But that’s nothing. Look beyond the stories and into the mindset of incentives.

ON WRITING – Stephen King. If I had to recommend any one writing book, it’d be ON WRITING by King. Thing is, skip the first 1/2 unless you really want to know King’s biography. The rest of it? Pure gold.

So Now What?

These are books that have helped me along my path from employee to motivated employee to leader to president to business owner. There are many ways to get to the goal. You might have other books that helped you get there. You might find some of my books aren’t your type of book.

I read two or so books a week (not always to completion, but I fly a lot and don’t watch TV). I might have missed a few of my favorite books along the way, too. That said, these are a pretty good estimation of what made a difference.

Okay, there aren’t very many spiritual-ish books in this pile, but I don’t read many spiritual-ish books. I read 300 Words a Day. Between that and some private spiritual guidance, I’m all set.

So, what should YOU do with the list? See if any of those books appeal to you. If so, consider adding them to your Escape Velocity Bookshelf. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • dancingbaglady

    I find it interesting that you added the little bit of spirituality at the end. Thanks for sharing.

  • Julie

    I would add “Minsdet” by Carol Dweck as well to those you and others listed.

    What a great idea. I love sharing books. They are so enlightening.

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  • Chris Brogan

    Great book, David. I like reading that one, too.

  • Chris Brogan

    I didn't like blink as much as outliers, so maybe I'll have to go back and look at it based on your take.

  • Chris Brogan

    All set means that I'm not yet on a path to improve my spirituality. I check in with it daily. I let it inform me, but I'm not a scholar.

  • davidburkus

    Good list. I would add “On Writing Well” to that list. I think it's a little more technical than King's book.

  • Dave Mulder

    Great bookshelf, Chris! Having read all these, the only one I didn't like was the Friedman book.

  • Esoler

    Chris regarding your spirituality, keep seeking brother, keep seeking. There is a lot to still learn when it comes to this.

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  • JudyMartin

    Chris, I like how you defined this movement away from staid employment toward something more fulfilling. These books remind us that we don't have to settle. Escape Velocity is like a portal to a fresh start.

  • Marilyn McCray

    I can't think you enough for recommending Donald Miller and A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. This book came into my life at the perfect time.
    Marilyn McCray

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  • Scott Bush

    This reminded me to get off my A$$ and build my own shelf back up. I am finishing Million Miles this week which is excellent. I will make two more recommendations that are perfect for beach musings: 1) Daniel Pink's, A Whole New Mind…(challenging paradigms on how to think differently in the new new world..), and, 2) A Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea ( about treasure hunting and how to think differently about how to solve problems..)

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  • Ivan Hernandez

    Hey Chris,

    Just wanted to share with you a great book I am currently reading and that I think is excellent!

    Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky



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  • yuregininsesi

    That said, the second half is gold. You're right about that. I just wanted people to not ignore the first half. It's short enough book that the whole thing demands to be read.

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