photo: Fortune Live Media
The greatest investor, “Wizard of Omaha” recommends best business books that have shaped his personality. Explore his book list.
“Jack: Straight from the Gut” Jack Welch
From layoffs to glory, Jack Welch tells his story of how General Electric went from the bottom of the stock pile to an investment worth having. Management tips are woven into personal stories about good and bad decisions with continual ripple effects, such as the Crotonville training center that moved students along the tiers of upper management. Welch puts feet on some of Peter Drucker’s favorite list of ideas, including the necessity of change and the need to build a corporation with the right people, instead of on the backs of people while bilking the customer. This business book has been included on business reading lists, from Hampden-Sydney College to Warren Buffet’s favorites of 2010.
“Sam Walton: Made InAmerica” by Sam Walton
Also recommended by Jamie Dimon
After entering into a battle with cancer, Sam Walton decided to outline the shaky beginnings and roller-coaster ride of Wal-Mart. The result is a zany blend of common-sense tips, quotable aphorisms, and true stories that outdo fiction by a long shot. Not surprisingly, the founder’s odyssey is featured on Wal-Mart reading lists, as well as those of contributors to the Motley Fool (such as Jeremy MacNealy) and 800-CEO-Read. Walton is unapologetic about both his mistakes and his successes, and includes equal-time stories about zealous managers who moved at the drop of a hat to further the breakneck speed of grand openings across the United States.
“Influence: The Psychologyof Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini
Also recommended by Whitney Tilson, Charlie Munger, mentioned in Guy Kawasaki On Books Every Businessmen Should Read
A book that’s earned its spot on the New York Times bestseller book list, Cialdini has concentrated over 30 years of research into how and why people respond with a “yes” instead of a no. Forbes magazine hailed Cialdini’s work on their favorite “75 Smartest” business books list, with its explanation of how people feel obligated to return favors (reciprocity) and why commitment is so powerful. Charlie Munger, the co-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and leader of Wesco Financial, also has a copy on his favorite reading list as one of the top three business books necessary for negotiation success.
“Business Adventures:Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street” by John Brooks
Bill Gates’ second favorite book on business
– Bill Gates
Also mentioned in Top 10 Books To Read According To Bill Gates
“The Man Behind theMicrochip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley” by LeslieBerlin
– Warren Buffett
Another entry on the Warren Buffet business book list is Berlin’s biography of Robert Noyce, who accomplished daring maneuvers in and out of the land of technology. Based on first-hand interviews of other key business leaders, including Steve Jobs and Gordon Moore, Berlin shows the approachable personality and keen insight of the man who developed the secret ingredient for our computer-based world: the integrated circuit. Sadly, Berlin also points out the personal flaws that detracted from the genius of Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor.
Security Analysis”by Benjamin Graham
– Warren Buffett
Also recommended by Jamie Dimon, Bill Ackman, Whitney Tilson
The logic of buying undervalued securities is laid bare in this 1930’s classic. It has ended up on a JP Morgan summer reading list for private bankers, while the real-life examples make this book accessible to more experienced individual investors. Other topics covered include the importance of dividends and diversity within the portfolio. Though this book is most known for being on the favorite list of Warren Buffet, who called it his “Bible”, it has also shown up on the favorite reading list of investments author Whitney Tilson, and billionaire Bill Ackman.
The IntelligentInvestor” by Benjamin Graham
Also recommended by Jamie Dimon, Bill Ackman, Whitney Tilson, Kevin Rose
If investors are intimidated by Graham’s prior groundbreaking work, “Security Analysis”, this book makes a good introduction to the difference between making investments and capitalizing on speculation – a risky business. Another favorite book of Warren Buffet’s (who wrote the introduction), it covers emotional decision-making versus rational analysis of markets and their fluctuations. Forbes magazine author Jason Zweig also counts it at the top of his favorite book list, calling it “prophetic”. Graham’s own history as a survivor of the Great Depression stock crash, and master of detailed company research yielding 14% annual returns, qualifies him to mentor others down the investment path.
“Common Stocks andUncommon Profits and Other Writings” by Philip A. Fisher
Also recommended by Whitney Tilson
Another on the must-read Warren Buffet book list, Philip Fisher has been quoted as even more influential than Benjamin Graham on the reading of the Oracle of Omaha. Fisher, like some other success icons, dropped out of a prestigious university (Stanford) to venture into the world of capitalism. Impressively, he had entered Stanford at age 15, and qualified for the graduate program only a few years later. Fisher lived his long-term advice on retaining stocks for years instead of months, holding Motorola stock for almost 50 years. Like Graham, Fisher advised extensive company research before buying, though he classed water-cooler chat (or “scuttlebutt”) as information.
“Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger” by Peter D. Kaufman
Also recommended by Whitney Tilson, Bill Ackman
Kaufman’s editorial tribute to Warren Buffet’s business partner and Costco director, billionaire Charlie Munger, underlines Munger’s focus on lasting character traits and the importance of behavioral psychology. Since Munger believed in the importance of knowledge in a Renaissance-like array of knowledge via extensive reading lists, Kaufman’s book displays a variety of ways to know Charlie. The biography shows Charlie’s personal background and experiences, the quotes show Charlie’s concentrated wisdom, and Charlie’s own words stand out in ten transcripts of his speeches.
Read also Charlie Munger’s Favorite Books
“Personal history” by Katherine Graham
Influenced by an overbearing mother and husband, as well as famous author Gloria Steinem, Katharine Graham’s autobiography reads like a realistic fairy tale. Daughter of billionaire parents, she was raised by a nanny and governess and went on to inherit management of the struggling Washington Post. Her tennis partner was Nixon’s secretary of labor (George Shulz). Her own success was a surprise, like the Watergate scandal uncovered by Post journalists. Her self-effacing nature comes through in the book, as well as her quiet determination. Not surprisingly, Graham’s book was added to one of Oprah’s book lists of the top eight to read “with a broken heart”.
“Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It” by Peter G. Peterson
– Warren Buffett
An investment banker with a Cassandra complex, Peterson has taken to the written word to wake up America to the gritty fact of looming financial chaos. Arizona Senator John McCain and journalist Tom Brokaw have added this book to their reading lists, recommending that others do the same. A former chairman of New York’s Federal Reserve bank, Peterson delves into the complicated nature of tax cuts and federal entitlement programs. True to the title, both parties are chastised for their irresponsible attitude toward government programs such as Social Security and Medicare, from George W. Bush to Senator Kerry.
“The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John C. Bogle
– Warren Buffett
The former CEO of Vanguard encourages investors to do the simple things that work over the long haul, such as buying into the success of a business with your stock purchase instead of just buying a piece of portfolio. Also, small percentage fees plus taxes can drive down the profits you make, even if you do beat the market. Tips such as these point toward the value of indexing, which has created wealth for many Vanguard clients. This Little Book ends up on the ‘to-read’ Simple Dollar book list of 52 personal finance books, and Koch Capital Management also gives its seal of approval on a recommended reading list, along with Warren Buffet.
“The Ten Commandments for Business Failure” by Donald R. Keough
– Warren Buffett
Also recommended by Bill Gates