You’ve heard it before – ‘readers are leaders’. I can say without a doubt, that as I’ve interviewed hundreds of social entrepreneurs and cause based business founders around the world, I’ve absolutely found that they all are avid readers. So much of what they do is inspired by the work of others, and I challenge you that you will struggle as a social entrepreneur until you open yourself to the wisdom of others who have been there. What follows are the book recommendations that popped up most frequently in my interviews. I’ve read all of these. They’ve all inspired me in one way or another, and I know they will for you too. They are all MUST READS. I promise I wouldn’t put them here otherwise. So, hear me out, read these books, and start making a dollar AND a difference.
- The Promise of a Pencil, by Adam Braun – I’ve also been known to call this book “The Handbook for My Life”. If you haven’t read this, get it now. It’s required reading for any change agent. Adam walks you through 30 mantras for changing the world, they’re mantras he lived through and lives out every day as he works to add to the thousands of schools he’s built around the world.
- Out of Poverty, by Paul Polack – Paul is credited with lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty by bringing simple business solutions to the places that need it most. He’s a soft-spoken solider for social change and he tells all in this book that transformed my life.
- Wisdom Meets Passion, by Jared Angaza and Dan Miller – Dan is the father, full of the wisdom of the baby boomer generation (e.g. building a solid business plan, revenues, and profits). Jared is his free spirit son (I interviewed Jared for this podcast) who has created social justice and social change around the world. They team up for a passionate discussion about how to balance your dreams of sparking change with creating a sustainable plan.
- Start Something that Matters, by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes – Blake’s the father of social entrepreneurship in the U.S., and his book inspired all we do around here. Pick it up, read it, and start building your own world changing movement. Bonus: You get to email Blake when you finish the book, and tell him about your social change project.
- Building a Social Business, by Muhammad Yunus – If Blake’s the father, then Yunus is the grandfather of the entire social entrepreneurship movement. Check out this book to get inspired about making a dollar AND a difference.
- The Solution Revolution, by William D. Eggers – Written by a few guys from Deloitte, this book is a detailed look at how business is radically shifting to a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hseih – You’ve probably heard of Zappos before, well, Tony founded this company that has redefined how a biz should treat customers, the planet, and its employees. More importantly for us, Tony has used his business to transform blighted communities in Vegas. This book is his blueprint.
- Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder – This tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who, while still in med school, devoted his life to the people of Haiti and their medical care. Pick it up, get inspired, and go climb your mountain.
- The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries – This is not exclusively for cause based business, but I think it’s even more important for us than for traditional business. It’s tough enough running a standard business, but it’s ever more difficult when you’re weaving a social mission into your economic mission. Pick up this book for the best analysis on how to start a movement on a budget (or even a shoestring).
- The Power of Half, by Hannah Salwen – Written by a 12 year old & her father, this book is the touching story of a family who sold half of what they owned and gave it to carefully selected charities. A powerful statement about what we believe is important.
BONUS: Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl – Written by a holocaust survivor, this is the most touching and inspiring book I’ve ever read. Pick it up, devour it, and realize how important it is to be driven by a purpose.
These books shaped me. They shaped social entrepreneurs all over the world. They shaped everything about Social Change Nation, and I know they will shape your journey as well. Don’t delay – if you want to be a world changer, learn from the world changer’s themselves.