At the end of every single episode of the Gentleman’s Journal podcast, we ask our esteemed guests — entrepreneurs and businessmen including Steve Varsano of the Jet Business, Will Dean of Tough Mudder, Ross Bailey of Appear Here and Vernon Hill of Metro bank — what’s the one book they’d recommend to a friend. So when the time came to put together our reading list for 2019, we thought we better refer to the men who really ought to know. Read your way to the top next year with these eight books — as recommended by some very successful men indeed
Steve Varsano — Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
“This is 100% the book I recommend to people. It was written in the fifties by a russian immigrant lady, which is amazing, and it’s a fictional story about a war between altruism and capitalism.
“It’s really the most unbelievable book anyone can read. I read some place that it had more of an effect on people worldwide than any other book in history, second only to the bible.
“It’s ultra capitalist, but it’s reality. You wonder why governments today don’t see this light.”
Steve Varsano is the founder and CEO of The Jet Business
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Jason Fox: — SAS: Who Dares Wins
“Four blokes wrote it, and I’m one of them! But seriously, in terms of books that help you through situations, it’s not a bad one for that.”
Jason Fox is a former Royal Marine Commando and Special Forces Sergeant and now the host of Channel 4’s Meet the Drug Lords.
SAS: Who Dares Wins: Leadership Secrets from the Special Forces
Steve Bartlett — Lost Connections by Johann Hari; The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
“Lost Connections talks about anxiety and depression and the real reasons our society’s getting more sad. Really important book. It strips you of the idea that these mental health issues are just chemical imbalances and it shoes you with multiple studies across everything that it’s not really about what’s wrong with you. It’s about what’s happened to you. It shows you that relationships with people are so important, and a relationship with nature is so important. There’s this study in it that they did with prisoners in the U.S, and it showed that they wer 30% more likely to get depressed if they weren’t facing the greenery.
“The Slight Edge really helped convince me that life isn’t about the big decision we make. It’s about the seemingly insignificant things we do every day that make a huge compound difference in our lives. Everything in your life right now is compounding either for or against you. It made me care more about the small decisions, and worry less about the big ones. It helped me a lot with daily discipline.”
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
Vernon Hill — Good to Great by Jim Collins
“This is a great book. It says your company can’t be great if you’re happy with good.”
Vernon Hill is the founder and CEO of Metro Bank.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Ross Bailey — Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
“The best book I read recently which everyone should read is Shoe Dog. I read it and I was sobbing at the end. It’s an incredible book, very very honest. It’s one of those business books that’s not really about the business but about the journey and what a person has gone through. To read Phil Knight’s ups and downs, his legacy, to read him as an older man looking back — it’s incredibly interesting.”
Ross Bailey is the founder and CEO of AppearHere.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Nuno Mendes — Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
“Back in the early 1990s I was in a bit of a hippie stage. I like Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse — I enjoy those kind of spiritual books. I like Herman Hesse’s work. It’s pretty insane and very dark.”
Nuno Mendes is the executive chef at Chiltern Firehouse and the Chef Patron at Maos.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
James Balfour — Zero to One by Peter Thiel
“I’d recommend Peter Thiel’s book. He’s the co-founder of PayPal. It’s called Zero to One, and if anyone’s thinking of starting a business it’s incredible.”
James Balfour is the founder of fitness start up 1Rebel
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Will Dean — The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
“This is a great book. I think so much of business makes it seems like it’s either this very complicated thing or this kind of swashbuckling adventure. He does a very good job of saying it’s about having an idea, figuring out how to test it cheaply, without using a huge tonne of resources, and then, if it works, repeating that. At its core it’s a simple message, but I think it’s one that’s often misunderstood.”
Will Dean is the founder of endurance event series Tough Mudder
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries