Women entrepreneurs reveal their favorite business books

If you’re looking for some summer reading, take advice from the experts. We asked 21 women entrepreneurs what business books were most influential to them. Responses range from recent bestsellers like The Four Hour Workweek to feminist classics such as Games Mother Never Taught You. Read on to see what books Kathy Ireland, Nell Merlino and other women in business recommend.

“I recommend Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey. This dates me, but I think it is even more important today than 20 years ago. The fifth principal, empathetic listening, states “Seek to understand, then to be understood.” We normally do not listen to understand but listen to reply. This learning has been invaluable to me. Regardless of the situation, it is critical that the person talking knows you understand from their point of view before you can move forward.”

Kathleen Charlton, owner and manager of Olympic Cellars Winery and Working Girl Wines

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“The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s message that ideas can spread like the flu is, I believe, the basis for viral marketing. Just as one sick person can infect a whole population, one collaboration or discussion can create (as I have recently learned from professor Neeli Bendapudi at Ohio State, Fisher College of Business) both customer apostles and customer terrorists. One creative and adventurous leader can motivate a stampede of change.”

Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization

“I think the best books for women in business are the best books for anyone in business. My personal favorite these days is Malcolm Gladwell’s engaging Outliers: The Story of Success. It’s wildly helpful in teaching us to acknowledge the cultural, sociological and economic factors that can help or hinder success, regardless of ability or hard work. Or as my mother always told me: Life isn’t fair. Even so, it’s not a downer; Outliers is a fun and incredibly inspiring read, and I find myself recommending it to everyone from top-level marketers to my taxi driver on the way home to Brooklyn. (Seriously.)”

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