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Content for Leaders, Entrepreneurs, & Professional Development - The Ascent Library

To help you in your personal & professional development journey, we present The Ascent Library. This is our curated library of works on business, leadership, teamwork, culture, strategy, and more.

If you struggle to find time to read, here's a tip: consider adding audiobooks or podcasts into your routine. Washing dishes or cleaning the house? Great time for an audiobook. Taking the dog to the park or doing cardio in the gym? Podcast time.

the best books for leaders

Without further delay, the current version of the Ascent Library, updated January 2022.

Books & Audiobooks

Culture Code – Why your company culture matters, and what you can do to establish and maintain a healthy, productive one.

Range – The Power of Perspective! Why being a generalist in a world over overly-specialized individuals is a superpower.

Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins provides anecdotes from his own extraordinary life journey to inspire you and keep you motivated to reach even your loftiest goals.

The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris shares the tips and tricks he’s picked up creating the life that he envisioned.

The E-Myth, Revisited – A seminal work for any small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur.

The Obstacle is the Way – A good introduction to the philosophy of stoicism, and how you can incorporate its teachings into your life for more happiness and fulfillment, as well as better leadership skills.

How to Win Friends and Influence People – One of the best-selling business books of all time, and for good reason. Learn how to be a better team member, coworker, boss, and person with the time-tested principles of this book.

Unf*ck Yourself – Get out of your own head, and start living the life you really want. Solid, sometimes hilarious, advice on discarding self-limiting beliefs.

Radical CandorAn absolute must-read for any current or aspiring leader. Learn about the elements of great communication and how to build the habits into your own life that will make you a better communicator and, by extension, a better leader and boss.

Antifragile – Nassim Taleb provides a detailed overview of his titular philosophy and how to achieve it. The narrative distinguishes it from resiliency and contrasts it with those theories, systems, and organizations that the author believes contribute to “fragility”.

Barbarians at the Gate – A riveting narrative about one of the biggest business deals of all time.

Linchpin – Seth Godin provides advice on how to make yourself indispensable.

The Courage to Be Disliked – You can’t please everyone, all the time. So as a leader, now or in the future, you need to find the courage the title calls for.

how to find the best leadership books

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy - Richard Rumelt's marvelous work on the subject of strategy. Rumelt cuts straight to the heart of the matter, differentiating the key elements of a good strategy from everything else. An absolute must-read for any current or aspiring entrepreneur or executive.

The War of Art - Stephen Pressfield provides readers with an anthology of tips to overcoming "Resistance". Motivational content, handy reminders, and some tips for better structure and organization.

Man's Search for Meaning - Dr. Viktor Frankl's seminal work on purpose, and the byproducts of purpose: Self-actualization, happiness, success, fulfillment.

Team of Rivals - The story of President Abraham Lincoln compiled from historical documents, personal diaries, letters, and more material providing an in-depth and powerful exposition about the challenges and trials of leadership.

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive - Patrick Lencioni's leadership fable centers on four key disciplines for building and sustaining a healthy organizational culture. Clarity and communication are paramount, in line with the My Ascent Leadership Philosophy

Coach the Person, Not the Problem - Legendary executive and leadership coach Marcia Reynolds gives her insight into a coach's use of reflective inquiry, and how it can help to unlock personal and professional potential. A must read for any executive or leader wanting to adopt a coach's posture more frequently.

Key Strategy Tools - The Financial Times' collection of over 80 tools for you to construct a winning business strategy. A great desk book for anyone responsible for the development and execution of organizational strategy.

Key Performance Indicators - What gets measured gets managed! This Financial Times' publishing book gives you insight into what to measure, as well as the always important how and why to measure key metrics of success.

Key Management Models - The third book in the Financial Times' series. 75 management models to help leaders and executives clarify objectives that will form the basis of organizational strategy. Another must read for anyone in a leadership or executive role.

A Hunter Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century - Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying's book on adaptation and evolution for the modern individual in the face of accelerating change and growing complexity.

Principles - Ray Dalio created one of world's most successful companies. Principles contains his reflections on leadership and success in business and life.

12 Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson's book with a fairly self-explanatory title providing some first principles for a successful and happy life.

** New Category - Podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic way to add more variety to your reading & development routines. Below you'll find appearances by Matt Beckmann, as well as some of his favorite podcasts.

Podcast Appearances

Pipe Brothers Podcast - On these episodes, Matt Beckmann discusses various topics related to the steel industry, and energy policy with hosts Jake & Jonathan Yentzen, of Coastal Pipe of Louisiana

Favorite Podcasts & Episodes

The Joe Rogan Experience - An incredible long-form podcast you've probably heard of before. Episodes feature a wide variety of guests for nearly every topic or interest.

Finding Mastery, with Michael Gervais - A podcast featuring discussions with individuals who have achieved excellence in their field. Learn from those who have achieved incredible things and studied the features of high performance. We particularly recommend the episode with Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence.

The Darkhorse Podcast - Hosted by the author's of A Hunter Gatherer's Guide. Consistently thought provoking and entertaining

The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast - Dr. Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist whose interviews and lectures cover a wide variety of topics and current events.

Simon Sinek on Leadership - A single episode focused on Ascent's favorite topic: Leadership


About the Author:

Matt Beckmann - Management Consultant - Executive Coach

Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and leadership. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.

Ascent Consultants - Management Consultants to Enable Your Business Growth

Ascent Consultants provides business and strategy consulting, executive and leadership coaching, and leadership assessments. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we help companies and individuals unlock their full potential.

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