November 19, 2013 

 
 

This post is part of a series in which Influencers describe the books that changed them. Follow the channel to see the full list.

Nonfiction books, particularly business books backed by facts, have had a huge impact on my business life. Jim Collins’s books are the best, and Bob Shiller, Howard Marks, Jack Welch, Warren Buffett, and Ram Charan have also been greatly influential on me. Last year, we gave Jim Collins’s “Great by Choice to about 200 clients, and this year we are giving out Howard Marks’s “The Most Important Thing Illuminated.”

But of all the authors whose books influence me the most, there’s a completely different — and perhaps surprising — book that has had the most impact on me.

Passing Along the Knowledge

When reading, I take notes and then share them with the appropriate coworkers. Last summer, I had an intern consolidate and organize the notes into a 100+ page document that I still don’t know what I am going to do with. The intern got an MBA education in one summer. Most of these books were written by seasoned veterans who learned from their mistakes. I use what I like and don’t like about each of them to shape my thinking regarding running and growing a business and advising my clients.

However, the book that has had the most profound impact on me is one I read as a young teenager. I think about it more than any other book. It probably was the first book I read that made me think about why I was put here on earth. It also taught me the importance of:

  • having a positive attitude,
  • persevering in any circumstance, and
  • focusing on family.

The fact that it’s the first book I read that was a true story with a horrendous ending is probably why it has had the biggest impact on me. “Death Be Not Proud” by John Gunther is the story of his teenage son’s unsuccessful battle with cancer. I thought the book was obscure until I read many of the 152 reviews on Amazon.

I really admire Gunther, who lived every day as if it were his last. I likewise want to make a positive impact every day.

My favorite quote actually comes from my son who, at the age of 5, summed it up perfectly: “If you do your best, you are the best.” I love that. I try to do my best—and always with a positive attitude, as if it will be my last day.

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Photo: kerolic/Flickr