Mixergy readers Yaw Owusu and @candymath asked me to recommend some business biographies, so I put this list together for them.

I picked these books because they show what a fun adventure business can be. These books aren’t meant to just fire you up. I wanted to pick stories that will embed themselves in your mind and help shape the way you think about business.

The Operator

What it’s about: How David Geffen became a billionaire in the entertainment industry.

Why you should read it: It’s full of stories of manipulation. They’ll make you uncomfortable, but they’ll also help you think more creatively about business deals.

How To Get Rich

What it’s about: The founder of Maxim magazine, tells you the story of his business career while teaching you what he learned along the way.

Why you should read it: This quote says it all, “I’m just a guy that got rich in the real world, not the ‘self-improvement’ happy-clappy merry-go-round, where the only real winner is the weasel with the blow-dried hair.”

Michael O’Leary: A Life In Full Flight

What it’s about: The story of how Michael O’Leary turned Ryanair from a money-losing joke of an airline into one of the world’s most valuable companies.

Why you should read it: It’s an underdog story about a guy who took on the European giants in business and government and won because he built a good business.

The Making of a Blockbuster

What it’s about: How Wayne Huizenga became a billionaire by creating companies that pick up trash (Waste Management) and rent videos (Blockbuster).

Why you should read it: You’ll get to see how constant deal-making can lead to a mult-billion dollar business.

Stealing MySpace

What it’s about: How MySpace was created and turned into a top social networking site.

Why you should read it: It’s a motivating collection of stories about hustlers who keep trying different business ideas until they hit on the big one.

Call Me Ted

What it’s about: Ted Turner talks about how he built an empire that includes CNN.

Why you should read it: It’s inspiring to see how Turner told people in the early days that he’d be a billionaire and then read how he achieved it his goal.


Malcolm Forbes

What it’s about: How an eccentric biker turned Forbes magazine into a must-read for billionaires.

Why you should read it: It’ll show you how Forbes convinced an entire generation of CEO’s that being rich and and should be fun.

Sam Walton: Made In America

What it’s about: How Sam Walton turned a single dime store into Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer.

Why you should read it: You’ll see how Walton’s constant curiosity led him to find ideas others never would have discovered.


What it’s about: How Steve Wozniak invented the modern computer and co-founded Apple.

Why you should read it: You’ll see how Wozniak kept getting smarter by tinkering.

Damn Right!

What it’s about: The story of how Charlie Munger became a billionaire by  buying companies like See’s Candies — often along side Warren Buffett.

Why you should read it: You’ll see how success is based on rational, clear thought.

An Unseemly Man

What it’s about: How Larry Flynt built Hustler magazine and other businesses.

Why you should read it: Flynt talks about the part of business that more respectable people would hide — like how he funded Hustler by cheating on his taxes.

What other books belong on this list?

I know I left a bunch of books out. Want to add them to the comments so I could get to know you by seeing what books you recommend?


  1. NO affiliate links here – A few people in the comments are asking if I added affiliate links to my book recommendations. I don’t have the patience to get affiliate links just so I could make a couple of bucks. Not worth my time. Let me know if you think I’m wrong.
  2. Thanks AJ Kumar for catching my typos!