Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 13, 2012 9:46 PM

The Best Business Books Of 2012

Read a good business book this year? Looking for the perfect holiday gift?

I'm usually one to shy away from "best of" and list-like posts, but 'tis the season (as they say). Beyond that, it was a great year for reading and there are some marvelous gems that came out this year. So, whether you're looking for some end-of-the-year insights and motivation, or if you still haven't grabbed a gift for a loved one, here are some page-turners...

The Best Business Books of 2102.

  1. Makers - The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson. Whenever I get asked, "so what's next?" I now have something to point those people to. Reading this book reminds me of the feelings of excitement I used to get when reading newspaper and magazine articles about the Internet in the early nineties.
  2. Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This one of those books that makes you stop, put it down and scream, "this is me! I'm more normal than I thought!" I wish I had this book in High School. I wish I would have had the emotional intelligence to truly understand it as well back then. It's a beautiful book about people who like to think, read and yes, be alone.
  3. The Art of the Pitch - Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business by Peter Coughter. There are so many illuminating moments and stories about how to win business in the agency game. I loved this book and re-read it multiple times. Coughter's writing style is pointed and very funny.
  4. Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) - How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator by George Lois. Mad Men? That's tame compared to the life and times of George Lois. A true advertising renaissance man, this is a short book but filled with tons of great design that is diminished by the depth of content and life lessons. Thanks to George, I'm now unapologetic about wearing sneakers every day of my life. Thanks, George!
  5. Daring Greatly - How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. Courage, vulnerability, shame and more. Business is becoming personal and, thanks to beautiful minds like Brene Brown, it's not only acceptable, but smart to bring those emotions into leadership. This is one magical book.
  6. Steal Like an Artist - 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. You could read this book in 30 minutes. Sadly, most people probably did. The only way you'll truly benefit from this book is to leave it within arm's reach at all time and reference it whenever you're feeling stuck, frustrated or uninspired. There is gold within these pages.
  7. The Impact Equation - Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. With their follow-up to Trust Agents, my good friends, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, are back. No, this isn't another social media book. It's a book about doing a lot more than tweeting and Facebooking... it's a book about creating impact. Here's the thing: it's not easy, it's hard work and most people will, sadly, read this, nod in agreement but not take action. Don't be one of those people.
  8. 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era by Nilofer Merchant. I really thought I was done with books about social media and social business. It's not that I was down on them, but that I had read them all and felt like there was too much repetition. Then, I read Nilofer's book and realized that few have been able to synthesize this changing business environment in such a powerful way.
  9. The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty - How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely. Looking for a great book from one of the greatest thinkers out there? Grab this one. Dan Ariely is not only a world-famous Behavioral Economist, but an amazing storyteller.
  10. Likeonomics - The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action by Rohit Bhargava. What makes people like a brand (or an individual) and not another? Tough question, but this book breaks it down... and it's fascinating.

There are also a handful of books that I am thoroughly enjoying, but have not completely finished. These are worth checking out too:

Now, it's your turn: which business book in 2012 turned your head upside down?

By Mitch Joel

Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Rebecca Caroe
    Mitch Joel


    I also enjoyed the Art of the Pitch so much I wrote a "Best Pitching books for Agency New Business" blog post

    Are e-books allowed on your list?
    I have enjoyed George Parker's Confessions of a Mad Man - for the swearing and straight talking honesty
    The Intention Economy by Doc Searls - for a view of the future when consumers are more powerful than brands
    List Building for bloggers by Phil Hollows for reminding us that having subscribers is one of the most valuable assets a business can own


  • Mitch Joel

    Thanks for the great list and notes on why you liked each one

  • Posted by Aline
    Mitch Joel

    Awesome, well noted. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mitch Joel

    Great list, but I'd also add:

    Return on Influence - Mark Schaefer - Excellent book outlining the impact of influence marketing, and looks at both sides of this divisive story.

    The Book of Business Awesome/UnAwesome - Scott Stratten - Extremely entertaining look at what makes modern businesses provide such great customer experiences, and what makes awful businesses fail so miserably.

    Thoroughly enjoyed both reads this year!

    • I am terribly embarrassed (and mad at myself) for not including Mark and Scott's books on this list. It was nothing but a dumb oversight on my part. I apologize to both of them, because they deserve to be on this list (without question).

      Thanks for adding them to the list, Jonathan and for making me realize that I missed them.

  • Posted by Chamika
    Mitch Joel

    A great (and quick!) read called Who do you want your customers to become by Michael Schrage:

    Podcast here:

  • Posted by Chad Story
    Mitch Joel

    Also some serious thinking in Nancy Duarte's book "Guide to Persuasive Presentations" published by HBR

  • Posted by Chris Reimer
    Mitch Joel

    I will put in a second for Mark Schaefer's book.

  • Posted by C.C. Chapman
    Mitch Joel

    Thank you for the kind words and including my book on the list. Among such great company it means a lot.

    Daring Greatly is the book I've been telling everyone about (and gifting) this year. Honestly a must read for anyone in my mind.

  • Posted by Chris Eh Young
    Mitch Joel

    Reading this list reminds that I need to read more. I have read The Impact Equation and CC's new book. Both great reads. Really fascinated now by the rest of the list. They all look like great books.

    My book recommendations for this year have to be either John Morgan's Brand Against The Machine or Erika Napoletano's The Power Of Unpopular.

  • Posted by Jason Malikow
    Mitch Joel

    Thank you, Mitch.

    The "business" books that I got the most out of this year were the old Austrian School texts by Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard. So much media time was spent on them that I felt like I needed the straight story. I couldn't have been more surprised to learn how shallowly most commentators were reading.

  • Posted by Marco Tulio
    Marco Tulio

    Hi Mitch,

    I've only read two from that list, will add the rest to my extensive backlog.

    I must read is Mastery by Robert Greene. I would put this one at the top of the list.

  • Posted by Marc Binkley
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,

    I've got one really big issue with your list - I have no idea which one to start reading first:)

    The books that blew my mind this year were

    Start With Why - Simon Sinek
    Maverick - Ricardo Semler
    Design of Business - Roger Martin
    Brand Gap - Marty Neumeier
    Drive - Daniel Pink
    The End of Business As Usual - Brian Solis
    Stumbling on Happiness - Dan Gilbert
    Multipliers - Liz Wiseman
    Experience Economy - Pine & Gilmore
    Brain Rules - John Medina

  • Posted by Harvey McKinnon
    Mitch Joel

    Love the list, and suggestions. I would also add to the top of my list: Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. a wonderful book that I too want to pass on to many people. And The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don't by Nate Silver

  • Posted by Nate Heinekamp
    Mitch Joel

    I'm finishing up The Impact Equation this afternoon. Fantastic read, but definitely warrants keeping a notepad by your side. Great list, Mitch!

  • Posted by Mikayla
    Mitch Joel

    Here, what you should do first of all is getting acquainted
    with a legitimate settlement service. And if you can prevent it
    from applying you will almost certainly win your case. There is an option that is usually overlooked
    by most.

  • Posted by Elisabeth
    Mitch Joel

    Printed t-shirts and polo shirts can be worn by your staff as well.
    Ultimately it is important to make the best use of your customer list.
    This includes the basic essentials such as address, driving directions, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and hours of operation.

  • Posted by Susanna
    Mitch Joel

    You are better off insulting the chef than running back and
    forth to the bathroom all night. Usually, this one adjustment makes a huge impact
    in the operation of the business. The information can be used to confront your husband head

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