10 Life Changing Books for Young Professionals


In this sped-up, technology-based world, career advisors speak often about how to quickly develop as a professional through online self-learning.

But there’s something about reading a book offline, where the author has the time and space to go deeper on important issues, that brings another level of clarity to the reader.

With that in mind, the YouTern team put together a list of life changing books for young professionals. These books made a significant impact on our professional outlook and careers. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you…

1. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies

It is never too early to improve your business acumen. It is never too soon to increase your fundamental understanding about what makes businesses great. Which is exactly what makes this book timeless. The most interesting thing about In Search of Excellence: the points made by Tom Peters, now a legend, Robert Waterman are even more relevant today.

You’ll need that knowledge not just when you get to the top, but every step along the way.

2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Many successful professionals, from Gen Y to the Greatest Generation, will say this book had a huge impact on their lives and careers. Perhaps the most popular business book of all time, it certainly deserves its long lasting popularity. 7 Habits outlines the standards by which successful people live their work lives including integrity, service, and dignity.

If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out on a true classic — and a real game-changer.

3. The Art of the Start 

Many younger people know Guy Kawasaki via the second iteration of his career – as social media star and expert. In this widely respected book Guy reviews the tremendous change in American business, and he illustrates the reason he is seen as one of the top business strategists in the world.

Anyone with an interest in social media and/or technology and the information age will find this book essential. His oft repeated quote: “Entrepreneur is a state of mind, not a job title” is reinforced here.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book was first published in 1930, but don’t think for one minute that the information it provides is irrelevant today. There is a reason that Dale Carnegie’s organization is still thriving; it is built on a very solid foundation: this book.

Whether we’re in the the Industrial Age or Social Age, business success is still about relationships. This book will teach you “how to handle people without letting them feel manipulated, how to make people feel important without inspiring resentment, how win people over to your point of view without causing offence, and how to make a friend out of just about anyone.”

5. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

A must read for marketers who want to be remarkable, Seth Godin’s most popular book is another book that will improve your business acumen and help you understand the difference between successful companies and those who settle for the status quo and  mediocrity.

If nothing else, this book will show you that it’s okay to think differently, act surprisingly and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

6. How to Sell Anything to Anyone

Amy Tobin of YouTern says this about How to Sell Anything to Anyone: “This older book may seem like an odd addition to a general list for career professionals, but I beg you not to overlook it. Selling is a skill every successful professional needs. Even if you never end up selling a product for a living, you will have to sell your own ideas. Joe Girard, a man who never went to college, explains the basics of sales — relationship building and discipline — in a style that is so easy to read you’ll breeze right through it.”

7. Wooden on Leadership

John Wooden was perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time; his leadership impacted the sport of basketball greatly. But it didn’t stop there. Wooden’s classic book “outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization, and shows you how to develop the skill, confidence, and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed.”

There is a reason this book sits on the favorite book lists of so many business leaders, including the founder and CEO of YouTern.

8. LeanIn: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg’s book was an instant blockbuster when it was published a few years ago. It was simultaneously embraced and rejected by women in droves; the chatter about how wrong, or right she was seemed never-ending. If you’re a woman in business looking to lead, we encourage you to read this book. If you are a man, we ask you not to ignore it. Not only does Sandberg accurately describe gender challenges in boardrooms, she talks at length about how domestic partnerships greatly impact your career.

9. Bulletproof Confidence: 15 Laws for Unshakeable Confidence, Defeating Your Fears, and Conquering Your Goals (Confidence Hacks and Mindsets)

The Imposter Syndrome is something that most of us fight on a regular basis, and it can be an even bigger battle for young professionals without a strong track record of success. Patrick King tackles:

  • Why perfectionism kills your confidence and how to break out of it
  • How embracing failure can be your greatest teacher and asset
  • Where true confidence should stem from and why
  • How confidence makes you a magnetic presence anywhere you go

10. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them NOW

About “The Defining Decade, our own Lauren Kirkpatrick says, “I found The Defining Decade at the perfect time in my life. I was a year out of college and I had just quit my job because I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was adrift, unsure of my next move. This book helped me put my problems into perspective and overcome my fear of making the wrong choice. Being in your twenties isn’t easy, but this book definitely helped me figure out my path. It helped me get to wear I am today.”

We’d love to hear from you about the books that have made a lasting impact on you. Be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments below!


Mark Babbitt AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Harvard Business Review, Inc., Huffington Post, Bloomberg News and Switch and Shift. 

AWorldGoneSocial 3D ThumbnailMark’s book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM), with Ted Coine is now available.

Questions? Contact Mark on Twitter.



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