My name is Dale Partridge. I’m not some get-rich-quick blogger or money-focused entrepreneur. I’m quite the opposite. And interestingly, “opposite” is what has allowed me to be so successful.
I’m a family man originally from Orange County California now living on a farm in the middle of Oregon. I’m a husband, father, and entrepreneur. I don’t start weird internet marketing businesses that nobody understands. Most of my companies have actually been very traditional: A rock climbing gym (acquired), a branding agency (no longer), a conference company (acquired), an online clothing company, a tech company (investor), and now StartupCamp.com (the site you’re on).
But over the past several years, my companies have produced almost $30,000,000. And like most classic entrepreneurs, I did not attend college. However, I did read A LOT of books. My guess is around 250 during my early years business.
Of those 250 books, there were ten books that changed the way I thought about business, leadership, and marketing. Books that became my college. Books that allowed me to see the path to not only building a great business, but wealth, influence, and trust. I tried to list them in the order in which they were read.
1. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap… And Others Don’t
As you’ll soon notice, Jim Collins makes this list three times. Because Jim writes from a position of research, his lessons have more weight. Beyond this, he has a rare level of maturity in his thinking. And while many people would think this book is for corporate executives and Wall Street businessmen, the content is highly applicable to almost any business owner. Remember, there is a reason it’s now sold over 3 million copies.
2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them, and People Will Follow You
It took me a few years to realize that success in business was dependent on my level of leadership. It took a few years to realize that just because you hired someone, doesn’t mean they follow you. Leadership is an earned position. John C. Maxwell is arguably the best teacher on the topic of leadership. The lessons in this book are timeless, powerful, and brilliant. I read it almost every year.
3. John Adams
This quote is from John Adam’s wife in a moment of empathy. A relatable frustration of feeling worthy of great things, and not being used.
I’m trying not to be partial here, but this might be my favorite book on the list. This is the book that taught me the music of writing. This is the book that showed me how to change the world. But more than that, this book made me a better husband, thinker, reader, and creator. John Adams and his wife Abagail were a gift to humanity and a gift to your mind.
4. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
If you asked me which area of business I am most competent, I would say branding. And it all started with this book. Marty Neumeier has a matchless way of making the complex seem simple. He takes the ambiguous arena of art and brings practical and useful lessons of clarity. It’s a book every business owner should read.
5. Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies
While this book was published before Good To Great, Jim Collins called this book the sequel to it. Meaning, read Good to Great, then Built To Last. As I mentioned above, Collin’s books became my business school. This book offers proven business principles that I still use every single week.
6. Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–And Secretive–Company Really Works
There are LOTS of books about Steve Jobs and Apple. This one is by far the best. The author comes from a position of storytelling that is consumable and useful. Secondly, he leaves readers with an inventory of tricks, tips, and ideas on how to bring the genius of Apple into your own business. Writing this description makes me want to read it again.
7. Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Die & Others Survive
I consider myself a great marketer. Not because of pride, but because of my results. And much of those results can be credited to the concepts in Made to Stick. Chip and Dan talk less about the ever-changing strategies of marketing and ideation and more about the timeless principles of human psychology. It wouldn’t be on this list unless it were great.
This is the recommended reading for Module #1 inside our StartupCamp curriculum. Short chapters. Easy read. The concepts in this book are not just brilliant, but they challenge all the norms in business today. And to be honest, I disagree with some of them. But the thinking behind this book is so radical, that it doesn’t just tell you how to win, it shows you.
9. Outliers: The Story Of Success
My wife bought this for me the month it came out. I had never heard of it before. Outliers is not necessarily a business or leadership book; it’s a big picture book. Malcolm Gladwell has always been good at taking readers to deeper issues. Bottom line, this book is fascinating. You’ll learn how much and how little we get to control our success.
10. Great By Choice
I opened this list with Jim Collins, and I’ll end with him too. This book rocked me. I filled up an entire notebook with ideas from this read. What I love about Jim’s writing style is the way he can wrap up deep teachings into simple lessons. Great by Choice is filled with riveting stories and ideas that are almost impossible to argue against. It’s an advanced read, but a library absent of this book is a mistake.
But I must give credit where credit is due. This isn’t preaching; this is just my story. The book I spend the most time with is the Bible. Likely 2-3 hours per week for the past 11 years. I don’t know about you, but the wisdom I’ve found in the Book of Proverbs is INSANE. The emotional maturity, patience, compassion, and generosity requested by Jesus has become my life’s goal. Whether you believe or not, we must realize it’s the most famous, oldest, most known, and used book on the planet. To ignore that, would be foolish.
Do you have any books that have changed your life? Books that might help people become better leaders or entrepreneurs? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Chasing Your Dream
Do you want to become a captivating entrepreneur? Do you want to start something great? If you’re looking for a practical guide with timeless principles that never fade, principles that push for a healthy type of success, one with integrity, honor, and respect, then my StartupCamp course might be perfect for you. Check out my free class below.