Best Business Books I Read in 2023: The Year of Emotional Intelligence

by | Perspectives, Strategy

Why do I read business books? The obvious reason is to learn new ideas, strategies, and tactics. But this quote from Marcel Proust seems more accurate, especially for me in 2023:

“Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth.”

Books can help you unlock abilities and insights about yourself that you may never have realized before. You’re combining the writer’s insights with your own, and the result can be magical.

I experienced that 1+1=3 phenomenon with the books listed here, especially in the realm of emotional intelligence. I hope they have the same impact on you.

More on this year’s list

Besides emotional intelligence, this year’s list includes more insights on how to integrate sales strategies into the marketing process, as well as perspectives on scaling your business and managing people.

This list is also shorter than in years past, as I spent some time re-reading books on account-based marketing.

I’m a big advocate of reading books twice. Every time I’ve done it, the message has resonated more, and I’ve picked up nuances that passed me by the first time through the book. Don’t be shy about revisiting your favorite books.

With that lead-up, let’s dive into the list of the top business and business-related books I read in 2023.

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence

“As Aristotle saw, the problem is not with emotionality, but with the appropriateness of emotion and its expression.”

I read this book not with any business outcome in mind, but because I was not happy with the product that was Greg Mischio.

More specifically, I wanted to improve my own behavior in the world, and getting smarter about how my own emotions work seemed to be the key. That’s why the book’s taglines — “The groundbreaking book that redefines what it means to be smart” and “Why it can matter more than IQ” — are so accurate.

Just as Marcus Sheridan’s book (further down the list) has redefined how I think about bottom-of-the funnel marketing content, Goleman’s book has redefined how I manage myself and my emotions. It also led me to the next few titles on the list.


Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly

“Cynicism, criticism, cruelty and cool are even better than armor — they can be fashioned into weapons that not only keep vulnerability at a distance, but can also inflict injury on people who are being vulnerable and make us uncomfortable.”

I’m admittedly a bit late to the Brené Brown party, but I’m so glad I finally arrived. Brown is a social worker, researcher, and author who focuses primarily on vulnerability and the impacts of shame.

As I dug deeper into emotional intelligence with Goleman’s book, Brown’s work seemed like the next logical step. And, boy, was it ever. There are definitely some traits about myself that I don’t like, and I realize that many of them are tied to shame and a lack of vulnerability.

A whole-hearted life is all about making meaningful connections, and I’ve spent a lot of my time behind the armor described above. Discarding it will be a continuous process, but Brown’s work is a great guide to help me (and you) along the path. (Her podcast, Unlocking Us, is also revelatory stuff.)


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie

“Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.”

Sometimes I like to randomly browse through a library or a bookstore and let a book find me. Dale Carnegie’s time-honored classic found me, and I understood why after I read it.

I went into the book expecting sales tactics, but this really is just a study in emotional intelligence. Carnegie shares hundreds of real-life examples of empathy and vulnerability, and gives us a blueprint on how to make meaningful connections with people.

No wonder this has stood the test of time.

Special thanks to Taryn Stoeger for recommending this one!


They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

They Ask You Answer

“Take a moment to brainstorm every single reason as to why someone would not buy from your company.”

This simple advice comes from Marcus Sheridan, aka “The Sales Lion.” I’ve known of Marcus’s book for a long time, but thought it was really just about basic content marketing ideas, like answering customer FAQs on your website. But it is so much more than that.

I’m not sure I’ve read any book that nails what we’re trying to do at Winbound — integrating sales into content marketing — quite like this one. Sheridan identifies the key types of content throughout the sales funnel, and how they can be used to build trust with prospects and customers.

This was really a transformative book for our organization, both philosophically and pragmatically. (Check out how he uses content to pre-qualify customers. Brilliant!)


Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

Discipline is Destiny

“What do we need: Some food and water. Work that can challenge ourselves with a calm mind in the midst of adversity. Sleep. A solid routine. A cause we are committed to. Something we’re getting better at.”

Ryan Holiday celebrates the power of self-discipline in this book. He extols the virtues of the Stoics, a school of philosophy that flourished in ancient Greece and Rome.

It was a chore to decide on which excerpt to feature here. Time and time again, Holiday serves gems like the excerpt above. His message is to show courage through temperance and live in accordance with nature, and he provides plenty of historical examples of how it can be done.

Special thanks to Chris Luecke for this recommendation!


NeuroSelling by Jeff Bloomfield


“No one trained you on how the human brain makes decisions, which leaves you at a significant disadvantage with most salespeople communicating the wrong information at the wrong time and in the wrong order.”

If your sales are slumping, it’s likely because you don’t understand Jeff Bloomfield’s underlying theme in NeuroSelling: “We buy based on emotion, and use logic to rationalize our decisions.”

Bloomfield’s book serves as a training manual to show us how our brains work in the purchase process and how important an emotional connection can be for business success.

Funny how we walk around with these brains, yet we seem to take so much of their functionality for granted. Bloomfield doesn’t, and neither should you.

PS – If you make business presentations, read this book. He has advice that really helped me take my public speaking to another level.

Special thanks to Sam Mischio for this one!


Scaling Up by Verne Harnish

Scaling Up

“Complexity grows exponentially, and it generates three fundamental barriers to scaling up a venture: Leadership, scalable infrastructure, and market dynamics.”

Do you ever get a book from someone but never get around to reading it? Then one day, you finally pick it up and you’re left with the thought, “Why the heck didn’t I read this thing sooner?”

Harnish’s book falls into that category for me. I was blown away by the spot-on, comprehensive advice he provides on business growth. Entrepreneurs looking to scale can benefit from this book immensely, but it truly has relevance to anyone who runs a business.

If you get it, read it today — definitely don’t relegate it to the “I’ll get to it later” pile.

Special thanks to Rock LaManna for sending this my way!


My methodology: The book is almost full

Four years ago, I started a little routine when reading. Every day, after reading for fifteen minutes in the morning, I write down in this journaling book one or two nuggets I’ve gleaned.

For some reason, the practice of writing out these quotes imprints them more deeply in my head. It’s also fun to look back on books from the last few years (see the full list below) and reread the insights.

Four years later, my book is full. It’s time for a new journal, and a new year!

Please share any book suggestions with me, and please connect with me on LinkedIn.


The lists: Business books from prior years


The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation – Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results – Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner and Nick Toman

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham

Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy – Eli Schwartz

The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success – Gary Vaynerchuk

CEO: Customer Engagement Officer – Mark Hillary

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable – Tim S. Grover

Family Business Abundance: A Management System for Family Businesses – Bradley G. Fisher

Maigret and the Headless CorpseGeorges Simenon

They Named You Right – Rock LaManna



Think Like Google: Use SEO and Empathy to Rank, Convert and Profit No Matter How Much They Change the Rules – Tom Gerencer

The Road Less Stupid – Keith Cunningham

Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster and Unlock Your Exceptional Life – Jim Kwik

The Win Without Pitching Manifesto – Blair Enns

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen – Donald Miller

New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development – Mike Weinberg

Every Book is a Startup – Todd Sattersten

Uncopyable: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition – Steve Miller

Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know – James Carbary

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know – Adam Grant

ABM is B2B: Why B2B Marketing and Sales is Broken and How to Fix It – Sangram Vajre and Eric Spett

The Book on Account Based Marketing: Practical Tips for Exponential Revenue Growth – Bassem Hamdy



Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity – Avinash Kaushik

Content Chemistry – Andy Crestodina

Faster, Better, Cheaper in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond – Christoph Roser

The Fourth Industrial Revolution – Klaus Schwab

Ditch the Act: Reveal the Surprising Power of the Real You for Greater Success – Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland

Stop Being the Best-Kept Secret: Manufacturing eCommerce Strategies – Curt Anderson


Live in a Better Way: Reflections of Truth, Love and Happiness – the Dalai Lama

The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive – Michael Fullan

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction – Derek Thompson

Everybody Writes:  Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Ann Handley

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance – Jonathan Fields

The Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins – Mark Schaefer

Business Adventures: Twelve Class Tales from the World of Wall StreetJohn Brooks

The Big Data Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits – Russell Glass, Sean Callahan

The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change – Bharat Anand

This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See – Seth Godin



Check out our research that shows how many manufacturers are actually using content in their marketing approach.

2023 Manufacturing Content Benchmark Report
Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio has been creating content for many moons. He is the Founder and CEO of Winbound, a sales and marketing agency that provides content and marketing services with a focus on manufacturing and industrial verticals.

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