Top 10 Books Recommendations from Brett Belknap
1. Rich Dad Poor Dad– Robert Kiyosaki’s book on financial literacy was life changing for me. I was in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I stumbled across this. I resonated immediately with the differences in mindsets between his poor dad (his actual father who had a college education and a “safe” government job with a 401k) and his rich dad (his best friends father who dropped out of High School, grew up poor but become a highly successful entrepreneur by not following conventional wisdom). I learned the difference between an asset (something that brings in money) vs a liability (something that takes away money). I learned about the importance of cashflow and buying assets that can generate passive income for the rest of you life- like real estate. I also learned about the 4 cashflow quadrants of employees, self employed individuals, business owners, and investors and the different ways they are taxed. For the first time in my life as I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, I truly began to understand the power of teaching principles within a story. This book sets the perfect framework for how to generate wealth the way the rich do and NOT the way the school system and adults have been trained us to. This book was instrumental in my decision to drop out of college and pursue Real Estate.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie was an old son-of-a-gun (the book was written in 1936) but this book continues to be one of the best selling books of all time- which really tells your how timeless these lessons are. I read this book the summer I got out of High School. I remember working for my dad on a flip and listening to this book as I demoed an old 1950’s house. I remember wishing I would have read this book sooner so I could have used these tactics to win over my teachers and got away with more play and less work. Carnegie is a champion for putting others before you and being aware of emotions. He talks about tactics to get people to like you, how to get them to come to your way of thinking, and how to create change. I love his advice of confronting people with criticism first with “a drop of honey,” or his advice to allow the other person in the argument to “save face.” I’m know my teenage arguments could have used much more honey. I still come back to this book time and time again as reminders of how to deal with confrontation and stress.
3. Never split the difference– This was written by a Ex-FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss and he has a ton of unbelievable stories he tells. He teaches how life is a negotiation through the lens of communicating with a bad guy when lives are on the line. If you can negotiate with a terrorist, you can negotiate with a business partner. I loved his insights about not just empathizing, but labeling the persons emotion to get them to say “thats right.” He also pulled a B-Rabbit out of hat with his “accusation audit”- listing every single negative objection someone could throw at you. If you are skeptical that would work, rewatch 8 mile when diss rap between Eminem and Papa Doc… left the man speechless. At the end of the day, if you can find the “black swan”- the one piece of information that if discovered, will change the entire leverage of the negotiation, you’ll never split the difference again.
4. 12 Rules for Life– The entire list would be compromised if I didn’t have Jordan Peterson on here. Jordan is a clinical psychologist, public intellect and truthfully, if you don’t know of him, you should. His book is described as an antidote to chaos, and reflects on the mythological structures that have permeated for so long they are unequivocally true. He positions that life is suffering, and that we should pursue that which is meaningful, not expedient. Meaning is found in the shouldering of responsibility. I really love the combination Jordan brings of psychology, science, history and theology together into several thesis’s on how to live a meaningful life. He also has several Youtube videos that are worth checking out.
5. Crushing It– I will repeat myself here and say this list is nothing without Gary Vee on it. Gary is the freaking Godfather of everything marketing and branding for the past decade. If you see anyone on social media that you admire, they’re probably imitating most of it from Garys playbook. Gary grew up as a Russian immigrant from Belarus living in NY. He became a die-hard Jets fan and will verbally attack you if you don’t support your hometown team- especially when they are losing. Because losers seek short cuts and winners fall in love with the process. His combination of tough love, no-excuses approach ANDDDD (In Gary Vee voice) with his preaching of empathy and patience makes him truly well rounded. This book is all about marketing in the 21st century. It’s the move away from the inauthentic and automation of marketing and a move towards an intimate and grateful relationships with every single follower on your social media account.
6. 7 Levels of Communication– Michael Maher tells an anecdote of a struggling real estate agent on the brink of quitting. He watches an agent in his office with his faces up on billboards and all the office recognition absolutely killing the game. Reluctantly he goes to him for advice but is met with contempt and condescension. Just as hes about to give up, he fatefully meets a loan officer who changes everything for him. He switches his mentality from big branding and egotistic billboard signs to personalized, thoughtful relationships. His business transforms and by the end, the big power agent with his face on the billboard comes to him for advice. It’s all about treating people correctly and valuing the relationship.
7. The Secrets of Power Negotiating– Roger Dawson’s book is the best practical business advise I have found on negotiating. He has actual scripts that you can use to trap your opponent or to free yourself up before you lose the upper-hand. He tells you how it’s important to ask for more, always counter, bracket your offer, and always seek for higher authority. Depending on the deal, you can make or lose thousands of dollars in a single sentence. You’ll make more money being a power negotiator than all the hours you’ll spend at your job.
8. What every BODY is saying– Joe Navarro, another Ex-FBI guy (these guys have a great career in writing after the Bureau huh?) teaches the sure tells of what a persons body language is telling you. The majority of communication happens subconsciously- outside the words being said, so it’s vital to be a savvy and sophisticated communicator to ascertain the truth. What body part has the biggest tell? If you thought eyes, you’d be wrong. People are conscientious enough to know to control their eyes, but their FEET tell you everything you need to know.
9. Pitch Anything– Oren Klaff’s background in raising capital is nearly unparalleled. The “croc brain” is an ancient structure in our brain that controls fight or flight. The first thing you need to do when pitching an idea, product or service is to get rid of the desperation you convey. No one wants to do business with someone that doesn’t have options. You need to understand the science of framing so you can overcome peoples instinctual fears and get them to a place of certainty. He has a process called STRONG to pitch anything and get the deal.
10. 7 Habits for Highly Effective People– Stephen Covey is on the list not just because he was a BYU professor and that gives him some cred, but also because this book helped me find my “true north.” His 4 quadrants of important vs urgent is an important matrix of where to spend your time and efforts. His call at the end to “sharpen the saw” is a reminder no matter what stage of life or business you are in to continue to refine and grow.
And thats really the reason for this entire list. We all have trees to chop down in life. And we’ve all been given a saw to labor with. We need to sharpen and refine our saw every single day to become the absolute best versions of ourselves for ourselves, our families, and our communities.