As we come to the end of the year, I always reflect on which books had the biggest impact on me over the previous twelve months.
So with that in mind, here’s my final “best of” email for 2022, where I share my favorite books of the year.
First off, I can’t honestly say I read too many business books this past year that I found to be particularly impactful. In fact, only one of these books is a traditional “business book.” At this point in the game, most newly published business books are rehashes of stuff I’ve read elsewhere. They can still be valuable for review. But to borrow a metaphor, I’ve already been exposed to most of the core “nutrients” (business principles) via other “foods” (books/resources).
I’m certainly not saying I have no room to sharpen my saw. But these days, I mostly prefer to revisit my favorites and go deeper on them.
For instance, the Mark Fisher Fitness leadership team read Joey Coleman’s Never Lose a Customer Again and Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage. Both are great books. And we got a lot out of reading them together. But this was my second and fourth time reading them respectively, so they don’t qualify for consideration for this year’s list.
If you’re looking for more business book recommendations, you may want to check out my list of Favorite Books for Training Gym Owners.
With that long disclaimer out of the way, let me make one final point: applied psychology and moral philosophy are the foundation of much of business success. So while not explicitly business books per se, I believe the other three books are valuable for business owners.
(And scroll down for my complete list for the year.)
MF’s Fave Books of 2022 (In No Particular Order)
Wanting – Luke Burgis
This is an accessible breakdown of philosopher Renee Girard’s “mimetic theory.” Girard was a professor at Stanford, and is most well known for influencing a number of Silicon Valley’s most successful muckety-mucks.
Simply put, the core of mimetic theory is this: we don’t intrinsically want things, we want to be like people we want to model, and therefore we want what they want. While there’s a lot more to unpack, this particular concept is worth noodling on.
As you may imagine, this can be valuable when you pick the right heroes. OR destructive when you’re not intentional about who you wish to model. Upon reading it, I was left pretty unsettled. It became clear I was finding myself unconsciously competing against “rivals” with whom I did not share common values. And it helped me snap out of some unhelpful ambitions that don’t actually square with who I want to be and the impact I want to make in the world.
A YouTube breakdown of my thoughts HERE.
The Meritocracy Trap – Daniel Markovitz
A cogent analysis of how America’s well-intentioned pursuit of a meritocracy has created an ugly second order impact; a pernicious system that deepens and entrenches inequality.
Our ruling class of hyper-educated and skilled professionals work inhuman hours in jobs they often hate to become super wealthy. They then seek to maintain their family’s advantage through massive time, money, and energy investments into their children’s education. And in spite of the costs in quality of life, this same class defends it tooth and nail to the detriment of our society at large, including themselves and their progeny.
This is a provocative take, but backed up by reams of data. And since my social community is largely made up of affluent professional ass-kickers, much of this rings true.
The Gap and the Gain – Dan Sullivan w/ Dr. Benjamin Hardy
Ok. We have a book rec that’s not super heavy lolol! 🙂
This is one of the best personal development books I’ve read to date. The concept is easy enough to understand: when you measure yourself against a horizon you’ll never catch, you focus on the “gap” and feel crappy. But when you measure yourself against how far you’ve come, you focus on the “gain” and feel energized.
Since much of entrepreneurship –– and a skillful life –– is about intentionally choosing your frames, this simple model is a valuable contribution. It’s become foundational to how we run Mark Fisher Fitness. We are actively training ourselves to focus on the GAIN. We start all meetings by reflecting on what we’ve recently accomplished and what’s going well. I recommend it to you AND your team!
What We Owe the Future – Will MacAskill
And in my final favorite book of the year, we’re back to heavy. 😉
What We Owe the Future is an introduction to a relatively new ethical philosophy called “LongTermism.” LongTermism is a branch of Effective Altruism, an evidence-based approach to charitable giving.
The premise is this: if we get through this next century or two, there will likely be quadrillions of more human beings born in the future. This means only a ridiculously small sliver of humans that will ever be alive have thus far been born. And since they’re not born yet, these future humans have no political say or representation in how we run our societies. Ergo, we have a moral obligation to take existential risks seriously. We should put more resources into identifying and mitigating the most likely causes of the end of the human race, notably General Artificial Intelligence and bioweapons.
This philosophy is provocative. There are many detractors and many fair criticisms. Furthermore, the whole field has taken a hit with the fall of one it’s most famous proponents, disgraced FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Nonetheless, it’s a useful framework for thinking about how we allocate our finite resources as a human race. It’s an argument that we must take seriously our contribution to the continued survival of the only known (to us) sentient consciousnesses in the universe.
For more on LongTermism, check out Toby Ord’s The Precipice.
MF’s Complete Reading List for 2022
Here are some thoughts on this year’s list and my reading/education in general:
- Asterisk = Re-read. 13 books were re-reads, which is lower than I would have imagined.
- 7 of these books below are very short Strategic Coach books that are basically like pamphlets and 1 is an “audio program.” But for the sake of comprehensiveness, I’ve included them.
- My big change this year: bailing on books I’m not enjoying. I bailed on a whopping nine books this year. I tend to be a “completionist” so this represents a breakthrough for me.
- I’ve fallen in love with hard science fiction. Peter Watts’s Blindsight is a moody deep dive into evolution and the philosophy of consciousness. With vampires and aliens! But somehow realistic. I also loved Dan Simmons’s Hyperion series.
- I read a lot on personal finance this year as I researched hiring a financial planner, as well as sharpening the saw of how I approach saving and investing. Not on this list, but I also started to listen to a few personal finance podcasts alongside fitness business and social philosophy/current events. They were great for about 6 months, but basic personal finance is, well, basic. So they’ve gotten redundant and I now listen to every third or so personal finance podcast. (In particular, I’ve been listening to The Money Guy Show, The Personal Finance Podcast, and The Financial Samurai).
- I read baby/parenting books. Duh.
- I purchased a few mega-ambitious books that have been on my list, including William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience and David Deutsch’s The Beginning of Infinity. They were too ambitious. After reading for half an hour, I am unclear if and when I’ll actually dig back in. In particular, Godel, Escher, and Bach will sit on my bookshelf unread until the end of time.
- I continue to listen to most episodes of most fitness business podcasts. In my third year of this practice, things are getting VERY redundant. I’ve also circled in a few podcasts on franchising (Franchise Secrets and the hilariously named Wolf of Franchising) and philosophy/current events (Bad Wizards, Making Sense, the Ezra Klein Show, and Hard Fork).
- I continue to read too much news apps as a percentage of my content consumption, but doesn’t seem to be negatively impacting my headspace too much at the moment.
- I LOVE physical magazines. My go to picks are The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Economist, Forbes, and Monocle. I count this as leisure, since it doesn’t (usually) intersect with my work in any meaningful way.
- My first year of Strategic Coach was solid. Excited to be starting Year 2 in February.
Complete 2022 List
- The Wealthy Franchisee
- The Velvet Rope Economy
- Marketing Made Simple
- Too Soon Old Too Late Smart*
- The One Thing You Need to Know*
- Managing Oneself*
- Anything You Want*
- Relationships 101
- The Laws of Lifetime Growth
- The Self-Managing Company (Short Strategic Coach Book)
- The Team Success Handbook (Short Strategic Coach Book)
- The Soros Lectures
- All Minus One
- The Undercover Economist* – DNF
- Elevated Childcare
- Elements of Fucking Style
- Measure What Matters
- The Meritocracy Trap
- The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read
- How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life
- Fall of Hyperion
- A Moveable Feast – DNF
- 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
- The Motive
- My Plan For Living to 156 (Short Strategic Coach Book)
- How to Be a Great Boss*
- The Gap and the Gain
- Benjamin Franklin Autobiography
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Biography)*
- NOTE: I read these at the same time for funsies.
- Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography
- Die with Zero
- The Whole Brained Child
- The Only Leaders Worth Following
- No Sweat
- The Way to Love
- The University of Berkshire Hathaway
- The Five Invitations
- Never Lose a Customer Again*
- Making Money is Killing Your Business
- The Gap and The Gain (Short Strategic Coach Book)
- The Dawn of Everything – DNF
- The YouTube Formula
- Ready, Fire, Aim*
- Slightly Above Average Gym Owner’s Guide
- 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing
- A Master’s Secret Whispers – DNF
- Razzle Dazzle
- Singular Sensation
- The Business of Broadway
- The Secret Life of the American Musical
- The Year of Magical Thinking
- No Bad Kids
- Middle Class Millionaire
- Financial Freedom
- From Here to Financial Happiness
- The Rise of Endymion
- The Age of AI
- Built to Burn
- What We Owe the Future
- The Power of One More
- Free for All (Joe Papp bio)
- Out of Nothing, Everything*
- Be Your Future Self Now
- Positive Discipline – DNF
- Inventor of the Future – DNF
- The Precipice
- The Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster
- The Great CEO Within
- Lifestyle Investor
- Zero to One*
- The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes*
- The Path
- What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You
- Tiny Habits
- Disrupting Sacred Cows
- High Ticket Sales for Affiliate Owners
- Profit Works
- Anthony Bourdain: Down and Out in Paradise
- What’s In It For Them?
- Outrage Machine
- Trust and Inspire – DNF
- Wanting What You Want (Short SC Book)
- The 10x Mind Expander (Short SC Book)
- Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
- The 4 C’s Formula (Short SC Book)
- Building a Second Brian – DNF
- Leading with Heart
- American Gods
- The Advantage*
- Power vs Force – DNF
- Take Charge Of Your Life – Jim Rohn (audio program)
- Amusing Ourselves to Death
- On Writing Well
- Free to Focus
Well there you go friends! This year’s list is quite the window into what’s been taking up my mindshare.
I realize the Business for Unicorns email list is ostensibly about helping you achieve more success with your training gym. I know not all these books or resources are heavy on business strategy or tactics.
But I do think they will help you be a better thinker. And indirectly, a better business person. And a better HUMAN!
Love you, love your brain, love your heart,
PS: Here are three ways to get more BFU in your life:
- Learn more about our coaching group The Unicorn Society HERE.
- Subscribe to our Business for Unicorns podcast HERE.
- Subscribe to Mark’s new YouTube channel HERE.
PPS Speaking of, have you checked out my YouTube channel lately?
To see one of my latest videos, click the thumbnail below.