Do You Have A Summer Reading List?

Do you have a summer reading list? A few summers ago, I was inspired by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg attempts to read two books a month while Bill Gates aims to read about fifty books a year. I set off to read five books in the summer of 2016 and on Labor Day of that year I was two chapters away from completing my second book of the summer. Not exactly a successful summer of reading. I soon realized that the Chicago fall and winter were better times for me to read and I surpassed my goal by Columbus Day.  So, for me as summer sadly comes to an end I am beginning to tackle the stack of books piling up on my nightstand (yes, I still prefer reading actual books printed on paper).

My favorite books are usually not the books on Mark Zuckerberg’s or Bill Gates’ list but rather recommendations from clients and friends. Below are a few of my favorites that I would recommend:

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. A fascinating memoir by Phil Knight the founder of Nike tells the surprising struggles Knight was faced with while building his company. Any agency owner who started their business from scratch and credit card debt, will appreciate the struggles and journey that Knight takes his readers on. This is a must read for anyone who has walked in his shoes.

The Go-Giver, by John David Mann & Bob Burg. This book was a gift I received from a successful insurance producer who claimed it changed the way he approached client and prospect meetings. It sat on my nightstand for a couple of years before I finally opened it. What a mistake. Once opened, I stayed up all night and read it in one sitting. The Go-Giver is a great business fable that reminds you to live your life with abundance. You will find greater satisfaction in your business and personal life by putting the needs of others ahead of your own needs.

To Sell is Human, by Daniel Pink. The world has changed thus your approach to sales needs to change. Whether you are an insurance producer or in a management role, Daniel Pink would tell you we are all in sales and need to be able to communicate effectively to persuade and drive home our point. Daniel Pink has reinvented the famous ABC’s (Always be Closing) for today’s world into Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. The book interjects data and social science with practical examples of how to refine and improve your communication skills.

The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Over five million copies in forty-two languages were sold before I was clued into this classic self-help book. As the title suggests the more we can train our mind to think more positively the happier and more fulfilling our lives will be. I would recommend reading this book on those restless nights you lie in bed with worry in your mind. Dr. Peale interjects faith and inspiration into his teachings on how to believe in yourself, deal with difficult people and overcome obstacles. This book is for everyone. From my thirteen-year-old daughter to the fifty-eight-year-old owner of mid-sized insurance agency have found value in Dr. Peale’s work.

Have you read any books this summer that you would recommend? Please share your list with me.


BDF’s Commercial Insurance Practice Group understands equity compensation and the valuation of business and uses this knowledge to help insurance professionals develop financial plans while minimizing tax bills. Whether working with a producer or business owner, we focus on one’s individual goals, family involvement and living a full life.

Jim King, CPA, CFP® is an owner and wealth manager at BDF where he leads the Commercial Insurance Professionals Practice Group. He uses his understanding of the insurance industry to help insurance professionals maximize their prime earning years, develop a discipline around saving those earnings and put a plan in place to best utilize assets. His focus on creating financial blueprints for his clients has earned him recognition as a “Five Star Wealth Manager” by Chicago Magazine.