17 Minutes a Day for a Year: Best Books for Professional Development

We are firm believers in the idea that you should continue working on your business no matter how successful things are! Many people hear this and think “how will I have time for professional development?” The honest answer? You have to MAKE time. Imagine setting aside two hours a week (that is 17 minutes a day) for a year. That is LESS than an episode of your favorite tv show! Before you know it, you will have accomplished 104 hours of growth and we promise…it will show. We are so excited to share some of our favorite books with you because we think that they are the best!

Now before we overwhelm you with an incredible list of best books, we want to share some background and insightful tips. We don’t want you thinking you need to read all of these this year so lean in for our pro tips from Dale!

  1. Don’t just read personal development books. Study and apply them. You want to take in the content you are reading, highlight the components that are meaningful to you, and reflect on them. Take notes on both the content and what you think about it as you consider applying it to your life. 
  2. It’s far more valuable to read and apply the learnings in just one book, than read a whole bunch of books but not really apply what you’ve learned from them in your life. Pick your favorite and see it through.
  3. Studies have shown that if you read a book, (listen to a podcast, attend a workshop, etc.) and don’t take the time to apply what you’ve learned, within just 2 weeks it’s as if you never read the book in the first place. A huge waste of your time so make that plan!!


Note: We are a bit biased toward John Maxwell due to his approach of constant learning, knowing all/most of the other major influencers [speakers & authors] so he incorporates their teaching. As he jokingly says, “Oh, I definitely give them credit. I don’t share my royalties, but I certainly give them credit.” So in other words, John is a consolidator of good [proven] ideas. So if there’s one source we go to, it’s him.

Alright, it is time to dive into the goods!! Read on to see our list of favorite best books divided into key categories so you can select the best professional development plan for yourself this year!

Relationships/People Skills/Influence

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Key phrase: Absolutely THE classic (and best) people skills book.

If you read only one book in your life, I encourage this to be the one! If everyone read and applied ONLY this book, the world would be a much better place.

[Note: John Maxwell’s more modern Winning with People, is very similar and meant to be an updated modern version of this classic.]

 The 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

Key phrase: The most practical (and valuable) leadership framework.

As the world’s #1 authority on leadership over the last decade, John presents a clear concise description of what leadership really is in this book along with the specific step we need to take to become more influential within our business, our industry, or our community. This is John’s foundational model that’s at the center of the more than 70 books John has written.

[Note: John provides a short condensed version of this content in ‘How Success People Lead’.]

Confidence & Power in Dealing with People, by Les Giblin

Key Phrase: Humans are Ego-based, so Learn How to Effectively Handle Them

In this book, Les gives a number of incredibly easy and valuable ways to work with people to influence them to achieve your goals – without manipulation or pressure. He simply teaches us how to understand and relate with others in a positive and influential way.

Business Operation

E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Key phrase: Enhance Your Thinking (as a business owner)

Michael provides a model in this book that often helps solopreneurs understand the mindset shift they need to make to transition from ‘owning their job’ to ‘owning a business that generates time & money’. (Now it’s not the only model, and other models may resonate better for you in how to structure your business. This model helps many people with the mental shift required to make the change.) The book also has the biased assumption that every business owner want to sell their business and the franchised-systems (or process) is more important than people.

Traction, by Gino Wickman

Key Phrase: Gain Control and Focus in Your Business

Provides a solid model in this book for any early stage growing small business (10 people or more). In addition to explaining the six key disciplines within a business, it also provides free access to roughly 25 tools to help business owners get their business under control. 


The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, by John Maxwell

Key phrase: What Every Leader Needs to Know about Teamwork

John covers 17 different characteristics of team performance and teamwork in this book that leaders need to understand. If you learn and embrace them, you will empower your team to achieve great things.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick M. Lencioni

Key Phrase: The 5 Common Challenges of Team, and how to Overcome Them

The content in this book is presented in a fable-style and presents 5 common challenges (a.k.a. ‘dysfunctions’) with teams. The five dysfunctions are 1) absence of trust, 2) fear of conflict, 3) lack of commitment, 4) avoidance of accountability, and 5) inattention to results. Through identifying these root causes of poor teamwork, teams can develop specific strategies for overcoming each of them.


Life’s Golden Ticket, by Brendon Burchard

Key phrase: Solutions to Common Challenges, presents in an Inspirational (Magical) Parable style

A fun read that takes you on a life-changing journey through a magical carnival (that supposedly closed many years ago), in which you meet interesting characters – each one teaches us a different important life lesson.

What to say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter

Key Phrase: Improve Your Self-Talk to Improve Your Life

This book is a wonderful approach to understanding and adjusting our self-talk to help us achieve what we want. We love his model (found in chapter 9) of The 5 Levels of Self-Talk.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Key Phrase: Our Habits Define Our Life – We Should Really Understand How they Work

Somewhere between 75% and 92% of our life is habitual behavior. This means that roughly 85% of the time we’re acting and not even thinking about what we’re doing. Our behavior will get us the outcomes we want or don’t. In this work Charles explains how habits work and what we can do to change them in a way that improves our lives.

17 minutes a day of reading for a year to really pour into your business model, grow your mindset as a business owner, and take you to the next level of greatness! We would love to know what book you are most excited to read so send us a DM or comment in the blog comments below! Happy reading and joyful growing!

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  1. […] Believing you’re either born a good leader or you’re not. To put it simply, leadership is influence. Leadership is not a position, title, or personality. No one is born a good leader. Read that one again! Rather, leadership is a skillset that is learned and crafted over time. However, don’t develop through trial and error; rather pour into professional development. If you are looking for a place to start, read our blog on 17 minutes a day! […]

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