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How's that old saying go? “If you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book.” I've tried my damndest, but I can't manage to find who coined this phrase. Or where this quote originated from. But we have all heard it. I remember that the first time I heard it and it actually meant something to me was when Pimp C said it during a radio interview. And promptly refuted that it never worked for him because he was an avid reader.
I will admit, I definitely didn't sit back and imagine Chad Butler as the reading type. And I will also admit, that at the time, I certainly wasn't. Luckily I did not stay that way. In my humble opinion, reading is the greatest way to gain knowledge. Another quote we grew up hearing, “experience is the best teacher.” So if you can sit back and gain knowledge from someone else who has already been through the experience, you would be a fool not to soak up all of that free teaching. So here are 10 books for Black entrepreneurs written by Black authors.
One of the most insightful of the Black authors here, Dennis Kimbro believes that becoming a millionaire is all about choice. You have to decide to be wealthy, and then prepare yourself to make it so. It’s about investing the time and money in yourself to make your financial dreams come true.
After receiving his doctorate from Northwestern University, where he studied wealth and poverty among underdeveloped countries, Kimbro interviewed America’s most notable achievers and set out to answer the question, “How can impoverished Black Americans pull themselves out of their poverty and reach their full potential?”
In this book, Kimbro shares the lessons he learned over the course of seven years of interviewing Black millionaires — including Les Brown, John Hope Bryant, Tyrese Gibson, Spike Lee and Tyler Perry.
Examining the habits and actions of some of the wealthiest Black millionaires who have made it big over the past 10 years, Kimbro describes how others can follow in their footsteps. Even when things don’t seem to be going your way, this book provides sound advice on how you can climb the economic ladder.
Arthur George Gatson was born in 1892 in the South and was the grandson of slaves. Although he started from poverty, he did not end there. Gatson went on to amass a fortune of over $130 million. Gatson established a financial empire with businesses in the insurance, real estate and communications sectors. In his memoir, he emphasizes the importance of creating wealth by living below your means and investing savings into long-term assets.
“Green Power” is a great read for entrepreneurs who are facing hardship or disappointment. Gaston developed a funeral home, motel, The Booker T. Washington Business School, and Citizens Savings and Loan Association. In the midst of the segregated south, Gaston overcame discrimination and hardship to become one of the most historic Black entrepreneurs of the 20th century.
“Don’t have so much pride – Where the same suit for a year or two. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of suit the pocket it is in as long as there is money In the pockets.”
Daymond John was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Hollis, Queens. His father walked out on him when he was ten which gave him the determination to succeed. In Display of Power, John reveals how he started his urban clothing company, FUBU, selling hats hand-to-hand. FUBU has now grown to be a billion dollar brand.
John, gives it to you raw. He explains how he climbed to the top of streetwear using his street smarts. This is a great read for entrepreneurs who may be entering a saturated market and wish to stand out.
The Shark Tank investor also recently released his new book, Rise and Grind, and whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, it’s perfect for anyone looking for some motivation to help you get started on your path towards success. In the book, John touches again on his own story of launching fashion line FUBU with a $40 budget and in between shifts working at Red Lobster.
In both books he shares the true meaning of hard work and how there’s no easy way around things. He also examines the routines and habits of other successful entrepreneurs and business people so others can begin to emulate them and set themselves up for success.
When six-year-old Reginald Lewis overheard his grandparents discussing employment discrimination against Blacks, he asked, “Why should white guys have all the fun?” This self-assured child would grow up to become the CEO of Beatrice International and one of the most successful entrepreneurs ever.
This biography reveals how Lewis became one of the wealthiest Black men in history from humble beginnings. Lewis was raised in a working- class neighbourhood in East Baltimore, attended Harvard Law School and soon after became one of Wall Street’s top dealmakers. At the time of his death in 1993, his personal fortune was estimated in excess of $400 million and his vast commercial empire spanned four continents.
Despite the notoriety surrounding Lewis's financial coups, little has been written about the life of this remarkable man. Based on Lewis's unfinished autobiography, as well as scores of interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, the book cuts through the myth and media hype to reveal the man behind the legend. What emerges is a vivid portrait of a proud, fiercely determined individual with a razor-sharp tongue, and an intellect to match, who would settle for nothing less than excellence from himself and others.
Oprah Winfrey took many of her best essays, revised them, updated them, and put them into a beautiful collection that provides lessons on business, love and life overall. She speaks of finding your passion and living life to the fullest. “What I Know For Sure” is the name of Oprah’s monthly column in O, The Oprah Magazine. The book is a compilation of stories from the column.
In the column, Winfrey shares the inspirational lessons she’s learned throughout her successful career and the book puts all of her experiences in one place. From courage to resilience to leadership, Winfrey touches on a variety of topics that are sure to inspire and help you become your best self.
Having become a worldwide phenomenon thanks to her daily talk show that ran from 1986 to 2011, Winfrey is now one of the world’s 500 richest people. Her brand extends far beyond the sphere of television talk shows. She is an Academy Award nominee (twice over, and winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award), media executive, best-selling author and philanthropist. She is also North America’s first Black multi-billionaire.
For more inspiration from Winfrey, you can check out “The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations,” and her upcoming book “The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose,” which is was released in March 2019.
The television producer and screenwriter that made Thursdays the most iconic television night of the week, Shonda Rhimes is also an author. Best known for her hit series Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, Rhimes is one of the premier leading ladies in Hollywood.
She has taken her personal experiences and shared them with the rest of the world through her book Years of Yes and her popular TED Talk “My year of saying yes to everything.” In her 2015 memoir, Years of Yes, Rhimes shares her transformational journey from being a shy, nervous introvert who would constantly turn down opportunities to becoming a confident speaker and connector who began saying “yes” to anything that came her way. Rhimes’s story is motivational for anyone looking to get out of their shell and out into the world.
Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and making the most of opportunities. In the “Year of Yes,” Rhimes beginning to say “yes” to everything included social invites and speaking engagements. By doing so, she was privy to a new world of creativity and insight. If you’re an introverted entrepreneur, this is the book is definitely a must read for you.
Eddie Brown, founder of Brown Capital Management is an entrepreneur, investment manager, and author. This autobiography is a detailed account of how Brown remained one of America’s best stock pickers during some of the nation’s toughest economic times.
His autobiography, Beating the Odds, is a detailed firsthand report on how Brown built and maintained his successful Brown Capital Management even through hard times like 9/11, the 2008 recession and more. Brown shares his story of being born to his then-13-year-old mother who died shortly after his birth. Brown was then raised in the rural South by his uncle and grandmother.
Through hardship and growth, Brown shares how he made his own way in life, graduating college, joining the army, becoming an engineer at IBM and ultimately, veering off on his own to build a billion-dollar financial company.
Carla Harris gives practical solutions to real-life problems faced by entrepreneurs. She gives the reader tools for all stages of entrepreneurship you may be in. Whether you are just starting out or contemplating switching gears by jumping into a different career path, this book has the answers you need.
A Harvard University grad and vice chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley, Carla Harris gives her tricks of the trade in her book, Strategize to Win. In her role at Morgan Stanley she is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm.
Throughout the book, Harris offers her tips and strategies for people to pursue in their own professional lives regardless of where you are in your current situation. Harris’s words help to get people unstuck and back on track towards success, providing guidance on important leadership habits to cultivate, how to take social cues, how to make change seamless and effective and more. She provides a step-by-step guide to helping you get to where you want to be in life.
Written by three Black women executives, this book is packed with insight that will surely stick with readers for a lifetime. It centers around the four main topics of effectively conveying information, self-confidence, bravery, and working together. With bold chapter titles such as “Racism Is Not An Excuse, But It Can Be A Motivator,” and “Don’t Be The Office Mammy”, this book will not only change your perspective on business but might change your outlook on life.
In this engaging and invaluable “mentor in your pocket,” three dynamic and successful Black female executives share their strategies to help all Black women, at any level of their careers, play the power game… and win. Rich with wisdom, this practical gem focuses on the building blocks of true leadership. Self-confidence, effective communication, collaboration, and courage, all while dealing specifically with stereotypes and the perils of self-victimization.
The authors seek to support women who do not always have access to coaches, mentors, or the ‘Old Boys’ Network, andtheir professional advice is savvy and sensitive to the challenges women of color face in the workplace. They offer self-affirming advice to rev up a career, complete with “MAMAisms”-what the authors describe as aphorisms and “familiar terms, both practical and spiritual, that we grew up with and can draw upon as we travel the road to leadership success.” They also revisit and refresh familiar tips on staying positive, honing skill sets, having a plan of action and following through, networking, and avoiding common workplace dilemmas. They also provide valuable advice on achieving work/life balance and finding guidance, mentorship, and support. Offering sound advice, practical tools, and warm wisdom, this book will help Black professional women get and stay on track and maximize their abilities.
In this book, Earl G. Graves, the founder of Black Enterprise magazine gives insight on how to be empowered economically. Graves breaks down how anyone can become a millionaire and how he did it. The incredible characteristic of Graves is his ability to diversify his investments. He served as CEO to Pepsi-Cola bottling franchise in Washington D.C and also was the director of several Fortune 500 corporations.
Black Americans are entering the business world in unprecedented numbers, and Graves serves as a role model and mentor. One of the most influential and well-known executives in the world, in this timely and important book shows how he, the son of a West Indian garment worker, became a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, director of several of America's Fortune 500 corporations and a philanthropist.
Graves uses his own story that includes careers in the military, real estate and public service as an assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy as examples in the book. In addition, he adds in dozens of other Black men and women who have made it in the business world. He offers tons of inspirational and down-to-earth advice to help readers take advantage of opportunities to achieve personal and professional success. Everything from overcoming the challenges Blacks confront in getting financing for new ventures to identifying the best industries and jobs for Black job-seekers and cultivating the behaviors needed to make it as an entrepreneur. How to Succeed in Business Without Being White clearly lights the path readers can take to overcome adversity and succeed in today's largely white business environment.
“I have no patience with people who want to tell me what’s wrong. I only want to hear from the person who first tells me the solution and then fills me in on the problem.” – Earl G. Graves
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