Biographies Can Help Your Business

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”  ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Businesses Need Knowledge

There is only so much we can learn from one lifetime. We need to find a way to get on the fast track. We need to gather life experiences and lessons and apply them to the challenges we face every day in the business world. You may have heard it said, “Knowledge is power.” How do we, as business people, gather more of this rare commodity in a single lifetime?

We need answers to questions every day, all day. Questions like:

  • “How do you attack your competition when you are new to the market?”
  • “How can you succeed when people tell you that you can’t?”
  • “How do you convert creativity into a new business?”
  • “How do you obtain and maintain a leadership role?”

Tips from Leaders

Getting advice from experts is where it gets a little tricky. After all, I do not have the ear of Barrack Obama. Tea with Oprah is not currently on my calendar. I also can’t seem to talk myself into using an Ouija to engage Steve Jobs in a quick conversation. The best way to learn from these people’s lives is to read about them. This is where biographies come into play.

A biography can be about someone who lived a long time ago, recently or is currently living. We have the ability to learn from their mistakes and their triumphs. We can see how they motivated others and how they were motivated. No risk or travel required. There are no experiments to conduct. The only time needed is the time required to finish the book. I have read biographies of many people, alive and dead, and from all walks of life. I have learned something from all of them!

Recommended Reads

Now it’s your turn. Check out a book about someone you admire, are curious about or who’s work you admire. Here’s an interesting book on Elon Musk, the technology entrepreneur and engineer behind SpaceX and Tesla.

Buffalo Bill Cody’s autobiography explains how he turned his life into a theatrical spectacular that toured the U.S. and Europe. Cody almost single-handedly invented the Wild West.

Cover of book Eleven Rings with images of the championship rings Phil Jackson wonPhil Jackson’s autobiography highlights his storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Jackson won more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Even more important, he succeeded in never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values.

Have some fun learning from other people. Maybe you can learn a little more about yourself at the same time. You have the chance to stand on the shoulders of giants and see the world in new ways. Just pull out your library card and see the world open up before you.

Here is a short list of biographies I recommend.

View complete list

Patrick Berry

I assist the business librarian in her quest to help our community with business and career questions. I have a degree in Business Administration from K-State and I've been a member of the Topeka business community for over 20 years. I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, listening to my ever-growing vinyl record collection, and spending time with my awesome family.