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Need Some Inspiration? Our Top 3 Biography Picks for Business, Life and Everything In Between

Seeking inspiration is an active part of the ARC growth mindset, finding new ways to see things can make all the difference in seeing a problem versus seeing a solution.  Over the years, there have been a few good reads that truly have helped shape the team’s approach to visioning and fuel the quest for continuous improvement and excellence.  Inspirational books reaffirm that all ideas have merit, passion fuels creativity and disruptive changes are inevitable in any market – think about the major transformations that resulted from the upstart of Uber or Air BnB did to the hospitality sector. The stories of dynamic leaders remind us that hard work is a critical driver of success.   

If you haven’t picked up a book in a while or don’t know where to get started here are our top 3 picks that we promise are relatable and filled with ah-ha moments that you can apply to your business and personal life alike. 

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

A worldwide bestseller and often said to be one of the most inspirational stories of the extraordinary life and work ethic of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, this book is a true must read. The personal account of Jobs’ life is effortlessly written by Walter Isaacson based on their personal conversations conducted as 40 interviews over the course of almost three years. In addition, Isaacson weaves first hand accounts from over 100 he conducted with Jobs family, friends, colleagues, foes and competitors to tell a riveting story of the roller-coaster like life of Steve Jobs.  Although Jobs cooperated with the author, he did not ask for control over what was written, putting nothing off-limits and encouraged the people that were interviewed to speak honestly.   

The impact of Jobs’ imagination and innovation has left a lasting mark in six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing is undeniable.  Surely you’ve walked into an Apple Store and been awestruck by the simplicity and sophistication of the design of everything from the product offerings to 

There are many quotable quotes that have emerged from this book as Jobs candidly shares his insights on his personal and professional life, the sacrifices, failures, lessons learned and eventual successes. Perhaps one of the most impactful quotes in this book that you might be able to immediately relate to is: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

2. I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart and Neil Strauss 

You may be surprised to see this one on our list of top 5 picks, but trust us this is a story worth reading. Kevin Hart is a superstar comedian and Hollywood box office sensation provides a personal account of his life.  While the book is full of candor, humility, vulnerability and of course comedic moments, the life lessons are actually what form the backbone of Kevin’s drive, work ethic and ultimately his success. The odds were stacked against Kevin yet he has been able to forge forward facing failures as opportunities for growth and shaping a vision that has spanned far beyond his comedic and acting talents.  Kevin is a real force to be reckoned in the business side of the entertainment industry with his own production company and beyond this space he truly has become his own brand in the health and fitness space.  Most recently he’s launched a line of spirits and eateries leveraging these life lessons he shares from his upbringing in North Philadelphia that made him into the successful entrepreneur he is today.  

Hart’s unique way of seeing the word as a collection of chapters lends itself nicely to telling his story through the book, “Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” he says. “So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?” 

3. Decoded by Jay-Z (and Dream Hampton)

This book is anything but bland, Jay-Z and Hampton tell the story of his early life, born as Shawn Carter and growing up in a tough neighborhood in New York.  While this book was published in 2010 it is just as relevant today as it was when it first came out. Despite the odds being stacked against him, Jay-Z learns countless lessons really quickly that shape him into the visionary entrepreneur he is today, its not about “just” the music, it’s about the relentless grinding, drive and vision.  His success spans well beyond the “rap game”, his holdings include spirits and champagne, art, real estate, talent agencies and the list goes on.  

For example, in Decoded, he writes tellingly about the moment when the managing director of Cristal, a brand of champagne Jay liked to reference in his lyrics, spoke to distance his product from the “bling lifestyle”. We see Jay-Z is more than a rap artist, as he takes umbrage at this slight, Jay-Z  led a boycott of Cristal, making the point that he wasn’t there for anyone to patronize.  Years later, we see the importance of this incident play out in the business world as Jay-Z joins LVMH as co-owners of an exclusive brand of champagne, Armand de Brignac’s Ace of Spades often referred to as one of world’s most prestigious non-vintage Champagnes. 

Jay-Z’s brilliance is his story telling through lyrics, truly in a class of his own, he is able to tell the story overlay a beat and underneath it have layer upon layer of meaning that needs to be decoded.  The decoding of his lyrics paired with the first hand account of the personal moments of his life help the reader understand the depth of the meaning of the lyrics and recognize his uncanny ability to narrate a shift in perspective. In the book Jay-Z says, “A poet’s mission is to make words do more work than they normally do, to make them work on more than one level.”  There are definitely levels to the words, entendre after entendre all flowing together pened together with precision and perfectly sharp impact. He is more a philosopher than he is a poet or entertainer – his vision, talent and deep thinking of systemic oppression and racism fuel his work ethic and drive for change and success. 

Now that you’re inspired, a few parting words


As you pick up these books, grab a journal or a notepad too.  You will be surprised how many free flowing ideas may come to you as you read our top 3 picks.  Jot down what strikes you and use this as inspiration for your morning team huddle or as an anecdote to share with your family or friends.  As you do this, take a moment to think about your own story, it could be the greatest story ever told.  What do you want it to say about you? How are you co-creating that reality? Take some time to pause and take stock to reflect on your early life and how these experiences shape your perspective and drive your success! 

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