5 Books That Keep Me Focused As A Real Estate Entrepreneur

by | BiggerPockets.com

I am an admitted bookworm who loves to read anything I can get my hands on.  My children are in awe of my library and are always asking me to point out which books are on history, which are on the presidents, which books are the classics and which ones are on real estate.  My oldest is right at the point where a Kindle sounds like a whole lot more fun than an actual book itself.  So far I have not given in and I continue to remind him that one day all of those books will belong to him and his brother and sisters.  That does not impress him!  For now, I have to rely on his reading articles like this one to understand the power or reaching back to the bookshelf when you need inspiration or want to pull a lesson from the past.

Real Estate Does Not Have to Be In The Title

I am o.k. with him not being impressed yet.  It took me a while to catch on to the importance of reading and keeping great books.  I love reading a great book that inspires and drives me to achieve, to create and to grow.  So I am always quick to point out to not only my children, but to others as well, that the title of the book has really nothing to do with the lessons it can teach us.

I am not a huge fan of the real estate investing genre mostly because I find much of the background of the writers to be suspect and thin.  I am also not one to get caught up in glitz and glamor of fad techniques that many book titles espouse.  I have learned my lessons hard as a real estate investor and simply don’t care to read about ‘No Money Down’ techniques or someones explanation of how they made it ‘Rich’ using some obscure method of entities, buybacks, creative financing and purchase options.

Don’t take that wrong.  I am not saying that you cannot find good and valuable information in some of those books and I am not saying that every author that writes real estate titles is selling potions and pipe dreams.  I just find it hard to read how-to-books today when all the inspiration I need is right in front of me.  Never before has it been easier to find success in the real estate investing arena and it has never been easier to fail!

What I am saying is that the title does not have to include the words real estate investing in order for you to learn valuable lessons as an investor.  Here are five books that are on my shelf that sit right in the middle of my real estate investing section so that my kids never get the wrong idea about what to read to be successful.

Make It Big – Frank McKinney

It’s funny that I was adamant this be the first book I list and it includes one of those titles that is often dismissed as a book full of hype.  The book is sub-titled “49 secrets to building a life of extreme success”.  I find myself opening this book three or four times a year and reading back on some of the examples that Frank gives for dealing with adversity in real estate.  You see, he is a real estate developer and has risked everything many times over to separate himself and create a brand with no competition.  The ‘secrets’ Frank writes about are not really secrets at all.  More than anything, they are reminders of great basic principles on topics like how to treat others, how to stand up even when its difficult, how to face consequences and accept responsibility and even how to feed our souls and not just our stomachs.  It is an inspirational book and his dedication to quality and providing a truly exceptional property to his clients is very uplifting and motivating.  It is a great reminder that doing things the right way, not just the easy way, can be very, very rewarding.

Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh

If you are in the real estate business and you have not read this book yet, it has to be on your to do list for 2012.  On the back of the cover, there is a list of the top 10 reasons to read this book.  The #6 reason and the #3 reason both, for some reason, continue to stick out to me to this day.  “You want to build a long-term, enduring business and brand” and “You want to build something special”.  Those two reasons were enough for me to read through all 241 pages in one weekend and I was blown away by the adversity that Tony and his team faced as they built Zappos into a powerhouse and legendary customer service company.  I look back on my first reading of this book and realize that much of my drive to over-deliver in my own business came as a result of reading about Tony and his team.

Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk

Wow!  That was my reaction the first time I read this book.  It really took me by storm and I literally could not sleep because I was so excited to get back and start building my brand.  Reading Gary’s story helped me to realize that, even though our business were completely different, I loved real estate investing and I loved building relationships with clients.  I was one of the lucky few whom had found exactly what made him happy.  My families business was in position to take off and we had just stumbled across a book that would help illuminate the path to telling the world about who we were and what made us great.  Gary does not pull any punches about being passionate and letting your passion come alive in your traditional and especially in your social media marketing.  This book is so full of tips and tricks, websites and blogs to look to for advice that it pays for itself thousands of times over.  I have a great deal of respect for how Gary took his parents business and helped them build a $60 million empire.

Think & Grow Rich – Napolean Hill

What I find the most inspiring about this book is in the very first few pages.  If you only read the first 10 pages, I promise you will not put this book down and you will have a hard time not being inspired.  How many of us have stopped digging when we were three feet from gold?  How many times have we found ourselves surrounded by nay-sayers and walked from our dreams?  Too many would be the answer for a lot of people.  This book was written many, many years ago and the basic principles that Napolean Hill studied still apply today.  Surround yourself with those you aspire to be like and never quit.  Pretty simple and pretty basic and yet, those two little pearls of wisdom are often the missing ingredients when people fail in any business.  It is no wonder that real estate agents spend so much team getting coached up by their mentors to keep on pushing and to keep on fighting through their first years.  Their mentors know that you can be three feet from gold at any time  and all it takes is a positive attitude and a dedication to do things the right way.  I first read this book when I was 17 years old and It sits front and center today on my bookshelf.

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

I have to give my older brother Kent the credit for pointing this book in my direction in the last couple of years.  He knew that I was on a journey and that often times a journey is time spent on a road looking for what is right in front of us.  So often people are enamored with “something else”.  Real Estate gets a very poor reputation sometimes because so many people believe that if they can just get into real estate investing, their troubles will be over.  After watching three episodes of “Flip Men”, suddenly it seems easy to make money in real estate.  The Alchemist is one of those books that can help put your journey back in perspective and help you figure out exactly WHY real estate may or may not be the answer in the first place.  It is very much a book that can help anyone get laser focused on where they are going and how they will know when they get there.  I am a big fan of The Alchemist because, much like the other books on this list, it is a tool that can help us focus in on how we define success and what actions we can take that will help us hold our heads high.

I am a big believer is education.  Every once in a while I write articles about sites, or resources or even books that I think every investor and business person should read.  I am not sure if there is a better way to really get focused and be sure we are making smart decisions and putting ourselves in position to have long-term success.  We have to continue to educate and learn.  I would love to hear your favorite books that help keep you pointed in the right direction!


About Author

Chris Clothier

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.


  1. Thanks for the post. I’m going through Think and Grow Rich right now. The Alchemist has been a favorite of mine for years. And now I’ve added three new ones to my list of reads this year.

    Thanks again.

    • Chris Clothier

      Jaime –

      These are all great books and I love that you have already identified two of my favorites. Be sure and let me know what you think of the others. Thanks for taking time to read and comment on the article.

      All the best – Chris

  2. All you “Alchemist” lovers out there should really do yourselves a favour and try “Illusions” by Richard Bach – same material, explored with far greater depth, but without the marketing for the masses pre-chewed bits that Coelho can’t stop himself from producing. 😉

    • Chris Clothier

      Ziv –

      You crack me up – but i love the fact that you read the post and threw out a comment. Thanks a lot! I have never heard of Richard Bach, but I will be sure to check out his deeper, non-mass marketed, no re-tread book, “Illusions”. It means a lot that you read the posts, so know that I wrote that in jests, but that I will seriously pick up a copy soon.

      All the best,


  3. Such a great article. A lot of people overlook how important it is to consistently read books. Think and Grow Rich is my all time favorite book. Read it twice so far and plan to read it about once a year from now on. Life changing. I actually just started Delivering Happiness a few days ago and I’m liking it a lot so far.

    I also wanted to share a few related resources I discovered just this year:

    1. Audibles. These are audio versions of books that you can purchase from Audible.com. These allow me to actually “read” (listen to) a book while I’m driving somewhere, working out, etc. Amazing idea! I’m not taking any extra time out of my day to listen to these books (just listening to them in the course of my normal day in substitute of music) yet I’m reading about 2 additional books per month.

    2. Speed Reading. I’ve always been a slow reader (200-300 words per minute) and recently found a free tool that can actually increase you reading speed more than double or triple what you read now! There’s a free app on spreeder.com that I’ve been using daily and have already gotten better results. I’m just fascinated with the fact that I could actually read more books in the same amount of time by learning how to speed read.

  4. McKellar Newsom on

    Nice article, Chris. I just picked up Delivering Happiness.

    Whenever I start feeling negative about something that happened. I often pick up a book or listen to a CD to help get me back on track. Books are like old friends who tell you stories to motivate you.

    By the way, I heard about your company’s donations this past weekend. Thanks for giving back. mck

  5. Just finished listening to the audio book of the Alchemist! I loved it! EVERYONE should read this. What if we lived in a world where everyone followed their personal legends?

  6. Hi,
    thank-you for the book list – I have Think and Grow Rich the 21st century edition in hard copy and on CD – the editors added comments that include additional inspirational examples – I just recently loaded it on my iPod so I could listen to it again. Looking forward to adding the rest to my library.

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