8 books about wealth that I wish I read in my 20s

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou


Lately, I’ve been asked for some book recommendations about wealth and investing, and particularly, which books I wished I had read much earlier in my life; in my 20s or in the early stages of my career.

I thought this was a great question, and one worth sharing in this forum.


The best books about wealth and ‘millionaire mindset’

The list of books I’ve put together here were essential reading for me, in my early days as a migrant, business owner and investor. They’re great foundational books on mindset, leadership, wealth-building and investment and have been highly influential in my own success.

I didn’t read these till I was in my 30s, and a couple of them, only recently. I wish I had read them much earlier, as I am sure they could have accelerated my career and investments. I highly recommend reading these early in your career or studies, especially if you are interested in building wealth. I’ve also encouraged my kids to read these books and gifted some of them on ‘milestone’ / ‘coming of age’ birthdays. I tend to gift these to colleagues, business partners and customers as well.


1. How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie

This book is almost like a bible to me. I must have read it nearly 100 times by now. And the reason why I think it’s such an important read is because in life, whatever job you do, or whatever your background, you’re going to need to work with people.

To be able to work with different personalities, to bring out the best in yourself and others, to work to people’s strengths rather than weaknesses – all this is so important.

For me personally, I made a concerted effort to apply Carnegie’s principles in my daily life – initially this was a conscious effort, and later it has become unconscious. Most importantly, it has come from the heart – from a genuine desire to change and a genuine desire to relate with others better and see the world from another perspective.

2. The magic of thinking big – David J. Schwartz

Because of our upbringing, background, where we live or a whole host of other factors, for many of us, we tend to have modest dreams. This book is great in helping you to expand your horizons, so you can open up new opportunities in life. The other thing that I personally got out of this book was a small section towards the end which discussed social situations.

I’ve always been an introvert and used to be very shy. In a party or group event, I would never be the first to go up to someone and start talking, I’d usually just wait for someone to approach me.

This book made the point that in such situations, it’s usually the most successful person, the most important person, or the person who holds the highest position in the room, who makes a point of going around and introducing themselves – because they’re likely to have the most confidence. After reading this, I started forcing myself to start doing the same thing. Of course, I quickly discovered that it didn’t need to be so daunting; everyone is just like me – keen for someone to approach and strike up a conversation.

3. Think and grow rich – Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill’s classic talks about the great power of the subconscious mind. It also contains the success formula developed by Andrew Carnegie – the richest man in the world at the time – and reinforced by the author’s 20-odd years of studying the most successful people in America. These people include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan as well as the President and even movie stars of the time.

For many people, lack of self-belief or self-confidence is what holds them back from achieving their goals or the success that they’re pursuing. I often ask people: “If I could provide you a government guarantee that if you do these 10 things (all of which are legal, ethical etc but might be uncomfortable and require you to step out of your usual routine) you will achieve your goal, would you be more likely to do it?”

For most people, the answer would be yes. But of course, life isn’t like that, there are no such guarantees on offer, which is why you tend to stay in the safe zone: you’re not confident of your own future success.

Many successful people, including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, credit this book to their early success.

4. The richest man in Babylon – George Samuel Clason

This is a great book which explains the basics of managing personal finances and wealth-building. It’s essential reading for anyone who aspires to be financially successful and it’s written in a format that’s very easy to grasp: as short ‘fables’ or ‘parables’.

5. Rich dad, poor dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki

This is another great book about wealth building that provides some clear financial definitions, for example, between an asset or a liability. But ultimately what it explores – and challenges – is the traditional path of getting an education and going on to get good job versus achieving financial success through greater financial literacy, through investing or choosing to become an entrepreneur.

I read this book when I first started as a property investment strategist and it was crucial in helping to open my eyes to the importance of wealth building through investing in assets, including property investment. I regularly gave a copy of this book to each of my customers back at that time as well.

6. 21 irrefutable laws of leadership – John C Maxwell

I think this is easily the best book about leadership. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, famously said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” I read this book in my 40s, and it helped me to understand specifically which new qualities I needed to gain as a leader and which aspects to work on in myself.

7. The intelligent investor – Benjamin Graham

This is a book I’ve only recently read. But having invested in property for over 20 years, and now also becoming a more serious investor in the stock market, and knowing Warren Buffet learned so much from it, I thought I should read it.

This book gives people a thorough understanding of how investing in shares works and particularly the concept of ‘value investing’. For example, the different types of investors, how market fluctuations work, understanding the intrinsic value of companies/product – never to follow the crowd but to buy the right company at the right price.  It’s very easy to understand and follow.

8. Success through a positive mental attitude – Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone

I was lucky to grow up in a positive environment, so I always took a positive approach to life. Reading this book, however, helped me to clearly articulate for me that the only way to live life is with a positive attitude. A lot of people interpret ‘positive’ as being ‘superficially positive’. True positivity is all about looking for the cause of a problem and finding a solution to the problem – rather than complaining about it. As they say, it’s not what happens, but how you react that makes the difference.

My personal reading list this year

My colleagues and many of our customers know that I’m an avid reader; a habit first formed in university when I studied English literature.

Since moving to Australia, and becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve focused on reading non-fiction, to learn more and enhance my own skills and knowledge in business. I also read a lot of biographies as well as history to learn from the past or from other people.

For me, reading is an important part of ongoing learning and development; as they say, your real learning starts after university. I believe that, as leader within the business, I need to keep learning to take my colleagues and our customers to greater heights – and my current reading list reflects this.

Once you have made your way through the 8 essential wealth books, I’d highly recommend these as well, particularly if you are interested in topics of business, leadership, wealth and investing.

  1. No rules rules: Netflix and the culture of reinvention – Erin Meyer
  2. Exponential organizations: why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about It) – Michael S. Malone, Salim Ismail, and Yuri van Geest
  3. Reinventing organizations: a guide to creating organizations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness – Frederic Laloux
  4. Business adventures – John Brookes
  5. How to lead: wisdom from the world’s greatest CEOs, founders, and game changers – David M. Rubenstein
  6. What it takes: lessons in pursuit of excellence – Stephen A. Schwarzman
  7. The splendid and the vile: a Saga of Churchill, family, and defiance during the Blitz – Erik Larson
  8. A promised land – Barack Obama
  9. The ride of a lifetime: lessons learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company – Robert Iger
  10. Principles – Ray Dalio
  11. The price of fortune – Damon Kitney
  12. Who wants to be a billionaire: the James Packer story – Paul Barry
  13. What it takes to be number one – Vince Lombardi
  14. The ten commandments for business failure – Donald Keough
  15. Hot seat – hard won lessons in challenging times – Jeff Immelt


Happy Reading!

Joseph Chou is the CEO of Ironfish and author of ‘From Bicycles to Bentleys’.

Download his latest eBook: “Accelerate: a guide to wealth” via the link below.

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