Reading is Candy for the Mind

To inspire and to be inspired, to surprise and to be surprised, to broaden one’s mind and to gain that sparkling new energy.

Based on the most photographed slide of my keynotes: the inspirational booklist, frequently asked and even more often shared. Alternating between business and inspirational motivational titles.

Books appear in random order. Read more

  • ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek
  • ‘Building a StoryBrand’ by Donald Miller
  • ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’ by Sarah Knight
  • ‘How not to Plan: 66 ways to screw it up’ by Les Binet and Sarah Carter
  • ‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’ by Robert W. Bly
  • ‘Copywriting Secrets’ by Alan Sharpe
  • ‘Eat your Greens’ by Wiemer Snijders
  • ‘Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day’ by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky
  • “The ONE Thing” by Gary Kelly and Jay Papasan
  • ‘Let my people go surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard
  • ‘Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athletes’ by Ben Bergeron
  • ‘Life Scale’ by Brian Solis
  • ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington
  • ‘TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks’ by Akash Karia 
  • ‘Good Strategy, bad strategy’ by Richard P. Rumelt
  • ‘Everybody writes’ by Ann Handley
  • ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie
  • ‘Epic Content Marketing’ by Joe Pulizzi
  • ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing…: Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice’ by Richard Reed
  • ‘Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People: Living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Every Day’ by Stephen R. Covey
  • ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson
  • ‘The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues’ by Patrick M. Lencioni 
  • ‘Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs’ by John Doerr
  • ‘The Infinite Game’ by Simon Sinek
  • ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear
  • ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ by Carol S. Dweck
  • ‘Make Your Idea Matter: Stand out with a better story’ by Bernadette Jiwa
  • ‘Je kunt het maar één keer doen’ by Barbara van Beukering

Why you should read these books

In addition to the books, check out my list of best apps

‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek

This is a classic. ‘No brainer, just read it. Even better than his TED talk. “Is a customer who buys your product for a second time a loyal customer or just plain lazy?” and more of this ‘food for thought’. Simon Sinek is straight to the point and inspiring.

“Some in management positions operate as if they are in a tree of monkeys. The make sure that everyone at the top of the tree looking down sees only smiles. But all too often, those at the bottom looking up see only asses.” (page 113)

Get the book:

‘Building a StoryBrand’ by Donald Miller

One of the best books on content and storytelling I read in recent years. Learn how to build your story with your customer in mind. Once you know this trick, you will recognize this in every great Hollywood movie. Your message will change for the better. “Building a StroyBrand” by Donald Miller

“The first campaign he released went from nine pages in the New York Times to just two words on billboards all over America: Think Different. When Apple began filtering their communication to make it simple and relevant, they actually stopped featuring computers in most of their advertising. Instead, they understood their customers were all living, breathing heroes, and they tapped into their stories. They did this by (1) identifying what their customers wanted (to be seen and heard), (2) defining their customers’ challenge (that people didn’t recognize their hidden genius), and (3) offering their customers a tool they could use to express themselves (computers and smartphones). Each of these realizations are pillars in ancient storytelling and critical for connecting with customers.”

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‘Get Your Sh*t Together’ by Sarah Knight

“But the mental clutter was slowly taking up residence in my brain the way my extra luggage was taking up space in my friend’s basement” (page 264)

Ever felt like being ‘stuck’ and not moving forward in work and or life? Then this is the book for you, read her hands-on tips and tricks on how to get your mental sh*t together and do get those things done. Rereading this every few months when I start procrastinating ;)

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‘How not to Plan: 66 ways to screw it up’ by Les Binet and Sarah Carter

f*ckin’ brilliant… No brainer. Just read. “Digital data is often daily of hourly, making it easier to measure short-term marketing effect. But much hard to measure long-term effects. They get lost in the noise.” “Get it right, and you can move from Big Data to Big Insights, Big brands, and Big Profits” (in the chapter ‘How not to see the wood for the trees’.)

Mandatory for everyone who works in advertising, marketing and or communications: client and agency. The reviews speak for themselves.

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‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’ by Robert W. Bly.

‘A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter.’ this sums up the main reason why you should read ‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’ by Robert W. Bly. What works for great headlines, can also work for your social copy: writing to get the attention, that select an audience, deliver a complete message and draw the reader into the body copy (or to click through). 

‘But the goal of advertising is not to be liked, to entertain, or to win advertising awards; it is to sell products. The advertiser, if he is smart, doesn’t care whether people like his commercials or are entertained or amused by them. If they are, fine. But commercials are a means to an end, and the end is increased sales—and profits—for the advertiser. This is a simple and obvious thing, but the majority of copywriters and advertising professionals seem to ignore it.’ 

Get the book, be sure to get the 4th edition:

‘Copywriting Secrets’ by Alan Sharpe

Absolutely love this. The proven copy rules: old school advertising print craft by DDB for Volkswagen, can also be applied for social, content, digital and more in these days. Please, read and learn.

“Before you can write great copy, you need to have a big idea, and before you can have a big idea, you need to have a great insight, and before you can have a great insight, you need to do lots of research.” (chapter 1)

“One of your main jobs as a copywriter is to translate product features into benefits. People buy benefits, not features. Just so we’re clear: a feature is what a product does, a benefit is what that feature does for me. How do you communicate that benefit in an original way? With a headline that states the feature and a photo that communicates the benefit.” (secret 10)

Get the book:

Or take the video class:

‘Eat your Greens’ by Wiemer Snijders

‘Razor-sharp overview of the marketing myths, misconceptions, dubious metrics and tactics that bear little relation to our actual buying behavior’.

Again… absolutely love this book: crap-cutting nonsense eliminating inspiration, no-brainers, and opening doors at the same excellent level as the ‘How not to plan’ by Les Binet.

Cherry-pick the chapters that are relevant for you and your job, industry, profession. To be honest and speaking for me, myself and I: not every page of this book was equally interesting … and I skipped a few of them due to the subject or the way the chapter was written.

“First, we diagnose the situation of the brand via consumer research and understand just what is going on. Secondly, we use that diagnosis to build a clear and simple marketing strategy. Finally, with that strategy in place, we select the appropriate tactics to deliver the strategy and win the day. Strategy is a very complicated thing to work out, but should be a very simple thing to eventually explain.”

“Who am I targeting? What is my position to that target? What are my strategic objectives for that target market? My current estimate is that around 20% of brands could adequately or semi-adequately pass this test, and the rest have not the faintest clue how to even approach these questions.”

“Talk to agencies about the quality of the briefs they currently receive from clients and you will get the kind of hard stare usually reserved for the most outrageous agency gossip.” (all three quotes in Chapter 3 Mortification, Tactification, Communification and digitization by Mark Ritson)

Get this brilliant collection by Wiemer Snijders with great minds like Mark Ritson, Peter Field, Eaon Pritchard, Robert van Osnabruggen, Phil Barden, Bob Hoffman, Tom Goodwin and many many more:

Thanks to the recommendation by Budi Gonzalez de Chaves, he made me finally pick it up and open the digital book on my kindle.

‘Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day’ by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky

How not to crush and squeeze that to-do list, but how to ‘Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day’ by Jake Knapp  (Author), John Zeratsky  (Author). Brilliant easy hack tried and proven by myself ;)

Try that daily highlight for a few days and you will be hooked and get those things finally done.

“Yes, we know this sounds obvious, but there’s a special, almost magical power to write down your plans: The things you write down are more likely to happen. If you want to make time for your Highlight, start by writing it down. (p. 43)

Read more: and get the first 26 pages for free on

Get the complete book:

Visual credits: from the book itself

“The ONE Thing” by Gary Kelly and Jay Papasan

Ever felt being stuck and procrastinating? Get that sh*t done by “creating your own strategy is to focus and to make a choice. You simply cannot do everything simultaneously.”

“… the quality of the answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.

  • Ask the wrong question, get the wrong answer.
  • Ask the right question, get the right answer.
  • Ask the most powerful question possible, and the answer can be life alternating.” (chapter 10 The Focusing Question)

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‘Let my people go surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard

How to apply your purpose to your brand, explained by Patagonia and do some storytelling along the way. Amazing example in the book ‘Let my people go surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard. 

N=1, first part, grab a bottle of wine and just read it, the second part gets really interesting how their (initial) mission statement “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” is applied to all aspects of their business: from marketing to HR and finance. 

Be inspired and get that book:

Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athletes by Ben Bergeron

Honestly admitting, this blew my mind and re-reading the book every few months. For inspiration, for kick-in-the-ass, for the positive vibe, and for my big smile. Every.single.f*cking.time

What do sports get to do with business? It is all about the mindset.

“…there’s an unbreakable threefold policy: Never whine. Never complain. Never make excuses. (p65)”

“The idea is to hope for the best but plan for the worst. If you are prepared for adversity, when it strikes (and it’s going to strike), you can be confident in your preparation and ability to execute, regardless of circumstance. (p86)”

“Think like a bumblebee, train like a racehorse. (p98)”

“Control the think you can control, and ignore everything else (p139)”

Get that book:


L.O.V.E. “Our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions dictate our destiny” Master your mind. 

Focus and kill the inner critic.  You are responsible for your own happiness. “Never whine, never complain, no negativity”.

Life Scale by Brian Solis

Just.Read: all about creativity, productivity and getting your focus. Loved (almost) every page of “Life Scale” by @BrianSolis.

“Being creative isn’t as much a talent or gift as it is a choice.”

“Without creativity, we would dwell in comfort zones, mediocrity, and complacency. Without creativity, there would bee no innovation. Creativity pushes us to take risks, which can open new doors.” (Chapter4 Believe)

Get the book:

Or visit

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Redefining success and adding the third metric to ‘money’ and ‘power’. Fell in luv with especially the first half of the book. Could feel a bit feminine for some of the men, shuffle your ego dudes and get to her point on success and how to thrive in life.

“Lacking a line of royalty in America, (..) one gains today’s throne not by fortune of birth but by visible markers of success, money and power.”

“… over the long term, money and power are like a two-legged stool – you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.’

Get that book:

Thnx Marieke Smits for the tip.

‘TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks’ by Akash Karia 

Checklist for every speaker, steal those cherries with pride to refine your own non-TED deck.

“The word “you” is regarded as one of the most powerful words in the English language. Why? Because people are interested in themselves!” (p. 47)

Get that book:

‘Good Strategy, bad strategy’ by Richard P. Rumelt

Good strategy is creating focus and making choices.

“A good strategy does more than urge us forward toward a goal or vision. A good strategy honestly acknowledges the challenges being faced and provides an approach to overcoming them.”

“The core of strategy work is always the same: discovering the critical factors in a situation and designing a way of coordinating and focusing actions to deal with those factors.”

Get it:

‘Everbody writes’ by Ann Handley

Stuck in writing? or producing content? Just read this book to get started. With 11 hands-on tips and tricks. One of the very few books I have in paper and do not loan without a significant deposit ;)

“Giving your audience a gift, how can you best serve them, with a mindset of generosity?” (p29)

“Produce The Ugly First Draft: that’s basically where you show up and throw up. Write badly. Write as if never one will ever read it.” (p30)

“Start with ‘dear mom’ and keep a real person in mind. Someone you like, because you want to help this person.’ (p55)

Get it:

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

Written in 1938 and still amazingly relevant. The best-kept secret in people and expectations management. Just read this book:

‘Epic Content Marketing’ by Joe Pulizzi

One of the best books on content, 7 years old and still relevant in this fast-paced industry. 

‘You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership’ quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower (p3)

‘Remember, customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves and their problems. We often forget that point when we describe how wonderful our widget is (that no one cares about).’ (p75)

The ***** reviews on Amazon speak for themselves. 

Get it:

‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing…: Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice’ by Richard Reed

“If I could tell you just one thing”… it is to read this book.

Great for inspiration and insights. The * reviews on Amazon speak for themselves. Get it:

‘Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People: Living the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Every Day’ by Stephen R. Covey

Love Stephen Coveys’ daily no-brainers’ advice.

“Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper thought, I believe that the basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds. They attempt to give priority to important but not urgent activities and integrate them into their lives through self-discipline along.” Long story short: it is not the lack of discipline, it is a matter of choice.

Get the paper only book:

Shout out to Chris Alders for this book recommendation

‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson

‘There are two rules for living in harmony. 1) Don’t sweat the small stuff and 2) It’s all small stuff. (p. 3)’

Great quote for that often much-needed reality check :) in ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson.

‘Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama, (…) we blow things out of proportion and make a big deal out of little things. (…) When I get too worked up or start taking myself too seriously (which happens more than I like to admit), I say to myself something like, “Here I go again. My soap opera is starting.” (p. 147)’

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‘The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues’ by Patrick M. Lencioni 

Not often that I am blown away by a book, inhaling the words cover to cover in less than 24h. Complicated stuff explained in a simple way. How to find the ideal team player: humble hungry and smart,

Get the book:

Shout out to @Erik Hensel for this tip.

Image credits:

‘Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs’ by John Doerr

Mind-blowing easy to keep track of why and what you do. Measure what matters. Love this, from KPI to OKR: ‘the Objective is simply what is to be achieved’, Key Results’ benchmark and monitor how we get to the objective. Effective KRs are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic. Most of all, they are measurable and verifiable.’

A tangible example by Intel. Objective: ‘Demonstrate the 8080’s superior performance as compared to the Motorola 6800.’ Key Results: 1. Deliver five benchmarks. 2. Develop a demo. 3. Develop sales training materials for the field force. 4. Call on three customers to prove the material works.’ (p27) or get the book:

‘The Infinite Game’ by Simon Sinek

“Do you know the game you are playing?” An infinite game with a finite mindset is to set up for failure. 

“The motivation to play in an infinite game is completely different—the goal is not to win, but to keep playing. It is to advance something bigger than ourselves or our organizations. (p. 32)”

“Where a finite-minded player makes products they think they can sell to people, the infinite-minded player makes products that people want to buy. (p. 10)”

Any leader who wants to adopt an infinite mindset must follow five essential practices: Advance a Just Cause, Build Trusting Teams, Study your Worthy Rivals, Prepare for Existential Flexibility, Demonstrate the Courage to Lead (pp. 24-25)

‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear

How to get long term gain? In Atomic Habit James Clear explains the science of forming habits with hands-on tips and tricks. Must read!

“Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.”

“We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action. As Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.” “We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new. We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit.”

Get the book:

‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ by Carol S. Dweck

Never stop learning. How to get a growth mindset: to learn, to thrive, to fuel yourself with feedback.

In ‘Mindset’ Carol Dweck explains the power of mindset. ‘In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed.’ Get the book:

I got it on My second audiobook ever. In all honesty… you need to get used to the cracky voice, tough worth the effort. Ideal to ‘read’ during your daily commute.

‘Make Your Idea Matter: Stand out with a better story’ by Bernadette Jiwa

Great no-nonsense checklist to make your idea, brand, product or whatever you are doing, sparkle. A few quotes:

  • The story makes the product better.
  • No matter what you’re pitching, selling or talking about, talk to one person. You might want to appeal to.
  • Most companies wonder how they will get their product noticed, before thinking about why on earth it will matter to customers.
  • What makes anything you do unique is your voice. The story that only you can tell, from a perspective that nobody else can have. There is more than one way to say something important that needs to be said, and there are a million ways to bring ideas that matter to the world.
  • Unsubscribers, critics and naysayers are a gift. Say a mental thanks to them for saving you the job of working out who your right people are. Then go out and do everything in your power to woo the people who matter.
  • What you want your website to do is probably very different from what your customers want it to do. The trick (as with most elements of your business) is to build for customers and community first so you can realise the benefits later.

Get the book for $1.96 on Kindle

‘Je kunt het maar één keer doen’ by Barbara van Beukering

A recommendation from my personal bookshelf…  ‘Je kunt het maar één keer doen. Een persoonlijke zoektocht naar sterven, het grootste taboe in ons leven’ by Barbara van Beukering. I have read this little gem nonstop in 4h.

Without spoiling your read, this book is light-hearted, easy to read, humorous, and with some fun about death and dying. Not the heavy emotional stuff. A must-read for who is in the process of losing a loved one due to illness (my situation) or who has lost a loved one. That sums up about everybody in our society. 

‘We learn to live, we forgot to learn how to die’. 

Unfortunately at the moment only available in Dutch. I really hope it gets translated.

Get the Dutch book 

‘Advertising for skeptics’ by Bob Hoffman

“Advertising has gotten worse, not better. Rather than creating advertising that is “more relevant, more timely and more likable” we are creating advertising that is more annoying, more disliked, and more avoided.”

“One study showed that of all forms of advertising, the eight types most disliked by consumers were all forms of online advertising.”

For the necessary critical view on online advertising by Bob Hoffman — Advertising For Skeptics

Must read book to broaden your horizon with a different perspective.

Get it now:

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