Every good business book delivers a promise to the reader. You’ll always find it in the opening pages of the book, whether in the introduction or first chapter. And most times, you gloss right over it because the author has been reeling you with a story or their passion for the subject, but the promise is an explicit statement about what the reader is going to get out of spending time with a book.
Here is the promise Jack and I used in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time:
“The endless stream of new books requires a filter to help discern the good and the better from the absolute best. The solution to that problem is this book, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time“
Pulling a book at random off my shelf of favorites, it is amazing how consistently you see it in standout books. This is the promise from Sam Calagione’s Brewing Up A Business:
“This book is for the rest of us—the majority of us. Over 95 percent of the companies in America are privately owned. Over 80 percent of these are considered small companies—companies with less than $10 million…But mostly I hope to commiserate and celebrate the amazing feeling of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Say it with me as you bring this book to the cash register, Oh my God! What I am doing?“
When you see that promise, you know the author has a clear vision of where the book is going and that they can articulate that vision back to the reader.
As a reader, you need to be on the look out for the promise. When declared clearly, you will know if the book is right for you. Without it, the book will wander aimlessly and you will find yourself wasting several hours on a pointless journey.