Entrepreneurs

Former NFL player and start-up founder Martellus Bennett’s summer reading list

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Ex NFL player Martellus Bennett says his biggest splurge is books — and he...

Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett is a voracious reader who says that books are one of his biggest expenses (he has 3,500 of them). Bennett even previously told CNBC Make It that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's own reading habits inspired him to read a new book every two weeks.

Bennett, who retired from professional football in March, is also a children's book author and founder of multimedia entertainment company, The Imagination Agency. He's even writing a story inspired by his own life, which he describes as "taking 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' meshing it with 'Bad Boys' and sprinkling a little Harry Potter magic dust on it, and then washing it in the river from 'The Chronicles of Narnia.'"

Bennett played 10 seasons in the NFL for five teams including the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots and made roughly $34 million in total according to the sports contracts and salaries website Spotrac, but he is now focusing on his post-NFL career as a creative and business man.

As the founder of his own start-up, as well as an avid reader and author, Bennett tells CNBC Make It these are the books about entrepreneurship that he "really, really love[s]."

"This is Marty's book club right now, coming to you live," Bennett says of his five recommendations. ("There's one book I'm not going to tell you about because I want to keep it to myself," Bennett jokes.)

Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks talks with brother Martellus Bennett #80 of the Green Bay Packers after the Packers defeated the Seahawks 17-9 at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Getty Images

1. "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle

Billed as "A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment," Tolle's book argues that you can reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on the present instead of dwelling on the past or the future. Bennett says this way of thinking is important for anyone running their own business.

"It's so easy to get caught up in the future and in the past," Bennett says. "[The book is] about letting go of your ego — which, [if] you really want to run a business and be a good leader, you've got to let go of your ego — and, it talks about how to be in the now."

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2. "Creativity Inc." by Edwin Catmull

In this 2014 book, Catmull, a computer graphics pioneer who is now president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, writes about his career while offering management tips, including encouraging candor among employees. Bennett, whose own company is involved in animating his books for short films and mobile apps, often cites animators like Catmull, Walt Disney and "all those guys over there at Pixar" as inspiration.

3. "Change By Design" by Tim Brown

Brown, CEO of global design company IDEO, writes in this book that the strategies that guide designers should be incorporated by entrepreneurs into their businesses. The book also comes highly recommended by Bill and Melinda Gates, who said that Brown "recognizes that the people facing challenges have the best understanding of what solutions will really work for them."

4. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

Coelho's inspirational novel about dream fulfillment and fighting the fear of failure has a large following in business circles.

5. "Collective Genius" by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Kent Lineback

This book's four authors provide multiple stories about the value of innovation in leadership, drawing on the examples of real-life leaders at major companies such as Google and Volkswagen.

—Video by Mary Stevens

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