Summer Reading Suggestions

There are a few books that every business person, especially entrepreneurs should read.  If you haven’t read these three books, consider adding them to your list. They all are engaging and test your thinking about People, Food, Life, Business, and Money.

For Fun…

  • Red Notice. Bill Browder’s journey started on the South Side of Chicago and moved through Stanford Business School to the dog-eat-dog world of hedge fund investing in the 1990s. It continued in Moscow, where Browder made his fortune heading the largest investment fund in Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse. But when he exposed the corrupt oligarchs who were robbing the companies in which he was investing, Vladimir Putin turned on him and, in 2005, had him expelled from Russia

  • Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing—fast. The authors document how four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the “Technophilanthropist,” and the Rising Billion—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

  • Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs. In 1879, Mark Twain paused during a European tour to compose a fantasy menu of the American dishes he missed the most. A true love letter to American food, the menu included some eighty specialties, from Mississippi black bass to Philadelphia terrapin. Andrew Beahrs chooses eight of these regionally distinctive foods, retracing Twain's footsteps as he sets out to discover whether they can still be found on American tables. Weaving together passages from Twain's famous works and Beahrs's own adventures, this travelogue-cum-culinary-history takes us back to a bygone era when wild foods were at the heart of American cooking.

Technology and the Future

  • Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad Unlike every other book in this list, the authors are heavy academics and this book is not written just for startups.  But at some point, and probably before too long, it will be essential to think beyond your first product and set a clear course for the future.  This book makes the strong case that you have to see the future in order to shape the future, and that the capabilities you build today will enable or constrain what future you can achieve

  • Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is an entertaining and inspiring communicator.  While chapters are about 20 pages long, each one is broken into many sections, typically a page or less, making it easy to pick up and set down this book at your convenience.  While the book is full of practical lessons from the author's experiences introducing revolutionary products, as much as anything, reading this book helps entrepreneurs understand why we're different and encourages us to act like the revolutionaries

Leadership and People

  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. A series of vignettes from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists

  • Integrity Moments by Rick Boxx. While all of the above books focus on the mechanics of building a successful business, this collection of 90 short vignettes challenges the reader to build a business based on integrity and focused on eternal impact.  Each chapter is less than 2 pages long and includes questions for reflecting on how to apply the lesson learned to your life and business

  • How to Be a Power Connector, by Judy Robinett Learn how to connect with the world's highest achievers and build high-value relationships

  • Brokerage and Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital, by Ronald Burt.  Informal networks are built by advice, coordination, cooperation, friendship, gossip, knowledge, and trust. In this book, Ron Burt builds upon his work on network analyses to explain how these informal networks functions and the role of network entrepreneurs who have amassed social capital. Burt shows that social capital is a critical element in business strategy

  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler. Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and legal scholar and bestselling author Cass Sunstein explain in this important exploration of choice architecture that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder. Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself

  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. This book is an easy-to-read guide on how to craft messages that people will remember.  When you’re ready to start telling your story, and how your new venture is going to change the world, set aside some time to learn these critical lessons

  • Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. Author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living

Money and Investing

  • The Intelligent Investor: The Classic Text on Value Investing by Benjamin Graham is the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949. Over the years, developments have proven the wisdom of Graham’s strategies. While preserving the integrity of Graham’s original text, this revised edition incorporates the realities of today’s market, draws parallels between Graham’s examples and today’s financial headlines, and gives readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham’s principles 

  • The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist and Jack Canfield examines our attitudes toward money―earning it, spending it, and giving it away―offers surprising insight into our lives. Through personal stories and practical advice, Lynne Twist asks us to discover our relationship with money, understand how we use it, and by assessing our core human values, align our relationship with it to our desired goals. In doing so, we can transform our lives.

Product

  • Inside the Tornado by Geoffrey Moore. Via his earlier book, Crossing the Chasm, Moore had popularized the diffusion of innovation theory.  This follow-up book provides an even better introduction and provides very helpful advice both on how to “cross the chasm” and how to survive “the tornado” – scaling as technology products move into the mainstream.  For any entrepreneur that is introducing real technology innovation, these concepts are critical to survival

  • From Concept to Scale by Steve Graves, Dave Blanchard, and Josh Kwan. While The Lean Startup provides a conceptual overview of how to launch a startup in modern times, this book provides a detailed framework for how to do it.  It helps entrepreneurs intentionally (rather than accidentally) progress through four stages (concept, launch, prove, scale) of building a business effectively using the six elements (language, offering, model, structure, path, people) essential to any organization

Startups

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Reis. Over the past ten years, the entire approach to launching a startup has been redefined by the Lean Startup methodology.  This book helps entrepreneurs understand why managing a startup is different from managing a small version of big business and explains how to approach launching a new venture scientifically, rather than the traditional approach of betting-the-farm on a collection of untested hypotheses.  Save yourself months of frustration and wasted money by reading this book before even thinking about your next endeavor

  • Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur. One of the best tools for implementing the Lean Startup methodology is the Business Model Canvas (BMC).  This book is the definitive source on how to develop a one-page model of your business (and iterate until you’ve nailed it) before (or instead of) spending months writing a full business plan.  This book is very graphical and hands-on. 

  • Do more faster by David Cohen and Brad Feld. David and Brad are two of the founders of TechStars, one of the leading technology startup accelerators.  This large collection of short anecdotes from entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors provides helpful insights and lessons on how to succeed (or fail) at launching a startup. "Chapters" are one to three-page stories from people like you, who have wrestled with challenges like yours, and have lessons we all can learn from, usually with a brief commentary by Brad or David to help make the lessons more broadly applicable

  • Crack the Funding Code: How Investors Think and What They Need to Hear to Fund Your Startup by Judy Robinett shows readers how to find the money, create pitches that attract investors, and then structure fair, ethical deals that will bring them new sources of outside capital and invaluable professional advice. It will give readers the broader perspective—how funding works, how investors think, and what they need to hear to put their money where your mouth is. Every entrepreneur who reads this book will get easy-to-follow deal checklists, a roadmap of where and how to locate the best funding resources and top business mentors for their particular industry and/or geographical location, and a step-by-step process to create pitches that make their idea or business irresistible

 Enjoy your summer!!