The Top 20 Books that helped me start my first company
4 hour work week (Ferriss)
By far the most jam packed and useful business book I’ve read. Every chapter provides real and actionable steps toward becoming financially independent and time-rich. Simply a must-read for everyone.
The Alchemist (Coelho)
A special mention, this book helped me be more mindful, compassionate, and curious along my journey. Beautifully written, The alchemist is extremely short and packed full of simple but meaningful moments that inspired me to reflect deeper on my life. The audible title is read by Jeremy Irons. His delivery and baritone voice make the book an absolute treat to listen to. I've read this book more times than any other, I'm likely approaching 100 times thru.
Turning Pro & The war of art (Pressfield)
Steven Pressfield expertly frames and explains the key differences that separate the starving artist archetype and the successfully self-employed. He lays out actionable steps and reframes key misconceptions, and gives examples of how all of these principles came into play in his journey from a broke and unrecognized author to the successful powerhouse he’s recognized as today. If you are early in your journey to creating something these are absolute must reads, especially if you deal with self doubt, fear of judgement from others, self confidence, or the motivation to make your goals happen.
THE book on mindset. If you’re curious to understand the underlying principle that explains why some people thrive on adversity and others are crippled by it, this is the book for you. Understanding and recognizing growth vs fixed mindsets is a necessary skill for anyone looking to achieve something new.
Cant Hurt Me
David Goggins lays out his life in compelling detail. This book will either upset you and create a great deal of cognitive dissonance or it will light a fucking fire under your ass. Arguably the most potent book page for page. Not for the faint of heart.
Built to Last & Good to Great
Jim Collins passionately explains underlying principles that lead to success in business. With a unique case study method, these books dissects complex strategies and explain why specific ones fail and others yield success. Great reading for leaders of organizations of any size.
The story of lululemon
Chip Wilson’s story is fascinating and full of useful kernels. Not only does this book catalogue the process of taking lululemon from a small setup to the global powerhouse it remains today, but it also serves as a reading list of some of the books that Chip found most useful. (built to last and good to great both land on chip’s list)
The Power of Habit (Duhigg), Tiny Habits (Fogg), Atomic Habits (Clear), Hooked (Eyal), Indistractible (Eyal)
I lumped these books together because their subject matter is very similar. I’ve read each multiple times and they have a lot of overlap, but each one contains unique and useful material too. They each deal with managing your attention and your energy. If you struggle with: procrastination, social media/videogame/netflix overuse, managing your weight thru diet or exercise, remaining productive, or implementing new habits, this list is for you. All of the books are useful, but I recommend you start with the Tiny Habits and continue from there, unless your issues are centered around media misuse and distraction, then start with Indistractible.
The Goal (Goldratt)
This is a really weird book, its a fictitious account of a business consultant’s intervention into a failing manufacturing plant to ultimately turn the plant around and maximize profits. It reads effortlessly and is enjoyable. For a subject as dry as supply chain management, the book manages to be interesting and relatable. The main takeaway I got from the book is that using a curious and hypothesis/question and answer based approach to solving problems can yield surprising results. Anyone interested in supply chain management or manufacturing should undoubtedly read this.
This book lays out a simple question: how can a person become indispensable? Seth Godin answers the question excellently and gives useful frameworks for doing just that. If you work within an organization and you’re feeling overlooked & underappreciated, and you want to do something about it, this is THE book for you.
American Icon (Hoffman)
A fascinating nonfiction account of how Alan Mulally saved Ford motor company from impending doom. Lots of excellent examples of world class leadership here. Anyone interested in the complexities of leadership should definitely pick this book up.
Side note: if you’ve ever asked yourself: Self, why are executives of large companies paid so damn much when employees make a fraction of what they do? This book will give you an honest insight into what the role of a leader of one of the largest companies in the world actually looks like so you can decide for yourself if you think their job is worthy of such high pay.
The Art of Learning (Waitzkin)
Arguably one of the most skilled learners in the world, Josh Waitzkin is undoubtedly qualified to write this book. Part autobiography, part poetry, part instruction manual, this book has a lot to offer. I was slightly unimpressed the first time I read through it, but found that upon a second and third reading the book had a lot more to offer than I initially noticed. This book is rich, deep, and nuanced, and not worth reading if you're not interested in giving serious attention to it.
Dichotomy of Leadership (Willink, Babin)
This book is no frills, straight to the point. My main takeaways:
Anyone can be a leader by implementing the below rules.
Leaders take responsibility for things that go wrong, in all circumstances.
Leaders give recognition to others for things that go right, in all circumstances.
Non-leaders shirk responsibility when things go wrong and seek to blame others.
Non-leaders take recognition when things go right.
The Art of The Start (Kawasaki)
An excellent compilation of important strategies for starting something, anything. If you are in the ideas phase and not sure where to go next, this book is for you.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (Manson)
By far the most fun book on the list. Mark Manson writes with candor and colorful language. If you don’t like the last word of the title, you won’t like this book, which is a shame because it’s full of fun and genuinely helpful advice. Although there are many useful takeaways, my favorite is this:
Action generates motivation. If you are lacking motivation, waiting for motivation is a fool's errand. Motivation is a renewable resource that can be conjured by taking action. Trick yourself into taking action by taking small steps that are easy, and then when the action generates motivation, up the ante.
Never Eat Alone (Ferrazzi)
A guide to actually networking for people who want to genuinely expand their circle and connect with like minded individuals. Not for people looking to exploit or use connections for personal gain.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Cialdini)
Title is self explanatory. If you want to understand every tactic that marketers and salespeople use to: close deals, gain new customers, get you to spend more than you intended, this book is the definitive guide. If you’re curious why people riot after their sports team loses or why a candidate wins an election over their opposition, this book is the definitive guide.
Start with Why (Sinek)
A good partner for influence, this book explains how companies like apple generated fanatical customers.
Education of Millionaires (Ellsberg)
Although I don't remember anything notable that I took away from this book specifically, most of the books on this list were referenced within Education of Millionaires which led me to pick up the other books. This was one of the first books I read on the subject of wealth/business and it served as and excellent jumping off point to delve into other books. A great starter book to give to someone who is interested in business.
Notable mentions of books I found particularly unhelpful
The 10x rule: absolute garbage
This book is pure and utter garbage. I purchased it before finding out that the author Grant Cardone is a brain dead homunculus who somehow tricked enough people into thinking he was rich that they actually bought get-rich-quick courses from him, ultimately leaving him wealthy and his customers' wallets lighter, with no real skills gained. The book is simply the following phrase: “do 10 times more than your competitors” but rephrased and re-emphasized again and again. If that advice wasn't useless the first time you read it, you get to read it again and again. The book is literally a single sentence fed through a thesaurus and repackaged and repeated over and over and over shamelessly at the reader. The only time I can picture myself picking this book up again would be to use its pages as kindling for a fire. I’m disappointed that I gave grant a single cent for this shit pile.
Antifragile: bloated, narcissistic
Conceptually fascinating, Antifragile is a fundamentally flawed book. The book’s premise is that there is no proper antonym for the word fragile. Since fragility means responding negatively to adverse circumstance, robust is not its antonym. In Taleb’s framework, robustness is the characteristic of something that is mostly unaffected by adversity. That would mean that the opposite of fragility would be something that benefits from adversity. Enter Antifragility, the characteristic of a system that benefits from chaos or adversity. One excellent example is the human body, a certain amount of adversity or eustress is a necessary precursor to building muscles, stronger cardiovascular health, and so on. Finding, understanding, or building systems that benefit from chaos could be a new frontier of discovery.
These fascinating ideas are wrapped in 500 pages of blubber, much of which is spent on Taleb’s disdain for intellectuals who sit securely atop an ivory tower, but build and participate in 'fragile' systems. While complaining about pseudointellectualism, Taleb uses vague and unnecessarily complex language in the style of classic reddit neckbeardism. In my opinion, at least 350 pages of the book belong on r/iamverysmart, a thread dedicated to poking fun at people who go out of their way to brag about their own intelligence, ironically revealing their own empty, shallow, and unintelligent core.
Exactly what to say
This book felt more like a guide to manipulation than a guide to marketing. Personally, I believe ethical marketing is possible and effective. If you're looking to learn about marketing, but you have any kind of moral compass, this book will likely leave you feeling dirty and a little upset.
Limitless: Jim kwik
Personally, I found this book to be overhyped and underwhelming. Although it opens with the truly gripping story of Jim’s upbringing and struggles with self confidence and learning, it drops off drastically in quality after that. The value that the book delivers is mostly in bland and empty advice. Another thing that always turns me off of a book or author is weirdly pseudoscientific advice, especially nutritional advice. When Jim, an individual with no qualifications start spouting off nutritional nonsense in the middle of a book about, I tend to drop the book and not pick it back up.
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