7 Books For Entrepreneurs

My friend Tom Critchlow started this 7bks thing a few years ago yet I’ve never done one. I think it’s high time that changed.

I’ve been reading a lot of books about entrepreneurship and building a business over the last few years. Especially this year, these have had a big effect on my life as I have cut back on reading blogs and now read more longform material.

Here are my 7 books for entrepreneurs (or anyone building a team or a business), in no particular order.

Good To Great

This classic from Jim Collins was recommended to me by Tom, actually (and I think I still have your copy. Sorry buddy. I’ll Shyp it.) The largest takeaway from this book is the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), which give your team something to shoot for. One caveat with a BHAG is that if it is too big, it can in fact be demoralizing to the team (we’ve seen this at HotPads and are correcting it).

Final verdict: A must read.


The Decision Maker

This is a book that I first learned about from Leo at Buffer when he wrote this blog post about it. I picked it up and was done with it in two days. It’s written from a narrative perspective, but intermingles a ton of management lessons through it about empowering people you hire and removing a centroid and bottleneck (ie yourself) from decisions that are best made from someone else. I’ve implemented it at my job and we’ve seen amazing results.

Final verdict: If you’re a new manager or struggling as a manager, read this book. Low investment, high return.


Let My People Go Surfing

I’m an outdoors person. My wife and I love to go on adventures in beautiful northern California where we live. We escape to Colorado to go skiing whenever we can, and we even got married in Alaska. Reading a book by one of the godfathers of adventure sports, Yves Chouinard, who also founded Patagonia, one of my favorite companies, as he talks about building a company that is good for people, good for the environment, and good for the consumer was absolutely mesmerizing.

Final verdict: If you care about doing good by others, you have to read this book.


In The Plex

Maybe I’m biased since I’ve worked in online marketing for the last five years, but this expose on Google and its founding through current interworkings made me think a lot about scaling a company, the importance behind a vision, building a culture, and more. Plus, Google has screwed up in some ways and gone through a lot of change just like every company, but we rarely get to see it.

Final verdict: this one will inspire you and make you feel better about your own situation.


Made To Stick

The Heath brothers are masters of their craft. They’ve also written Switch which easily could have made this list as well.

In Made To Stick, they talk about how to craft something so that it lodges into a person’s mind, creates a habit, or change the way people do things. If you’re a marketer, building a product, or managing people, this one will help you.

Final verdict: read if you have to influence people.


POP!: Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything

POP! became one of my favorite books a few years ago when I was trying to come up with a name for HireGun. Basically this book taught me a bit about branding, a bit about creativity, and that has served me incredibly well through my different escapades and definitely my current job and side gigs.

Verdict: must read for everyone, especially founders and early-stage startup folks.


Ogilvy On Advertising

David Ogilvy is a god of advertising. The man did things and thought about advertising in ways that I could never even hope to think of in marketing. He wrote two books, but this one has really made me think about growing and scaling a company while still remaining true to your roots and doing what you love. My favorite parts of the book are when he talks about going onto the writing floor and schooling the young copywriters because he loved to write, and he wanted to show that he could still do it. He holds no punches and I love him for it.

Verdict: if you’re a marketer, this is a must-read.


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