What I’ve Been Reading

One made my all-time favorite list. Another is a story over 100 years old.

Let’s start with…

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek

This became one of my favorite books, ever. The dedication of this book starts with these three paragraphs:

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.
Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.
This is a book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them.

I mean – come on!! How do you not get excited about a book that starts like that! Sinek talks about how many companies get lost in the “what” or the “how”, when really they should be starting with the “why”. Why does that company exist, beyond just generating revenue? What larger goal other than money does the company aspire to? Because that why is what customers will ultimately buy.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
by Alfred Lansing

An absolutely insane, exciting, crazy, and true story about how Sir Ernest Shackleton’s crew of 28 survived a disastrous polar expedition to Antarctica in 1914.

I got this book because Sinek above mentioned it, specifically in the context of how Shackleton recruited his crew: he started with “why”. Low pay, grueling work, failure likely, but immense personal reward and renown upon success. So only those men who truly wanted to endure that hardship applied – and all 28 of them survived.

Visual Intelligence: Sharpen your Perception, Change your Life
by Amy Herman

Herman holds seminars for business professionals, and has them stare at fine art to improve upon their perception skills. This is a really valuable thing for law enforcement officials (think crime scene investigations), but applies to all sorts of business scenarios as well. I took her ideas and applied them to a design I was working on, and came up with a couple questions regarding the motivations about the design that I hadn’t considered before. Ms. Herman’s techniques would apply well to user testing or ethnographic design research also.

The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur
by Randy Komisar

Komisar is an experienced advisor in Silicon Valley to venture capitalists and startups. I was interested to learn more about the motivations of venture capital firms. Komisar comes at it kind of like Sinek: don’t do something for a big payoff, just because you think the big payoff will allow you do what you really want. Just do what you really want, and do it now. In the end that’s what a good venture capital firm should be banking on, anyway.

Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination
by Adam Lashinsky

Speaking of Silicon Valley…yeah. I read this the week after Kalanick was ousted from Uber. A really interesting read to understand the meteoric rise of Uber. Kalanick seems like the ultimate Silicon Valley hustler/mover/shaker. Although, as it so seems now, maybe not the best guy to be at the top.

You can read an excerpt from the book on Fortune.com here. (Needless to say I also picked up Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple” book, which I’ll save for another post.)

Happy reading!!