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My 6 Favorite Books of 2016

David Cancel
Dec 15, 2016 · 4 min read

It’s that time of year.

Everyone is reflecting back on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.

And while I typically stay away from end of the year trends like predictions (they feel too much like roadmaps to me 😳) there is one trend that I have been enjoying lately: CEO’s sharing some of their favorite books from the past year.

I love books because learning is the only shortcut that I’ve learned in my career (and learning from books in particular) because books are by far the cheapest and fastest way to level up and become a learning machine.

“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” — Warren Buffet

Anyone can write a blog post, but just think about the effort it takes to sit down and write a truly great book that withstands the test of time.

So, inspired by this list from Bill Gates with his favorite books of 2016, here are six of mine.

PS. If you’re interested…there’s more on how I read and what I read here.

Shoe Dog (Phil Knight)

Nike founder Phil Knight takes you from 1962 up until to Nike’s IPO in 1980 detailing the decade plus it took to get them company off the ground. The Nike story is the epitome of the grind (or as Seth Godin calls it “the long cut” vs. the short cut). A must read for any entrepreneur.

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If you’re a podcast fan, we talked about Shoe Dog a few times (here’s a recent episode; you can subscribe on iTunes and any of your favorite podcast apps, just search for Seeking Wisdom):

Thinking Fast And Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

Not a new book, but one I fell in love with this year. You can’t build products, businesses, or teams without a deep understanding of people — and Kahneman breaks down why people do the things they do. This is a long one, but a great one to listen to on your commute (I listened to this as an audiobook).

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From Impossible To Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue (Aaron Ross, Jason Lemkin)

There are plenty of blog posts about building SaaS businesses, but not many books. Luckily we have SaaS OG’s like Aaron Ross (Predictable Revenue) and Jason Lemkin (SaaStr) to thank. This is a great read if you’re in SaaS — a must-read if you work in marketing and sales. Get the notebook out for this one. It’s filled with tactical lessons to that you can bring to your company ASAP.

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The One Thing (Gary Keller, Jay Papasan)

This is the book that aligns everything we do at Drift and has helped our entire team focus on the task at hand. If you’ve read about Stephen Covey’s “big rocks” this is similar — but it’s a great, quick read to reinforce what you already know: if you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either. This is one book that every new employee get when they join the team at Drift.

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The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure (Grant Cardone)

Want to know the quickest way to be average? Set average goals. Grant Cardone knows the secret and breaks it down in the 1ox rule. If you want to guarantee you (and your company) realize your goals and dreams, you need to start thinking about 10x, not 2x.

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Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead (Laszlo Bock)

Bock is the SVP of People Operations at Google and has a unique perspective because, well — he’s the SVP of People Operations at a company with 50,000+ people. He talks about the importance of “high freedom” (aka autonomy) which is something that we made a core part of our culture at HubSpot and now at Drift. If you want happier and more productive people on your team at work, you need to give them more freedom.

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And one bonus, just because: Running Man: A Memoir (Charlie Engle).

Happy learning.

If you found this post helpful, you might enjoy my podcast Seeking Wisdom. Once a week we talk about life, learning, and startups — and we share everything that we’re learning as we’re building Drift.

Listen on your favorite podcast app right here:

iTunes / Overcast / SoundCloud /Stitcher/ RSS


If you want others to see this, please hit the ❤. I really appreciate it!

David Cancel is the CEO of Drift and the co-host of the Seeking Wisdom podcast.

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