The 17 books that made me a better entrepreneur, father and husband
I’ve read hundreds of books over the last 2 decades. Here are my favorite 17.
I read a lot. Typically I try to get through a book every month or two. I like to re-read books that have had a significant impact on me in one way or another. I find I get something new out of a book when I re-read it, probably because my frame of reference has changed since I last read it.
Below I’ve included the 17 books I would consider the most impactful on my life. They all fall within one of three categories: books that have helped me become a better entrepreneur, a better father/husband or just a better person in general.
I hope you find the list useful.
Books that helped me become a better entrepreneur
Behind The Cloud
I learned so many great business lessons from this book that I can’t even remember them all. Written by Marc Benioff (founder of Salesforce), it’s an excellent primer if you’re launching a company where you’ll be David going up against Goliath, such as a large, slow incumbent.
Marc’s rules for PR, positioning, dealing with competitors and hiring are legendary. I’ve read this book at least 10 times — most recently I spent a weekend in February reading it cover-to-cover.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Honest, brutal lessons that all CEOs will experience as they scale their companies from a few people to a few thousand. I found myself nodding almost non-stop as I was reading the book. If you want to know what it’s like running a large technology company, read this book.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
I thought I had a strong work ethic. Then I read this book. Of course Elon Musk is a visionary, but what most impressed me with the book was how involved he continues to remain in the details at Tesla and SpaceX. You need to hire great teams, but this book proves you should never remove yourself from the details that matter to you and your customers.
I’ve always believed you should look at your customer service and support teams as potential profit centers, not just cost centers. No one company does that better than Zappos.
In his book, Tony Hsieh shares details how he implemented his vision for customer happiness at Zappos. Two stories really stood out to me. First, that Zappos would pay you $2,000 within your first week if you decided to leave. Second, customer service people could send gifts to customers as they saw fit — they simply had to use their best judgement when doing so.
The book shows that Tony clearly knew Zappos was in the business of selling happiness, not shoes. It’s a great reminder that your product isn’t necessarily what you’re selling to customers, especially if it’s a commodity.
Remote: Office Not Required
If you think you need to rent an office and have everyone come in to work from 9am-5pm, you need to read this book. That old model may not be the best approach today, but it does depend on what your business does.
Mastering The VC Game
The only book you need to read when it comes to raising money as an entrepreneur. After reading this book I understood how most investors think as well as the “nitty gritty” details of term sheets including preferences, ratchets, drag and tag along rights, etc. If you want a crash course in venture capital, this is a must-read.
Your Inner CEO
One of the few books you can read that will show you what it takes to be a “real” CEO, which means preparing you for everything the job entails when you scale past a handful of people.
I live by the mantra of doing what you’re good at and delegating everything else. StrengthsFinder helps you figure that out and explains how your own unique style can help you get more done with less work. It includes access to take the StrengthsFinder test and you’ll receive your strengths profile at the end of it.
My strengths are thrust+accelerate, which means I’m good at starting from nothing and turning an idea in to something, then propelling it past that initial stage and turning it from a product into a company.
Knowing my strengths, I can build a team around me that compliments, not conflicts, with my style and strengths.
Once I read my profile I realized why I love building and scaling companies so much — because that’s where my strengths lie. Definitely worth the investment to understand you own strengths.
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