Read These 8 Books if You Want to Work at My Startup

My Bookshelf, Part 1

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I read a lot of books.

As a developer, I’m pretty much committed to a lifetime of doing homework because that’s the life, and most of the books I read are indeed related to programming; however, I also love reading books that are more general in scope and applicable to almost any role in a startup — especially, my startup.

I think all of them should be mandatory reading!

These are some of my favorite non-technical books, and they have one thing in common — I think all of them should be mandatory reading! And I truly mean that.

I’m not going to offer extensive book reviews here. There are plenty of those on Amazon. The mere fact that I’m listing these books in this post means my review is not only positive, but off the charts. Full stop.

Don’t take the section names too seriously. Some of these books cover a lot of territory and I had a hard time picking just one section for each. And the sections have nothing to do with your role. These books are general enough that my belief is that everyone in the company should read every one of these books — irrespective of your function.

So here they are — in no specific order.

Marketing

The title Marketing here is used very loosely. These three books offer phenomenal insights into how people think, effective messaging and how sometimes tiny adjustments to a product, a message or a campaign can have an exponential impact on your success. I wish I had read them all earlier in my career.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell

Contagious: Why Things Catch On 
by Jonah Berger

Fascinate, Revised and Updated: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist 
by Sally Hogshead

Product

I almost felt bad listing only one book here because Brotopia and Winning with Data also contain some important insights on product development even though I ultimately listed them under Culture.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products 
by Nir Eyal et al.

Hooked offers insights that I’ve never seen so brilliantly laid out. I can’t imagine any product manager not having committed this book to memory. But the book isn’t just for PMs. There’s something in this book for everybody.

Culture

Company culture stems from the top, and these books represent the values and a way of thinking that I hope everyone in my company would adopt. Collectively, these three books provide exceptional insights and guidance on how culture is done right.

Each book listed here covers a different angle of culture; spanning topics from core values, to diversity, hiring and how to make informed decisions.

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

Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future 
by Tomasz Tunguz et al.

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley
by Emily Chang

Growth

I’ve read a number of great books on growth hacks and scaling up. What’s different about Reid Hoffman’s Blitzscaling is that it is not a how-to guide; but rather, a mindset. It helps you understand where your head needs to be and how you would go about making certain decisions if you’re looking for exponential growth.

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies 
by Reid Hoffman et al.

Wrapping Up

I wrote this post hoping that anyone who ultimately decides to interview with me would understand in advance how I think, my values, and what I expect of others who might ultimately be invited to work with us here at Hello Gloss. In other words, it’s a map into my brain available to candidates who do their homework before meeting me.

And if you’re already working for me — I look forward to discussing any of these over lunch. Better yet, tell me about another book I should add to this list and why it ranks up alongside these.


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