Used By Founders
Nearly every founder we speak to reads a lot of books. Here are some of their favourites:
Tony Hsieh takes us on his journey from college to becoming CEO of Zappos. Delivering Happiness goes into detail how to balance 'Profits, Passion and Purpose' to dominate the market while building a reputation for top customer service. Zappos went on to be aquired by Amazon for $880 million. Tony openly writes about the near-bankruptcies and mistakes they made along the way. A huge amount of ecommerce knowledge in here.
Hooked discusses way to build products that people become invested in and want to return to. Nir Eyal goes into detail on the science behind addictive products and how to influence behaviour. He additionally looks at the patterns behind the products that have already hooked the world. Useful for founders trying to build SaaS apps with monthly subscriptions. A lot of information about how to make a sticky product.
Peter Thiel disscusses how to build a company that goes from Zero to One - ie. A company based on completely new ideas - no clones allows. He goes on to talk about how your product needs to be 10x better than an existing company if you are going to use ideas already in the market. Peter Thiel uses lessons he learned while co-founding paypal and since publishing the book has served time as a partner at Y combinator.
James Clear has become the go-to name for understanding over recent years. He runs a blog where he goes into detail explaining how to apply good habits to work. Atomic Habits explains exactly how to build routines that you can actually stick to and also how to break habits that are adversely affecting your life. Before picking up this book I recommend writing down the habits you want to break and make.
An all time classic and probably the most recommended book from the interviews. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a masterclass on person-to-person interaction. It shows you how to craft a message that will resonate with your audience, whether that be a group of friends or the CEO of a company you're trying to work with. One of only a few books I've read more than once.
Cal Newport tells us that "Interruption, even if short, delays the total time required to complete a task by a significant fraction”. We are always surrounded by noises and distractions. Every time we are distracted, it takes a significant amount of time to get back into focus. He proposes Deep Work - long uninterrupted stretches of focus which are essential for learning. I try to achieve at least 2 hours of deep work every day.
Robert Greene's work on power and persuasion is essential reading for anyone looking to create businesses and work with people in high pressure situations. Power dynamics are constantly at play, in some cases people have power over you and in others you seek your own power. The 48 Laws of Power will help you understand it and come out of exchanges with the upper hand.
What if you could create a product where you had no competition? Often entrepreneurs will go after a existing markets and try to gain a small share. If you create Blue Ocean product you will remove all of the competition by creating an uncontested market space where competition is irrelevant. Great case studies on how Yellow Tail wine and Southwest implemented this strategy.
Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher who began life as a slave. His early experiences give an authenticity to his thoughts. How to Be Free essentially describes that freedom comes from aligning your happiness with what you can control and not allowing happiness to be impacted by anything you cannot control. If our happiness is defined by something external that we don't have control of then we can never be truly happy.
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