Books Founders Love

Books Taken From The Reading Lists of Successful Founders and Entrepreneurs

Nathan Grieve

Books

Reading is crucial for success in business. It exposes you to new ideas and challenges your way of thinking. Every founder we interview reads a lot of books to the diversify their knowledge - here are their favourites:

1. Delivering Happiness

Delivering happiness book

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.

Favourite quote - “What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture.

2. Hooked

Hooked Book

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.

Eyal goes into depth on 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.

Favourite quote - “products that require a high degree of behavior change are doomed to fail

3. Zero to One

Zero to One Book

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.

Favourite quote - "All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition"

4. Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits book

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.

Favourite quote - "You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems"

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How To Win Friends and Influence People book

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.

Favourite quote - "Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving"

6. Deep Work

Deep Work book

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.

Two favourite quotes - "If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are"

"To simply wait and be bored has become a novel experience in modern life, but from the perspective of concentration training, it’s incredibly valuable"

7. The 48 Laws of Power

48 laws of power book

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.

Favourite quote - "When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish"

8. Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy Book

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.

Favourite quote - "As companies compete to embrace customer preferences through finer segmentation, they often risk creating too-small target markets"

9. How to Be Free

How To Be Free Book

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.

Favourite quote - "It is better to starve to death in a calm and confident state of mind than to live anxiously amidst abundance"

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