We’ve covered the 10 movies every entrepreneur must watch, and now it’s time to list the books.
Now, I know that some of you might not have a habit of reading a lot of books, so you might just say that this post isn’t for you. You cannot be more wrong. I’m not going to tell you that reading books is a very useful way to know things, or any of those cliched sentences. Instead, I’ll tell you this – Don’t read these books because reading is a good thing to do; read it because the information contained in these books are simply not available elsewhere. NO! Not even online!
You might think that Steve Jobs’ biography is all about his story and how he achieved whatever he did. Yes, that is absolutely true. but what most people miss is his personality. The author does his/her best to tell you about the protagonist’s personality via a lot of stories and experiences. When you read between the lines, you’ll discover tiny details from that person’s life and that tiny detail might change your life!
You might notice that most of the books I’ve listed are biographies, and very less “How To” books. This is because you’ll simply learn more from biographies than from the “How To” ones.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 books that every entrepreneur must read –
1. Steve Jobs – A Biography by Walter Isaacson (I know you guessed it)
There is so much to his personality than just what you read online, or watch in the movies. Every negotiation that he has had is a guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. What he did when life threw him in the gutters, and what he did when he threw people’s lives in the gutters; everything is written in a ridiculously unbiased manner.
I’m not an avid reader of books. I usually pick up a book only after I’m absolutely sure it’s going to be interesting. Also, I did not know a thing about entrepreneurship before reading this book. While I was reading it, I suddenly knew what I had to do in my life. It had that much of an impact on me.
2. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson.
An autobiography by one of the most incredible people in the world. He is not only a good entrepreneur, but also an amazing human being. He has established a lot of companies working under a MYRIAD of industries. From fuel, to airlines, to railways, to space tourism, to magazines, to music; he has done it all!! All of these companies are under the Virgin Group . The book gives you an in depth analysis about what it is like to be an entrepreneur; what it is like to be in multiple industries simultaneously; what it is like to face competition; and how personal lives can be managed perfectly despite being an entrepreneur.
3. How I Braved Anu Aunty and CoFounded a Million Dollar Company by Varun Agarwal.
Let me tell you something about Varun. He is a Bangalorean, who unfortunately studied engineering when he had no interest in it. Sadly, most students in India don’t have a choice when it comes to picking engineering as a course, due to pressure from a lot of sources. Anu Aunty is depicted as one of those sources. (She is also real xD)
Anyway, just like any bored engineer, Varun, along with his friend started a merchandise company – Alma Mater which is worth a lot of money right now. This book is all about how uncertain it is before starting up and how risky it seems, because you’re putting in a lot of time and money, hoping that it’ll work out. He takes you through his startup phases, which includes girls, alcohol, smokes and a lot of money. All those phases that he went through were broken down to such understandable dialogues, that he makes you think you’re having a highly informal conversation with him.
Varun, like us on this blog, wrote down his startup story to all those aspiring entrepreneurs out there about his company and inspired a whole generation of youngsters in India. If a book can make that happen, then it’s definitely worth reading it.
4. Ghost In The Wires by Kevin Mitnick.
Two Words. Holy Crap!! You’ve watched movies where the protagonist talks his way into a secure building only to steal, right? This guy’s life was exactly like that.
He uses a term called “social engineering”, and he uses it a lot throughout the book. The concept of social engineering, in his own words is “the casual or calculated manipulation of people to influence them to do things they would not ordinarily do”. It will be a lot more exciting when you actually read the book. He integrates computer networks with social engineering to, well, hack into computer networks. In the process, he ended up becoming one of FBI’s most wanted computer criminal . After his arrest, and him serving his term, he started a firm which deals with computer security! Irony abounds.
So, this book is an exciting account of everything that he did during his criminal life, and after.
5. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
My friend gave this book to me as a gift, and I thought he was kidding. I didn’t know who Carnegie was, so I figured this friend of mine thought that I should actually learn how to make friends!
His intentions were way different.
I found that out after I read the book. The book has a lot of stories which eventually makes a point. But, after each story, you realize that most of what you knew about the human condition is not how it actually works. Carnegie fine tunes your people skills and readies you to tackle the world, because life in the land of entrepreneurship is pretty damn hard without people skills. Kevin Mitnick’s social engineering might only take you so far. Most of the time, you need to actually befriend a lot of people when you have a business.
6. Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
I first came across Simon Sinek in a TED talk (Simon’s TED talk). I found out about the book later and bought a copy, and I had never taken a better decision.
In brief, the book is about how you should start with the WHY of things and then comes HOW, and then WHAT. What he means is – Start with WHY you’re making a product; then tell people HOW you’re going to make the product; Finally, tell them WHAT the product actually is.
This ingenious marketing mantra has been in the dark for far too long, and this book exposes the finest details of this technique. Whatever you want to make as an entrepreneur, a product or a service, this will definitely help you.
7. The Snowball : Warren buffet and The Business of Life by Alice Schroeder.
The Oracle of Omaha – Warren buffet ! This book gives you the entire account of the investing superstar. His initial life, where he was interested in money, rather than girls, to his adult life where he became the CEO of the fortune 500 company – Berkshire Hathaway.
Despite the media hounding Warren, they never got a lot of stories published, until the time when he himself decided to open up to Alice Schroeder. Thus, a fantastic memoir was made which tells us all that being nice can actually take you places. Warren knew how to ease people off the phone without making them feel dismissed; He used to say no in a tactful manner, which is something all entrepreneurs must learn; and a variety of other techniques.
8. Business Adventures by John Brooks.
I first saw a post on Facebook which said Bill Gates recommended this particular book to all aspiring entrepreneurs. After I read up about that post, I learned that Warren Buffet had suggested this book to Gates, and then Gates to us. Now everyone’s reading it, even though it has been ages since the book came out first.
This is a collection of 12 short stories, each about 50 pages long. It includes case studies of Xerox, and the first huge insider trading scandal, among other stories. All this, with a touch of third person interviews on how economy was back in the days.
For those who are interested in history and economics, this book is a treat. For those who aren’t, this might not be as enjoyable as it should be.
9. Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore.
Hailed as the Bible of entrepreneurial marketing, this book is the perfect one for all the technological entrepreneurs out there. Not that it shouldn’t be read by the other kinds. But the tech people will be able to relate to it more than the other kinds. I think I have the updated edition, in which there are more startup stories; startups which are successful, as well as failures. And it makes a point to keep this as basis in a subtle manner when he gives us excellent marketing strategies.
The name is derived from what is known as the Technology adoption Lifecycle , which is represented by a graphical curve.
Well, there’s the chasm the book is all about.
10. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie.
This is an incredibly important book to read as it’s not just about developing a high revenue business that is all about profit and nothing else. Blake Mycoskie is an entrepreneur who created the shoe brand TOMs, a canvas type unisex shoe which for every pair that sold, another pair would be given to a child in need.
TOMs has become incredibly popular and Blake has managed to build a profitable business that also helps children in need for every pair sold. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve, since normally you’d expect a small amount from the sale to go to a charity, but in this case it’s a pair for a pair and every sale means another child doesn’t have to walk around bare foot.
This book is about how to tell your company’s story, and about how to be resourceful without having any resource; which is something an entrepreneur would want to know.
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