The fact that those recommendations are literally everything I've read in the past few years is probably another proof that we, in the tech industry, live in a big echo chamber and have no idea what the real world looks like. We all keep telling each other that every we do is great because, well, we don't know anything else.
It's a bit sad and I'd love to see some more diversity.
It was a good book. The narrator is definitely "immoral", which can be disturbing, but he's basically a product of his environment. One lesson I took from it is that Alabama and Georgia (at least in the 80's and 90's) might as well be a different country.
It's also related to business since he says he always wanted to be the one pulling the strings and making the money, rather than the talent. He became both.
The economy of making and promoting niche rap -- which became mainstream pop, e.g. Migos has at least 1B views on YouTube -- is pretty interesting. Somehow the rappers know if a beat is worth $1K or $10K, or a co-appearance on a record is worth $1K or $10K. It's a very collaborative business. They obviously understand marketing.
And even though he was addicted to "lean" (cough syrup) for years and in and out of jail for various violent crimes, he (and his collaborators) still have significant practical knowledge of contracts, copyright law, and use QuickBooks!
So there's some diverse content on HN if you look hard enough :) I'll also say that I didn't read "Sapiens" for a long time because I thought it was one of these "tech bubble/meme" books, e.g. the first place I heard of it was from Tim Ferris several years ago.
But I read it last year and it was great -- definitely worth reading, and I read Homo Deus too. I guess the whole point is that it's from someone whose background is not in tech saying a lot of things that are relevant to the industry.
E-40 is a marketing super genius. He's been rapping and producing since 1990. And has had so many brand extensions since the mid-90s from energy drinks to wine to tequila.
You never know where you will find inspiration!
From there, the path to success comes from being well-rounded and exposed to new ideas/their accompanying opportunities. Read "The Power of Habit" because it's an incredible book, but then also read books specific to the domains to which you're applying those skills. Working for a healthcare company? Read "How Doctors Think". Jane Jacobs for urban planning, Foucalt for history...
It's wonderful that you (and likely half of the people on HN) have read many of these books, and I think having this list is useful for people outside the industry getting a mind for how tech thinks. At the same time, exploring the pantheon of great works in other fields is a virtue that, luckily is toted by many of the books mentioned above.
* Dostoevsky "Crime and punishment".
Discover how important is to take care of yourself and avoid entering the downward spiral of depression and anxiety.
* Jack London "Smoke Bellew".
Get a boost of the startup-like resourceful energy the heroes of the previous Golden-Rush at Klondike.
* Herman Hesse "Siddhartha".
Get a break from the startup grind by going on the spiritual journey of self-discovery and peaceful reflection.
* Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. "Far Rainbow".
Get to know the limits of human intelligence and capacity for overcoming the difficulties.
Hope you enjoy it!
 osmose: v: verb form of osmosis
If that isn't a word, it just became one, because I made it so - deal with it.
Determine who your target customers are by industry/sector ie who is your product for.
Determine who are the top 1000 companies / orgs in that sector (Linked in/ NAIC codes, SIC codes).
If you have a budget you can buy lead lists from SIC, of you dont have, plan for about 2 man weeks to put together a good starter list of companies and prospective contacts.
Once you have your list of companies - id who your prospective user is by role. e.g. who will use your product? What is a likely job title / role?
Use linkedin to find folks in that role or with that Job title?
work out your value propositiion for your product. Boil it down to 2/ 3 lines.
With a short subset of your initial prospect list.
Either cold call / email / linkedin message your targets with your value prop and work out from there:
- which contact method works (e.g. email / phone / linkedin)
- who the buyer is - does your user have purchase power - great you know who to sell to.
- What is their pricing sensitivity?
- IF they dont have purchase power who does -either ask (best) or assume next person in the chain - who do they report to. again identify role/ title and try them.
As you do this your looking to learn how to contact your prospect; who will use your product? Who will buy your product? What is the purchase process? What is the price point?
Based on your learning and each iteration of testing your sales hypothesis– refine your target prospect role/title, refine your value prop, your sales point, your sales process (to match their purchase process e.g. is it simply they buy with credit card from your website or does it go through an enterprise buyer… )
Now go back to your full company list and iterate through using linkedin and search engine to find folks who match your target role / prospect and enter these into your prospect list.
You now have a starting sales list. Contact them, qualify and try to make sales.
If you need further reading see any of the books on this list: https://blog.closeriq.com/2018/11/enterprise-sales-books/
and - Transparency sale by Todd Caponi. https://www.amazon.com/Transparency-Sale-Unexpected-Understa...
If you need more concrete guide with what exactly to say during sales calls try
I've figured out about 50% of the stuff in this post already (hard won), but if anyone's starting out this content pretty much sums up the majority of B2B and B2E sales steps.
I'd add that with some of the higher value sells send them content or news articles which might be useful to them as an ice breaker. Establishing a genuine rapport is always a nice plus, especially if it shows that you understand their pain points.
Also if you have a prospect in mind ping them about something they've posted then wait a week or two before you pitch them with your proposition. Helps make it feel less like a one way transaction.
Another Rackham book, SPIN Selling, is also a classic.
Some more context:
Over the past month, I must've reached out to at least 70 founders and asked them about some of the books that most shaped their professional careers. Obviously not a lot of them responded, so I started going through some book lists (Sivers' and James Clear's lists are great!), the 400+ indie hacker interviews, and personal blogs, and adding everything I can find.
I managed to get recommendations from a little over 100 founders and makers heavily involved in the tech scene — all suggestions here come from people who run or are involved in revenue-generating businesses.
Hope you find this useful! Still would love to get some suggestions from people like patio11, austenallred, etc so if you're reading this drop me a message!
Not sure what is the right mix, but some of the most motivating reads for me were:
- Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
- The Soul of a New Machine
- Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
- Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary
- The Mighty Micro: Impact of the Computer Revolution
- Accidental Empires
- The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
These 2 is one of the best books about philosophy and the world of ideas I've ever read.
I imagine that there could be interesting things to learn through comparing the books recommended through such filtering.
That said, allow for down-votes would also help to add value. More or less, "read it, wouldn't recommend it." As it is, 5 recommends looks solid, but what if there were 10 don't recommend?
I'm currently using Joel Spolsky's reading list when I need a good book. Here's the link: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2005/11/22/reading-list-fog-c...
Lot of good books I didn't even know about.
Never Split the Difference is amazing for negotiation.
SPIN selling for understanding benefit selling verse feature selling
$100 Startup is a very good summary of techniques. It the next level of granular detail from 4 Hour Work Week
I have done thousands of negotiations (for vastly different things) and have been paid to do so.  I have never read a single book on negotiations. I can always tell when someone else has. (Read that again).  I could most likely write a book myself on negotiations and my experiences. The problem is it's a seat of the pants thing. It's nearly impossible to be able to say what to do unless you are in the exact situation and reading all the signals. Also it's creative at it's core so if you are a narrow type thinker you are most likely not going to be good at it no matter what (very generally). And of course what you are negotiating for and in particular who you are dealing with and their motivations are super important to the process. That said I am sure a book can help with an adversary that is not particular difficult and of course better than nothing. But like with most other things it is in no way even close to a substitute for actual experience over time and the right base attributes personally. Some people just aren't perceptive enough of others emotions and reactions to be good at it. No way around it. Also their own emotions and the ability to control them.
 The largest fee I made (recently) was close to $200k and I've been paid as little as $500 (or have done it for free in some cases).
 Because their delivery and actions appear canned and predictably fit another pattern that I have seen in the exact same way over time.
My dad used to talk about negotiations from later in his career and I think he would have more or less agreed with the sentiment. I remember him talking about being tickled when someone would come in taking a particular tack, and you could more or less tell them "yeah, sure book x chapter y, how about we just talk?" and then everybody had a chuckle and got down to business. I'm sure it was more of a vibe he picked up than any particular incident. The idea reminds me of the Gervais Principle's idea that different subgroups within an organization speak different languages to each other.
In support of reading books, I think there's a difference between being familiar with what everybody else has probably read vs working directly out of a playbook.
The first link is the start of the blog series. The one about languages groups speak is .
Well my particular tack is never never never tell someone you know what their game is let them play their game. And never back them into a corner. People (I have found) go against their own interests if only for pride reasons. (I am sure that is in some book somewhere buried ..)
One of the problems with human driven interactions and instructions is those sorts of guidelines can cause people to toss out their common sense. The very nature of some things mean step by step instructions, if followed by enough people, cease to work. This is especially true in marketplaces.
This is a completely personal opinion but I think this is key. Most people _are_ narrow type thinkers. They have certain perspectives of the world that they're convinced about and unwilling to see things differently.
If you're the kind of person who genuinely listens and tries to understand the situation of the other party, ironically, its much easier to get what you want. Most people seem to desire intensely a feeling of being understood, if your actions demonstrate to them that you do, they're willing to meet you halfway.
^ Also something that's probably in a book somewhere. The problem with book-based learning at its core is that if you're trying to do the "techniques" in the book, you're already not listening as much as you should be and missing out on a whole lot of cues which might be very very useful.
You can learn negotiating by working on people skills generally. The biggest takeaway from my college class on Negotiating and Conflict Management was that both parties will decide the other is "being difficult" when they are having trouble coming to terms, but the actual root cause of the problem is usually that there is a narrow range in which you can both benefit from the transaction.
So, learn to talk to people around you and ask why rather than accuse.
Also look up the term BATNA -- Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement. If you understand what your options are if you can't get cooperation, that helps define "how low should you go?" The answer: No lower than your BATNA. If they can't improve on that scenario, they can't add any value. It's not a deal you should make.
Also, information is power. Research the problem space so you know what your options are.
Last: Value is found in your differences, not your similarities.
Ideally, you want someone saying "Man, I hate oranges. I would happily trade my oranges for your apples!" where you hate "apples." Win-win. You both feel like it cost "nothing" and was all upside.
I also suggested some good negotiating books in a different comment.
That said the question is do you want to get good at negotiation not 'are you a saint who thinks they would never waste someone's time' (which I dispute per my other thoughts in this comment to begin with).
Guess what? I get a ton of tire kickers for my services that are referred to me. In some cases I know right off the bat that these people can't afford what I do and are 'wasting my time'. I still handle them with courtesy and take my time (knowing that I am wasting it) to help them. In some cases I enjoy doing so and in other cases I know they will then refer others to me. Many times these are people that have been referred to me (actually most times). I don't discourage it either. I know overall it's a good thing not a bad thing.
Auto dealers spend a ton of time to get people into the showroom. Advertising to sell cars. But did it ever occur to you that just like a restaurant  that is busy they might actually want the foot traffic because it makes things look popular and encourages others to buy (who are there)? Ever occur to you that it's good training for the sales person (who runs deals by the sales manager)?
 Restaurants will often trade at less than menu rates to have the restaurant be busy (even lose on diners) so that others (that are paying full price) will feel better about eating in a non empty place.
There's a difference between tire kickers who are curious and maybe have some low level of interest, like cars, etc. They don't even take much time, because they aren't going to the negotiation stage that would be so time consuming and yet be required for what you are advocating. You're advocating for a callous desire to opportunistically waste someone's limited time for their own potential gain. You conflate legitimate albeit casual shoppers with people who are only there in a cynical ploy for self advancement.
The theoretical potential for referrals is a red herring. That same potential exists in the customer they missed talking to, who might actually buy a car, that they lost because someone thought it would be educational to waste their time. Do you know anyone who has sold cars for a living? I do. I grew up with one I call "Dad". I know a lot about how the industry works, dealership marketing and promotions, all of it. So you reference foot traffic as a side benefit to your plan for negotiation experience? Hardly. 5 or 6 of your students in negotiation a day would be enough to cost salesmen money without adding to that "we're busy" look the dealership may want.
Otherwise, selling cars tends to be a soul crushing grind. At times it pays little more than minimum wage for work hours that would rival a dedicated startup team. The national average places their salary between $22,000 and $45,000. That's with commissions counted in and with a work week of 60-70 hours. That's not even counting the off-hours work like delivering a car on a trade between dealerships that is a dead loss for them. Working in the industry means making your target one month only to have the dealership owner change the compensation plan because people were making too much money, and actually tells the staff that's why. At least that owner was honest, most don't bother.
Yeah, some salesmen are wildly successful and make lots of money, some sell high end cars in affluent neighborhoods. But it's like the startup world: for every success like that, even a mediocre success, there are countless others that aren't.
So if you want to brush off this type of behavior as no big deal, at least understand what your really advocating people do. I on the other hand see your advocacy for this kind of behavior as emblematic of the worst impulses of "all about me" culture, and the thin end of the wedge towards condoning sociopathic behavior that looks at other people as merely transactional units there to provide you with something you want.
I don't know that one, but here are a couple of research-based negotiating books:
Getting to yes
The mind and heart of the negotiator.
They were required texts for my college class on Negotiating and Conflict Management. I was already good at certain kinds of negotiating, but it helped put a finer point on my abilities.
While most books I've read are tactical or strategic, this book talks about the philosophical -- especially recommended for founders beyond the scrappy MVP stage, perhaps a team > 10
I advise people to ignore Kiyosaki's other products, but the message of the books Rich Dad Poor Dad and Cashflow is pretty sound.
If you want to validate this claim, go to a local bookstore and review some of the charts. The charts are disingenuous and fit to his narrative.
"Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla" is a good read as well.
For example, a few months with a therapist gave me more resources than hundreds of hours I've spent on videos and "startup books". Best books I've read in the last 3-5 years was Martian by Andy Weir, and Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy by Liu Cixin. Very inspiring for me as engineer. Few videos about how to organize personal finances on Youtube gave me financial ground.
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulr1HAaF_JU, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKU5bEf192A
In the startup silicon echo chamber, you hear the same things over and over until you start to believe it. In fact, when I read many of these books, nothing came as a surprise because that's all the startup world talks about anyway.
Disrupted made fun of the things that I thought were pretty normal. One example is the culture were building in our own startup. We focused so much on the right culture fit that we got some of the worst people to work with us. And we couldn't see that it was all our fault.
Get a book that has an opposing view of your world. From time to time, someone has to make fun of us or we start to take ourselves too seriously.
Great book about leadership and entertaining.
Thoughts on book summary services such as Blinkist?