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Founder Books (postmake.io)
437 points by ashtavakra01 on May 25, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 93 comments

I've read most of those books and they are all very nice and worth a read.

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.

Random: I read the "Autobiography of Gucci Mane" a couple months ago based on a recommendation from a HN comment (and based on liking a few of his songs). He's wildly popular in pop culture but so far nobody I've talked to in SF knows who he is. He's known as the rapper with the ice cream cone tattoo on his face, if that rings a bell.

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.

If you're interested in the business aspects of the hip-hop industry, check out The Big Payback by Dan Charnas. If you grew up with hip-hop, it can be interesting to have the entrepreneurial backstory of this stuff unveiled. Can be both inspiring and disillusioning, but engaging either way.

I think we really underestimate the entrepreneurship required to be an indie rapper and break-through. Marc Benioff freely admits he stole marketing ideas from MC Hammer and his street teams when launching Salesforce.

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!

Acknowledging the risk of an echo chamber, maybe the ubiquity of these books means that they're tools of the trade. Knowing how to build a great software product/business is a useful skill set that these books teach well.

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.

This is so true. Those books are basically the college course of a startup and you need to read past these to get diversity of ideas.

Can I offer a complementary non-practical founders reading list then? :)

* 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!

People are what they don't read

I have no idea what that means but had to upvote because it was so unexpected.

I read it as: if you know some stuff very well already you do not read about it and conversely that you can spend too much time reading about it instead of doing it.

Interesting! I’ve interpreted it as: your blind spots define you.

(Me too, and Occam's Razor makes me think it's probably what the GGGP meant.)

A new koan?

People are both what they read and what they don't read - and in a broader sense, what they osmose [1] and don't osmose. As in, learning by osmosis.

[1] osmose: v: verb form of osmosis

If that isn't a word, it just became one, because I made it so - deal with it.

It is a word

Wow, cool, you're right. Just checked. Thanks :)

Books influence us and shape us. We are what we are because we are formed by our experiences throughout our life. Reading a good book is like living someone else’s life.

Except it's not a someone else's life, but a state of mind, most often a delusion or even a deliberate bullshit. Central books are few


That was my thinking when I went through the first page of results. I pretty much read all the books listed except two and it didn’t dawn on me until I started reading more non-fiction books from Asian authors – From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew, many books from the Japan Library series, etc. – that I had a very narrow view of how business and personal productivity works in the grand scheme of things.

To be fair, it says these are books that helped or influenced the careers of the founders not everything they read. If they like to read Thomas Mann in their downtime, that's nice, but maybe not related to being a founder.

True, and that would be interesting to know how the other books influence them as a founder. The thing here is this list of books is what tells founders what to do as founders, so probably the biggest part of their influence.

It's easy to get more diversity, just read different stuff. There are plenty of recommendations all over the place. Hell, just go grab something from the staff picks at your book store or library if you're lost. Even if you want to read through everything on our echo chamber's lists, you can still do that, you just don't need to do it straight; just interleave some other stuff along with it.

I would suggest "The Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius. It might be a tough one to read, but the audible I listened to (there are a few of them) made it easier to consume.

Sam Walton's autobiography was the single best business book I've ever read. A nugget of gold every couple of pages.

I didn't see any sales books. Are there any good sales books? Especially on details like how to generate leads? Every sales book is like "go into the office during your key hours for selling and start making calls, then when you're talking to a prospect do x,y,z". Yeah, great, where do I get this list of prospects to call? Some books have said to look at publicly available personnel lists for places you want to sell to and then start cold calling, determine who the decision maker is for the organization from there, and then get to that person. Really? Maybe, I guess. Others wave this away by saying some other person will generate qualified leads through advertising or something. OK, what if I don't have some other guy to do that? How do I do that? Any books that make this a little less magical?

A great sales book is The Ultimate Sales Machine. Here's a summary:


Doesnt have to be magical. Assuming for enterprise or B2B sales:

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...

Good luck.

This is a bit like r/restofthefuckingowl.

If you need more concrete guide with what exactly to say during sales calls try


Lol yup. very good link on how to do the actual sales call once you have a list. very Worth reading.

This post is gold, thanks @ptrott2017.

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.

How I raised myself from failure to success by Frank Bettger. In my opinion this is a Great Book. It’s also recommended by Tyler Bosmney, founder of Clever.

For those subjects, Major Account Sales Strategy by Rackham is good.

Another Rackham book, SPIN Selling, is also a classic.

Wow thanks for posting this!

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!

Looking at first 5 or so pages, I've read a lot of these. Good stuff but seems very unilateral view on the world and I think could be unhealthy for founders to focus too much on startups.

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

- iWoz

- 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

I know only two from your list:

- Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

- 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.

Soul of a New Machine and Masters of Doom are both outstanding. They're at the top of my list.

I think some search/browse filters could be incredibly useful too. For example, I'd be interested in a split between recommendations by founders running on VC money versus those growing a more organic business, such as Basecamp perhaps. Or maybe those working on open source products, like Gitlab, compared to closed source cloud based offerings.

I imagine that there could be interesting things to learn through comparing the books recommended through such filtering.

Technically I'm using Algolia to sort/filter these so doing something like this should be easy. Something like a hidden attribute that when searched for sorts the list, for example by searching for a term like "bootstrapped" or "remote" you'd get books or founders tagged with these attributes.

Agreed. I feel it would also help to know why they recommended it. One sentence, no more than two. Sum it up, Twitter stylee.

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?

Re downvotes: the problem with that is sometimes book recommendations can be very personal or context-dependent. Sure 10 might not recommend, but what if the recommendations come from people whose background / experience / goals better align with yours? I included profiles for each founder under every book for exactly that reason — so you can learn more about them and about what might have driven these recommendations.

Yes. But what if the same can be said for those who don't recommend? I read a lot. Most of the time it's time well spent. But I don't recommend everything I read either.

I have read or skinned most of the books on the first page. Not really sure how much I gained from them as it seems that this has become mainstream knowledge already and you hear about these ideas everywhere.

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.

Great list, thank you.

I have a few not on first page that I thought should be

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

> Never Split the Difference is amazing for negotiation.

I have done thousands of negotiations (for vastly different things) and have been paid to do so. [1] I have never read a single book on negotiations. I can always tell when someone else has. (Read that again). [2] 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.

[1] 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).

[2] Because their delivery and actions appear canned and predictably fit another pattern that I have seen in the exact same way over time.

> I have never read a single book on negotiations. I can always tell when someone else has.

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[1] 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 [2].

[1]: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-...

[2]: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/11/11/the-gervais-principle-...

> 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

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 ..)

It would be hard for him to "have never read a single book on negotiations" and still be able to tell them "yeah, sure book x chapter y, how about we just talk?"

I’m not against reading at all — but, I think the reader needs to be aware of what they are reading, and the biases or potential lack of credibility involved.

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.

Yes. A strategy that works because it sets you apart is pretty much by definition not one that can adopted successfully en masse.

> if you are a narrow type thinker

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.

This is exactly what "Never Split the Difference" is advocating.

For the inexperienced, what are a few key principles that we can take away from your experiences?

Good negotiating shoots for a win-win scenario, not a cut-throat taking-advantage outcome. One of the values of reading books is making sure people are generally on the same page as to how to do this dance.

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.

Well in brief 'stop reading and start doing'. Now think about all the ways you can 'practice' at negotiation. You can start by trying to buy things that you don't even want to buy. Go in and play games with a car dealer when you don't need a car. As impractical as it sounds try to negotiate for a job that you don't want. Do it over and over and over again. Don't want to put in that effort? Well it's like anything else you have to. You would expect to be good at tennis or playing piano without practice. Now you have to enjoy doing this. Most people don't. I guess because they don't have good results or positive feedback. And learn to read people's facial emotions and also how they reply to emails or how their voice sounds over the phone. That is a large part of the game. Reading people whatever way you can. Also importantly recognize the situations where the game is not one you will win because your adversary is a gambler and will not fall for the typical games or doesn't care if they lose.

No, don't go in and negotiate with sales people when you have no intention of buying anything. They are people, trying to make a living, and by wasting their time you are literally costing them money. It's a selfish move, and if there wasn't a stigma attached to car salesmen you probably would realize that. I doubt you would suggest people similarly hone their negotiating skills by stringing along a series of freelancers on Upwork with phantom projects that don't exist.

Oh stop already. There are plenty of situations where people knowingly waste others time. What happens when you walk into a retail shop with ZERO intention of buying something? (And in some cases you actually do?). What happens if you waste the salesman time and then later refer that salesman to someone else who buys a car? Stop making as if you (or anyone) is so pure and honest and always does the right thing. (Or is even aware of all of the circumstances and why something is done).

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 [1] 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)?

[1] 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.

Plenty of situations where people knowingly waster others time Yeah, I agree. And it seems like a crappy thing to do. Ubiquity doesn't change that. And someone that knocks on your door before they know it's not a good fit is not an apt comparison for what you're advocating.

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.

listen, ask questions, mirror back what they say until you can explain back what they want and then they confirm this by saying “that’s right”. then later get them to think from your shoes by asking questions that start with “how” e.g. “how am i supposed to do that”. the book is deep, just read it.

I can say from experience, just reading this book is not enough. You actually have to practice. I went into a car dealership trying to negotiate. I was somewhat successful, but not as much as I thought I could be.

Never Split the Difference is amazing for negotiation.

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.

Ray Dalio's Principles is becoming my favorite book of the year; despite it being ~500 pages, there's so much super relevant content to company building and generally very applicable principles that help with day to day conduct.

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

A great book, half very intelligent, half completely insane. Bridgewater must be a place all its own.

I was going to say that Kiyosaki is a charlatan and people should steer clear, but that goes for most of these authors. Keep in mind that founder books are not written by people who are good at starting a business, but people who are good at telling stories to wannabes.

Was going to say similar. "Don't dig for gold, get others to pay you to tell them that they'll be successful and cool and attractive for digging for gold."

Kiyosaki may be just a talented storyteller, but his book was highly recommended to me by an undeniably successful source: a friend's father who emigrated to the US with nothing and built a fortune in real estate while working as an ER surgeon and raising a family.

I advise people to ignore Kiyosaki's other products, but the message of the books Rich Dad Poor Dad and Cashflow is pretty sound.

Kiyosaki is a charlatan

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.

Read a lot of these already, would recommend against the four hour work week. Plenty of criticism online, and I agree it’s fully justified. The only book on the list that left a bad taste.

I find a lot of these books too abstract. I much prefer books about people and their methods and accomplishments, as opposed to books that try to distill what they perceive as common characteristics of "succesful" people/businesses. Currently I'm reading "The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation" and its quite wonderful.

"Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla" is a good read as well.

I know this is not a popular point of view, but I'm also read a big pile of these books. And from my perspective (I'm living far from the US) there is a very big gap between nice theory and the real world. I'm trying to be positive about things but the real help in my business I've got from different sources. Maybe this is my own way, but after a few years of studying books like this from "business" shelf, I barely moved to the place where I'm now.

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.

Mind sharing the finance videos?

It was many months ago, so I did some research now and I think these share the same ideas. First is about the basic idea of long term financial management [1], and these two [2] close to me since we also have a big family. Probably this is a very basic level for many people, but since my parents never had positive money management habits (my parents family from ex-USSR) it was the real breakthrough for me.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJB90G-tsgo

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulr1HAaF_JU, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKU5bEf192A

One book is missing. I've read most of these books and the one that helped me most as a startup founder is Disrupted by Dan Lyons. Comedy aside it was a true eye opener.

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.

Have people been reading the same 10 books over the last 10 years? Those are almost exclusively content-light business books with a couple insights here and there. I hope people who pride themselves on contrarianism every other day have other reading materials.

I am surprised Jocko Willink's books aren't on here. His book on leadership, Extreme Ownership, is excellent. Intertwined are stories from his time as a Navy Seal leader and applications of what he learned there to the business world.

I really enjoyed Extreme Ownership especially the story about the BUDS team leader complaining about always losing because of his team, him being switched to lead the team that always won previously, and the team that kept losing making a comeback.

Great book about leadership and entertaining.

His follow-up, The Dichotomy of Leadership is almost as good, and his podcast is a constant source of motivation. I am a Marine so I feel like I am extremely biased, but, everyone I've shared his work with has felt it equally as rewarding.

This is great. It would be awesome if (validated) people could submit summaries too!

This might be off topic or contrarian but I've been reading _Company_of_One_ by Paul Jarvis and I really enjoy his thesis that not all tech companies need to grow into large businesses. You can just have a small single operator business that focuses on making a better product and more efficient process instead of growth.

Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure from Jerry Kaplan is missing. 25 years old yet ripped from today's headlines.

Can anyone recommend a good book for small self-funded first time founders? I'd like a book that has substance with information about filing as an LLC, non-profit pro/cons, finding your first investor, pitch deck tips, etc. Many of these books are meant for VC backed founders with 10+ employees.

I would look at the stripe atlas guides:


Just checked the postmake website, it's great for solo entrepreneur. Thanks for curating those lists.

Few suggestions that didn't make that list: The Innovator's Dilemma (and everything by) - Clayton M. Christensen Measure What Matters - John Doerr Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday Factfulness - Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling Grit - Angela Duckworth

How do you balance reading about craft and practicing it? Also metathinking?

Go to a city or country where public transport systems are a thing. Read during your commute in the tube.

Even more recommendations, in addition to those already posted: https://www.productgems.io/library/

I like the ads actually. Nice piece of content marketing.

Read some of these on Blinkist. After reading several dozen Blinkist summaries, these self help / entrepreneurial books all start to sound mostly the same. I’d say each book seems to have just one or two key takeaways that differentiates it from other books in its field.

Thoughts on book summary services such as Blinkist?


Please don't break the site guidelines by posting snarky, unsubstantive comments. If you don't like something, perhaps there are other things to read that you will like more.


Haha, okay then. Carry on?

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