Must-Read Books for Founders Who Want to Seem Like They Read Stuff
You're about to start or are already running your own company – you have two goals with your reading list:
1. read things (or the wikis for things) that important people might reference so you don't have to say you don't know what they're talking about
2. read things that will actually be useful to you as you build your company.
We compiled a list that has you covered on both fronts.
Interacting with People
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Published in 1936, this gem is still relevant because people are basically the same self-centered assholes we've always been. For introverts and extroverts alike, reading this will make you better at dealing with other people.
- From Bud to Boss by Guy Harris and Kevin Eikenberry – How to become a leader for people used to being part of the team.
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman – EQ might be more important than IQ, but don't despair, you can learn to have it.
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – Methodology for learning what works and what's important fast, so you have a chance at succeeding. You'll seem like a n00b if you don't know about this.
- Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares – You probably need customers, this tells you how to get them.
- Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel - Incremental improvements on existing stuff is cool (1-n) but doing totally new stuff is even better.
- The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz - Startups be hard.
- Do More Faster by Brad Feld and David G. Cohen - Advice from successful Techstars entrepreneurs for first-time entrepreneurs. Learn from other people's mistakes and maybe make fewer of your own!
You Do You, but Better
- Before You Know It by John Bargh - About the nature of the unconscious mind, this will help you better understand human (your own and your user's) behavior.
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - How people think and make decisions. Human judgement is weird.
- Grit by Angela Duckworth - It's not all about talent, it's a lot about perseverance.
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Who doesn't want to be in that state when you're fully immersed in your task and thoroughly enjoying it?
- The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler - A psychiatrist talking to the Dalai Lama, this blends science and intuitive insight to make you understand happiness and its pursuit just a little bit better.
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen - Published in 1903 so some stuff to take with a grain of salt, but the OG self help book with some real nuggets.
Good External Structures
- The Agile Samurai by Jonathan Rasmusson - If Agile is just a buzzword to you, this will help you understand it and probably convert you.
- Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan - Guidelines for how to create a product that will actually succeed.
- Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal – Everyone tells you to talk to your users, but its hard to get real useful info from this without f-ing it up. See quick tips by our very own Amélie if you don't want to read a whole book.
- Business without the Bullsh*t by Geoffrey James – If you're like me and terms like 'managing upwards' makes you cringe, this is a good book to read to make you aware of important business-y things so you don't seem "unpolished", but in a distilled and straightforward manner.