Six Books I Wish I Read Before Starting My First Company

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Hustle Team Books Recos

Whether you’ve gone into battle hundreds of times in business or are starting your business for the first time, entrepreneurs who read are entrepreneurs who succeed. The number of books available for an entrepreneur looking to achieve success are plentiful. But because there are so many books on the market – finding the right books to spend your time reading can be the real challenge.

I’ve read hundreds of books over the last few years. I’ve read some that were great and some that were horrible. Some of the books below have changed my life and all of these books are ones that I would pass along to any entrepreneur looking to achieve success both personally and professionally.

I’m confident that after reading these books, you’ll learn something new and be both inspired and empowered. After starting multiple companies in my life, I can admit that I wish I came across these books earlier in my career. If I did, I would have avoided many mistakes.

Here are six books I’d recommend to every entrepreneur & hustler:

48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

Throughout University, I avoided this book like the plague. I looked at this book as being a worthless self help book that people would read for nothing more than to get their rocks off on the idea of being ruthless. Years after graduation and after a long talk with one of my closest friends on what we were reading, she convinced me that this book was worth reading.

The 48 Laws of Power is a book that should only be read after understanding the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Since reading this book, I’ve gone into situations with an entire different perspective and have been able to walk out of those situations better than I would have had I not understood the power dynamics and laws outlined in this book. Here are a couple nuggets from the book worth remembering:

LAW 4  – Always Say Less Than Necessary
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.

LAW 25 – Re-Create Yourself
Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions – your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.”

The Black Swan – Nicholas Taleb

When I first attempted to read The Black Swan, I quickly gave up. I downloaded a PDF online and the book wasn’t able to captivate me like some of the others on my reading list. A couple years later, I decided to order a hard copy and give it another go. Only a couple pages in and I immediately regretted not reading this book from start to finish earlier in my career.

The core concept behind this book is simple: we don’t live in a world where growth and change is linear. The main argument is that high impact events determine much of what happens in financial markets, organizations and life. In a nutshell, the book showed me the value of minimizing exposure to bad “black swans” and maximizing my exposure to the good ones.” Here are a few nuggets that I’ve found useful in starting my latest companies:

There are so many things we can do if we focus on antiknowledge, or what we do not know. Among many other benefits, you can set yourself up to collect serendipitous Black Swans (of the positive kind) by maximizing your exposure to them. Indeed, in some domains—such as scientific discovery and venture capital investments—there is a disproportionate payoff from the unknown, since you typically have little to lose and plenty to gain from a rare event.

Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael E. Gerber

This book should be required reading for every student of entrepreneurship. End. Of. Story.

If you haven’t read it, it’s time to visit amazon and buy it. Well, it is if you want to operate a successful business and avoid the mistakes that most first time entrepreneurs make. One of the mistakes that Gerber points out in this book is the act of trying to control everything.

As experts in a specific field or study, it’s often that entrepreneurs limit their businesses by staying on the front lines instead of helping guide the direction of the company. Many entrepreneurs are comfortable in the execution stage and never step back to train and allow others to replace them.

That’s an issue. 

This video summarizes some of the key points very well:

The EMyth Revisited from Board Studios on Vimeo.

Good To Great – Jim Collins

There is no other book I’ve read more times than Good To Great in the last two years. If you look at my library, you’ll notice this book a couple times and ponder if I’m crazy. The reality is, I’ve bought multiple copies of this book not for myself but to give out to people who I feel have the ability to go from Good to Great.

This book has singlehandedly changed my life. It’s changed my approach to business and has changed the way I grow my business and evolve my career. In this book Collins describes a Level 5 Leader. A level 5 leader is a combination of many traits that every entrepreneur can aspire to embody.

Here’s a visual of Level 5 Leadership from the book:

Level-5-Leader-Pyramid

How Will You Measure Your Life – Clayton Christensen

This one isn’t specifically about how to succeed in business – although there are many lessons that can apply. For me, the lessons from this book were more specific to how you find the right work-life integration. In the early days of my career, I struggled to find balance between friendship, work and relationships. It was a constant strain and I did a lot of damage across the board.

This book was an eye opener and reality check for me. It’s a book that I would recommend to both entrepreneurs and anyone with ambition period. It’s a book that anyone who is passionate about their business and personal life should read. It will give you the strategies you need to move forward on a path to living the life of your dreams and one that when you’re on your deathbed; you can be proud of.

Here are a few key quotes that I’ve actually printed off and read weekly:

“If you defer investing your time and energy until you see that you need to, chances are it will already be too late.”

“You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it’s effectively implemented.”

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

This isn’t the first time you’ve seen the words “Lean In” on the Hustle & Grind blog. We included their overarching organization as one of the motivational instagram accounts every entrepreneur should follow post. I’m a huge fan and believer in the concepts that Sheryl Sandberg stands behind in this book and the mission behind the organization.

I’m not a woman but I was able to take more out of this book than I was most of the books I read in University. Why? Because while I’m not a woman, I can say a lot of the concepts she talks about can be applied to any minority. It’s a book filled with insights and advice that have cleared up a lot of my own questions and various experiences I’ve encountered.

Whether you’re a minority or not – this book will help you in your career and life. It will help you know and identify ways to support women more effectively. It will reveal insights and prejudices that you may have overlooked. And it will help you and those around you achieve success. 

These six books are some of my favourites and a batch that I’d recommend you pick up as soon as possible. If you’ve already read these books – I’d love to hear what you think.

Are there any other books that you would recommend to a new entrepreneur?

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5 Comments

Mark

All great books! Two of my favourites are ‘Crossing The Chasm’ and ‘The Lean Startup’!

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Findlay Hilchie

“Verbal Judo” might be one of the best books I have ever picked up for directing conversations.

Reply
Adam

How it win friends and influence people- Dale Carnegie
Mastery- Robert Greene

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