10 Things Every Entrepreneur Must Be Reading
Sharpening the saw is one of the most important things every entrepreneur needs to be doing on a consistent basis. The world is simply changing too fast right now to sensibly follow any other strategy. And the amazing thing is that these days there are a ton resources including startup blogs, interviews with entrepreneurs and a whole host of other things you can consume to be at the top of your game.
Some folks will say “Don’t waste time reading, just do things.” I flat out don’t agree with that. When you dig deep into the background of almost every successful entrepreneur (examples here, here, here, etc.) you’ll find that they are voracious readers. So without further ado, here’s my take on the 10 things every entrepreneur must be reading:
#10 – Billionaire bloggers – When a billionaire blogs it gives you insight into how they think. That’s powerful. Because even if you don’t aspire to be a billionaire having a glimpse into their mindset will help tremendously. The fact that we can read the ongoing thoughts of billionaires is really unique if you think about it. Never in history has this been something that people could do. So definitely read as many billionaire bloggers as you can make time for. Mark Cuban is my personal favorite but others like Carl Ichan’s and Donald Trump’s are worth checking out as well.
#9 – Selected Twitter streams – Twitter is a double-edged sword. Follow too many people and you’ll be drowning in a sea of information and watching your productivity plummet. But follow a select number of high-quality Twitterers and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor as an entrepreneur. It’s a great way to stay on top of trends, get some shots of inspiration and flat out learn. You’ll have to play around with which feeds you benefit most from (mine are admittedly tech startup-centric) but some I’d suggest are @hnshah, @ericries, @neilpatel, @davemcclure, @KISSmetrics, @umairh, @venturehacks, @joshk, @andrew_chen and @fredwilson (leaving a ton of good ones out I know!!).
#8 – Book summaries – You’re busy. So reading 100 books a year might not be feasible for you. That’s cool. There are a ton of great companies out there right now that are condensing the stuff you need to know. Sure you’ll have to pay a bit of money for them but think about how much your time is worth. And consider the 80/20 principle when it comes to reading. 20% of what you read likely contains 80+% of the value you’ll derive. So check out companies like Executive Book Summaries and getAbstract which have done a great job of finding that 20%.
(Also, I’d *highly* recommend my buddy Brian Johnson’s Philosophers Notes where he’s distilling wisdom from tons of personal development titles. Really, really good stuff.)
#7 – The really, really smart Silicon Valley startup guys – There’s some awesome stuff being tossed around the Valley right now with names like Pirate Metrics, Customer Development and Continuous Deployment. There are some awesome people who are sharing great templates for startup creation. If you’re an entrepreneur in the tech space, these are must reads. Hell, they are must reads even if you’re not.
#6 – Hacker News – It’s definitely tech-ish and while not everything is a hit there are some gems you’ll discover here. Worth checking in on from time to time and would be incredibly awesome if there was a way to see top links by week, month, all-time, etc. (Likely I’m just dense and not seeing how to do this.) Kudos to all the peeps who participate on Hacker News for giving us entrepreneurs the closest thing to our own personal Digg (or more appropriately, our own personal Reddit!!).
#5 – Marc Andreeseen – Homeboy blogged his ass off for a good solid year or so and then all of sudden he went on hiatus and hasn’t been back since August of last year. Still, his stuff is timeless and some of the best writing I’ve ever read on entrepreneurship. Posts like The Psychology of Entrepreneurial Misjudgment, The only thing that matters and The truth about venture capitalists are ridiculously fabulous and should be mandatory reading in business schools everywhere. If you haven’t read every word Andreessen has written he’s giving you a wonderful chance to catch up. Take advantage of it!
#4 – Entrepreneur Bio Books – I’d highly recommend that every entrepreneur read a biography of at least one successful entrepreneur a month. There are so many things that can be picked up from these stories. If you’re looking for a good starting point try Founders at Work which contains a bunch of easily digestible “mini-bios” (I particularly enjoyed Ev Williams’ story). Others that I’d suggest included 1,000 Dollars and an Idea (Sam Wyly), Losing My Virginity, Business as Unusual (Anita Roddick), Pour Your Heart Into It (Howard Schultz), The Perfect Store (Pierre Omidyar/eBay) and Get Big Fast (Jeff Bezos/Amazon). And don’t just read modern day entrepreneurs either. Feel free to reach back and read stories of guys like Carnegie and Rockefeller as well. Many timeless lessons are contained within.
#3 – Venture-related Blogs – At some point you’re likely going to be out raising venture capital and it really pays to spend some time reading stuff that will help you in the process. There are a ton of great VC bloggers out there including guys like Jeff Clavier, Brad Feld, Paul Graham (a quasi-VC perhaps but highly recommended), Josh Kopelman, Mike Speiser and Union Square Ventures. There’s also a fantastic blog called Venture Hacks that I would consider a must-read for any entrepreneur. I’d also definitely advised checking out StartupCompanyLawyer.com as it’s the best source I’ve seen of free information for navigating legal issues that might arise while you’re out raising money. Finally, while it’s not technically a blog I think every entrepreneur should get on TheFunded as it’s a great place to hear what people think about various VCs, to ask questions and to gauge the state of the VC industry.
#2 – Visionaries and Futurists – As much as you can, read some people who you think have a pretty good sense of where the world is headed. You’ll find different people resonate more with you. Go with your gut here. The people who I think have a good handle on where the world is headed might be totally different from the ones you think are bang on. That’s cool. No one has the crystal ball. But for what it’s worth I put my money on guys like Umair Haque, Jeff Jarvis, Ray Kurzweil, Clay Shirky and Fred Wilson and their projections of a future that’s different from the present and what it will mean for entrepreneurs like us.
#1 – Yourself – Lastly, I’d highly recommend that you read you. The only way to do this is do some writing and I think it’s one of the most valuable activities an entrepreneur can engage in. It doesn’t have to be a book or a blog or anything like that. Just grab a journal and make notes, work through challenges, etc. I love going back to old journal writings and seeing what challenges I was facing in the past and how I’m overcome them. Or looking at how my thinking has changed over the years. Plus, your journal is a legacy you can leave your children and grandchildren. As you go out and create that next uber-successful company you’ll have the opportunity to leave that blueprint for others to follow.
Hey, no doubt I missed a ton of stuff so it would be awesome if you all leave some comments and let me know what other good stuff you read or you think entrepreneurs should read. This is a fairly lengthy list but by no means a complete one!