Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Visitors from Outer space and beyond. Drum roll please… 🥁🥁🥁
It’s time for my annual reading list. Hooray!
Okay, I didn’t read as many books as I normally do in 2021, but hell, I had a baby. So cut me some slack!
Anyway, here are the books I read in 2021. Honestly, they were all amazing. I’ll tell you a secret – if I’m not into a book, I just put it down and don’t add it to the list. So you get the stuff that captured my attention, expanded my imagination, and added value to my thinking.
Hope you check some of these out. If you do, let me know what you thought!
Title: Play Bigger
Author(s): Christopher Lochhead, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Kevin Maney
Description: The founders of a respected Silicon Valley advisory firm study legendary category-creating companies and reveal a groundbreaking discipline called category design.
Winning today isn’t about beating the competition at the old game. It’s about inventing a whole new game—defining a new market category, developing it, and dominating it over time. You can’t build a legendary company without building a legendary category. If you think that having the best product is all it takes to win, you’re going to lose.
In this farsighted, pioneering guide, the founders of Silicon Valley advisory firm Play Bigger rely on data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of “category kings”— companies such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, and IKEA—that give us new ways of living, thinking or doing business, often solving problems we didn’t know we had.
In Play Bigger, the authors assemble their findings to introduce the new discipline of category design. By applying category design, companies can create new demand where none existed, conditioning customers’ brains so they change their expectations and buying habits. While this discipline defines the tech industry, it applies to every kind of industry and even to personal careers.
Title: Hatching Twitter
Author(s): Nick Bilton
Description: The San Francisco-based technology company Twitter has become a powerful force in less than ten years. Today it’s everything from a tool for fighting political oppression in the Middle East to a marketing must-have to the world’s living room during live TV events to President Trump’s preferred method of communication. It has hundreds of millions of active users all over the world.
But few people know that it nearly fell to pieces early on.
In this rousing history that reads like a novel, Hatching Twitter takes readers behind the scenes of Twitter’s early exponential growth, following the four hackers—Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass, who created the cultural juggernaut practically by accident. It’s a drama of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles over money, influence, and control over a company that was growing faster than they could ever imagine.
Drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails, Bilton offers a rarely-seen glimpse of the inner workings of technology startups, venture capital, and Silicon Valley culture.
Title: The Growth Marketers Playbook
Author(s): Jim Huffman
Description: Imagine if you had the exact playbook used by today’s top startups to grow a business online. That’s what Jim Huffman is giving you with The Growth Marketer’s Playbook. In this refreshingly honest how-to guide for digital marketing, VC advisor and startup founder, Jim Huffman, serves up the exact growth marketing strategies he uses to help companies achieve explosive revenue growth. You’ll get access to the playbook Jim uses to advise on growth at General Assembly, Techstars, Sephora, OREO, Hot Wheels, FedEx, and more.
Author(s): Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
Description: Startup advice tends to be a lot of platitudes repackaged with new buzzwords, but Traction is something else entirely.
Traction will teach you the nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, and how to pick the right ones for your business. It draws on inter-views with more than forty successful founders, including Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Paul English (Kayak), and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot). You’ll learn, for example, how to:
·Find and use offline ads and other channels your competitors probably aren’t using
·Get targeted media coverage that will help you reach more customers
·Boost the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by automating staggered sets of prompts and updates
·Improve your search engine rankings and advertising through online tools and research
Weinberg and Mares know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; every startup faces unique challenges and will benefit from a blend of these nineteen traction channels. They offer a three-step framework (called Bullseye) to figure out which ones will work best for your business. But no matter how you apply them, the lessons and examples in Traction will help you create and sustain the growth your business desperately needs.
Title: The Third Wave
Author(s): Steve Case
Description: “The Third Wave is an indispensable book for understanding the history of the Internet and preparing for what’s next. Entrepreneurs looking to build truly transformational businesses should listen closely to Steve Case’s insightful advice.”
– Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb
Title: The Obstacle Is The Way
Author(s): Ryan Holiday
Description: Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.
If you’re feeling frustrated, demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era.
Title: Working Backwards
Author(s): Colin Bryar and Bill Carr
Description: In Working Backwards, two long-serving Amazon executives reveal the principles and practices that have driven the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known. With twenty-seven years of Amazon experience between them―much of it during the period of unmatched innovation that created products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Studios, and Amazon Web Services―Bryar and Carr offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was developed and proven to be repeatable, scalable, and adaptable.
With keen analysis and practical steps for applying it at your own company―no matter the size―the authors illuminate how Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels of the company. With a focus on customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence, Amazon’s ground-level practices ensure these characteristics are translated into action and flow through all aspects of the business.
Working Backwards is both a practical guidebook and the story of how the company grew to become so successful. It is filled with the authors’ in-the-room recollections of what “Being Amazonian” is like and how their time at the company affected their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate that success on Amazon’s scale is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously-executed principles and practices―shared here for the very first time.
Whatever your talent, career or organization might be, find out how you can put Working Backwards to work for you.
Title: The Minimalist Entrepreneur
Author(s): Sahil Lavingia
Description: Now more than ever, you don’t need a fancy office, Ivy League degree, or millions of dollars in venture capital to launch a business that matters for the communities you care most about. Software, the internet, and remote work have made it possible for entrepreneurs to start for free, make a customer of anyone, and grow a profitable, sustainable company from anywhere.
Packed with hard-won, battle-tested lessons from Lavingia’s own journey of building Gumroad, a platform for creators to sell their work, The Minimalist Entrepreneur teaches founders how to:
• start then learn
• build a community, then solve a problem for them
• charge for something even before you’ve built anything
• avoid running out of money and, more importantly, energy
• run a tight ship amid the rise of the gig economy and remote work
• own a business without it owning you back.
The Minimalist Entrepreneur is the manifesto for a new generation of founders who would rather build great companies than big ones. This is essential knowledge for every founder aspiring to build a business worth building.
Title: Principles: Life and Work
Author(s): Ray Dalio
Description: Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create unique results in both life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.
Title: Think Like A Monk
Author(s): Jay Shetty
Description: In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Combining ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. He transforms abstract lessons into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve relationships, and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can—and should—think like a monk.
Title: The Bitcoin Standard
Author(s): Saifedean Ammous
Description: When a pseudonymous programmer introduced “a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party” to a small online mailing list in 2008, very few paid attention. Ten years later, and against all odds, this upstart autonomous decentralized software offers an unstoppable and globally-accessible hard money alternative to modern central banks.
The Bitcoin Standard analyzes the historical context to the rise of Bitcoin, the economic properties that have allowed it to grow quickly, and its likely economic, political, and social implications.
Title: The Cold Start Problem
Author(s): Andrew Chen
Description: A startup executive and investor draws on expertise developed at the premier venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and as an executive at Uber to address how tech’s most successful products have solved the dreaded “cold start problem”—by leveraging network effects to launch and scale toward billions of users.
Hope you enjoy my 2021 Reading List. Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!