See what successful entrepreneurs recommend all founders and early-stage employees add to their reading lists, and why.
"Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazz. Sometimes (OK, quite often) I do eat alone, because...#desklunch. But this is a great book about the power of networking and nurturing professional and personal relationships." - Chris Gorges, founder and CEO of Thompson & Prince.
"Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson. This book, which was written for all ages, is about change. It’s never ending, continuous, always having an impact (positive or negative, depending on your perspective), and affecting startups perhaps to a greater degree than others. So how do you accept and manage change, and most importantly, use it to your advantage, which all successful people do.” - Dave Manner, founder of StartupSales LLC.
"Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Maborgne. This book shares many valuable case studies and suggests that success doesn't have to be at the expense of the competition, but by seemingly extreme innovations such as creating new markets, new industries and an entire new demand." - Michal Adams, cofounder and business innovation expert at ERG Digital Transformation.
"Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance. Despite all of the media drama and ups and downs of Tesla as of late, Elon Musk is a truly iconic example of guts, grit, and entrepreneurial spirit and vision. It's inspiring to read the details of what he had to do to get to where he is today—and where luck played a part along the way." - Chris Gorges, founder and CEO of Thompson & Prince.
"Negotiation Genius, by Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman. Every entrepreneur has to be great at selling and closing deals. This is a great primer on intelligently developing and setting frameworks for negotiations." - Chris Gorges, founder and CEO of Thompson & Prince.
"Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Written by the guys behind Basecamp, this is a really interesting breakdown of methodologies for building companies, cultures, and thinking differently." - Chris Gorges, founder and CEO of Thompson & Prince.
"How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. This book will teach the reader everything they need to know about human relations and how to make sure their ideas will be perceived in a positive way." - *Adam Atzion, product manager at Pampuni. *
"Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynn Truss. Every entrepreneur needs to be great at communicating ideas over email, in presentations, in meetings, etc. This is a fun, easy ready that breaks down communications issues and grammar in a fun, relatable way." - Chris Gorges, founder and CEO of Thompson & Prince.
"Radical Candor, by Kim Scott. One of the topics that comes up the most in working with startup founders is culture and how to define a company's culture at an early stage. I find that the culture of a company is often closely tied to the founding team's leadership styles. I think this book challenges founders and managers to question their leadership philosophy, and better understand how they can help their team be successful while building genuine, empathetic relationships." - Chiara Massironi, Manager of Community Development, EMEA, at Twilio.
"Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. This book is all about how you inspire, lead, and grow your business. You’ll learn a great approach by reading this, which is all about starting not with what, or how, but why!" - Dave Manner, founder of StartupSalesLLC.
"The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Anthony Iannarino. This is one of the best general sales books I've come across. It covers a multitude of topics, from creating deeper relationships with clients to embracing competition, and it’s a great introduction for entrepreneurs to the art of sales." - Dave Manner, founder of StartupSalesLLC.
"The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg. It's a simple story about how changing our mindset from ‘getting’ to ‘giving’ brings about real success in all areas of life. This mindset shift is about keeping the focus on service, or service to all rather than a limited service to self. It's about finding the win-win situation whereby everyone is able to thrive and find success." - David Berigny, service design lead at Digital Transformation Agency.
"Principles, by Ray Dalio. Ray Dalio runs Bridgewater, a very successful hedge fund that is ‘largest and indisputably weirdest hedge fund’ because of its unwavering commitment to "total honesty and accountability. The book shares Dalio's unique insight on his principles towards life and work. First time founders can expect this book to teach them how to work with people and build a company culture that thrives from radical truth and transparency." - Amir Motahari, CEO of Blackcreek.io.
"How to Measure Anything, by Douglas W. Hubbard – Measuring (anything) is a tool no company can do without. This book provides the basic tool for a measuring methodology but more importantly, in its first three chapters, it lays out the premise of how creativity and estimations are your friends in the process." - Yael Elad, CFO of Aleph VC.
"Good reads about soft skills like teamwork and collaboration have a long shelf-life. (Pun intended.) One of my favorite's is Team Geek: A Software Developer's Guide to Working Well with Others, by Fitzpatrick and Collins-Sussman. This book is focused on how software developers can find their better angels and work well with other, well, geeks." - Larry Cynkin, founder of GreenBar, a CTO consulting firm.
"Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore. It's an excellent resource for tech startups in any stage and depicts the different marketing priorities based on five stages of the technology adoption lifecycle. It also gives great tips on how you can really nail your messaging and positioning. It's one of the very few books that can grow with your business and remain relevant no matter if you are bootstrapping with no customers to thousands of customers." - Alex Parent, marketing manager at Localist.
"Venture Deals by Jason Mendelson. Engaging and informative, this reliable resource skillfully outlines the essential elements of the venture capital term sheet, from terms related to economics to terms related to control. It strives to give a balanced view of the particular terms along with the strategies to getting to a fair deal. It gives a great how-to on fundraising, the best way to structure deals, and how to not be overwhelmed by the shoptalk in your negotiations with seasoned VCs." - Marcy Ewald, COO at ThinkNimble.
"Running Lean by Ash Maurya. Quickly vet your ideas with your ideal market and raise your odds of success with these lean business principles." - Gabriel Arteaga, CEO and cofounder at Create&.
"Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. This book is a perfect guide for marketing strategy and sales. It's easy to read, very practical and hands-on. I read this book in one go and constantly implementing some of its finest methods." - Lirone Glikman, business relationships strategist.
"Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to create a team that moves fast and can help you create products with extraordinary value, then this is the book for you." - Gabriel Arteaga, CEO and cofounder at Create&.
"I highly recommend Contagious by Jonah Berger. The book does a masterful job of explaining why certain trends, products, and concepts catch on and also explores the implications of rapid innovation within legacy industries. Very concise and well-written." - Lee Moulton, director of partnerships at SeatGeek.
"The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. I only recently read this—very late to the party. Although this book isn't specific to entrepreneurs, all of the content is directly applicable to the founder experience. It led me be more productive, efficient, and healthy and helped me finally get rid of bad habits caused by irregular habits and routines." - Jon Chang, product marketer at IBM Watson.
"Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore. This is a must-read and primer for anyone at a tech startup. You're not the first person trying to disrupt an industry. This book covers how innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards all want different things. You should shape your marketing (and pitch) accordingly, so each type of audience will be excited about your product." - Wes Kao, Marketing and growth strategist, Former Executive Director of Seth Godin's altMBA.
"The Four, by Scott Galloway. This book describes the business models of the four most influential companies in the world, at least according to NYU professor Scott Galloway. I think it's a must-read because it describes both the history of these companies and the way they'll shape the future economy." - Jon Chang, Product Marketer at IBM Watson.
"Positioning, by Al Reis and Jack Trout. Old school but more relevant than ever, Reis and Trout outline the fundamentals of marketing strategy in their seminal book. Every time I go back to reference this book it reminds me that marketing doesn't take place on the store shelf, Facebook, or podcasts—it's in the mind of the customer." - Andy Rooks, founder and strategy director at Theory Marketing Partners.
“Users, Not Customers, by Aaron Shapiro. This book changed the way I think about marketing and business because Shapiro describes the multiple ways companies can and should interact with their entire community. As new business models appear and customer expectations of product quality increase, it's important to expect a business's relationship with their customers to also change. This book helped me ideate new playbooks for marketing.” - Jon Chang, product marketer at IBM Watson.
"Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund. I’ve been recommending this book since the day it came out. Hans, the brilliant global-health lecturer who died last year, gives you a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world--how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve. And he weaves in unforgettable anecdotes from his life. It’s a fitting final word from a brilliant man, and one of the best books I’ve ever read." - Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, from Gates Notes, Gates' personal blog.
"The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz...It’s timeless and applicable to entrepreneurs at every stage. Every level of entrepreneurship is hard. You get past one hurdle and then you have another one to climb. The book says that’s the point. It will continue to get harder, because the problems get bigger and more serious. But there is this crazy drive we have. We just keep going. It’s so normal to feel how we feel." - Beatrice Fischel-Bock, cofounder and CEO of Hutch, from Entrepreneur.
"Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Everyone assumes that they are rational beings, but we are all irrational in many ways that we're completely oblivious to. Learning more about how the brain makes decisions, and more about our inherent biases, really makes you wonder about your own decision-making process. Keeping this in mind, I try and slow down certain kinds of decision making in order to get to the best results." - Anthony Casalena, founder and CEO of Squarespace, from Entrepreneur.
"The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It's about phenomenal product development. The idea is if you're going to create something, create something truly exceptional that doesn't exist. It's called the Purple Cow, because if you saw purple cow, you would never forget it and you would tell everybody. It's a great example of like what Amazon is—you get your stuff faster, cheaper and you love it and then tell everybody." - Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest, from Entrepreneur.
"Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He's the first and only psychologist that won the Nobel prize for economics. The notion that people, emotions and relationships determine so much of the decisions we make and these are deeply rooted mechanisms is something that is becoming more understood and accepted. It's basically the fundamentals of business, because who do you do business with? You do business with people. This particular book gives you amazing insight as to how to better understand and work with people." - Oren Frank, cofounder and CEO of Talkspace, from Entrepreneur.
"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni goes through the five areas in which a leadership team can be dysfunctional, and how to address them. Even for teams that work well together. It’s a great foundation and gives you a lot to think about–we read it as a leadership team at The Muse, and incorporated it into our executive team offsite." - Alexandra Cavoulacos, cofounder and COO of The Muse, from Fast Company.
"Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh. When you read this book, it’s impossible not to feel the adrenaline and get a tiny but impactful taste of what it was like to start and grow Zappos. From idea inception to Vegas, it’s so interesting to see inside a company that has built a company culture and brand that has scaled." - Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and CEO at Birchbox, from Fast Company.