Entrepreneurs’ Required Reading


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It would seem that a new “must read” business book appears in the stores every 20 seconds. There are too many for anyone to sort through, even to just find the one or two nuggets of valuable information. After using all my time to read the required horrible business text books and case studies during business school, I have finally found time to read and evaluate business books for pleasure and even started a book group with fellow classmates for this purpose. We have chosen books based on their hype, reviews and recommendations.

What follows is my list of the five best books I have read to date.

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Groundswell is one of the most influential books regarding marketing in the world of web 2.0 so my brief review is not likely to accurately convey the significance of this book. Unlike most books that focus on technology and “how to” use it, Groundswell offers tremendous insight into the “why to” with a focus on relationships instead of the technologies. As social media becomes more pervasive companies are struggling with finding measurable value as well as solid action steps on how to approach the topic. The book explains how to consider the audience and how a company’s relationship with its audience before technologies are even considered. We all know of far too many people approach web 2.0 simply because “everybody’s doing it” without fully understanding the potential ramifications.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

If you have yet to read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, start here. Outliers provides a fascinating look at the roots of success. How genius, talent, and superstars like Bill Gates and Mozart are propelled by benefits, hidden advantages, and legacies and how “success is a virtuous circle, the result of persistence”. It also helps that Gladwell is an excellent writer so each of his books reads fast and leaves you with a few key concepts that will change the way you see things.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Good to Great is an iconic business book that is difficult to leave off any list. The book discusses the difference between “good” and “great” companies and the classic examples of the Hedgehog Concept and Getting the Right People On the Bus. More recently, Jim Collins updated this book with the new publication How the Mighty Fall – which takes into account the recent economic collapse and downfall of some of his previously considered “great” companies. This book is a resource for those just starting out, but more for managers of companies looking for methods of improvement.

Tribes by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a marketing guru—his books are quoted regularly and considered standard reading among most marketers I know. If this book is not your cup of tea, consider subscribing to his blog where you can get a great feel for his philosophies and thought provoking daily tips. Tribes is a great read that would be well supported when combined with Groundswell (above). Tribes talks about how to initiate and sustain passionate groups with high levels of involvement. Another book of Godin’s that I regularly refer to is The Big Red Fez which is specific to websites and methods of how to improve your website content.

The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier

Branding is often overlooked and under appreciated by the more analytical parts of a corporation. This book provides an excellent resource of how to gap the distance between the creative and the analytical and prove the value and necessity of developing and fostering a brand. Neumeier reminds us that the ultimate moment of truth for all brands is the customer experience. Customer perceptions trump our own perceptions and perceptions are mostly influenced by aesthetics and gut feelings – “Your Brand is not what you say it is, it’s what your customers say it is.”.

What are your favorite business books? Are there any books you would suggest and have found indispensible that should be added to this list?


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  • Gyi Tsakalakis
  • Thanks, Gyi! How did you like Art of the Start? It’s on my list since I’m already a fan of Guy Kawasaki.

  • From your suggestions, I just got a few of these books on my Kindle :)

    I liked Jim Collins and the late Bill Lazier’s Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company – Amazon link http://amzn.to/9UeXVr – and this was really the key book we used for running-a-read-business ideas when starting/running both FindLaw and now Justia.

    Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright is very good – Amazon link http://amzn.to/cNNJzm – Zappos has a free audio book download of a slightly shortened version of the book – http://www.zappos.com/tribal.zhtml

    And of course Good to Great (must read) and Art of the Start (fun read :). The Good to Great audio book is also “great” and easy to listen to when catching back up with the ideas from the original reading (which was years ago). Peace :)