Best 2013 Books for Entrepreneurs
'Give and Take' by Adam Grant'The Circle' by Dave Eggers'Looptail' by Bruce Poon Tip'The Sports Gene' by David Epstein'The Effortless Experience' by Matthew Dixon et al'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg'The Everything Store' by Brad Stone'Creative Confidence' by Tom & David Kelley'Choose Yourself' by James Altucher'Devil in the Grove' by Gilbert King
Smart folks in business follow a simple motto: always be learning. There are many ways to go about it, but cracking open an insightful read is rarely a bad idea (at least in my experience). Here's a selection of the year's best books. They may not seem immediately to be "business" books--but as many entrepreneurs know, inspiration can come from many places.--Jeff Haden
Good news for the unselfish: givers win. If you've ever felt that being nice, being collaborative, being helpful--basically trying to serve others instead of yourself--is not just thankless but also fruitless, this book will prove you wrong. Ultimately professional and personal success is based on making others around you successful and happy--and Grant will show you how.
Non-fiction is great, but sometimes fiction has the power to really make you think. While you might at first be tempted to determine whether Eggers is taking thinly-veiled shots at Google or Facebook, you'll soon find yourself thinking about privacy, transparency, the nature and requirements of sharing--all the ways you currently live your digital life. And, at least for a few minutes, you'll view connectivity in a different light.
If passion, purpose, and a healthy dose of social responsibility are the central factors in your entrepreneurial life, Poon Tip is your guy. While he does share the nuts and bolts story of how he created the business and culture of G Adventures, he also provides a surprisingly candid look at the missteps and mistakes he made along the way. If you're fascinated by the emotional journey entrepreneurs take as they build their companies (I know I am) this is your book.
Granted not a business book, but then again, "The Sports Gene" is a fascinating look at how elite athletes are born, and made. Is excellence the result of natural talent? Or focused practice? Short answer: both. That's why anyone who coaches and develops people will find new ways to think about how they do their jobs and will think differently about the people they lead. (Plus, the ratio of "Oh, wow, I never knew that..." moments per page is as high as any book I read this year.)
If your goal is to create a better customer experience (and if it's not, what are you doing that is more important?) "The Effortless Experience" is filled with practical ways to better serve your customers and meet them on their terms, which are the only terms that matter. Most customer service books are extremely long on the "why" question and extremely short on what to actually do. Dixon et al realize the "Why?" is self-evident and focus exclusively on what you need the most: concrete tools for creating loyal customers.
I'm not proud, but sometimes I don't read certain books simply because it seems everyone is saying I should read them. (And yes, I am aware of the irony of what I just said.) Sandberg's book fell into that category. Then I finally read it. And yes, it's confirmed: I'm a dumbass. It's great.
Sometimes the incredibly popular is incredibly popular for a genuine reason.
Thinking of starting a business? Read this first. You'll find some things you'll want to do, decide there are some things you don't want to do, and gain insight into how you will refine your focus, deliver value, manage your employees. The story of the rise (and rise and rise) of Amazon is interesting, but more importantly it will make you reflect on how you want to build and run a company.
I always assumed creativity was simply something you had or, in my case, did not have. Turns out creativity is a skill you can learn, and can help your employees learn. As the great philosopher and avant-garde sentence constructor Yoda would say, "Do or do not. There is no try." Read it and then do it: I promise you'll realize you can be more creative than you ever imagined.
Belief isn't enough. Desire isn't enough. You may want to succeed, but as Altucher says, "...I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way. The stakes have risen too high not to...." Sounds like the core belief of every successful entrepreneur I've met.
Decide what "success" means to you--and then choose yourself. No one else will.
Not published in 2013, but Pulitzer Prize winners get a pass. If you've considered holding diversity training or seminars or bringing in a speaker--don't. Read this book instead. Ask your employees to read it. Shoot, pay your employees to read it. No matter how strong your current beliefs, the story of Thurgood Marshall's defense of four young black men falsely accused of raping a white woman will ensure you never think about people who are different from you--whether in terms of race, religion, beliefs, or simply because of how they look or act--the same way again. But be forewarned; the hatred and violence described is not for the faint of heart--which is another reason you should read it.
Liked this post? Check out last year's list of the best books for entrepreneurs.