What books do the leaders of the tech industry read? I wanted to know the answer, so I asked the top venture capitalists, founders, tech execs, and journalists for their reading recommendations.
Every week in my Tech Caucus newsletter, I poll about 50 leaders of the tech industry -- movers and shakers at Google, Greylock, Uber, The Wall Street Journal, CloudFlare, inDinero, and others -- on the most important issues in the tech industry. Recently, I polled the Tech Caucus on the top books every person in the tech industry should read. The result is a list of 15 tomes that should already be in your Kindle or on your bookshelf.
These book recommendations fit no pattern, which is what I love about this reading list. Some of the books are classics, others are unconventional but fantastic reads. And one is a fiction book that reminds us what hubris can do to any entrepreneur!
Without further ado, here are 15 books you should be reading right now.
1. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen.
This was the most recommended book by the Caucus. One member of the Caucus says it best: "It describes why big companies fail to make the transition for new technology platform shifts and how startups can exploit this weakness."
2. Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham.
The Y Combinator co-founder is the master of essay writing, and in 2004, he published his essays in an unconventional book that is absolutely worth reading and rereading.
3. Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
This classic explains the difference between a normal company and a visionary company.
4. Give and Take by Adam Grant.
One of the more recent books on this list, Give and Take explores how unexpected collaboration and connection lead to success. I personally love this book by Wharton professor Adam Grant.
5. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
If, somehow, you haven't read this book on personal peace and philosophy, do it now. I'll wait, don't worry.
6. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
This should be required reading by any executive in the tech industry, because it will make you aware of your subconscious biases and how to address them.
7. Bold by Peter Diamandis.
This book will motivate you to start something crazy.
8. Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
The famed venture capitalist makes some obvious points, but he also does a good job of promoting expansive thinking.
9. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.
I listened to the audio book driving across Detroit. It's an engaging story of one of tech's most revered founders. It's worth it for the entertainment value alone.
10. Captivology by Ben Parr.
Yes, it is my book, but I'd be remiss if I didn't add it, because I firmly believe it is useful to any entrepreneur who is looking to expand the audience of his or her product.
11. Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
Five Dysfunctions "will teach you how to build a strong trusting stable team from the start," says one of my Tech Caucus members.
12. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
This book shows that we focus too much on success and not enough on personal fulfillment, when really they are one and the same.
13. The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross.
This book is a unique look into the possible future, which happens to be the business of the tech industry: building the future. This is the most recent book on the list.
14. The Box by Marc Levinson.
It's an unconventional pick by the Tech Caucus, but it's the book I'm currently reading for a reason. It shows us that an invention that mostly goes unnoticed and is taken for granted -- the shipping crate -- can change the world in profound ways. I had no idea there was so much drama behind the history of the shipping container.
15. The Gilded Age by Mark Twain.
Sometimes, we have to take a step back from the "rah-rah" of the tech industry and realize that we can go too far or build things that nobody needs. "It reads like a satire of Silicon Valley that just happens to take place during the railroad speculation boom of the late 19th century," says one of the anonymous Caucus members.
Do you have a book you'd like to high recommend to entrepreneurs and people in tech? Add it to the comments or tweet it to me @BenParr.