College taught me a lot of things but the greatest thing was to be a lifelong learner. Almost all of what I learned in school is outdated or irrelevant now and I'm only a decade removed. I don't really prescribe to the hustle philosophy -- you know, the one where if you just wake up earlier you will outperform people. 

I believe you have to read more than your competition. Every morning I wake up and read at least an hour about business, tech, politics and in there something always inspires me, shapes my view and makes me better at what I do. 

We are a collection of our interest and our pursuits. So, it struck me that while I always share advice, I have never shared my reading list -- what is currently inspiring me. Maybe someday I'll write a book but until then here are eight books right now that can give you instant inspiration. 

1. The Private Equity Playbook by Adam Coffey

Not all money is the same. And while this may or may be your main point of concentration, understanding how money works, who to partner with, who to avoid will save you a lot of time in your entrepreneurial journey. Even if you're more of an inventor type it's good to have enough knowledge on this side to be dangerous.

2. The Thought Leader Formula by Robin Farmanfarmaian

Thought leadership and content marketing might be the most powerful tools in business right now. Unlike other works in this space, this book explores the practical tactics behind successful thought leadership. Through Farmanfarmaian's personal story and her emphasis on "why," she shows readers how to join the influential thought leader ranks. Plus it is the perfect optimistic compliment to the next book. 

3. F#ck Content Marketing by Randy Frisch

Surprised? Content marketing might be critical, but that doesn't make it immune to criticism. It's easy to get lost at sea with buzzwords and hustle. This is a challenge to what actually constitutes great content. And specifically it narrows down on what content will drive revenue and what content will be a redundant time waster. 

4. The Entrepreneur's Guide to Financial Well-Being by Wayne Titus

Everyone wants to know "Who's the industry disruptor?" but no one ever asks, "How's the industry disruptor?" Entrepreneurs may know products and markets, but not all of them have the financial expertise to grow and scale companies that generate long-term wealth for their families.

Titus, a CPA, uses his professional experiences to take the confusion out of financial security. And the greatest tool I ever learned as an entrepreneur wasn't how to market my business, rather it was how to make long-term decisions that allowed me to stay afloat during the initial failure process of entrepreneurship. Everyone wants to dive in the pool right away but I would suggest learning how to swim first. 

5. High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil

How should CEOs really spend their days? What separates successful startups from also-rans? After working with brands including Google, Airbnb and Twitter, Gil has some insight into that. The reason I picked this up was to learn about what the biggest companies of our day did -- and more importantly didn't do -- on the way to success.

You can't duplicated all of their moves and you may be in different industries. But I think it's critical to know the why behind success not the readily apparent how. You specifically get a good understanding of how to anticipate challenges as an entrepreneur. 

6. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall

Half physicist, half entrepreneur, Bahcall doesn't see the world the way most people do. By examining "phase transitions," the tipping points in company structure -- not culture -- Bahcall outlines how teams go from embracing a philosophy to rejecting it almost overnight. 

The examples are all over the place, spanning all indsutries. And what I was able to do with this book is peak out of my bubble for a bit and understand the commonalities found in all ideas. After reading this I look at company transitions as more of a math problem now and once you see patterns the equation is easier to solve. 

7. An Economist Walks Into a Brothel by Allison Schrager

Not all gambles are created equal. Some lead to riches, some lead to failure and some don't lead anywhere at all. You're going to have to tackle tough questions about risk and reward when starting a business. This is a unique look at choice that challenged my assumptions on what bets I was making and what things I was leaving on the table. 

As entrepreneurs we are already preconditioned to take risk. A great poker player knows exactly when and when not to take risk. There will always be variables but read things that take more of the guessing out of it. 

8. Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Rather than examine strategies to maximize productivity from a home office, this book helps you identify the goals that matter most and design a life that makes those goals attainable -- no company required. Interestingly, we are transitioning from an era of the startup founder to the solopreneur. 

Identifying that there is less risk when you keep costs low and don't have to fight for capital, some ideas just work better alone. There are a lot of things you don't actually need when you start a business. Think of this as Marie Kondo for entrepreneurs. 

What worked before won't necessarily work now in the business world. To get -- and stay -- ahead, it pays to pick the brains of people who have been there and done that. After all, there's no reason to repeat others' mistakes. 

Published on: Apr 5, 2019
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