An entrepreneur's work is never done, but it's important to make some time for rest and relaxation, especially when the sun is shining and summer barbecues are popping up on every corner. While you're lounging on the beach or even your back porch, take the opportunity to catch up on the reading you meant to do the rest of the year.
Based on my more than two decades spent in the startup space--both as a founder and as an educator and mentor at the University of Michigan's Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies--here are the 10 best books I've come across on entrepreneurship, public speaking, management, and more that should be on everyone's reading list this summer.
Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World, by Pagan Kennedy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
A wonderfully engaging writer, Pagan Kennedy delivers a thoughtfully researched book on how people dream up cool new ideas. She offers up the notion that many of the best inventions come from people who are personally struggling with a problem and come up with their own solution. Though Kennedy's thesis is supported by compelling examples ranging from the sippy cup to the cell phone, they're purely anecdotal. But what's inspiring is the way she connects the dots, showing how the latest enablers such as crowdfunding and 3-D printing can dramatically lower the barriers for idea people to give things a try.
We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy, by Billee Howard (Perigee/Penguin Random House, 2015)
Whether we're pulling out our phone to hail an Uber, using Airbnb for cost-effective lodging while on the road, or sharing gourmet meals with new friends through one of many new services, the sharing economy is becoming an increasingly natural--and growing--part of our lives. Billee Howard provides entrepreneurs with a great handbook on how to play in the sharing economy and win. With chapter titles like "Embrace the Awesome Power of Redemptive Destruction" and "Homebrew Your Own Cult" to "Bespoke is the New Beautiful," you know her writing is attention-grabbing--but she also offers up truly actionable business-building advice.
The Internet of Things (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series), by Samuel Greengard (MIT Press, 2015)
Don't be scared off by the MIT Press imprint, because this is not technology treatise. Samuel Greengard is a business and technology writer, and this book provides a lucid, lay person's explanation of what the internet of things is, how we got where we are and, where we're going in the future. Because the IoT is positioned to explode and is cutting across so many sectors--B2B, B2C, retail, manufacturing, transportation, health care, the connected home--it's crucial for today's entrepreneurs and executives to understand.
Mobilized: An Insider's Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology, by SC Moatti (Berrett-Koelher Publishers, 2016)
A veteran of the Silicon Valley mobile tech scene, Sophie-Charlotte Moatti knows her stuff. In Mobilized, she takes a fresh look at what consumers want from mobile products, nicely illustrated by case examples from companies ranging from Uber to Tinder to WhatsApp. More important, Moatti provides entrepreneurs and tech execs with a straightforward, useful framework for how to approach developing market-winning mobile apps of your own.
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson (Houghton Mifflin HarcourtBenBella Books, 2016)
Founders and startup CEOs need to feel comfortable speaking in public--whether it's in front of their growing team, at conferences, or to customers or investors. How do you best engage your audience? How do you tell a compelling business story? How cool would it be to get public speaking tips from someone who has run TED for over a decade and coached hundreds of TED Talkers? That's what you get by reading Chris Anderson's book.
Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill (BenBella Books, 2016)
As a great companion to the TED Talks, this guy actually tried stand-up to overcome his fear of public speaking--and it worked. Learn from David Nihill how to apply the basic principles of stand-up comedy to your public speaking to become funnier, more interesting and, yes, better at getting your business points across.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier (Box of Crayons Press, 2016)
A key factor in an entrepreneur's success is building a team of great people, empowering them, and then getting out of the way to let them fly. As Zingerman's co-founder Ari Rosenzweig puts it, "The leader's job is to develop leaders." Stanier's book is a truly useful how-to guide on the art of coaching--of leading others to succeed and lead.
The Vanishing American Corporation: Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy, by Gerald F. Davis (Berrett-Koelher Publishers, 2016)
The best entrepreneurs not only train a keen eye on the future but also maintain a healthy understanding of context--what is currently going on, and what came before. In his latest book, Michigan Ross Professor Jerry Davis gives us a vivid sense of the sea change we're experiencing in the U.S. economy with the disappearance of many large, market-dominating companies each employing tens or hundreds of thousands, being replaced by far more lean, or even virtual, businesses (think shared economy plays such as Airbnb and Uber). It's like flying the plane at 35,000 feet and looking down at the American economy and seeing the patterns clear as day.
The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs, by Kevin D. Johnson (Johnson Media, 2013)
Darn--and I thought there were only 10 essential characteristics. Maybe that's why I'm no Mark Z. What's both fun and compelling about Kevin Johnson's book is not so much that he comes up with "the right list," but that it's well done and thought-provoking. He categorizes his 100 essential beliefs into useful buckets that include strategy, education, people, finance, marketing and sales, leadership, and motivation. I'd say the book is equally interesting for both veteran and first-timer entrepreneurs.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, 3rd ed., by Roger Fisher and William Ury (Bruce Patton, editor; Penguin Books, 2011)
If there is another book that has had a greater impact on my startup career and personal life, I can't think of it. A true classic now in its third edition, Getting to Yes is hands-down the best book on how to approach and conduct negotiations. You learn a useful framework for constructive, positive negotiations that you'll find yourself applying in business negotiations of all types (and also when selecting a restaurant with your significant other).