This section collects some of my favorite resources (books, videos, podcasts, shows, etc.) around entrepreneurship, startups and private company investing. I’ve tried to put these into categories and provide a little blurb to go along. I’ve also tried to link these to the source to save you time and I don’t have any affiliate kick-backs or anything like that.
General Business Books / Management
- Good to Great, Jim Collins – Great book on case studies of best business practices. From BHAGs to Hedgehog’s this book is a classic.
- Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christensen – The last 20yrs I’ve seen the retail and auto industries disrupted by digital innovation. It’s amazing the incumbents can’t/don’t do more to protect their market share. This book helps you understand why.
- The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande – As an operator, this is one of my favorite books. It helps understand how to build scalable systems.
Entrepreneurial Case Studies
One of my personal favorite categories of business books are biographies or long-form case studies of how some of our most iconic companies were started by their founders. These are my favorites listed by the company name:
- Walmart – Made in America, the story of Sam Walton.
- Home Depot- I love Capitalism! – Ken Langone
- Microsoft – Hard Drive – biography of Bill Gates. ‘GET THE BUSINESS!”
- Starbucks – Pour Your Heart Into it – Howard Schultz
- Amazon – The Everything Store by Brad Stone – great!
- eBay – The Perfect Store by Adam Cohen
- Google – Inside the (Google) Plex by Steven Levy
- Facebook – The Facebook Effect – one of the source materials for the Social Network
- Tesla/SpaceX – Elon Musk, Tesla/SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
High Tech Startups – starting and scaling
- Crossing the Chasm – Geoffrey Moore – A great book about how to take any product to market and ‘jump the chasm’. This one’s like 20+yrs old and still a go-to for me.
- Zero to One, Peter Thiel – The lesson here is the next big business comes from doing something someone else hasn’t done yet.
- The Lean Startup, Eric Ries – Ries takes a lot of the ideas from agile software and applies them to company building. A lot of the modern vocabulary around startups comes from this – MVPs and PMF, etc. Don’t know those – read this book.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz – For the longest time there were books about starting co’s and then Fortune 500 companies, but nothing in between. This is the best -in-between book.
Amazon’s leadership principles and how they manage Amazon are fascinating to me and there’s a LOT to unpack there Here’s three books that help you get your head around that:
Netflix Culture Deck
One of the most influential companies and pieces of content around company culture is the infamous Netflix Culture Deck. Here’s some resources to get you started on this one:
- The OG deck is here – co-authored by Reed Hastings and Patty McCord (if you have a chance to see either of them speak, drop everything and go).
- The latest version is here.
- Patty’s book on the topic is here.
- Finally, if you are more visual, here’s a good Reed top 5 here and a longer one here.
I have an engineering background and my advice to other non-business /not naturally born sales people is to learn how to sell. The core of selling is persuasion. Entrepreneurs frequently ask me about how to improve their pitches. I point them to persuastion. These are my favorite books on the topic:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie – classic
- Pre-suasion – Robert Cialdini – You can actually ‘prime’ people to be persuaded, this book tells you how.
- The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini – This is the OG persuasion book.
- Win Bigly – Scott Adams – This one is a bit political that turns some off, but the persuasion lessons are still great.
Startup Investing (both from the company/entrepreneur side and the investor side)
- Secrests of Sand Hill Road and how to get it – Scott Cooper (A16Z) – great book on how venture works and a lot of the terminology you’ll need to raise capital
- YCombinator’s page on SAFEs – YC introduced the SAFE in 2013 and it has become the most popular early stage investing vehicle because it is more entrepreneur-friendly. This site does a good job walking through SAFEs.
- How I Built This – Guy Raz does an excellent job introducing startups/entrepreneurship to the average listener by pulling out those great nuggets in everyone’s founding story. My favorite episodes: Merge Records, Chicken Salad Chick, Peloton.
- All In Podcast – Four of Silicon Valleys top entrepreneurs now investors on a podcast about startups, economics and politics – it’s the only balanced view of things I’ve encountered. Prepare to be purple pilled!
TV Shows on e-ship
- Shark Tank – I think ST has done a ton for e-ship. Kids love it- I enjoy watching with my kids and discussing the different ideas, would they invest, understanding the valuations and offers. It’s made startups and entreprenurship part of the zeitgeist.
- Girl Boss (Netflix streaming) – This one went under the radar as it’s pitched as a comedy, but coming from the e-commerce/eBay world, I found it to be excellent. It follow’s the story of Sophia Amoruso. She lost her job, started selling on eBay and turned it into an empire. Fun-fact – Kim Kardashian started selling on eBay too.
- The Profit – Marcus Lemonis parachutes into a bunch of small businesses with some cash and advice. This one is fun to watch because it’s usually a slow motion trainwreck. The founders/entrepreneurs are generally not coachable, or can’t communicate or super opaque and then the fun begins.
- Startup.com – This one really hits me as it captures some founder dynamics I’ve seen a lot of times and also is such a good summary of what the ‘dot com bubble’ was all about.
- Social Network – Sorkin and Fincher take on dramatizing Zuck and the founding of FB. It gets a lot wrong, but some great nuggets in here. “You know what’s cool?….”
- Glengarry Glen Ross – You can’t understand the stress of selling until you watch (10 times at least) GGR. Tons of business vernacular was born here and used every day. ABC, coffee is for closers, etc.
- Boiler Room – Modern version of above – I’m not here to save the Manitees. Everyone in this movie also went on to have huge careers (e.g. Vin Diesel)
- Wall St – I’ve met many people that have most of the dialog on this one memorized (as seen in Boiler Room -meta!) Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel. You want a friend? Get a dog. (CLASSIC!)
- Office Space – One of the best movies that makes fun of ‘office life’. The boss that does nothing, the consultants that change everything, and of course…flair. BTW, I need to talk to you about your TPS reports….
- Dilbert – Dilbert makes fun of office environments ,but famously Elon Musk has said one of his management principles is to not do things that could end up in a Dilbert comic. Think of it as the ultimate ‘how not to manage’.