Business & Productivity

Table of Contents

Business & Productivity


Entrepreneurship


Innovation and Entrepreneurship  – Peter Drucker

There are only a few books on business that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and understanding where all the new books and authors get their information from. That’s what a classic is. Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a classic. Most of the new “entrepreneurship” books you’ll read get their ideas from this one in some way or another.

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The New New Thing – Michael Lewis 

The New New thing is a brilliantly written story by Michael Lewis that describes the life of James Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, myCFO, and Healtheon. Clark was the antithesis to the corporation man. He despised suits, formalities, and investment bankers. He was a master salesman, and a Silicon Valley cowboy. He sued Microsoft and made successful bets on start-up companies early on. He was disorganized and jumped from one idea to the next but had the foresight (or luck) to avoid many of the disasters he very nearly got himself into.

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Little Bets – Peter Sims

This philosophy isn’t new, it has been discussed in other books including The Learn Startup by Eric Ries and 4 Steps to Epiphany by Steve Blank, but the examples in the book that are interesting stories to think about, especially when you consider how successful people from completely different industries have profited from this method of working.

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The E-Myth Revisited – Michael E.Gerber 

The biggest problem in business is when people try to defend what they think they know instead of trying to find out what they don’t know. A lot of business people don’t have enough knowledge in marketing, management, accounting, etc.. But that isn’t their biggest crutch, it’s thinking that they already have all the answers they need that makes their business more fragile.

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The Founders Dilemmas  – Noam T. Wasserman

Wasserman does a great job at tackling sensitive topics that are surprisingly – rarely discussed in popular books about entrepreneurship. Any potential founder will benefit enormously by figuring out which questions they should be asking of themselves, their team members, and why.

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Zero to One  – Peter Thiel 


Thought-provoking, concise, and contrarian. Exactly what you want from a good business book. 9/10

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$100 Startup –  Chris Guillebeau 


A really good book for people who want an introduction to entrepreneurship, and a way to start a business without getting themselves into a financial mess.

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Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist is a concise, entertaining, easy read that contains solid pieces of advice for anyone trying to create something. Austin is humble enough to not waste words, or your attention for very long, and will give you something to ponder when you’re done.

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Will It Fly? – Pat Flynn 

It’s a practical book for entrepreneurs with useful exercises, actionable steps, and solid marketing advice to help you take the right first steps to start a business.

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The Millionaire Fastlane – MJ Demarco

Demarco tells it like it is. He approaches his topics with brevity and honesty. He will show you how to think about money differently and makes a solid case for starting up. But make no mistake, this isn’t a get rich quick book (despite the title). Demarco goes to great lengths to show you how difficult it is to become a successful entrepreneur. But it’s worth it, and beats the alternatives.

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Marketing


Influence – Robert Cialdini 

Influence by Robert Cialdini teaches us about the science of persuasion. The author himself spent his life studying the most common techniques that were used by salesmen and persuaders, and the six most pervasive strategies were presented in this book.

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Blue Ocean Strategy – Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan 

Blue Ocean Strategy is a book that argues for finding uncontested space in business, rather than join the fierce competition that already exists. Instead of thinking about beating your competition the way a typical business does, you should be thinking about how to create value by establishing new industries.

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Purple Cow  – Seth Godin

Explore the limits. Being the easiest, cheapest, most difficult, most expensive, fastest, slowest, most hated, the copycat oldest and newest. Explore the polarities. Don’t settle for mediocrity.

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The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding- Al Ries and Jack Trout 

This is one of the most talked about books in marketing. Whether you’re a marketer, entrepreneur, or author, you can benefit from the examples of the past to avoid making the same strategic errors businesses have made and find out how to leverage your position properly.

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The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception is a good book for people who want to create meaningful art. If you’re in a job you hate, unhappy, and secretly wish you can do something creative and meaningful – this book will help you make a better argument to yourself and to others. Godin will show you why fear and vulnerability are the precursors to great art, and why you should create something new, every day.

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The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell 

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is about how ideas really spread. The argument is that it’s not the size of the advertising budget that determines how quickly ideas catch fire, rather it is the dynamic interplay of hidden factors at just the right time.

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Perennial Seller – Ryan Holiday 


“Art is the kind of marathon where you cross the finish line and instead of getting a medal placed around your neck, the volunteers roughly grab you by the shoulders and walk you over to the starting line of another marathon.”

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Crush it – Gary Vaynerchuk 

Nothing groundbreaking about what Gary is saying, but he throws in a few pieces of good advice here and there and makes his case passionately and convincingly.

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Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk is, like all books about marketing, about how to be relevant in a sea of noise. But what Gary does well in this book, is he tells us how media has changed, why what worked in the past doesn’t work today, and makes good arguments for how marketers should respond with specific tips for each platform

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Let’s Get Digital – David Gaughran

Let’s Get Digital is a book about digital publishing, it includes good information about the online publishing industry, and outlines some way an aspiring novelist can market their content.

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Finance


This Time is Different – Reinhart and Rogoff

This book presents a 200 year historical overview of financial crises under sharp scrutiny

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The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson is the story of how money developed throughout history- and how the world was shaped and reshaped by the many financial innovations that accompanied our dependence on money. There have been countless failures in finance, but the general trend has consistently been upwards.

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Liar’s Poker – Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis got into Wall Street because of the money, but when he was interviewed, he committed the error of admitting so. Apparently, it was faux pas to give “money” as the reason for wanting to be in finance, you were supposed to be in it for humanitarian reasons.

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I Will Teach You to be Rich – Ramit Sethi 

A smart, short introduction to personal finance, and Ramit’s style is engaging and funny enough to keep you going. 

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The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith was written at a time when Mercantilism was the dominant economic policy. Those who advocate mercantile policies think that for any country, imports are bad while exports are good.

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The Black Swan – Nassim Taleb 

The Black Swan is a no-bullshit detection toolkit against the self-proclaimed modern day pseudo intellectual modern fortune tellers.

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Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder – Nassim Taleb 

The point of the book is to identify things that are susceptible to fragility and things that are antifragile. Once your fragility categorization skills are properly honed, you can use them to better understand everything from financial models, to people. You’ll know what to avoid, and what to embrace. You will change your perception of risk. Hard not to read Antifragile without giving conventional, modern day agents of  wisdom a suspicious, sideways look. 

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Skin in the Game – Nassim Taleb

Taleb’s Incerto concludes with Skin in the Game. This book makes the argument that some people, who are not engaging directly with reality, are not capable of understanding risks. This class of people includes academics (especially in the social sciences), bureaucrats, and advisers. What these people have in common is that they are isolated from the direct consequences of their behavior.

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Running on Empty – Peterson G. Peterson

Running on Empty by Peter G. Peterson was written in 2004. It is a book on public policy by chairman of the Blackstone group. It is a good test to read such books on public policy many years later.

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Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk – Peter Bernstein

Against the Gods is a book about man’s constant battle against the forces of fate. This is a fight that has existed for millennia, and in each epoch, influenced by the dominant ideology of the time, we have dealt with risk differently. Bernstein outlines the evolution of our different perceptions of risk by focusing on paradigm shifting ideas from mathematicians, biologists, and economists.

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Seeking Wisdom – Peter Bevelin

Peter Bevelin divides the book into two parts. The first describes our natural human tendencies and how they often fail us, while the second part describes principles that we should think about and apply, to improve our decision making.

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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World – David Epstein

David Epstein argues that instead of aiming to hyper specialize, more people should be trying to gain multi-disciplinary experience. Instead of planning and implementing, they should be testing and learning. Specialization is necessary, but only after a sufficient test period.

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Productivity


Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products – Nir Eyal 


Hooked is a useful, short book for designers and entrepreneurs who want to create successful products. The information is presented clearly – with references to numerous psychological studies that are relevant to the topic.

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What You’re Really Meant to do – Steven Kaplan 

This is one of those books that would have helped a lot as a 17-year-old. I found very little in the book that was truly original, but someone out of high school could learn a lot from it. If nothing else, they would learn to systematically ask themselves important questions about the life they want to have. I think many people who are stuck in their careers, or who haven’t started them, can benefit from reading this book.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

This classic by Stephan Covey offers insights into productivity, teamwork, and self-management. Few books I can think of truly has the capacity to transform people the way this book does, not only because of the value of the ideas themselves, but because of the style in which Covey expresses them. He uses unpretentious, easily digestible language, and gives plenty of real-life examples that help cement these ideas in your memory.

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Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is about our perceptions of success and genius. Gladwell’s take on the classic nature vs nurture argument, is that nurture wins. We have a way of looking at success stories and marvel at how some exceptional people were able to accomplish what they did, but really, they were merely products of their environments.

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Deep Work – Cal Newport 


Deep work accomplishes two important goals. One, it makes a solid case for why Deep work is necessary to produce quality work, and why resisting the urge to binge on the many forms of infotainment and social media is an important precursor. Two, it gives you a realistic road-map to find ways of doing Deep work without sacrificing much (or any) of the value you get from doing shallow work.

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So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Newport argues that we have been conditioned to think about work in the wrong way. There is a myth that tells you that if you get lucky, and you change jobs enough, you’ll finally find your true calling, your passion.

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Choose Yourself – James Altucher

Choose Yourself is a book about making tough decisions, and about knowing what to focus on, in the new age of information.

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How to Fail at Almost Everything and still Win Big – Scott Adams 

Scott Adams is the creator of the famous Dilbert cartoons. In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, he shares what he has learned from a lifetime of failures. He is aware that taking advice about success from a person who has failed at businesses for decades is not very wise, and neither is taking health advice from a cartoonist who admits he used to consume a dozen diet sodas a day, but Scott isn’t shy. And that’s the lesson he wants to pass on.

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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence – Daniel Goleman

It’s getting harder to focus because there is more information and more ways to access this information. But what is important is to think of attention as a muscle, that, if worked on, will get stronger.

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The 50th Law – Robert Greene

The 50th Law by Robert Greene is about overcoming fear. The ten chapters of the book each focus on a common fear between people – this may be a fear of change, or death, or of leading from the front, or of being patient. The virtues that lead to success are difficult to acquire, because they go against our basic tendencies.

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How to Read a Book – Moritame Adler

You are enlightened, not when you know what the author has said, but when you know what he means when he said it, and why he said it. You need to be informed to be enlightened, but information alone is not enough.

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Improvement of the Mind – Isaac Watts

Improvement of the Mind by Isaac Watts is an early text about how to learn, and it was recommended by Faraday, who claimed that it had provided him with the framework and tols he needed for his eventual discoveries.

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The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

High stakes mean that margin of error is low. Surgeons and pilots must minimize error because of high stakes. They love checklists.

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The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin

Joshua Waitzkin is an American chess player, martial arts competitor, and author.

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Switch – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Switch is a book about changing your behavior, by understanding the impediments to change in any circumstance.

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The 80/20 Principle – Richard Koch

Vilfredo Pareto discovered that most income and wealth went to a minority of the people in nineteenth century England.  He discovered that there was a consistent mathematical relationship.

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Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life – Jim Kwik

Kwik argues that the digital world has made us too reliant on the judgment of others rather than on our own. We don’t let other people make decision for us in the real world, but don’t mind doing so through our devices.

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"A gilded No is more satisfactory than a dry yes" - Gracian

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