Welcome to our brand new series, the WeAreBrain book club, where we’ll be featuring some of our team’s favourite books. This time, Mario shared with us a list of his favourite books on entrepreneurship and humanity for our first sojourn into the literary world. “Each book on this list has changed the way I think about work, the start-up world, culture, diversity and life in general. I would recommend that if you find a few spare minutes in your day it’s well worth burying your nose in a book and learning something new.”
5 books we recommend to entrepreneurs
The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday
Using famous characters from history, Holiday skillfully introduces the ancient concept of Stoicism through stories that describe how famous leaders and entrepreneurs overcame their challenges and achieved recognition and success by taking pragmatic action when faced with situations that oftentimes seemed insurmountable. The book is an easy read and is the perfect combination of philosophical thought and practical business advice. The Obstacle is the Way is not a long book and could probably be read over the weekend. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific principle and an opportunity to learn from stories of those that have come before you. This is not Holiday’s first book, he’s also the author of the well-known marketing book Trust Me, I’m Lying and The Daily Stoic.
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman is a psychologist and won the Nobel in economic science, so you know what he’s got to say is bound to be interesting. From the moment you pick up Thinking, Fast and Slow you’ll not be disappointed. The book is centred around the concept of human irrationality, which has been the critical focus of Kahneman’s career. Together with his scientific partner, Amos Tversky, he conducted experiments throughout his career which confirmed cognitive bias in humans and disproved the long-held theory within the field of economics that human beings, under all circumstances, would maximise utility. The duo went on to develop prospect theory, which turned the traditional understanding of human decision making on its head. All of this incredible work is neatly tied into a bow in Kahneman’s book and is an absolute delight to read. You’ll walk away from this literary experience feeling infinitely smarter.
Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Ries
The Harvard Business Review says the concept and the surrounding principles of The Lean Start-up have been a game-changer for the business of entrepreneurship, and that it all begins with Eric Ries’ inspired look at starting your own business. In the book, Ries applies the methodology of lean management to the creation and development of startups in an effort to reduce waste, optimise your production process and get to the root of what your customers are really looking for. Ries also sheds light on the mistakes that entrepreneurs make that cost them their business, most especially building a product before testing it with their target market. He has exalted the idea of the minimum viable product and sings the praises of ‘small experiments’. If you’re in the business of business this book is for you. There are endless benefits for business owners and managers who decide to employ the principles of The Lean Start Up.
The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz et al
This book is a little bit more autobiographical than the others on the list thus far, but it is packed with important lessons for business owners and entrepreneurs. Horowitz talks candidly about his experience as a leader and allows you to peek behind the curtain to see what ‘ugly business’ looks like. He details some of his most difficult decisions and largest failures. While this might sound a little doom and gloom, his honest account of being an entrepreneur and the invaluable insight he provides will help other entrepreneurs to avoid some of the same pitfalls. He also touches on bravery and embracing the struggle while sharing the crucial sentiment that an entrepreneur should take care of their people, product and profits, in that order.
The Freakonomics series – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The Freakonomics universe began with a book that looked at how the correlation of seemingly unrelated phenomena has resulted in some startingly causality. One of the most well-known examples of this was how teenage crime fell astronomically with the generation of children who were born after the Roe vs Wade case that resulted in the legalisation of abortion across the United States. As the authors bluntly explain “It wasn’t gun control or a strong economy or new police strategies that finally blunted the American crime wave. It was, among other factors, the reality that the pool of potential criminals had dramatically shrunk (due to fewer unwanted children being born).” The book looks at hard facts through the lens of numbers and quantitative analysis. Since its initial release, the authors have released SuperFreakonomics, Think Like a Freak and the titular When to Rob a Bank. So if you’ve ever wondered what sumo wrestlers and school teachers have in common, then don’t hesitate to get started on your own Freakonomics journey. You will be surprised about what you thought you knew that simply, just isn’t so.
- Sapiens and Homo Deus – These books take a look at humanity’s past and how it will contribute to our future.
- The Culture Map – This book takes a look at doing business globally and how to traverse the complexities of cultural differences between different societies and countries.
We hope this list has inspired you to crack open a book and learn more about business, being human and the curiosities of being an entrepreneur in today’s modern world.