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Five inspiring, and useful, reads for entrepreneurs and alike

A few days ago me and my wife bought a new bookshelf, which lead to an hour or so of reorganizing our books. During this hour of seeing all these great books we have, I got the idea of sharing some books I consider worthwhile for entrepreneurs and alike. This article is the result of that idea.

The books mentioned in this article are:

  1. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
  2. Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice
  3. Talking to Humans: Success starts with understanding your customers
  4. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever
  5. Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: The Easy Way to Do More in Less Time
  6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers (yep, this is a bonus outside of the five books promised in the title)

I’ve tried to have the books complemented each other, so the order does matter. And I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations below.

Start With why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

“Image a world where we wake up inspired to go work” is one of Simon Sinek’s catchphrases, and it’s a powerful one. Imagine being an entrepreneur and not feeling this way. Imagine having rallied people to join your cause and then they don’t feel inspired.

This is why I recommend this book first. You need to be able to answer why you get up in the morning and why your initiative exists—for yourself, and so you can inspire others with your why.


Competing against luck: The story of innovation and customer choice

How can we create products that we are sure customers want to buy? Can innovation be more than a game of hit and miss? Or, as I’ve written about before: How sure are you that you’re building the right product?

Clay Christensen, and senior partner David Duncan and their coauthors, offer a new perspective on how companies can develop and market products and services that customers actually want and need.


Talking to humans: Success starts with under understanding your customers

Without customers there is no business; or … “the purpose of a business is to create a customer” as Peter Drucker said. With that in mind, the following snippet from the foreword, by Steve Blanc, describe Talking to Humans brilliantly:

“In a comprehensive, yet concise and accessible manner, Talking to Humans teaches you how to get out of the building. It guides students and entrepreneurs through the critical elements: how to find interview candidates, structure and conduct effective interviews and synthesize your learning. Giff provides ample anecdotes as well as useful strategies, tactics and best practices to help you hit the ground running in your customer discovery interviews.”


Rework: Change the way you work forever

If you’re starting a company in 2018, I believe it is important to not think that things should/need to be done the way they have “always” been done. Rework is a playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed about doing it on their own. It will inspire you, challenge you, and give advice you haven’t heard before.

“First, we’ll start out by gutting business. We’ll take it down to the studs and explain why it’s time to throw out the traditional notions of what it takes to run a business. Then we’ll rebuild it. You’ll learn how to begin, why you need less than you think, when to launch, how to get the word out, whom (and when) to hire, and how to keep it all under control.”

And if Rework isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, have a look at their other books Getting Real, Remote, and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.


Pomodoro technique illustrated: The easy way to do more in less time

Even when you know your why and feel inspired more than anything else, it’s still hard— sometimes, most of the time—to get things done, especially the right things done.

I could’ve recommended David Allen’s classic Getting Things Done here, but I choose to recommend Staffan Noteberg’s book Pomodoro Technique Illustrated instead for several reasons: 1) it’s super easy to get started with, 2) it has depth—both in ways to improve on your technique and in the scientific research that backs it up, 3) it’s a technique that has helped me and my spouse throughout the years.


The hard thing about hard things: Building a business when there are no easy answers

The title of this post says inspiring books, something the title and contents of this particular book may not match on too, and yes … I said five. Consider Ben Horowitz book The Hard Thing About Hard Things a bonus. It’s not for everyone and it might not be as relevant right away as the others.

But, Ben Horowitz has succeeded in writing a book about entrepreneurship and running a company that is highly entertaining, inspiring, and helpful.

Ben’s own introduction says it all, and it’s immediately obvious why the book had to be written:

“Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, ‘That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.’ The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal.”

The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.

Oh, and for me personally, the section on one-on-one’s—or the employee’s meeting— makes the read as a whole worth it. Even if you don’t buy this book, I wholeheartedly recommend reading up on one-on-one’s.



I hope you enjoyed this list, and I now invite you to share your recommended reads for entrepreneurs and alike in the comments below. Cheers!

By Teddy Zetterlund

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