Books

How I Approach Business Books

Earlier this year, members of my CEO group strongly recommended I start reading more business books. I had been reading lots of blogs and news articles, but no serious "let's get better at business" books. Before this year, I'd approached business reading like I approach novels. I'd sit down and try to go cover to cover. That didn't work well, and I'd built a stack of unread books. I didn't seem to retain much either. I now have a new approach: If I don't feel enthusiastic about a book at…

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First-Time Managers (It's Your Ship by Abrashoff)

I've been looking for a good introductory book on leadership. It's Your Ship by Capt. Michael D. Abrashoff is the best I've come across. If someone is a first-time manager, there are some great lessons in here. The first challenge I see new managers and startup CEOs face is the transition from being an individual contributor to manager. It is hard. The most difficult thing is for these newly promoted managers having to treat their former peers differently. You can be friends with peers in a company. When you're their…

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Getting Your First Few Customers (The Traction Book)

I'm a fan of the book Traction by Weinberg, et al. It's on the list of top books I regularly recommend to pre-seed or seed-stage companies. The book argues there are about twenty ways to get proof points that show a business is growing. This is called "traction" and is defined as users, paying customers, press or any other measure of growth. The authors contend that there will be one and perhaps two customer acquisition channels that work best for a startup. For example, a startup might get customers via…

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The Art of Learning / Entity vs Learning Intelligence

One of my pet theories is that 95% of business books are just one good idea expanded into 300 pages. The book, The Art of Learning, is just the opposite. Josh Waitzman (the kid who was featured in Searching for Bobby Fischer) packs the book full of insight that I had to set it down every few pages. One of Josh's points is talking about the two types of intellingence theories adopted by each of us: Entity Intelligence people believe their intelligence comes innately. You'll hear them say things like,…

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On Hiring A-Players

My Geekdom Fund partner, Mike Troy, and I were discussing the hiring challenge for startups. Mike observed there are lots of hiring methodologies out there. The mistake startups make is not picking one. After being exposed to the Topgrading methodology, I’m sold. The methodology has a number of insightful points: Most resumes are full of lies. Regular conversational interviews don’t expose those lies. But, we all want to hire top performers (“A-players”) A-players always have lots of people who will provide enthusiastic references B-players and C-players will have…

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