Pagoda in Kyoto

1. Reid Hoffman, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

Reid Hoffman elaborates on his idea that we should apply the same principles behind successful startups to our own lives and careers. That means that we should invest in our own skills, build up networks, be in “permanent beta” and constantly test, iterate and pivot, in order to find out what we like and are good at, and ultimately define and achieve what we want in life.

2. Eric Ries, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Eric Ries explains the lean startup concept which underlies most of how Silicon Valley businesses get built so quickly from scratch. Build a minimum viable product, then test and iterate, test and iterate, test and iterate.

3. Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ben Horowitz’s book is a must-read for every startup leader. It has helped my psychology and ability to make hard and non-intuitive decisions as a startup leader. He writes about all his war stories and this is an entertaining read that’s also very rewarding.

4. Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

I didn’t know much about Elon Musk till I read this. And now I think he’s a genius and probably the greatest Silicon Valley visionary around today. I would love to work on something as exciting as SpaceX if I could be useful there. But unfortunately, I know nothing about building rockets and going to outer space. Either way, I’d like to go to Mars too in my lifetime!

5. Randall Stross, The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator

Fascinating read about the difficulties of starting a startup, even with Y Combinator backing you.

6. Matt Blumberg, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website

Almost like a how-to-run-a-startup 101 read. Matt Blumberg writes methodically about the different aspects of running and scaling a startup that you never really think about, like how to manage a board of directors, for instance.

7. Bill Murphy, The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship

3 case studies of successful entrepreneurs. I learned many good lessons about entrepreneurship here as well, similar to when I read Ben Horowitz’s book. Nothing beats real world examples and war stories.

8. Brad Feld, Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist

Brad Feld is managing director at Foundry Group and co-founder of Techstars. I learned a lot about venture financing from reading his book.

9. Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, like Elon Musk, was a visionary and incredible entrepreneur. He was releasing the iPhone and pumping out the next big Pixar movie at the same time. I enjoyed reading about his crazy life.

10. Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000

Lee Kuan Yew is the most impressive founder I know, because he founded Singapore and took it from third world to first within one generation. He’s the ultimate pragmatist. Read the Singapore story in his own words.

11. Brian Cohen & John Kadon, What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion Dollar Idea

This book talks about angel investing. I read it out of interest about how to raise funding for a startup.

12. Paul Graham, Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, is really fantastically smart. My blog post about learning how to code started from reading this book. I couldn’t understand half of what he said about code, but I got the sense that it was then important for me to learn.

13. Richie McCaw,The Real McCaw: The Autobiography

Richie McCaw is the legendary All Blacks captain. I was riveted when reading the book, learning how he overcame the 2007 Rugby World Cup failure and brought his team back to win in 2011. That’s some really strong mentality!

14. Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert.  This is a hilarious read, but an encouraging one.

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