Our world changes at a faster and faster pace.
What was true yesterday, not necessarily is going to be so tomorrow.
Yet, in this scenario, it is essential to be grounded in the real world and rather than rely on too many things to know, one way to survive and thrive is to be aware of a set of heuristics.
In short, knowing the heuristics is a way to avoid to get lost in the plethora of information, theories, and news that every day keeps us distracted from real issues in our life, family and business.
To thrive in this scenario, you need an internal compass that can guide you through the business world so that you will never lose your path again.
You can build that internal compass by implementing physical and mental habits that will make you mentally stable. One way to shape this internal compass is by reading good stuff.
Although it might always seem right to read, selecting what you read is critical. Just like on a diet you want to ingest qualify food when it comes to reading you want to feed your mind with ideas and insights that will empower you and create a better version of yourself as a person and businessman.
For such reason, I am going to suggest twenty-one books that will deepen your understanding of the business world. Although this is a list for 2020, do not expect to see all the newest books on the market. Often I believe the best books are the ones that survived to the test of time.
Also, this is a list, but it is not meant to be read as a ranking. Each of those books will shape your understanding of the entrepreneurial and business world!
- FourWeekMBA Business Courses
- 100 Business Models
- Measure What Matters
- Tools of Titans
- Homo Deus
- The Right It
- My life in advertising
- Ogilvy on Advertising
- The Start-Up of You
- Lost and Founder
- How I Lost 170 Million Dollars
- Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
- Other suggested books
- Suggested Business Biographies
The 100 Business Models Book is the most comprehensive and advanced guide in understanding business models, and business model innovation. It is a set of case studies from many companies that dominated our times.
This over 600 pages guide will also give you key business tips to understand the current business world.
The lessons of blitzscaling can be adapted to help build great companies in nearly any ecosystem by
In a business world that has become very competitive, thanks also to the digital age, it becomes critical to develop a new mindset and framework that goes beyond the conventional business thinking, Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies is a book written by
Measure What Matters
We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing by
John Doerr is a venture capitalist and among the early investors of Google. He developed over the years a framework for goal setting which is aimed at helping any organization find the proper way to set goals and achieve strategic results for the sustainable growth of the business.
Indeed, early Googlers are among the companies that used his system, called OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for setting, communicating and monitoring their goals during a process of hypergrowth! If you need a leadership process for your organization, this is the book for you!
Tools of Titans
The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion ― by Timothy Ferriss,
Many believe that reading is for wimps. Why would you be spending your time reading, when you can act?
Action without reflection is like steering a boat that is about to go adrift.
In other words, it is essential to act, but also to take the time to reflect and study. That is going to make your actions way more efficient.
If you are looking for a tool that can boost your effectiveness in the real world, there is no better book than Tim Ferris’ “Tools of Titans.”
This is a book about health, wealth, and wisdom (the book comprises three sections).
Tools of Titans is the distilled knowledge of over 200+ guests interviewed in more than two decades at “The Tim Ferris Show,” one of the best podcasts currently available for business and lifestyle.
What makes Tools of Titans unique?
Most of the content of the book is actionable. Ready for use. In other words, if you are looking to transform your life, that is a fantastic way to start.
Furthermore, Tim Ferris does a great job in locating the best experts in each field. Therefore, whatever interest you have, you can now find a mentor thanks to Ferris’ work.
I suggest you go through this book with a notepad and mark the pages you find more interesting (you will see most parts of the book fascinating).
As soon as you have done reading it; start implementing and testing.
Censorship no longer works by hiding information from you; censorship works by flooding you with immense amounts of misinformation, of irrelevant information, of funny cat videos, until you’re just unable to focus by Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus isn’t designed as a business book. Yet I believe it will benefit you in many ways.
Harari, the author, is a historian but most of all an avid practitioner of Vipassana Meditation. This is a practice taught in India for over 2,500 years, whose main aim is to allow us to see things as they are.
There is nothing esoteric, mystic or religious about this practice. Instead, this is a way of detaching your mind from your thoughts and stop identifying yourself with your mind.
By practicing Vipassana, Harari also developed a way to see the reality, that will blow your mind.
What makes Homo Deus unique?
In the complex world in which we live it is impossible to predict what is going to happen tomorrow. Even though Harari’s account in Homo Deus explores the likely scenarios that will shape our world in the next century, this fantastic book does one more incredible thing,
It will give you new eyes that you can use to look at the business world like never before.
They think that intelligence is about noticing things are relevant (detecting patterns); in a complex world, intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant (avoiding false patterns) – by Nicholas Nassim Taleb
Our minds have not been wired to live in a complex world like that we created in the last century. In short, we evolved in a world where scarcity was paramount.
On the other hand, nowadays the opposite is true. In most western developed countries abundance is the rule. From food to information we have it all.
In short, the world we created clashes with the world in which we evolved. These mismatches make us vulnerable in many ways.
One of the most significant vulnerabilities is about how we interpret reality. Prehistoric humans had to understand each pattern around them to avoid extinction. For instance, when Mr. Hunter-Gatherer saw a moving bush, he knew it was time for him to run as fast as he could.
In fact, behind that bush, a dangerous predator could have been hiding. Even if the wind only moved that bush, it didn’t matter to Mr. Hunter-Gatherer. Indeed, the cost of being wrong was so high (death) that he could not afford it.
While this ability to find patterns allowed us to survive, it also makes us extremely biased toward the modern world.
The former trader,, in his book, Antifragile, will show you how and why reality is not as we perceive it. Although his focus is on the business and economic world, Taleb’s immense culture makes him able to space across several disciplines.
What makes Antifragile unique?
While reading Antifragile, you will suddenly change your perspectives on many things. You will probably stop watching TV, and read newspapers; while you will start reading classics. Yet the most significant change of all will be about a new fresh mindset,
You will become a modern skeptic
In large measure, who we are with respect to any choice is where we are, attentionally, in the moment before the choice ― Robert B. Cialdini,
What makes Pre-suasion unique?
This book will show you how “invisible clues” can shape your decision-making ability way more than you think.
For anyone that operates in the business world, the book will also do a crucial thing,
Pre-suasion will give you a toolbox to use right away to boost the reach and success of your business.
According to Alberto Savoia’s research, the reason why most startups fail is due to developing what he calls “the wrong it.” So it’s not about execution, but failure is rather about wasting effort, time and capital in developing an idea that the market doesn’t want. In his book, “The Right It” Alberto Savoia came up with a methodology called Pretotyping which minimizes the risk of developing failing products or services, by manufacturing experiments that allow entrepreneurs to gather real-world data, to assess whether their product will work on the marketplace.
Poor distribution – not product – is the number one cause of failure.
― Gabriel Weinberg,
In the startup world, often having a good product seems enough to scale a business (I believed that too). Yet as Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo explains, often what a startup is lacking to take off and scale is the distribution side. Weinberg previously cofounded Opobox, which got acquired for $10 million.
The co-author of Traction, Justin Mares is the founder of two startups and the former director of revenue at Exceptional, a software company that was acquired by Rackspace.
The formula for a successful customer acquisition goes through what the authors call Bullseye Framework.
My life in advertising
We must submit all things in advertising, as in everything else, to the court of public opinion by Claude C. Hopkins in My Life in Advertising
We like to give new and fancy names to old things. Whether you want to call it marketing, growth hacking, and business development that is all about sales and scale up a business. Yet, Claude C. Hopkins was one of the great advertising pioneers taught me that independently of the name you give it marketing is about selling.
At the age of 41, he was hired by Albert Lasker owner of Lord & Thomas advertising in 1907 at a salary of $185,000 a year. If you think that is a lot today imagine what it was back then.
Ogilvy on Advertising
“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” ― David Ogilvy,
David Ogilvy was a business executive who founded the advertising, marketing, and PR agency Ogilvy & Mather in 1948. Once again, you can read new books about new marketing disciplines to which we gave then fancy names. However, the foundation of those subjects came from people like Ogilvy.
The Start-Up of You
All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA, and creation is the essence of entrepreneurship. ― Reid Hoffman,
Lost and Founder
The problem with MVPs, and with the “something > nothing” model, is that if you launch to a large customer base or a broad community, you build brand association with that first version. by Rand Fishkin in Lost and Founder
If you’re familiar with digital marketing, then you must know Rand Fishkin. He’s the founder of Moz.com the most important and authoritative blog on search engine optimization. He is a rockstar not only for SEO practitioners but for many that are trying to build a business from scratch. In fact, with his Whiteboard Friday Rand Fishkin has been teaching to millions of people SEO.
Also, Rand Fishkin has also grown Moz, a subscription-based business model software for SEO in a multimillion-dollar company, that in 2017 netted over $47 million. His book, “Lost and Founder” is a transparent story of how it all started and the painful process of growing a startup from a web agency.
This is a must-read for any aspiring founder but also for anyone that is running a startup. Rand Fishkin bursts many myths about the so-called “Silicon Valley” way of thinking about entrepreneurship!
How I Lost 170 Million Dollars
You have to decide your own self-worth versus letting others determine it by Noah Kagan in How I lost 170 Million Dollars
Anyone in the digital entrepreneurship world knowingly or not has met Noah Kagan. How? Through either AppSumo.com or Sumo.com.
Those websites are among the most popular because they offer to digital entrepreneurs the tools to grow their businesses, quickly.
What is most interesting about this book is the experience described by Noah Kagan as employee number 30 on Facebook, before the company would scale up to become the tech giant it is today. The story is transparent, honest and with no BS.
Noah Kagan spent most of the time in the book describing is greatest failures but also how those turned out to teach him many valuable business lessons that he used to build his current startups successfully.
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
Bullshit jobs are jobs which even the person doing the job can’t really justify the existence of, but they have to pretend that there’s some reason for it to exist. That’s the bullshit element. A lot of people confuse bullshit jobs and shit jobs, but they’re not the same thing
In a world that is becoming increasingly technological, already a few decades back we believed that work would have become shorter and shorter.
However, this didn’t happen. If all we only focused more on productivity and efficiency with the results of creating a bunch of jobs, that seems useful from the outside but that in reality are useless for the same people performing them.
In short, modernity has created a whole new category of jobs, that Davide Graeber defines “bullshit” because they are meaningless and degrading for who performs them.
This account is incredible because it will burst many myths we have today about our workplaces and how we perceive time and money.
Other suggested books
Suggested Business Biographies
Tools and resources for your business:
- Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- The Complete Guide To Business Development
- Business Strategy: Definition, Examples, And Case Studies
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
- What Is a Value Proposition? Value Proposition Canvas Explained
- What Is a Lean Startup Canvas? Lean Startup Canvas Explained
- What Is Market Segmentation? the Ultimate Guide to Market Segmentation
- Marketing Strategy: Definition, Types, And Examples
- Marketing vs. Sales: How to Use Sales Processes to Grow Your Business
Handpicked popular case studies from the site:
- How Does Google Make Money? It’s Not Just Advertising!
- How Amazon Makes Money: Amazon Business Model in a Nutshell
- How Does Netflix Make Money? Netflix Business Model Explained
- How Does Spotify Make Money? Spotify Business Model In A Nutshell
- How Does Airbnb Make Money? Airbnb Peer To Peer Business Model In A Nutshell
- How Does WhatsApp Make Money? WhatsApp Business Model Explained
- Alibaba vs. Amazon Compared in a Single Infographic
- DuckDuckGo: The [Former] Solopreneur That Is Beating Google at Its Game