A wish that I'd been smarter sooner
The regret these books portray is that of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Learning by turning the page instead of the brickbats of failure and the bruises of experience. A wish that I’d been smarter sooner.
By Capital Thinking • Issue #893 • View online
Summer is upon us, and so are the many recommendations of books that one should read. I’m a big fan of reading lists—they keep my reading queue deep and diverse. But there’s an underlying FOMO that some lists encourage.
Many lists focus on recently or about-to-be published books. The underlying assumption is that because it is current, it is correct. Or maybe that’s just my software engineer’s bias.
5 Business Books I Wish I’d Read Sooner
The idea that the latest is also correct holds in technical genres like software engineering, artificial intelligence, and the likes. However, it’s hard to argue that something is genuinely new in human endeavors like leadership, politics, and business.
Is Blockchain the technology unique? Perhaps.
Think the Bitcoin economic phenomenon is new? Were he alive, economist John Kenneth Galbraith may withhold judgement. He would point to all the Parisian wealth created (and lost) on the promise of Louisiana gold that’s yet to be found.
This is a list of books that describes my journey, post facto, of building online software and running a company that makes such software. A story of times when I read a book that had been out for a while and regretted not reading it sooner.
It’s a lesson in open-mindedness, a personal reminder to bring diversity of time in addition to subject matter and authors to my reading queue.While it may be on-trend to make a list of 10 or seven, this list is limited to five. It’s a forcing function that brings impact and clarity to the list.
Finally, yes, this is a listicle—but my list is different. Really.
5. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni (Published 2012)
As your company grows, your people will spend a lot of time in meetings and other group activities. Lencioni provides the Four Disciplines model to help make most of this time.
The read is short, the recommendations declarative, and the reasoning clear. His chapter on The Centrality of Great Meetings remains one of the best manuals on how to run effective meetings.
Have there been other works that have gone deeper into accountability, trust, vulnerability, and communicating with clarity?
Yes. But Lencioni is writing for a specific audience. An audience that’s already on the back foot, dealing with a major cultural crises, and would love a tweet-friendly answer to their problems.
For that audience, Lencioni has written a how-to manual on building a cohesive team and a self-help book on communicating as one.
4. Behind The Cloud by Marc Benioff (Published 2009)
From the cover to the title, Behind the Cloud is set up to be a perfect runway read. You pick it up at an airport in NYC, and by the time you touch down in LA, you’ve finished the book.
I picked up the book at a used book store expecting it to be hagiographic, but Benioff delivers on the title and more.
In the book are 111 plays for building a hyper-growth SaaS startup from the SaaS founder who started it all. The chances are high that SaaS companies that have reached Salesforce’s scale follow the same pattern (regardless of whether they’re following Benioff’s advice). If you want to learn how to scale your SaaS company, start here.
3. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (Published 2006)
The Long Tail was among the first books that described, for a general audience, how the internet was going to disrupt distribution models. A year later, in 2007, Steve Jobs made the phone your browser.
Today the book is as relevant as ever. Its explanation of the 80/20 rule remains one of the best I’ve seen.
It stays away from the overly academic (and accurate) descriptions and the excessively simplistic.
Fifteen years after its release, The Long Tail remains a masterpiece in statistical storytelling.
*Photo credit: Claudia Wolff on Unsplash