Business and Entrepreneurship

Business, Finance, Investing, and Entrepreneurship Book Recommendations

Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build for the Future, by Peter Thiel

You can read our blog post on Zero to One here.

In this compact book, mega-entrepreneur Peter Thiel lays out the broad roadmap for building a business that creates its own market. In doing so, he effectively explains that the most successful businesses are structured so they don't have competition. Competition may be great for the consumer, but it is terrible for a business. This book arose out of notes taken by a student from Peter Thiel's lectures and it is a must-read for anyone beginning or running a business. Zero to One has a lot of great practical advice combined with big picture ideas that will help you set your business on the right track.

 The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated), by Timothy Ferriss.

 With his multiple best-selling books, television show, and increasingly popular podcast, Tim Ferriss is a sort of modern-day practical philosopher with developing celebrity. He entered the public with this book, The 4-Hour Workweek, which, although rejected by over 20 publishers, become a best-selling classic that has changed many lives. Tim Ferriss recommends that people reject the traditional trajectory of life, whereby you work very hard for most of your life and, if you make it, retire at the end. Instead, he advocates that you work hard, but take a series of mini-retirements, which might include living in a foreign country for many months or more. To accomplish this, which would be a dream for many people, he explains the nuts-and-bolts of how to work much more effectively and efficiently and how to develop a cash-flow business, most likely on the web, that doesn't require a lot of ongoing effort. You can take it with you on your retirement. This book has inspired many to radically change their life. If you are feeling stuck, you should pick it up and read it.

You can read our review of one of his other books, the 4-Hour Body, here.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 Nassim Taleb is brilliant and does not hide his disdain for those that he views as charletons, particularly economists and journalists. His initial profession was that of an options trader, a great place to learn about risk. Nassim Taleb is obviously a voracious reader with a strong appetite for classical philosophy and mathematics, among other subjects. 

This book discusses, not suprisingly, randomness. Most people underestimate randomness and assign causation to correlation when there is no justification for doing so. This is certainly true in the financial markets, where Taleb has spent a lot of time, but is just as true everywhere else in life.

If you want to improve your own analytical abilities, we recommend this book. It will help you sharpen your thinking by allowing you to see the mirages that most people miss.

The book is written in an easy style that moves quickly. It is not a dense textbook, but a conversation with a brilliant man that does a good job conveying his ideas through stories and examples. 

If Fooled by Randomness interests you, you should also check out his other books, including Antifragile (one of our all time favorite books) and The Black Swan.

 

 

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller, with Jay Papasan

You can read our book review of "The One Thing" here.

To obtain extraordinary results, in life, business, or anything else, Keller and Papasan argue that you must answer the following question: "What's the One Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?" This is the focusing question. It is genius, but it is not new. It is about leverage. While you can reach positive results taking one small step at a time, you can obtain extraordinary results with leverage. In this case, it is leverage of your time and attention. 

"The One Thing" is an easy and quick read that you may want to review again and again. Keller and Papasan not only discuss "The One Thing," which is the focusing question, but also how to avoid interruptions to your ability to focus on it. This is the sort of book that you should read and keep nearby, if anything as a reminder to focus on your "One Thing," rather than, for example, following your email as it comes in. 

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks, and Jay Papasan

You can read our article on the financial advantages of real-estate investing here.

You can read our article on investing in vacation rental properties here.

The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Keller, Jenks, and Papasan is the best book on real-estate investing that I have ever read. Most books on real-estate investing are long on motivational speeches and short on specific practical advice. This book offers you motivation not through colorful language or repeated exhortations to begin, but by showing you how the financial numbers of real-estate investing can work. That should be motivation enough.

But what separates The Millionaire Real Estate Investor from the million other books on real-estate investing is that it actually goes into the details about the nuts-and-bolts of real-estate investing, including, for example, the best neighborhoods for rental properties. If you are interested in real-estate investing or are a current investor, you should read Gary Keller's book. Highly recommended.

Gary Keller and his co-authors have written many books on real-estate, investing, and productivity. You can access Gary Keller's Amazon page here. We also recommend The One Thing.

 

The End of Jobs, by Taylor Pearson

Taylor Pearson has done his homework; he is extremely well read and understands the issues in this book from a philosophical level as much as a practical level. His book, "The End of Jobs," makes a strong case for the fact that the current era is different. What many of us learned growing up, that studying hard and getting the right degree will create financial success, no longer applies in the same way that it did. Taylor Pearson places his advice about entrepreneurship and how to create money, meaning, and freedom, in an historical context, which adds to the strength of his message. We highly recommend "The End of Jobs," and hope to see future work from Taylor Pearson. You can access his website here. We believe he has significant potential.

 

The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump

Click here to read our article "What Real-Estate Investors Can Learn from Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal."

This isn't a political website and this isn't a political recommendation. We do, however, recommend Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal for anyone interested in putting together real-estate or other business deals. The tone of the book includes Mr. Trump's "confidence," but it also includes his straightforward perspective on several different deals. That itself is worth the read, as regardless of what you might think of his politics, he has put together some big deals. The first two chapters were our favorites: In the first chapter, he goes through a week in his business life, which was flat out interesting (even though it happened in the early 1980's). The next chapter, "Trump Cards: The Elements of the Deal," describes his deal-making and negotiating strategies, one category at a time. 

The best way to get better at negotiating and putting together deals is to negotiate and put together deals, so you learn from each experience. Reading The Art of the Deal will offer you some vicarious experience through one of the biggest deal-makers of a generation. We recommend this book.

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman

Everyone has their own story. What Brian Grazer does is systematically and purposely seek out those stories from some of the most interesting people of our time.

Even if you don't know who Film Producer Brian Grazer is, you surely know his films and shows: A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Splash, Arrested Development, 24, 8 Mile, J. Edgar, The Da Vinci Code, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, American Gangster, and Empire, among many others. He was even named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

So, with that biography, Brian Grazer has been able gain an audience with some interesting people. His approach is to sit down with them and have a conversation, so he can understand their story and perspective: He is just quenching his curiosity. For example, Grazer has had these "curiosity" discussions with people as varied as Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Malcolm Gladwell, Eminem, Sam Harris, Sanjay Gupta, Oprah, Norman Mailer, John McCain, Prince, Carlos Slim, Kanye West, Serena Williams, Craig Venter, Andy Warhol, and many many others.    Of course, at the same time, connections are forming that may, for example, lead to a hit film or television series.

Brian Grazer's "A Curious Mind" is interesting and makes some excellent points about the value of curiosity and following curiosity. It could have been shorter, but it was an easy, interesting read that might spark your own curiosity.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D.

You can read our review of Influence, discussing the weapons of influence, here.

 If you want to learn how you can persuade and how to avoid being influenced by marketers and salespeople all around you, you should read Influence by Robert Cialdini. This classic book, seeped in empirical research, provides plenty of examples describing the six weapons of influence that you will begin to notice once you read the book. Robert Cialdini recently came out with a new book called Pre-Suasion, which is worth checking out.