SG: I couldn’t include a section of books on mindset and exclude Dweck’s classic.
Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success uncovered a simple idea that can make all the difference.
The Stoic philosophy which Seneca professed in his writings, later supported by Marcus Aurelius, provided Rome with a passable bridge to Christianity. Seneca's major contribution to Stoicism was to spiritualize and humanize a system which could appear cold and unrealistic.
SG: When I feel off or mentally and emotionally out of balance, I often listen to the audiobook version of this while going for a long walk and find that my calm and sense of inner peace is often restored or at least noticeably improved. For a slightly more contemporary and digestible version of this, check out Ryan Holidays ‘The Daily Stoic’.
Written in Greek, without any intention of publication, by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe.
SG: I often pack this book on trips away. It inspired me to develop my own list of ‘virtues to live by’, of which I have over 100, ranging from ‘never make excuses’ to ‘keep a cheerful demeanour’.
Eckhart Tolle's message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle's clear writing, supportive voice and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who's ever wondered what exactly "living in the now" means.
SG: A gateway drug for anybody interested in learning more about spirituality and becoming a more accepting and tolerant person who lives in the moment rather than lives in anxiety over the moments to come or living the regret over the moments that have long since gone. A book I recommend often to friends who are looking for a renewed perspective on life.
A self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse (or "repeat something long enough and it will become true").
One need not look any further than long held social institutions that trace back to a time when people thought the earth was flat.
In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best
SG: This book was fundamental in the development of my mindset and approach to life. The first of the seven habit especially resonated with me, that of ‘being proactive’ or that each of us is responsible; ‘response-able. The power to choose your response in the moment between stimulus and action was a major aha moment and changed the way I conduct myself each day and the way I nurture relationships.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a guide to applying leadership principles of the United States Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land Teams (SEALs) to business. At the center of the strategies that Willink and Babin illustrate is taking complete responsibility for everything in which all leaders are involved, to never make excuses and only look inward and answer the question “what could I have done better?”.
SG: I’ve built the Collective Campus culture around the extreme ownership philosophy of never making excuses. This shifts people from a victim mindset to an empowered mindset.Plus, I don’t know anybody who couldn’t do with a dose of Jocko in their lives!
In this generation-defining self-help guide, Mark Manson cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F**k positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today.
SG: I’m a big fan of Manson’s Law of Avoidance; “the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid doing it”. Just meditate on that for a moment. Where have you backed out of a situation or of doing something because you were afraid of your ego or sense of self being rocked?
In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency” include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision-making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.
SG: This was my favourite book of 2017, hands down! I listened to the audiobook version about five times on repeat, then downloaded and printed the accompanying PDF and proceeded to go nuts scribbling notes and formulating an action plan for much of what I picked up from this gem of a book.
In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
According to Ferriss, this book contains “the distilled tools, tactics, and ‘inside baseball’ you won’t find anywhere else. It also includes new tips from past guests, and life lessons from new ‘guests’ you haven’t met” on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast.
SG: I keep Tools of Titans on my bedside table and often read a chapter before turning the lights out each night. It’s one of the many rituals I have that keep me focused and off many of the slippery slope decisions that can take us down a very different path from the one we want to be on.
How anyone can be more effective with less effort by learning how to identify and leverage the 80/20 principle; that 80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts.
SG: 80/20 thinking is at the core of everything my team and I do.
So with that, below you’ll find my Top 12 Must Read Books on Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
Ries is one of the key people leading the lean startup movement. This is a practical guide about what Lean Startup is and how to do it. This is a landmark book.
Brought to you by the Harvard Business Professor who coined the term disruptive innovation.
The Innovator’s Dilemma explains how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right yet still lose market leadership. The Innovator’s Solution explains how companies can and should become disruptors themselves.
Weinberg and Mares offer nineteen channels you can use to build a customer base, a well as a three-step framework (called Bullseye) to figure out which ones will work best for your business.
It draws on interviews with more than forty successful founders, including Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (reddit), Paul English (Kayak), and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot). The lessons and examples in Traction will help you create and sustain the growth your business desperately needs.
The premise of this book is that products fail due to wasted time, money and effort in building the wrong product. Maurya offers a systematic process for quickly vetting product ideas and raising the odds of success.
Hooked provides actionable steps for building products people love and can't put down. The book elaborates on the Hook Model - a four-step process that, when embedded into products, subtly encourages customer behaviour.
With great power comes great responsibility: There is a growing chorus amongst technologists and marketers (such as Tristan Harris and Adam Alter) and enlightened adults pushing back against the attention mongering of large tech companies. One should only use human nature to help customers achieve their goals. For example, using smartphone-app generated dopamine hits to help people maintain a daily meditation practice, should that be their goal, is a positive application of these practices. Using it to get you visiting your Facebook feed every several minutes in order to market products you don’t need, nor can afford in many cases, not so much.
I myself have started to create an environment that makes it harder to check my phone at all hours, such as replacing my smartphone with an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning and leaving my phone to charge in another room. Otherwise, if the phone is within reach not only is it harder to resist temptation, but even if you do you’re likely to be depleting willpower which is what we use to make decisions. The less willpower you have the poorer your decision making across the board, something we discuss later in this book.
In Crossing the Chasm, Moore demonstrates that in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, there is a vast chasm between the early adopters and the early majority. Moore argues that in order to successfully cross the chasm, you must create the “whole product,” position the product appropriately for skeptical pragmatists who make up the early majority, price the product relative to competitive comparisons and distribute the product through the right channels.
SG: This book serves as a reminder to not go after the entire market from day one and instead focus on your niche market of early adopters, something too many startups forget about. Focusing on a niche market makes it exponentially easier to get to optimise your product features, marketing and sales strategies.
The Startup Owner's Manual walks you, step-by-step, through the tested and proven Customer Development process created by startup expert Steve Blank, unlocking the secrets to building a successful, scalable company. It's the indispensable reference guide for any startup founder, entrepreneur, investor or educator.
Brought to you by venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal, this book addresses the question ‘what valuable company is nobody building?’ and tells you how to get there. Doing what we already know takes the world from 1 to n. New creations go from 0 to 1.
Yes, there are ten! The ten types are split into three areas. At the center is the Offering, which contains the core product elements, and how the product is organized and integrated. To the left is Configuration, how the company is organized to make a profit. And to the right is the Experience, how the company interacts with the customer. The Ten Types of Innovation framework provides a way to identify new opportunities beyond products and develop viable innovations.
An oldie but a goodie. The authors describe ‘blue oceans’ as uncontested market space and ‘red oceans’ as harbouring vicious competitors that turn oceans blood red. Kim and Mauborgne explain there are two ways to create blue oceans. The first approach is to launch completely new industries, as eBay did with online auctions. The second way is to create a blue ocean from within a red ocean when a company expands the boundaries of an existing industry. A classic read.
For those who believe that there must be a more agile and efficient way for people to get things done, this is a brilliantly discursive, thought-provoking book about the leadership and management process that is changing the way we live.If you’ve ever been startled by how fast the world is changing, Scrum is one of the reasons why. Productivity gains of as much as 1200% have been recorded, and there’s no more lucid – or compelling – explainer of Scrum and its bright promise than Jeff Sutherland, the man who put together the first Scrum team more than twenty years ago.
SG: This books speaks to my core business philosophy of unlocking people’s potential to create more impact and lead more fulfilling lives. That’s exactly what agile does, especially when applied in the context of an organisation still stuck using PRINCE2 and Waterfall project management principles.
The definitive playbook by one of the pioneers of Growth Hacking on one of the hottest business methodologies in Silicon Valley and the broader startup ecosystem.
It seems hard to believe today, but there was a time when Airbnb was the best-kept secret of travel hackers and couch surfers, Pinterest was a niche web site frequented only by bakers and crafters, LinkedIn was an exclusive network for C-suite executives and top-level recruiters, Facebook was MySpace’s sorry step-brother, and Uber was a scrappy upstart that didn’t stand a chance against the Goliath that was New York City Yellow Cabs. Think of the Growth Hacking methodology as doing for market-share growth what Lean Start-Up did for product development, and Scrum did for productivity. It involves cross-functional teams and rapid-tempo testing and iteration that focuses customers: attaining them, retaining them, engaging them, and motivating them to come back and buy more.
An accessible and practical toolkit that teams and companies in all industries can use to increase their customer base and market share, this book walks readers through the process of creating and executing their own custom-made growth hacking strategy. It is a must read for any marketer, entrepreneur, innovator or manger looking to replace wasteful big bets and "spaghetti-on-the-wall" approaches with more consistent, replicable, cost-effective, and data-driven results.
Finally, one book that doesn’t neatly fit into either category but have had a profound impact on the way I see and approach work is:
Finally, one book that doesn’t neatly fit into either category but have had a profound impact on the way I see and approach work is:
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan - there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure.This book changed my life and made it apparent to me, while I was working full time for an investment bank, that I could empower myself, while still working there, to build a business online and earn my freedom. As Richard Branson says of his own success, he hires people smarter than him, inspires them with a mission worth working on, the tools to achieve that and gets out of the way. This book made my mission at the time visible to me and gave me many of the tools that I used to execute on this mission. I haven’t looked back.