6 Books Recommended by 6 Original Entrepreneurs

6 Books Recommended by 6 Original Entrepreneurs
6 Books Recommended by 6 Original Entrepreneurs

What books influenced the lives of some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our times, who have the particularity of having led original lives?  What can we learn from what they tell us?

Intelligenthq assembled a list of some of the favorite books of both male and female highly successful entrepreneurs. The common characteristic of this group of entrepreneurs is their originality and the unusual paths and choices they made both their businesses and personal lives.

1. Steve Jobs and The Innovator’s Dilemma (Management of Innovation and Change) by Clayton Christensen

The originality of Steve Jobs doesn’t need any special introduction as we all know about it. With dismay, having researched what books mostly influenced Steve Jobs, I discovered how he was profoundly interested in Easter Philosophies and Religious Practices.

One of the books that mostly influenced Steve Jobs, was Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. Maybe he recognized himself in Clayton analysis, as Jobs wholeheartedly embraced all his life,  the power of innovation, even when that meant to get rid and abandon previous products. He said:

“It’s important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls “the innovator’s dilemma,” where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don’t want to be left behind.”

2. Tony Hsieh and Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux

Tony Hsieh is an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist that became so taken by a book that he engaged in a revolutionary social experiment about corporate organizations. Hsieh is the CEO of the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos. Prior to joining Zappos, Hsieh co-founded the internet advertising network LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft in 1999 for $265 million.

What makes Tony Hsieh unique is his cutting edge approach to management and his unique lifestyle. One of Hsieh’s unusual pursuits has been rebuilding Zappos’ Las Vegas neighborhood through the independent entity the Downtown Project (DTP), which he started with $350 million of his own money in 2010. The Downtown Project became  a major re-development and revitalization project for downtown Las Vegas and Hsieh decided to move out of his luxury condo and into a DTP-owned trailer a short walk from Zappos HQ.

Airstream park and the trailer where Tony Hsieh lives
Airstream park, the home of Tony Hsieh

Since Hsieh joined Zappos, as its CEO, in 2000, that was always about making the company culture as positive, caring and fun as possible. But his thirst for change kept him experimenting with different things. First, he tried Holocracy, inspired by Brian Robertson book. In a few months, he had moved to something else. One day, on a long email,  Hsieh asked everyone in his company to read Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux—generally referred to as “the book” by Zapponians. Laloux´s book discusses the emergence of a new management paradigm ant it resulted from two years of intense research about all kinds of different types of organizations in the whole world. One of the key arguments of the book is self management. The book resulted from two years of intense research about the functioning of all kinds of different types of organizations in the whole world. It reviews twelve highly successful and effective businesses and organizations that according to Laloux, are operating  at or near the TEAL stage of consciousness. The TEAL stage of consciousness corresponds to more advanced stages of psychological and spiritual development , as outlined in the works of Ken Wilber and other developmental thinkers such as Robert Kegan.

Hsieh was so taken by the book that he decided to transform Zappos into a Teal company. He announced Zappos employees that management job roles would cease to exist and invited the ones unhappy with the new politics to leave.

Since then, he has been trying to put into practice what he read in the book. Even though his endeavor hasn’t been easy, Zappos is now an icon corporation of what a Teal organization is, and its social experiment is being observed by everyone. Hsieh is an author as well, having written the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

3. Sheryl Sandberg and A Short Guide to a Happy Life  by Anna Quindlen

Sheryl Kara Sandberg is an American technology executive, activist, and author. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. In June 2012, she was elected to the board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board. Before she joined Facebook as its COO, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google and was involved in launching Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org.  What makes her original is her personal take of womanhood.

Sheryl is known for having written Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
which can be seen as a feminist manifesto for the digital era. Unfortunately,  even though this is the  21st century,  to be a feminist like Sandberg, in the male-dominated tech world, is still an attribute of originality.

Sheryl’s advice is precious for women. The book she recommends is Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life. The book describes the author´s  philosophy of life through a series of loosely connected personal observations. Quindlen is an author, journalist and opinion columnist that won the Pulitzer price for commentary in 1992. Sandberg believes that Anna Quindlen book will give women encouragement and advice about how to empower their lives.

Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen

4. Mark Zuckerberg and The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

Mark Zuckerberg really enjoyed reading “The Idea Factory, written by Fast Company editor Jon Gertner in 2012. Mark says that he chose the book because he’s “very interested in what causes innovation — what kinds of people, questions, and environments.”

The book tells the history of Bell Labs from the 1920s through the 1980s, in which the invention of the transistor revolutionized the world of technology. Those decades brought as well the innovation-fostering management style that still rules over Silicon Valley. Bell Labs’ research has won the most Nobel Prizes of any laboratory in history, with seven in physics and another in chemistry.

Bell Labs atrium in 1964
Bell Labs atrium in 1964

5. Ariana Huffington, and  Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan

Ariana Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post is a recognized author that has published various bestsellers and important books. Ariana is quite a unique character both due to her life path, shifting from a Conservative commentator into a progressive thinker, a Media Mogul and finally a work-life balance advocate. One book that has influenced her tremendously is Search Inside Yourself, by Chade-Meng Tan. The book resulted from a popular class Google offers to its employees called “Search Inside Yourself.” The class was started by Tan, an engineer and Google employee who eventually wrote this book about his principles. The course is divided into three parts: attention training, self-knowledge, and building useful mental habits.

Ariana’s choice can be explained by her latest interest in addressing the importance of maintaining a balance between work, good health, and life/enjoyment. Her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time addresses how the profoundly engrained culture of sleep deprivation can have consequences on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.

6. Rashmi Sinha and The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

Everyone knows SlideShare, but maybe you never heard of Rashmi Sinha. Rashmi is an Indian-American businesswoman and CEO of San Francisco-based technology company SlideShare. Rashmi Sinha´s background is highly original and filled with unexpected choices. She grew up in Allahabad, and moved to the United Studies to attend a Doctorate at Brown University. Highly inspired by the books of author and Neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,
she then earned a post-doctorate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley.

Rashmi Sinha
Rashmi Sinha

At this point in her life, her career path was well structured, but she found academia boring and slow paced. She gave it up to start SlideShare with her husband, that was then sold to LinkedIn in 2012. Fortune Magazine named her No. 8 on its Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs list of 2012.  She decided to become an entrepreneur because: ” I like independence. I like to build things. Being an entrepreneur allows me to do both.”

Maybe that is why she admires Tim Ferris book “The four hour work week.” On a Twitter post, she says: “Tim Ferriss is the Oprah for geeks. Tells them how to work, eat, drink, work out.”