The pandemic lockdowns might have brought peace and rest to some, but for entrepreneurs, it has been quite the opposite. It is impossible to predict how businesses will bounce back after such a disastrous downtime and it is even more difficult to sit back and watch your work crumble. We thought, this might be the perfect time to stir things up and think differently! This is neither the first nor the worst crisis faced by businesses right? So what did they do to survive and bounce back? Here is a list of books that can potentially change an entrepreneur and how he conducts business.
Title: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business
Author: Clayton M. Christensen
Rated: 4/5 on Goodreads
Why is that big brands with consistent outstanding performance and a steady graph of happy customers still tend to lose ownership over the market? How is it that they do everything right but still can’t stay ahead of evolution in their industry? The answer is simple. Innovation.
Author, Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen goes on to explain the most common misconceptions about innovation and product-market fit. He says that the Value to innovation is an S-Curve. When a company introduces a product in the market, it has to undergo multiple iterations before making it home. At first, these are small unnoticeable iterations that offer minimal value to customers. But these iterations create a strong base of value over time allowing companies to create drastic iterations in the product, each being more useful than the last. Until towards the end, the most valuable iterations are already made and the changes become minimal again.
Unfortunately, most companies keep struggling towards the beginning of the S-Curve. Meanwhile, a new entrant is deep into the S-Curve providing significant value to customers derived from existing learnings. And their penetration, as a result, is so strong that it gives no time to the primary company to react to the new entrant. This book is a history lesson pointing out the biggest blunders by some of the most prominent players of the industry at one point, along with an actionable guide for entrepreneurs who want to ensure longevity of their success. Here is my favorite excerpt of the book:
“The reason why good companies failed is that good management itself was the root cause. Managers played the game the way it was supposed to be played.“
Title: The 4-hour Workweek
Author: Timothy Ferris
Rated: 4/5 on Goodreads
As an entrepreneur surviving this economy, you must uses words like ‘overwhelmed’, ‘overworked’, ‘brain freeze’, etc. all the time. But Tim Ferris says being smart and productive has little to do with being busy. He quotes ‘Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness. If you don’t feel like you have time, you don’t have priorities. It’s very easy to confuse activity with productivity’. Could that be true? Is it possible that we want to be over-scheduled and over-committed to perpetrate the established standard for entrepreneurship? He says even though it might feel very difficult at first, start looking closely at your calendar, analyze how you’re spending your time as that is the first step to understanding and utilizing the only real currency that creates achievers — Time.
This book is a journey of self-analysis and the discovery of mind-numbing hacks that challenge the status-quo. Here’s one of my favorite ones:
“‘The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,’ he observed. ‘They don’t like doing them either necessarily but their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.'”
Title: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Author: Seth Godin
Rated: 3.76/5 on Goodreads
Each one of us has seen a cow. You walk past a cow without turning your head even for one second. But what about a purple cow? A purple cow is different, and unavoidable. One of the great thought leaders in advertising, marketing, and innovation, Seth Godin calls great companies, messages and ideas of today as ‘Purple Cows’. He points out that progressively over time, advertising has been losing its hold on influencing customer purchase and behavior. But no one can ignore these Purple Cows. They force you to take notice with their novelty and value, and that’s the most powerful thing to have in a world of saturated messaging.
Seth says that gone are the days where companies could rely on remarkable advertising alone to make a product sell. It is time to create remarkable products instead. The book is full of general concepts of ideation and entrepreneurship woven with relevant examples. He says, “Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring. Your one chance for success is to be remarkable.”
He finishes his book with a 10 Point Checklist that tells you how to create a remarkable product. Here’s is a glance into the brilliance of this book:
“The reason it’s so hard to follow the leader is this: The leader is the leader because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken – it’s no longer remarkable when you do it.”
Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Rated: 4.1/5 on Goodreads
This book by Steven Covey is a classic that defies evolution and remains extremely effective decade after decade. This is regarded as his career’s best work and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Covey says that while most self-help books are based on the ‘personality ethic’, true change can be brought by the ‘character ethic’ guided by universal and timeless principles. He deliberately wants to separate principles from values as he believes principles are external natural laws whereas values are internal, subjective, and the real drivers of behavior. He goes on to discuss how one can achieve his goals with a habit-based approach for finding and sticking to your “true north” in order to attain your goals. He says, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny”.
This book is an actionable self-awareness and improvement guide for people who want to improve themselves from the inside out and set an example to the world. A glance into this powerful book:
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.'”
#5 Bad Blood
Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Author: John Carreyrou
Rated: 4.4/5 on Goodreads
The last one’s a page turner. This nail biting non-fiction was written by John Carreyrou in 2018 and received huge critical acclaim for its brutal honesty and eye-opening practices of Silicon Valley. The story is of the aggressive rise and heartbreaking fall of a multibillion-dollar biotech startup Theranos, headed by Elizabeth Holmes. The prize winning journalist started investigating Theranos in 2015, and pursued it to the end whilst resisting heavy heat and pressure from the CEO and her lawyers. For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees as the tech she claimed to possess didn’t actually work. John has been further applauded for his non-apologetic admission of his own involvement in the story and has gone on to receive several prestigious awards like The New York Post’s list of the 28 most unforgettable books of 2018, NPR’s Guide To 2018’s Great Reads, the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, etc.
So here’s the naked truth about one of the biggest corporate frauds in the history of Silicon Valley:
“A sociopath is often described as someone with little or no conscience. I’ll leave it to the psychologists to decide whether Holmes fits the clinical profile, but there’s no question that her moral compass was badly askew.“