On the CEO’s shelf | 11 must read books for an Entrepreneur.

On the CEO’s shelf | 11 must read books for an Entrepreneur.


Since almost everyone is sharing the list of the books that stayed with them for one reason or the other, long after they’ve read them, we decided to take a look at the bookshelf of our own CEO and find out what he recommends as the must-reads.

Here’s what we found:

1. Atlas Shrugged.
You can safely divide people into two categories. One who’ve read Ayn Rand and liked it, and two who’ve read Ayn Rand and completely dismissed her work for innumerable reasons ranging from disturbingly long, to 1200 pages of raging capitalism and repetitive narration to the overlooked imperfections in objectivism as a theory in general, which Rand fails to shed a light upon.

Anyhow, after the critically acclaimed The Fountainhead, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged just might be the much needed ‘reality check’ you’d expect, which of course leaves you wondering, ‘Who was John Galt?’

Quote to remember: “Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

2. The Godfather.

The almost epic piece of Mafia fiction, opens in 1945, with a mob war brewing between Michael Corleone and a rival family, where Michael, a Marine Corps hero refuses to get into his family’s elaborate drug trade business. Made popular by the The Godfather trilogy of movies that had Al Pacino bringing the role of the protagonist to life on screen, Mario Puzo, adds a different flavor to the books altogether.

Quote to remember: “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

3. Day of the Jackal.
Fredrick Forsyth brings to you a story of a professional assassin – The Jackal, a man unknown to any secret service across the globe, who is handed over the contract to kill the world’s most closely guarded man – Charles De Gaulle, the President of France.

The book is carefully divided into three parts – the anatomy of plot, the anatomy of manhunt and the anatomy of  kill, where we see Jackal preparing earnestly for his job, acquiring fake passport for his identity, commissioning a specialized rifle, researching and learning more about his target, picking just the perfect spot for his deed, and slowly moving on to the events of the big day when he stands behind his weapon to take on Charles De Gaulle.

Quote to remember: “It is cold at six-forty in the morning on a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.”

4. Hard things about hard things.

Written by Ben Horowitz, Co-founder, Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most experienced and respected entrepreneurs, Hard things about hard things, is his personal account of – ‘founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover.’*

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According to Goodreads, ‘His advice is grounded in anecdotes from his own hard-earned rise—from cofounding the early cloud service provider Loudcloud to building the phenomenally successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, both with fellow tech superstar Marc Andreessen.’

Quote to remember: “Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”

5. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business.

Harvard Professor and the author of this book,Clayton M. Christensen, begins by first telling us that companies can do everything by the book and still miss out on their marketing leadership, and worse, completely disappear and then proceeds to prove it and understand way to prevent it from happening.

By the end of it, he urges you to find out when to not listen to your customers, the perfect time to invest in a developing lower-performance product that promises even lower margins, when it is right to  pursue small markets instead of the more lucrative and marginally larger ones, and more.

Quote to Remember: “You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it’s effectively implemented.”

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6. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

Neil Strauss, a journalist, went undercover as ‘Style’ to know more about the working of the underground Seduction lair, hidden in every city, where men exchange devastatingly effective ways to impress and charm women. These men live together in houses called The Project, where Strauss spent two years to get an inside view of how the whole thing works.

This book is an account of his unforgettable time in The Project.

Quotes to remember: “In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn’t fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get to it. This isn’t because the universe is cruel. It’s because the universe is smart. It has its own cat-string theory and knows we don’t appreciate things that fall into our laps.”

7. Losing my virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way.

Richard Branson, the owner of the successful Virgin related ventures, that have taken over everything including Airlines, Retails, Music, Financial Services, Cola and even Bridal Wear, started with the philosophy of, ‘Oh, screw it, let’s do it.’

From one of the business geniuses of our time, who believes in living life to fullest, Losing my Virginity, tells us about the how he began his journey and how he has handled it over time.

Quote to remember: “In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”

8. Outliers: The story of success:

Author: Malcolm Gladwell
‘The most successful may not be the smartest or hardest working. Shift rather to where they are from. What is their culture, family, generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing? Where and when were they born? From Asian maths students to the British Beatles, stereotypes can be addressed through different eyes.’*

Quote to remember: “The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?”

9. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal.
Nick Bilton, a New York Times journalist, pens down the inside story of the making of Twitter, where its four founders – Evan Williams,Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey, and Noah Glass, went from just another engineers in the crowd to wealthy getting-featured-on-cover-pages-of-magazines celebrity.

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What makes this book different written on the same topic, is the exhaustive reporting, the never-seen-before sources, internal documents and emails, that makes it an intimate and detailed account of the journey of the six programmers from Silicon Valley to creating the 200 billion user worth social networking site.

Quote to remember: “Give a man a tree and he will make it into a boat; give him a leaf and he will curve it into a cup and drink water from it; give him a rock and he will make a weapon to protect himself and his family. Give a man a small box and a limit of 140 characters to type into it, and he will adapt it to fight an oppressive dictatorship in the Middle East.”

10. Only Paranoid survive.
Andrew Grove, Senior Advisor, Intel, ‘reveals his strategy of focusing on a new way of measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads–when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside.’*

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He talks about the means to deal with such a case of Strategic Inflection Point, which according to him if dealt right, will result into the company coming out stronger than before in the marketplace.

Quote to remember: “Admitting that you need to learn something new is always difficult. It is even harder if you are a senior manager who is accustomed to the automatic deference which people accord you owing to your position. But if you don’t fight it, that very deference may become a wall that isolates you from learning new things. It all takes self-discipline.”

11. On the road.
Written by Jack Kerouac, and published over forty years ago, On the Road, is the first hand account of a man who decided to spend years traveling the continent of North America, with his friend – Neal Cassady.

‘Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.’*

Quote to remember: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

*from Goodreads.

More from Rishabh Gupta:
10 things we wish interns knew.
23 things I will tell my 21 year old self.
7 reasons why Twitter is the ‘Entrepreneur’s Social Network’ and not Facebook. 





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