The Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf



Joyce’s Ulysses. Huxley’s Brave New World. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Some of the most important books ever published in the English language. Or so I’ve heard. I’ve never read them. Of course, I want to read them. I suspect most of us have a reading list we apparently only manage to add to.

Well, here a few more candidates. I took note of the titles and authors of every book that came up during presentations or discussions over two years in the Kauffman Fellows Program, which I’m proud to say I recently completed. Somewhere between a mini-MBA course, a field guide to best practices in venture capital and entrepreneurism, and a self-help seminar, the KFP offers a group of change-the-world-type Fellows the opportunity to listen and learn from some of the best minds in business and innovation. Needless to say, I made sure to listen closely to what these people were telling me. What they were reading, or did read and deemed valuable, seemed important too. I think I caught every literary reference. To be clear, this isn’t a class reading list or required texts, but rather a compilation of off-the-cuff comments on impactful reading from a group of highly accomplished business people.

Here’s the list:

  • • Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together – William Isaacs
  • • Thought as a System – David Bohm
  • • Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, Richard Boyatzis
  • • Silent Messages: A Primer of Nonverbal Communication – Albert Mehrabian
  • • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  • • The Speed of Trust – Stephen R. Covey
  • • The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History – Douglass North and Robert Paul Thomas
  • • Crossing the Chasm – Geoffrey Moore
  • • The Post-American World – Fareed Zakaria
  • • Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable – Patrick Fencioni
  • • Ethics for the Real World – Clint Korver
  • • Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
  • • Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People – Bradford Smart
  • • Joyless Economy -Tibor Scitovsky
  • • Mr. China: A Memoir – Tim Clissold
  • • Sharkproof: Get the Job You Want, Keep the Job You Love… in Today’s Frenzied Job Market – Harvey Mackay
  • • Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae – Steve Pressfield
  • • Where Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson:
  • • The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures – Dan Roam
  • • How We Decide – Jonah Lehrer

Looking over it now, I see an overarching theme of effective leadership, one of the most important elements in successful entrepreneurship and company building. Leadership is an expansive concept, so works on communication and team-building, ethics and integrity, and reflections on personal strengths and fallibilities all emerged from the group discussions.

I suspect that I’ll peruse most of these books at the library or bookstore, yet read only a few in their entirety. As I’m prone to do, which is somewhere in between I guess, is read a few thorough book reviews, and walk away feeling like I’ve read the books themselves. I can’t be the only one guilty of that infraction.

Of course, if you have a reaction to the list or suggestions for additions, please leave a comment below.

Adam Bristol

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