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I firmly believe that entrepreneurs that read have an edge over those who don’t. Where I am, the summer holidays are coming up. People tend to read on holidays.
I thought I would give you some unusual book tips that are useful for founders and startups. Beyond the Lean Startup, 4 Hour work-week or Atomic Habits. I suggest 4 books and 2 longreads.
Book: The first internet was in 1850
*The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage*
TL;DR: You want to learn how innovation setbacks aren’t that different two centuries ago
What can you learn from innovation around 1850? Well, innovation is implementation. A working prototype doesn’t guarantee mass adoption. In this book, you are taken on a historical journey of the electronic telegraph.
There are so many charlatans, idiots, geniuses and anything in between that lay ground for this groundbreaking technology. You will recognise the setbacks you experience with your 2022 startup. It’s a fun read.
Book: When is something validated?
Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okasha
TL;DR: You want to learn what it means for something to be true.
“When is it validated?” is one of the most frequent questions I get. As for Lean Startup, the scientific method relies on empirical data to ascertain the truth.
However, there are a lot of nuances here. If you want to deepen your understanding of what it means to do science this book is for you. It comes from a great series ‘A very short introduction to’, which is of academic quality yet without too many pop-science vibes in 100 pages.
Book: Why billionaires do charity stuff
Winners take All by Anand Giridharadas
TL;DR: You want to acquire a more sceptical perspective on charity done by large orgs
Of all books that critically review capitalism, Winners take all by Anand Giridharadas gives you a fresh perspective. His pitch:
Billionaires don’t get to do charity work because they have a lot of money. They have a lot of money because they get to do charity work.
It flips your perspective on all the positivity changing the world charade. The Guardian called it “my favourite hate-read of the year”. The Economist called it philanthrocapitalism. What a word.
Don’t want to read? Watch a talk with him on YouTube
Book: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world
Range by David Epstein
TL;DR: This book breaks down the idea that you need to pick one path in life and stick to it.
I’ve had 21 different jobs between age of 15 and 21. That’s quite a lot. Often the path of having many jobs is seen as a bad thing. But is it? In his book Range, David Epstein explores how people find what they are good at and how they get better.
Want to get good at free throws in basketball? Don’t just practice from the free-throw line. Also, practice from the 3-pointer line and closer to the net. He makes a compelling case for generalists.
Longread: Harrari is a populist
The Dangerous Populist Science of Yuval Noah Harari by Darshana Narayanan
TL;DR: Learn how science populists such as Harrari can give you an oversimplified view on reality.
Sapiens is a favourite book of a lot of people. I remember digesting it like candy. So easy. Almost too easy. This long-read critically reviews Sapiens and shows how nuance is lost and reality is framed.
Very much recommended to read as a lot of non-fiction people read are popular science books. If you need to load up on grains of salt to take, this long-read is for you.
Longread: Confidence gap between men and women
The Confidence Gap by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
TL;DR: An article that shows the science of how and why male and females differ in confidence.
It shows that there are many biases and imbalances in our society. It gives you ideas of where these imbalances can come from.
For instance, on average, men have higher levels of testosterone and therefore are more likely to take risks. This affects how they work, for instance in taking more risks in trading. It nuanced my perspective here and allowed me to empathise more with both groups.
What am I reading this summer?
These are on my list to read this summer. I will probably finish half of them.
The Cold Start Problem - on how to build/scale marketplaces and platforms
Serotonine by Houellebecq
Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera (short stories)
How was this one?
Voting is anonymous and makes me smile like a silly goose.