An entrepreneur’s work never ends, so many of you might not be taking summer vacations this year. But if you do have a chance to escape to the beach, pool or campground this summer, you’re in luck. With input from Erik Gordon and Josh Botkin (also professors affiliated with the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies) we did some thinking about the books that have inspired our own entrepreneurial ventures.
Below is a list of our favorite reads, ranging from the traditional entrepreneurial success stories to those focused less on building a business and more on the psychology behind taking risks, facing rejection and communicating. We hope our choices help to motivate your visions and keep your minds sharp and alert all summer long.
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1. The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands
Author: Eric Topol, M.D.
Topol, one of the nation’s top physicians, offers an inside look into the entrepreneurial side of medicine, providing insight into how technology will play a major role in its future and evolution. In The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands Topol compares the developing evolution to the “Gutenberg moment,” referring to the famous inventor of the printing press who forever changed the world by altering the consumption of the written word. In his book, Topol makes the claim that mobile Internet is doing the same for medicine, giving American citizens complete control of their own healthcare.
2. Who Built That: Awe-Inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs
Author: Michelle Malkin
It’s no secret that the “big” inventors are the ones who get all of the attention: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and most recently, Steve Jobs. The truth is that there are thousands of other entrepreneurs who are the masterminds behind the creation of the objects and technologies we have grown to need. In Who Built That, Malkin dives into the little-known stories of the inventors who have contributed to American innovation.
3. Crazy Is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags
Author: Linda Rottenberg
Some might not appreciate being referred to as “crazy,” but a true entrepreneur knows a little bit of madness can pay off in the long run. In Crazy is a Compliment, Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor, the world’s leading organization dedicated to supporting fast-growing entrepreneurs, offers a lowdown on how to take smart risks and focus attention on being more entrepreneurial.
4. DownBeat – The Great Jazz Interviews: A 75th Anniversary Anthology
Author: Frank Alkyer
According to Jim Price, America’s two great art forms are jazz and entrepreneurship. He says, “As business builders, we can learn so much about creativity, teamwork and harnessing diverse pools of talent to create magic by tuning into both the art and the sage words of the jazz masters.” The DownBeat, edited by Frank Alkyer, includes interviews from the greatest jazz musicians of our time who, in their own right, have similar perspectives as many entrepreneurs and innovators.
5. Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
Author: Elizabeth Lesser
If you’ve experienced personal loss this is a must-read. Even if you haven’t and you’re an entrepreneur or considering the startup life, it’s important to prepare yourself for rejection — people telling you you’re going to fail — and ultimately, for the real possibility of failure. Will this rejection and loss break you down, or can you grow from it? Broken Open is a collection of personal essays that helps entrepreneurs – or anyone – deal with the painful parts that sometimes come with putting yourself, your money or your dream on the line.
6. The Road to Character
Author: David Brooks
In the age of the selfie, at a time when popular culture shines klieg lights on the narcissist and the self-absorbed entrepreneur, Brooks helps remind us of the importance of character, humility, kindness and honesty. The Road to Character proves that at the end of the day, if entrepreneurs focused more on the relationships they created and built, the other metrics of success would follow.
7. The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
Author: John Gertner
Before there was Google, Apple or Xerox PARC, another company was busy churning out one world-changing invention after another: AT&T. For much of the 20th century, the magic happened at the company’s famous Bell Labs R&D center in Murray Hill, NJ. In The Idea Factory, get inspired by Gertner’s fascinating account of the quirky, brilliant folks who developed countless amazing technologies — including the transistor, the laser, photovoltaics and cell phones, among many others.
8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
Author: Daniel Kahneman
Think you know how people think? Think again. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Kahneman (one of the fathers of the field of behavioral economics) distills decades of research about human behavior and cognitive biases into an entertaining, informative read. Pick up a copy if you want to better understand how all of us – including your potential customers, partners and employees – really think and decide.
9. The Innovator's Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More Than Good Ideas
Author: Michael Schrage
If you’re a Lean Startup fan looking for more insights about how to “test and learn” effectively, look no further. In The Innovator’s Hypothesis, MIT Research Fellow Schrage writes the first page that he “champions simple, fast and frugal experimentation as the smartest investment that serious innovators can make.” And he means it, laying out a “5×5 framework” that requires a team of five people to spend up to five days developing a set of five business experiments (each costing less than $5,000 and taking fewer than five weeks to complete).
10. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
Author: Charles T. Munger
An enormous advantage for any great entrepreneur is the ability to step inside the mind of a great investor. In Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Munger offers a peek inside the life of an experienced financier, distributing words of wisdom for budding business people. One bit of advice, which he reveals early on, is “to read all the time.”
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