I’ve spent way too much time consuming information about startups, entrepreneurship, and marketing. These are the most insightful resources I’ve found.
I believe that most people spend too much time researching and not enough time acting. But, I can promise you this: these resources won’t waste your time. Enjoy and let me know of what you think or if I’m missing anyone.
The book links are affiliates, because I would like it if this blog covered its hosting costs (roughly $10/month) and maybe even earned me a little extra money for ramen! I stand behind everything I recommend and if you buy a book and hate it, email me and I’ll Venmo you.
- The Twenty Minute VC Podcast: This is a wonderful podcast that is perfect for getting into the minds of the leaders of the tech industry (big names like Brad Feld, Matt Mazzeo, Guy Kawasaki have all been guests). The host, Harry Stebbings, is charming and insightful (and British!) and is a fantastic example of someone who has built a strong business & brand by consistently providing value and learning from feedback. I tweeted at him a few years ago when I first started listening to tell him I enjoyed the podcast, and he immediately wanted to know what he could do to improve. We’ve carried on a virtual friendship since, and he’s someone I look up to. Listen to this to learn the language of Silicon Valley, keep up with trends, and get insight into how some of the smartest minds in the world think about businesses. Shoot him an upvote on Product Hunt if you enjoy it.
- Traction: This is a podcast by a content guy that I really admire, Jay Acunzo. He interviews early-stage startup founders and digs into the little tactics that helped them get initial success. He works hard on his craft and it shows. You learn something from every episode and it’s an enjoyable listen.
- Unthinkable: This is another project from Acunzo, and focuses on marketing and the creative process behind it. He has great guests and just like Traction, he puts a ton of effort into creating something great.
- If you haven’t, check out the post I wrote about the blogs & newsletters the best VCs in the world read. It’s backed by data and features some incredible resources.
- Finimize: When I was writing the post about what VCs read every morning, the founder of Finimize responded to the list on twitter saying it was great but that he’d add finimize to the list. I checked it out and it’s great! It’s now one of the few things I read every day. It breaks down the world’s financial news into a few clean, well-written paragraphs and has a great brand (I also love that each newsletter has a little blurb at the beginning stating what coffee shop and drink it was “finimize’d” over).
- Andrew Chen’s blog is the best I’ve come across when it comes to growth and marketing. He delves into some of the math behind growth and has a really good feel for what is actually important in marketing for technology companies. He’s now the head of driver growth for Uber.
- The OKCupid blog: This is my favorite example of content marketing done right. There are tons of fascinating articles about dating that leverage OKCupid’s vast user data. I constantly find myself referencing this article in particular, about questions to ask on a first date. Read this for fun and to learn how to effectively grow an audience through content.
- Paul Graham’s Essays: You know the writer is a wildly successful tech mogul when the U/I looks like it’s from 1998. Graham is the founder of Y-Combinator and has written a ton about startups. He’s got loads of experience, is a very smart guy and everyone in tech has read his essays so you probably should too. The title of this blog comes from his essay of the same name (which endearingly features a recipe for rice and beans in the footnotes, as ramen isn’t very nutritious).
- Feld Thoughts: Brad Feld (one of the heavy hitters who was featured on the 20 Minute VC) has lots of articles about tech, investing, and life. He seems like a genuinely good person and I really like to hear his thoughts, especially his posts about dealing with depression in VC and about how to balance a career with a happy, fulfilling life.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Ben Horowitz’s book is fascinating and super entertaining. I never really wanted to start a tech company with the goal of scaling it to an IPO, but I want to even less having read this! At one point, Horowitz talks about going three weeks with 10 hours of sleep, total. Should be a must-read for any would be startup founder. Horowitz really gets into the dirt about the realities of leading a tech company and doesn’t hold back. I linked to the Audible version because the narration is really good and it’s highly amusing to listen to the narrator read the quotes from rap songs at the beginning of each chapter.
- The Power of Habit: This is a wonderful book about the importance of habits in our lives, and the science behind how to construct them. It’s probably the best, most effective and most interesting business self-improvement book I’ve ever read.
- The Elon Musk biography: Wonderfully written and fascinating. Elon is on another level, that dude’s probably not a human being. There are great stories about Musk’s work ethic and intellect, and a lot of interesting stuff about his management style. I don’t think I would want to work for him, but there’s no denying that he gets the absolute out of people who are tough enough to stick around.
- The $100 Startup: I liked this book because it emphasized something that’s had a huge effect on me: if you want to buy something, you should get into the mindset of “what can I create and sell to make this money?” instead of “How can I save enough money to get this” or “Can I work for someone else and earn this money?” It’s a powerful mindset shift and has led me to a lot of fun projects. It’s also got a ton of stories about companies with very low initial capital requirements, which are inspiring.
- Rework: Definitely listen to this book on Audible if you can. It’s one of my favorites ever and does a phenomenal job of conveying the virtues of a bootstrapped, small and nimble company. These guys are super sharp and have built an amazing brand all while telling traditional startup trappings (venture capital, fancy office space, hyper-growth) to fuck off.
- The Black Swan: Ostensibly a book about finance, this is probably the one book that has most influenced my personal life. It is a book about risk and the way humans perceive it. It’s led me to try to expose myself to lots of experiences with potential for a lot of upside but little downside (talking to a stranger on the subway, for example, or joining an early-stage startup) and to protect myself from long-tail risk (by diversifying my marketable skills, for example). If you can get past Nassim Taleb’s arrogance, it’s an incredibly profound book.
- The Lean Startup: This is so popular that it’s a bit of a cliché but it really is a must-read for anyone entering startups or entrepreneurship. I remember being astonished at the wisdom in this book when I first read it, and thinking, “how could I have never thought of this?” (I think this is often the mark of brilliant insight).
- The Y-Combinator “How to Start a Startup” series: I’m not a big video person but I know some people are. The biggest names in tech give talks in this series to those lucky geniuses over at Stanford and you can learn a lot from them. Just remember: everyone who wants to start a startup is watching the same stuff. This is both good and bad; it’s good to have a foundation but you can’t get too deep in the Silicon Valley hive mind or you won’t be able to have original thoughts and the next think you know you’ll be VP Growth at a marketing automation company and you’ll go to Burning Man and have an existential crisis and sell all your possessions and then write a Medium post about it.
- Jamie Dimon’s speech to HBS graduates: I am an unabashed Jamie Dimon fanboy and this is my favorite speech he gives. I believe it’s a must-watch for absolutely everyone going into any type of business. He lays out the principles he believes in, and he’s also an incredible public speaker. You could learn a ton just by watching this video with no volume and studying his body language. Do yourself a favor and watch it right now:
In addition to these, I also think you can find valuable information on Quora and Reddit if you poke around for the right stuff; these platforms are a good place to find people with smaller circles of influence who have a specific area of expertise.
Enjoy! And please do let me know if there’s something you think is missing, there’s way more good info out there than I could possibly have time to read.