This is what top VCs and entrepreneurs read in 2014 and recommend
As the year comes to an end we reached out to top VCs and entrepreneurs to find out what they've read this year and what they recommend for our readers. There is never a better time to make space for some reading than this holiday season. We had recommendations ranging from books related to startups and growth to history and philosophy to classics.
Suvir Sujan is the Co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners and was one of the Co-founders and Co-CEO of Bazee.com. Some of his investments include Snapdeal, Unmetric, Housing, and Olx. Suvir suggested five books that are mix of strategy, history, philosophy, and management.
Good to Great - This book by Jim Collins is a brilliant book on management which talks about differentiation between average companies and great companies. It also talks about certain traits of leaders which help companies become outliers in their space.
Checklist Manifesto - This is a brilliant book on execution. In this 200-page book, Atul Gawande talks about the power of checklists and how they can help us with most intricate and complex tasks in our day to day life.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - This book by Robert Prisig remains the top read when it comes to philosophy even decades after getting published. A must read book when it comes to philosophy and life.
Blink - Blink is a brilliant book by Malcolm Gladwell which talks about intuition and how it is developed after several years of intense practice. It also talks about how our brains work in different situations and why some people succeed by following their gut feeling in certain situations.
India After Gandhi - This is one of best resources when it comes to Indian culture and history, written by eminent historian Ramchandra Guha. It is a must read for people who are even slightly interested in history.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the Founder of One97 Communications Limited, the company behind Paytm. He has been at the helm of mobile revolution since its early days. Vijay, who believes in conserving time, money and energy for the long haul, recommends two books for people who are looking to build a successful company in the long run instead of calling themselves serial entrepreneurs.
Alibaba: Inside story behind Jack Ma - This book by Liu Shiying talks about how a seemingly unknown person took over the world by sheer hard work and passion. The book resembles a biographical account of Jack Ma's life along with the building of Alibaba. Says Vijay, “This was an incredible story for me. Especially how Ma, an underdog with no silver spoon, built Alibaba with his conviction and team.”
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and Age of Amazon - Another book Vijay recommends is by Brad Stone on building of Amazon and its pursuit of new ventures and possibilities. This book is a must for people looking to succeed in the long run.
Avnish Bajaj is the Co-founder of Bazee.com, one of India's earliest e-commerce website which was sold to ebay in 2004. Avinash Co-founded Matrix India in 2006 and is the Managing Director. Matrix has invested in some of the leading startups like Ola, Quickr, and Stayzilla etc. Avnish recommends four books to us.
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli - This is great for entrepreneurs as they go through tough decisions on a daily basis and need to separate the signal from the noise.
Greatness Guide 1 & 2 by Robin Sharma - A classic and worth rereading, ever so often.
The Way of Zen by Alan Watts - It helps one stay laser focused and in a ‘zen like’ state to achieve supernormal results.
Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson - Since that’s what it’s all about!
Aprameya is the Co-foudner and Director of Taxi For Sure. His recommendation is an eclectic mix of humour, philosophy and hands-on-gyan.
Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton – “It's an account of how Twitter accidentally became a multi-billion dollar business from a small startup. Gives great insights on leadership, team-building, creative thinking and everything that went into it. I really enjoyed this book. It was unputdownable.”
Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki – “This book really got me thinking on how to take care of your customers and let them be the focus of your business. And this is what has helped me in devising some of the customer centric initiatives at TFS.”
Calvin and Hobbes –“I know that this is an unusual recommendation for entrepreneurs, but personally, I love the Calvin and Hobbes series. One can really derive some deep insights from them. Some key characteristics of Calvin which include persistence, conviction, having faith in your partner, and patience, etc are very relevant to entrepreneurs and provide a lighter perspective to the serious business that we're in. It's also great to unwind with these at the end of a long, stressful day.
The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das - Using analogies from the ‘Mahabharata’, the book conveys the message that people can be both righteous as well as flawed. A CEO has to take decisions which seem flawed, but end up being righteous.
Raghunandan G is the Co-founder and CEO of Taxi For Sure, He recommends books which talk about the internal struggle of running a startup apart from behavioral psychology gems.
Hard Thing About Hard Things - For someone navigating through an industry at “war”, this book by Ben Horowitz is mandatory reading. “Missteps in aggressive and fast evolving scenarios are inevitable. ‘Hard Thing About Hard Things’ is about making difficult choices and bouncing back.”
Zero to One – “Peter Thiel is not one to mince words or have much regard for conventional wisdom. In my opinion, this book is an honest embodiment of his experiences and learnings. While it is often difficult to agree with some of his arguments, they are certainly thought provoking.”
Good to Great – “Jim Collins’ ability to look beyond what is outwardly glamorous into the substantive drivers of business success makes this book a worthwhile read. I found his views on the nature of leadership, building great teams, and the importance of honesty to be quite insightful.”
Predictably Irrational – “The sheer number of day-to-day decision points in a fast-evolving industry could often overwhelm a CEO. Dan Ariely’s book is a non-prescriptive, engaging and highly insightful read on the hidden biases that impact our decisions.”
Delivering Happiness – “Of all the themes that Tony Hseich explores in this book his take on company culture resonated the most with me. As TaxiForSure transitions from being a startup to a mid-sized organization, his advice on creating an enabling culture is both timely and relevant.”
Valerie Rozycki Wagoner
Valerie is the Co-founder of Zipdial, a disruptive marketing platform. Valerie suggests a book with a very practical and unique approach for every entrepreneur.
Direct Taxes Ready Reckoner (Dr. Vinod K. Singhania) - “My recommendation is a bit cheeky, and I believe an entrepreneur should definitely not spend time reading cover to cover. I confess I haven't. The main point is that any entrepreneur must employ expert consultants on all tax, compliance, and accounting matters in order to ensure all books and records are in world-class, pristine order. It is absolutely worth paying top dollar for top service providers on these topics to avoid future problems. And it is worth educating oneself at least to some degree using such page-turners as ‘Direct Taxes Ready Reckoner’.”
We will keep updating this space with more books and recommendation in days to come. If you want your reading list and book reviews to appear here, mail us at editorial [at] yourstory [dot] com and we might just consider it.