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Inspiration from the bookshelves of top Silicon Valley leaders 

Tamanna Mishra
28th Aug 2017
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Good literature can bring perspective from outside our echo chambers and immediate surroundings. At the very least, it can provide some relief from monotony by transporting us to a time and space different from our own.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many of Silicon Valley’s most respected leaders are also voracious readers. Here are some of their favourite works; maybe they could inspire you too.

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Marissa Mayer – The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

One of the Yahoo CEO’s favourites, The Design of Everyday Things hypothesises that smart design is the next competitive frontier. This book is for anyone who has ever wondered why some products, devices, websites, and apps do better than others.

Tony Hsieh – Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

The Zappos CEO swears by this book because it throws light on good, instinctive leadership as the driving force behind levelling up company culture.

The book focuses on the cliquish, tribal nature of our organizations and employees, and how powerful these tribes can be. According to the authors, “Tribal Leadership shows leaders how to assess their organization’s tribal culture on a scale from one to five, and then implement specific tools to elevate the stage to the next. The result is unprecedented success.”

Elon Musk – Foundation by Isaac Asimov

The Tesla and SpaceX founder is quite taken in by science fiction, with Asimov’s Foundation series at the top of his list of favourites. The books are about rebuilding society using a foundation of engineers and artists in order to preserve the collective knowledge of the human race.

According to Musk, Foundation was the primary inspiration behind his endeavour to take humanity beyond the limits of the Earth.

Narayan Murthy – Winners Never Cheat Even In Difficult Times by Jon M Huntsman

A favourite of one of India’s most celebrated technology leaders, this book describes Huntsman’s journey of building a $12 billion company from the ground up. Huntsman contradicts the popular belief of and about the world of business that everyone cheats and cuts corners at some point. Huntsman believes in the power of integrity and writes about how it can work in the favour of businesses.

Mark Zuckerberg – Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

A deep dive into institutional and development economics and economic history, Why Nations Fail is the result of 15 years of research to understand why different countries and societies develop differently.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, “This book explores the different kinds of social institutions and incentives that nations have applied to encourage prosperity, economic development, and elimination of poverty.” In recent years, Zuckerberg has taken a deep interest in philanthropy and poverty alleviation through technology. The book has inspired him to dig deep and find innovative solutions to the issues that plague the global economy’s most affected lot.

Literature, both modern and classic, has proven to be a treasure house of knowledge and perspective. When it comes recommended by some of the world’s most intelligent and successful leaders, it is only natural to find out more what the hype is all about. Get your hands on these books and see what new doors and broader horizons they open up for you.

Here are a few more recommendations for your reading list:

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