[YS Learn] Top 7 books for entrepreneurs to dive into as 2020 comes to a close

As the year comes to a close, YourStory’s YS Learn presents you with the top seven books you can bury your nose in as you usher in the new year.

American entrepreneur and film producer Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” 

This year, we’ve come up with a list of recommended books that give an in-depth insight into work culture, building teams, mental health, and entrepreneurship. However, new books cannot be mentioned without bringing out the old. 

One of the key books on entrepreneurship is Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle. This book has been authored by business leaders at Google and Alphabet, and talks about some of the core foundations for successful leaders and coaches – people, trust, teams, and love. 

The evergreen Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz gained more flavour this year, as entrepreneurs have had to look deep within and make some tough and hard calls. And then there are the usual suspects like Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, Chaos Monkeys, Founders’ Mentality etc. 

Image credit: Vijeesh

Getting back to this year, some of the key books that entrepreneurs can end their year with are: 

Let’s Build a Company: A start-up story minus the bullshit

This is a tale of persistence and grit, and about a company built in India by two Indian founders – Harpreet S Grover and Vibhore Goyal. It is written with the hope that entrepreneurs can avoid the mistakes the founders made and learn from what they did right. 

Launched by Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Ola, and Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, at the YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks, the book tells the story of two founders who launched a successful business. It will help others navigate the journey of building a startup and help them conquer many challenges and obstacles that they may encounter along the way.

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

If there is one document online that is shared by most Silicon Valley biggies, viewed over five million times, and has been called “the most important documents ever to come,” by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — it is the Reed Hastings’  'PowerPoint deck that explains the working culture at Netflix’. 

Now, eight years later, CEO Hastings has put those learnings in a book titled — No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention. The book is co-authored by Erin Meyers, who is the author of The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, and a professor at INSEAD.

The US-based streaming giant has one hiring rule: “Unlike many companies, we practise: adequate performance gets a generous severance package.” 

What You Do is Who You Are 

Ben Horowitz’s new book What You Do is Who You Are focuses on the importance of the startup culture and why founders must walk the talk to create the values and traditions they want. 

In his book, Ben Horowitz writes: “Your culture is how your company makes decisions when you’re not there. It’s the set of assumptions your employees use to resolve the problems they face every day. It’s how they behave when no one is looking.” 

Ben combines lessons from history and modern organisational practices with practical advice on how the management and executives can build cultures to weather good and bad times.

Trampled by Unicorns 

In Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It, tech veteran and investor Maelle Gavet outlines why tech giants need to rebuild their sense of empathy and morality, makes the case for decisive leadership, and how COVID-19 can be the tipping point. 

In her first book, Maelle explores what is wrong with tech giants, how decisive leadership can prevent social media platforms from destroying society, and what Big Tech can do to self-regulate and make things right. 

Maelle says her 15 years in the tech world have taught her one thing: “The more a company relies on tech, the more it needs people who are curious about the world. People who have studied the past to try not to repeat it. People who understand how others will feel and react to a set of circumstances and change.” 

Funding your Startup - and other nightmares 

Funding Your Start-Up – And Other Nightmares authored by Dhruv Nath and Sushanto Mitra brings interesting anecdotes and learnings from the startup journeys of founders and their fundraising process. The book also tells stories about the entrepreneurs of small startups that were founded recently, and how the founders struggled to get funding. 

While there are many books telling stories of how startup founders and entrepreneurs became successful, few talk about the ones that failed. The authors believe entrepreneurs can also learn a lot from the failures.

Super Thinking- The Big Book on Mental Models 

In their book Super Thinking - The Big Book of Mental Models, authors Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann touch upon topics like making decisions, conflict resolutions, and steps that help us make decisions. 

The authors organise the mental models into nine chapters, and each of these focuses on conflict time management, organisational behaviour, resolving conflicts, and making decisions.

Mental Models: 30 Thinking Tools that Separate the Average from the Extraordinary

In his book Mental Models: 30 Thinking Tools that Separate the Average from the Extraordinary, researcher and author Peter Hollins talks about the key tools entrepreneurs need to keep in mind to make important decisions. 

Peter Hollins says the book is like the old saying, “To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”  

“You’ve got to have multiple models, and the models have to come from multiple disciplines — because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. Hence, poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines,” says Peter, who is a bestselling author and human psychology researcher. 
Edited by Kanishk Singh