Leaders Are Readers, they say.
Especially as an entrepreneurial leader, I need to take ownership of my own learning and growth. With no boss or a supervisor, I have found the following 4 blogs extremely helpful for independent learning.
One of my favourite startup blogs written by Paul Graham, the founder of the Ycombinator incubator. This blog is a compilation of more than 100 essays written by him on the idea of entrepreneurship and technology. The oldest one dates to 1993 when he started writing about the programming language LISP. So it is essentially almost 25 years of deep insights from mentoring and investing in hundreds of startups.
How to use this for team learning? With one of my clients, we used to pick up one essay per week and make it the opening discussion of the weekly founder call that I was a part of. It helped develop a common language between the founders.
The two questions stayed the same every week — One thing that has stayed with me from this reading and one thing that is applicable in our work. It is hard to pick favourites but I’d recommend starting with these three pieces — Startups in 13 sentences, What we look for in founders and How to make Pittsburgh a startup hub.
Ycombinator is a US-based organisation that provides seed funding and intense mentorship support to early-stage technology startups. They have been in existence for 12 years now and have supported more than 1400 startups including Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit. Their blog and website house rich reading material for an early founder. It is a combination of articles and videos, so you can choose one depending on your learning style. One innovative thing that they regularly do is office hours. Here a couple of experienced staff from Ycombinator sit across the table with a founder/co-founders and brainstorm their challenges at the moment. Check out one of the office hours here with Sam Altman, CEO of Ycombinator or this chat about finding a product-market fit in the education industry.
Stratechery is recommended by NY Times as “one of the most interesting sources of analysis of any subject”. Ben Thompson is the author and he writes on the strategy side of technology. He previously worked at Apple and Microsoft and is now settled in Taiwan. He writes this blog full time. This is a paid blog except for a weekly article open for all, which also is a good place to get-started for readers.
The real beauty of this blog is Ben’s subject-knowledge and thorough research which provides a lot of value to the reader. He breaks down a concept like Apple’s organisations structure in simple terms and then follows it up with a clear synthesis on it’s impact on the org strategy and the products. Ben’s ability to spot patterns and articulate trends is impeccable.
Even if you are not a technology startup founder, I would strongly recommend this blog for the simple purpose of understanding how and why technology is changing the world.
The guy who gave us the Lean Startup movement and the business model canvas has now retired but does continue to write on his blog. He writes often about innovation in organisations. Most of his essays are a deep study of a topic and not really a quick 3–5 minute read, as is the norm on a lot of blogs nowadays.
The website has a tonne of resources for entrepreneurs and a list of books for startups. It also houses his famous talk on the secret history of Silicon Valley. The blog is like the 101 of entrepreneurship. I would recommend this blog to a newbie entrepreneur looking for tools to get started!
Tip: With so much to read, I use the mobile app called Pocket on my phone to read voraciously. It simply stores all your articles and these are accessible to you all the time even when you are offline while in the underground metro or on a flight.
I am always looking for newer avenues to learn and I am sure I have missed out on many other great blogs. I would really appreciate it if you can leave any such links in the comment. I’d love to explore more.
I write often on leadership, entrepreneurship and coaching. Head to my Linkedin blog to read more!