Not just another reading list – 10 must-read books by visionary minds in business

10 Must-read books by leading business minds
10 Must-read books by leading business minds

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, established CEO or creative professional – there’s no better way to learn than picking the brains of a leading business mind. Can’t get a meeting? No problem. Check out our list of the top 10 must-read books written by digital visionaries and expand your business horizons…


1) Without their Permission by Alexis Ohanian

“How the 21st century will be made, not managed”

width="125"About the author: Best-known as the cofounder of social news platform Reddit, which was acquired by Condé Nast in 2006, Alexis Ohanian is an American web entrepreneur, investor and activist.

The gist: Having sold Reddit for millions of dollars only a few years after graduating university, Ohanian’s recently released book lays out the framework on how to harness the power of the internet for business and “the good of humankind”. You’ll want to check out the animated book trailer, which is in Chinese (with English subtitles).

2) The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

“Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and create a new future”

width="125"About the author: Chris Guillebeau has been self-employed for his entire adult life – his entrepreneurial experience ranges from SEO to self-publishing. This past April, he achieved his goal, 11 years after setting it, of visiting “every country in the world”.

The gist: This New York Times bestseller is a guide filled with valuable lessons from a group of unexpected entrepreneurs who have learned how to turn what they do anyway into a way of earning a living and “gateway to self-fulfilment”.

3) Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

“Big ideas from the computer age”

width="125"The author: With entrepreneurs and journalists worshipping the essays on his hugely popular blog, Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham is, essentially, a deity in the startup world.

The gist: Having gone to art school to study painting after finishing a PhD in computer science, Graham shatters the popular belief that hacking and painting are different kinds of work. His book explores topics including the importance of beauty in software design, the programming language renaissance and how to make wealth.

4) Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

“Overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality”

width="125"About the author: Scott Belsky is the founder of Behance, an online portfolio platform for creative professions acquired by Adobe in December 2012. The Harvard Business School graduate is also an active angel investor.

The gist: Have a great idea but keep making excuses not to get started? This is for you. Because we know it’s not generating ideas that’s hard – it’s executing them. Belsky shares a number of techniques to help you get one step closer to making your idea happen.

5) Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

width="125"The author: Dubbed the “Henry David Thoreaus of entrepreneurship” by Inc Magazine, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are the duo heading up web-based collaboration app company 37signals.

The gist: Rework is a collection of short essays covering topics from taking on an unconventional business approach to advice on building up a team. Featuring eye-catching artwork, the book promises a refreshing outlook on succeeding in business.

6) The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero

“A field guide for makers. A love letter to design.”

width="125"The author: Frank Chimero is a Brooklyn-based digital designer who successfully funded his book project via Kickstarter in early 2011. With clients such as The New York Times, Microsoft and Facebook, he’s what one might call a “design entrepreneur“.

The gist: The short book – which is available for free online – discusses how we can look at problems and challenges through the lens of design. Why do we make things? Why do images arrest us? How can we make things that help all of us live better?

7) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

“Women, work and the will to lead”

width="125"The author: Though technically not an entrepreneur, Sheryl Sandberg is currently Facebook’s COO and Google’s former VP of Global Online Sales and Operations, which is more than enough experience for her to understand what it takes to build a company.

The gist: The book is an important read for both men and women for many reasons, but mainly because it spurs conversation on how women, even in the 21st century, continue to lack equality in the workplace.

8) Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

“The art of changing hearts, minds and actions”

width="125"The author: Guy Kawasaki, one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984, is a business advisor, speaker and investor. He is also the cofounder and managing director of Garage Technology Ventures.

The gist: In the book, Kawasaki stresses that business is more than processing transactions – it’s about transforming human interactions. At the core, it’s about how traits such as trustworthiness and likability are needed to make ideas happen and resonate.

9) Kill the Company by Lisa Bodell

“End the status quo, start an innovation revolution”

width="125"The author: CEO and founder of innovation research and training firm FutureThinkLisa Bodell has appeared in publications such as Wired, The New York Times and Harvard Business Review.

The gist: The multiple fist pumps pictured on its bright red cover suggest that Kill the Company is serious about breaking traditional modes of business thinking. Not only that, Bodell wants to help you fight the evils of complexity and complacency to create valuable change in your organisation.

10) The Dip by Seth Godin

“A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)”

width="125"The author: Seth Godin – author of 17 international bestsellers – is an American entrepreneur and marketer. Additionally, he is founder of user-generated site Squidoo and runs a hugely popular blog.

The gist: Most entrepreneurs know too well the rollercoaster ups and downs of starting a business. During the troughs, it’s easy to get into a questioning game of whether it’s time to quit or keep pushing on. Godin hopes that his book will help you gain some clarity on whether or not the venture is worth it.

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Image credits:
featured image – Flickr user See-ming Lee 

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