The best books about entrepreneurs and innovation

Lawrence Ingrassia Author Of Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy
By Lawrence Ingrassia

Who am I?

Innovators, entrepreneurs, and inventors have shaped the history of the world, touching our lives in countless ways every day. As a business journalist for four decades - at the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times - I’ve covered companies of all sizes, watching some (like Walmart, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon, Apple) grow from startups to giant multinationals, while others have imploded – or never have gotten off the ground. I've found that there's often a compelling story behind them, about the founders, their leadership style, what they saw that others didn’t, how they deal with adversity (and sometimes don’t). Writ large, they tell the story of where we came from, how we got here, and where we are going, which makes them endlessly fascinating.

I wrote...

Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy

By Lawrence Ingrassia,

Book cover of Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy

What is my book about?

For ages, the world of consumer products was dominated by corporate giants. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came Dollar Shave Club and its hilarious marketing targeting mighty Gillette. ThirdLove and its better-fitting, half-cup-size bras challenging Victoria's Secret. And Warby Parker peddling inexpensive eyeglasses online to take on Lenscrafters. These startups - since joined by hundreds more offering every imaginable consumer product - are Davids that had the audacity to confront business Goliaths, changing what we buy. How did they do this, against all odds?

Billion Dollar Brand Club takes you inside a business revolution, chronicling how an unlikely band of entrepreneurs reinvented the way new brands are created, by taking advantage of technology that has leveled the playing field and enabled innovators to compete - on price, value, quality, speed, convenience and service - and humble long-established players.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Why did I love this book?

Innovation comes in unusual sizes and shapes, but few over the past half-century have had as much impact as the mundane, rectangular steel shipping container that is the star of The Box. The best entrepreneurs come up with ideas that solve problems, and Marc Levinson tells the story of the trucking executive who reinvented the way products are moved around the globe. Put simply, containerization made globalization possible. "It was not routine for shoppers to find Brazilian shoes and Mexican vacuum cleaners in stores in the middle of Kansas. Japanese families did not eat beef from cattle in Wyoming, and French clothing designers did not have their exclusive apparel cut and sewn in Turkey and Vietnam," Levinson notes. Shipping may not sound sexy, but he takes us on a fascinating journey about a transformational innovation.

By Marc Levinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried fifty-eight shipping containers from Newark to Houston. From that modest beginning, container shipping developed into a huge industry that made the boom in global trade possible. The Box tells the dramatic story of the container's creation, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted, and the sweeping economic consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that containerization brought about. But the container didn't just happen. Its adoption required huge sums of money, both from private investors and from ports that aspired to be on the leading edge of a new…

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Book cover of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Why did I love this book?

Jeff Bezos will go down as one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his time, and Brad Stone wrote the definitive book about the rise of Amazon. The Everything Store is a tour de force of reporting that shows how Bezos combined an obsession with putting the customer first with a vision of deploying technology as a tactical weapon to innovate industries and upend established players (by selling books online, creating the Kindle for e-books, storing data electronically in the cloud, using voice recognition to develop a must-have device). It didn't happen overnight - remember how long Amazon lost money? - and there were missteps along the way. No, your company will NOT become as big as Amazon, but you can learn many lessons from Bezos about how to succeed.

By Brad Stone,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Everything Store as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Medical information sciences are emerging as a vital field of study and practice. The subsequent explosion of data-- in administration, research, diagnosis, and treatment--along with the associated costs of maintenance, have become overwhelming. The volume brings together scholars and practitioners from disciplines concerned with the acquisition, analysis, accessibility, and application of information in medical practice and health care. The book is divided into five sections: the first part provides an overview of the field in general; the second deals with the problem of retrieval; the third part examines the control of health costs; the fourth focuses on medical decision support;…

Book cover of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Why did I love this book?

Many would-be entrepreneurs, for obvious reasons, devour books about successful entrepreneurs. But it can be just as important for them to understand what can go wrong and why, even with startups that initially seem to be successes. John Carreyrou tells the riches-to-rags saga of Theranos, and what a story it is. It's a cautionary tale of hubris by a founder who lost her bearings, of advisors who failed to properly advise lest they lose favor, of credulous partners and investors. Entrepreneurs who might be tempted to cut corners, refuse to listen to internal dissent, and sell a narrative instead of getting the product right, should absorb the lessons of this book.

By John Carreyrou,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bad Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking true story behind The Dropout, starring the Emmy award-winning Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews and Stephen Fry.

'I couldn't put down this thriller . . . a book so compelling that I couldn't turn away' - Bill Gates

Winner of the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2018

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers.

In 2014,…

Book cover of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Why did I love this book?

First published in 2012, The Power of Habit still occasionally pops up on bestseller lists. That's because it is timeless in many ways. Do you think you understand why you do things the way you do them? Charles Duhigg shows through engaging vignettes that many habits are formed unconsciously, explains the science behind them, and tells how people and companies can change and harness them for success. Like how getting workers to focus on important "keystone" habits can make a huge difference in getting desired results. Or the value of instilling shared habits so everybody on a team works in sync (literally, in the case of the Indianapolis Colts when they won the Super Bowl). Though not about entrepreneurship per se, The Power of Habit offers lessons that can help founders understand and shape their employees’ behavior, and make them more productive and happier. Plus, it is a fun and fast read!

By Charles Duhigg,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Power of Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This instant classic explores how we can change our lives by changing our habits.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporterCharles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents…

Book cover of The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Why did I love this book?

If you're an entrepreneur seeking practical advice to help think through challenges you are likely to face, and the problems that you need to avoid, read The Lean Startup. Eric Reis writes lucidly about what separates winners from losers, and he does it from the vantage point of a founder who has both succeeded and failed - and learned lessons from both experiences: When to stay the course, and when to pivot. How to figure out what customers will pay for. Why management matters. "Instead of making complex plans that are based on a lot of assumptions, you can make constant adjustments with...the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop," he explains, with case studies on applying these lessons to startups.

By Eric Ries,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Lean Startup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'The Lean Startup changes everything.' - Harvard Business Review


Most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable.

The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Essential reading for any ambitious entrepreneur, The Lean Startup will teach you to identify what your customers really want. You'll learn how to test your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late.

With over a million copies sold across the globe, now is your time…

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