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

The Books I Picked & Why

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

By Marc Levinson

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

Why 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.


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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

By Brad Stone

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Why 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.


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Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

By John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Why 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.


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

By Charles Duhigg

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

Why 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!


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

By Eric Ries

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

Why 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.


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