I’ve kept a list of every book I’ve read since 2007. It started as a piece of paper I would keep scotch taped on the wall next to my desk, then moved to a Memo on my Blackberry, and continued from there. As a kid, I remember libraries and bookstores representing a sense of infinite possibility, and still get a rush when I walk into one today. Books have played an instrumental role in my development as a creative, entrepreneur, business owner and lifelong learner, by forcing me to reimagine what I previously believed to be possible.
This series will catalog the books that have moved me more than others and I hope they provide you with the push you’re looking for. I’ve stayed away from the typical business/self-awareness books that many of us are used to hearing about. These are in no particular order. Enjoy.
The Tanning of America by Steve Stoute — This book was critical in reinforcing the notion that urban culture, people and style run the world. I made a decision after college to eschew the corporate world and embrace my creative nature. But that would decision would nag me for years. How much money did I leave on the table that I could’ve used to help my family? This book reminded me that culture and conversation are created by the artists, the do-ers, and the people who are on the ground living it, and that is where you want to be. Through his experiences, Stoute gives a rough blueprint on how to monetize, scale and make a living out of being in tune. As someone that has always embraced the intersection of culture and commerce, this was an important read. Also, all the Jay-Z, Nas and Puffy stories are an additional bonus.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance — I read this book during the first year of building my digital agency from scratch, and it hit me like a bag of bricks. I was working around the clock at this time, and was fielding constant criticism from friends and family. This book reminded me that being crazy about your work, being obsessive and having blinders to the rest of the world is okay (at times). It reinforced the notion that it takes a radical sense of commitment to get something off the ground and into orbit. It’s the only book on Elon that he has actually approved, so if you need a kick in the ass, this is a good one.
Rework by Jason Fried — Jason does a masterful job of deconstructing the necessary, everyday issues we face as entrepreneurs and does it without any pretentiousness. He’s an advocate of going lean and going smart, both pillars of my approach today. I must’ve read this book almost 5 years ago, and I still keep lessons from it with me close today. An essential for any founder, or veteran, who needs a new approach to old problems.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams — An unexpected gem from the creator of the Dilbert comic series. Adams’ story is an unlikely, but relatable one, and his ability to reflect and draw meaningful lessons from a plethora of failures is refreshing. It reinforces one of my personal mantras, “Fail to Learn” and the genius of this book lies in the way Adams’ tells his story.
The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone — I’m not the biggest fan of Mr. Cardone, but this book kicked my ass at the right time. It basically explains a simple, overlooked phenomena: It takes all your energy just to stay in the same place, so if you want to make progress you’re going to have to put in 10x the effort to actually move the needle. Sounds easy in principle, but tougher in practice. Cardone can be brash, but if you feel offended by anything in this book, then you probably needed to hear it.
Have thoughts on these or have a book I should read? Contact me on social at @anihustles.