What I'm Reading: Tools of Titans

This is a great book for an entrepreneur, or anyone who wants to maximize themselves and find deeper purpose in life. I picked up this book after finding it lying around during the holiday's at my partner's mom's house, and I couldn't stop reading it. It's organized into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. The sections are collections of chapters. Each chapter is a brief Q&A interview with a person. While I skipped the first section for the most part (it's all about how to become an ultra athlete and how to lose body fat, pretty much), I really enjoyed the rest of the book. In Wealthy, the best advice I found was for how to achieve a work-life balance. In Wise, I learned about how I could infuse more meaning and intention into my life. Overall, this was a great read for creating New Year's Resolutions. I have given this book as a gift to fellow entrepreneurs.

Source: https://toolsoftitans.com/

What I'm Reading: Return on Relationship

Unicorn Goods is built on the idea that people want what we have to offer. We have spent $0 on advertising in the past two years. Everything we have done has been word-of-mouth and social media. We have managed to build a following over 1K+ on Facebook and 6K+ on Instagram, but we can always do better. We have 10% growth goals for our Facebook and Instagram, and I'm determined to make sure we meet them. This book is great for anyone looking to gain better insight into just how a social media strategy should be though about and implemented. I highly recommend it. It's a quick read, under 3 hours on Audible or 2 hours on 1.5 speed (you know, I'm busy). I knocked this out this morning during my extra long weekend workout.

What I'm Reading: The Everything Store

This well-balanced look at the story of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos provides wonderful insight into how a tenacious and unrelenting leader can push an idea forward in the face of countless setbacks in old markets. Amazon, by innovating in the traditional and stale retail industry, shook things up big time. My favorite lesson is on frugality, which is one of Amazon's leadership principles: "FRUGALITY. We try not to spend money on things that don't matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for head count, budget size, or fixed expense." This comes through in the iconic Amazon door desks, which I used in my first startup as a cheap way to create desks and which Amazon still uses to this day in its offices. I recommend this for any entrepreneur with big ideas starting small with no budget.

What I'm Reading: The Advertising Effect

The Advertising Effect is a great compilation of case studies from the advertising world about how marketing can be used to influence consumer decision. I found this book interesting from a social enterprise perspective given the author's stance against using advertising to sell more products, and for advertising as a potential force for good, especially for social entrepreneurs. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning how advertising and marketing shapes consumer decisions, especially as it relates to social enterprise products and causes.

What I'm Reading: The Advantage

The breakdown of most unsuccessful organizations is communication. Good communication can make a good organization into a great one. A health organization is one that is conducive to good, effective communication, but this has to be nurtured, much like a plant. 

The Advantage is a great book for any entrepreneur who wants to learn how to run an effective organization. I would recommend this for any entrepreneur at any stage development, but especially for those who want to build a vibrant and healthy organization that people want to work on every day. In it, the author, a business consultant specializing in corporate culture, discusses how healthy organizations function and what drives them. I've taken these learnings and turned them into a how-to for effective organizations. 

How to Communicate

  • STEP 1: DISAGREEMENT
    • Strive for disagreement in meetings. Disagreement is healthy. It means that people are voicing their true opinions.
  • STEP 2: DEBATE
    • ncourage lively debate. Make sure everyone feels that they can truly express themselves and work through issues together. This is the concept of the ancient Greek agora.
  • STEP 3: CONSENT
    • s a leader, your role is to get direct consent for each individual at the end of big decisions. Literally go around the table and ask each person, "Do you consent to this decision and will you fully support its implimentation?" This ensures that everyone is clear and on the same page. 
  • TEP 4: COMMUNICATE
    • fter big decisions are made by leadership, it's the responsibility of the leadership team to quickly and directly communicate these changes to their teams by means of an in-person all-staff meeting. This should happen within 24 hours. An invitation should also be extended to anyone who is confused or who wants to discuss the decision to approach the supervisor at and time.

Another helpful thing I learned was that there are different types of meetings for different purposes. This helps everyone save time, and increases effective communication.

Types of Meetings

  • TYPE 1: The daily check-in
    • his should take no more than 5 minutes, be done in person, and be done standing. It's a chance for everyone to get face time, work through small technical detail questions, and get on the same page for what everyone's working on that day.
    • THE POINT: To build commeraderie.
  • TYPE 2: The weekly project management meeting
    • his should be done via color-coding red-yellow-green by project and should take no more than an hour.
    • THE POINT: To get on the same page and establish priorities.
  • TYPE 3: The topical strategic meeting
    • hese are called on an as-needed basis and last from 3-4 hours. 
    • THE POINT: To work through strategic problems.
  • TYPE 4: The quarterly off-site
    • his is the company retreat.
    • THE POINT: To take a step back and plan for the future.

What I'm Reading: The Innovators

This book is about the leading entrepreneurs and thinkers who contributed to the digital revolution. I love that it begins with Ada Lovelace, the first programmer, and goes all the way up to Al Gore. I found this book illuminating. It's written in a unified sequential narrative that makes the progression of innovation over long periods of time easy to understand. Walter Isaacson also wrote Steve Jobs' biography. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of digital innovation and they types of entrepreneurs who have had the most success in this field.

Startup Inspiration

As a startup CEO, I make a lot of Powerpoints. I have several dozen pitch Powerpoints alone. Powerpoint presentations are to entrepreneurs what English is to people who speak English, or code is developers. It is our shared language. 

My close friend and fellow startup monkey Stacey Meeker shared this Powerpoint with me last night packed with her favorite quotes for startup entrepreneurs. They're mostly from Y Combinator President Sam Altman, courtesy of TechCrunch. He might be my hero. If you're in the same boat we are, you'll understand. 

The last slide is a quote by President Obama. Go to the end.