What I’ve read in 2019

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

  • Operate in conditions of extreme uncertainty. Need to build a learning machine, fueled by a genuine desire to discover the truth that underlies my vision. Go deep — ask the 5 whys.
  • Build-Measure-Learn. Use time/speed and quality as allies.
  • State assumptions explicitly and test them rigorously. Start with riskiest assumptions. Bypass excess work that does not lead to learning. Eliminate risks.
  • Get to know your customer and their needs in order to create feedback loops.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

  • On believing: ‘we have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered.’ ‘…(there) are many more secrets left to find, but they will yield only to relentless searchers.’ JPM: I need to instill this sense of wonder in kids. There are important problems to solve, and breakthroughs to be discovered.
  • On the future: Look beyond the popular narrative that the future is purely chance… have a bold vision for it.
  • On courage: ‘Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius. ‘
  • On the job of a startup: ‘(they need to) question received ideas and rethinking business from scratch.’ ‘A great company is a conspiracy to change the world.’
  • Principles to start a business: 1) Start small and monopolize; 2) Scale up; 3) Don’t disrupt (avoid competition)
  • On what rules to follow: ‘The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.’
  • On learning startups: ‘(It’s) a methodology, not a goal.’
  • On competitive advantage: ‘As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage. Anything less than an order of magnitude better will probably be perceived as a marginal improvement and will be hard to sell, especially in an already crowded market.’
  • How to convince someone to work on your startup: ‘the opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem alongside great people.’
  • On building teams: Build a tribe of like-minded people fanatically devoted to the company’s mission. They should be obsessed with something those on the outside have missed.
  • On interviewing: ‘(Ask) ‘What is something you think is true, but that most people disagree with you on?’
  • On AI: ‘Replacement by computers is a worry for the 22nd century.’ ‘The most valuable businesses of the coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make the obsolete.’
  • On careers: ‘Less obvious but just as important, an individual cannot diversify his own life by keeping dozens of equally possible careers in ready reserve.’
  • On education: ‘Our schools teach just the opposite: institutionalized education traffics in a kind of homogenized, generic knowledge. Everybody who passes through the American school system learn not to think in power law terms. Every high school course period lasts 45 minutes whatever the subject. Every student proceeds at a similar pace. At college, model students obsessively hedge their futures by assembling a suite of exotic and minor skills. Every university believes in ‘excellence’, and hundred-page course catalogs arranged alphabetically according to arbitrary departments of knowledge seem designed to reassure you that ‘it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it well.’ This is completely false. It does matter what you do. You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

  • Get traction and build products in parallel: 50/50 split.
  • Explore 19 traction channels through a bull’s eye approach: Brainstorm possibilities, prioritize best choices for your business, test, and then focus.
  • JP choices: 1) Content marketing 2) Target Blogs 3) Email marketing 4) Speaking Engagements. Other: Sales, Social Ads, Publicity. +Facebook and LinkedIn as tools to do a few of these things.

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Other books I read in 2019

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk

  • An interesting read if you are looking for some marketing inspiration.
  • The so-called “immutable laws” are neither laws nor immutable. They are, at best, rules of thumb that often change and contradict each other.
  • A great example of an author creating a business book that leads to them being perceived as the authority in the field. There is a chapter encouraging the readers to spend more money on ads, and there is a ‘Warning’ chapter about the resistance they are about to face.
  • Notes for SparkPath: the Law of The Opposite (#9). Position SparkPath in opposition to the strongest attributes of the incumbent.

The 4-Hour Workweek

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

  • Paying attention to the lies I tell myself when I set, start and work on goals.
  • Recognizing the destructive role that perfectionism can play when working on a goal.
  • Key questions to ask myself when I set a new goal and measure my progress.

The 12 Week Year Field Guide

What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

Started but didn’t finish

Psycho-Cybernetics

Principles

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