The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

What author Guy Kawasaki says:

This book is a weapon of mass construction. My goal was to provide the definitive guide for anyone starting anything. It builds upon my experience as an evangelist, entrepreneur, and most recently, as a venture capitalist who found, fixed, and funded startups.

The book is as relevant for two guys in a garage starting the next Google as social activists trying to save the world. GIST: cuts through the theoretical crap, theories and gets down to the real-world tactics of pitching, positioning, branding, recruiting, bootstrapping, and rainmaking.

Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics

Author: Paul Ormerod

Failure is a part of life, both in business and science, which is very much ignored in the business world, actually causing more failure. The book examines failure from three different aspects.

  1. a documentation of failure
  2. the subtle patterns found in the apparent disorder of failure
  3. the causes of failure

According to the author, understanding failure is more likely to lead to success than understanding success. Below is an excerpt that seems to sum up the author’s stance on failure.

“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, “How do I build a small firm for myself?” The answer seems obvious: “Buy a very large one and just wait.”

Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out

Author: Douglas Rushkoff

The first line of Get Back in the Box pretty much sums up the book. “There is no Next Big Thing. In fact, the more things seem to change, the better opportunity you have to stay the same.”

Rushkoff, who is a writer of ten-or-so bestsellers, explains throughout this book that the best way to innovate is to focus on your core competencies, create an innovation conducive work environment, and focus on your customers needs. Pretty straight-forward, but very insightful into the way to do this and full of all sorts of examples. Th interview by Kris Krug in the review snippets is great as well.

The Apple Way

Author: Jeffrey L. Cruikshank

More than just a history book, “The Apple Way” offers “12 Management Lessons From The World’s Most Innovative Company.” With topics ranging from the love/hate relationship with Mac User Groups to why Apple has an edge over Microsoft because they control the hardware AND the software of their products.

In all, this book addresses the history and business side of Apple and not so much the technology side. In it’s most basic reading, you learn the four rules.

  1. Make the customer king
  2. Make the product king
  3. Break the marketing mold
  4. Build the learning organization

And how Apple did them right…and wrong.

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

Author: John Battelle

Battelle introduces a term he calls “Database of Intentions, which is the sum total of all queries that pour into search engines daily, revealing the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of our culture.” It is obvious in the book that Battelle is more interested in search in an anthropological sense more than Google itself, though a lion’s share of the book is focused on Google.

A Clear Eye for Branding

Author: Tom Asacker

A Clear Eye for Branding focuses on debunking branding myths that permeate the business world. The author is a former strategic planner for GE, co-founder of a medical device company, and a well-know brand consultant and author.

The best description of the ideas in the book is an excerpt from the book itself.

“Behavioral economics have taught us that there is a lot more involved in a purchase decision than a simple price/benefit analysis… Feelings drive behavior… Your ultimate business or organizational advantage lies in discovering your audiences desired feeling. And then, once discovered, to get creative and develop consistently positive experiences so your audience can bring those expected feelings to life.”

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

Author: Thomas L. Friedman

The World is Flat examines the flattening, or connecting, of the world over the last few years since 9-11 and the dot com bust. Thomas L. Friedman, author of the New York Times “Foreign Affairs” column, explains how the world is now flat, or connected, through the disappearance of trade and political barriers and the increase in technological breakthroughs.

According to Friedman, Globalizations 3.0 (his term) is led by freelancers and entrepreneurs who effectively compete in the new climate created by these changes. A good resource for anyone wanting to learn about new economy globalization and how to take advantage of a flat world.

Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity

Author: Lawrence Lessig

Ok, this is two “non-business” books in a row. I apologize to those in need of the newest airport best-seller, we’ll be getting right on it next week. This one is good though. Free Culture is all about how the American tradition of mixing and remixing culture and ideas, building on those around us and that came before us, is being quashed by dramatic changes in the scope and intent of content protection, especially copyright.

Understanding the ideas regarding the nature of creativity in this book is sure to help any entrepreneur, especially any Internet entrepreneur. There is even a section on how the ideas in the book affect entrepreneurial innovation (called Constraining Innovators). The author is a Stanford Law professor that specializes in cyber-law and has amazing insight into how law affects the way society is shaped. You can get the book from Amazon or you can get a free E-book from Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture Web site.

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

Author:James Surowiecki

Surowiecki goes over types of crowd wisdom, types of crowd wisdom, and failures of crowd intelligence and how when certain factors combine, the wisdom of the crowd is much more accurate than the wisdom of individuals, even experts. One of the stories he uses to illustrate this is a study done in the 19th century by a British Anthropologist named Francis Galton. In the study he took an ox to a county fair and had people guess its weight. He also had cattle ranchers and farmer (experts) guess the weight. The general public as a whole did much better at guessing the weight than the so-called experts.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t

What author Jim Collins’ says:

Based on a five-year research project, Good to Great answers the question: “Can a good company become a great company, and, if so, how?” True to the rigorous research methodology and invigorating teaching style of Jim Collins, Good to Great teaches how even the dowdiest of companies can make the leap to outperform market leaders the likes of Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

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