What are great books for founders?
Shared by Klog · 112d ago · 43 comments

I continue to find good books more valuable than anything else. A chance to fully immerse in a story and adopt someone else's view for an extended time. I'm currently reading Uncanny Valley, but curious what other startup and startup-adjacent stories you recommend?

dankelly · 105d ago

The Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey

Klog · 104d ago

Cool. Ty! what were the highlights for you?

dankelly · 104d ago

The book is written by Square co-founder Jim McKelvey. McKelvey does a deep dive into how Square was one of the few (only?) companies able to compete directly with Amazon and win.

The gist is "Make your product better on a bunch of different dimensions than your competitors eg. design, business processes, user experience, underlying tech etc. AND make replicating these things impossible or very difficult"

It's a great read and IMO should be way more popular than it is

Klog · 104d ago

Just bought it! Cheers.

Klog · 90d ago

Just read it! Thought Jim was pretty self-aggrandizing, which made it hard to engage. Most appreciated the stories of IKEA, Bank of Italy and Southwest. Inspired me to read more into each.

Innovation stack is something you see at every successful company, so I'm not sure where he gets off on saying Square is particularly unique among giant companies today. Felt more like a self-congratulatory book than anything else.

Some good points throughout. One of the most practical was: don't talk to investors until you've built something, you have a functioning team and happy customers.

Thanks again for the rec!

braddwyer · 111d ago

My two favorites are “Zero to One” and “Founders at Work”.

Klog · 111d ago

Would love to read Founders at Work 2.0 with an updated cast...

narcissa.xyz · 110d ago

There is something very charming to reading about entrepreneurs from the 90s

jeremiahikwuje · 111d ago

Zero to One by Peter Theil.
The Art of Start by Guy Kawasaki
If YC articles is a book, it is the best.

Klog · 111d ago

Thanks! Hadn't heard of The Art of the Start.

andrew-miit.co · 111d ago

Angel - Jason Calacanis
Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely
Zero to One - Peter Thiel
Smart Faster Better - Charles Duhigg

Klog · 111d ago

Awesome, thanks! How did you find Angel helpful?

andrew-miit.co · 110d ago

A lot of great advice on what makes a great startup. Though it's a masterclass on Angel investing, it cuts to the bone of things founders should and shouldn't spend their time on. I've read it three times.

Klog · 110d ago

Oooo very interesting, what're some of the salient points?

coreypewhairangi · 106d ago

Atomic Habits by James Clear and Zero to One by Peter Thiel. You can download them for free on pdfdrive.com if you haven't read them yet.

Klog · 104d ago

Awesome, thank you! Zero to One popular in this thread... need to read. Thanks again.

louisneilkorsten · 109d ago

The hard thing about hard things is also a really good one! Go have a look at www.bookt.app, maybe it can give a few ideas for your next read.

gabiimmelman · 109d ago

I love this book too!

Sal · 109d ago


ashwinkumar · 110d ago

My recent favorites: 'The Interaction Field' by Erich Joachimsthaler and 'Average Joe' by Shawn Livermore.

Klog · 109d ago

Cool. (Have been asking everyone -- what do you like about those two in particular? Key interesting takeaways? Thanks!)

estebanvargas · 110d ago

A lot of the ones frequently mentioned (Zero to One, The Great CEO within, etc.). Outside the "practical startup advice" genre I'm gonna go for Nassim Taleb's books. They're a collection of ideas around risk taking, luck, "predicting" the future, and decision-making.

Klog · 110d ago

Interesting! Seems like the type to write good essays as well... any in particular you've read and liked more than others? (Creating a master list from this thread, so many good materials.)

oras · 111d ago

It might not be categorised as a book for startups but "Anyone Can Do It" by Duncan Bannatyne.

Klog · 111d ago

Thank you!

alejoleivi · 111d ago

Lean startup - Eric Ries
Startup Nation - Dan Senor, Saul Singer

Klog · 111d ago

What's the main takeaway you had from both? Am curious.

alejoleivi · 110d ago

I think lean startup is a must. Describes the exercise of making a hypothesis, client validation and pivot.
Startup Nation is super interesting (at least for people like me, who live in emerging countries like Argentina!).

Klog · 110d ago

Cool. My impression of Lean Startup from the outside is "how to spend with leverage as a startup." I.e. how not to die by cutting costs and maximizing the most important decisions that require $$$. That would be an interesting book.

narcissa.xyz · 111d ago

Bought The Great CEO Within yesterday.
Reddit's CEO says the guy increased Reddit's valuation by at least a few billions.
(can't vouch for the source, the proba of it being true was sufficient for me to buy it)

Klog · 111d ago

Oof the title kills me, super Hallmark-y. But hope it's a good one, do report back!

narcissa.xyz · 111d ago

Also The Score Will Take Care Of Itself is one of the best startup books (or books period) i ever read

Klog · 110d ago

What's the skinny on that onne

narcissa.xyz · 110d ago

I really don't care about football. Like i never watched a single game, i'm European. But I found fascinating the way this outsider among coaches Bill Walsh took this team that was the worst in the whole NFL and made it one of the best ever in a few years by pushing everyone from the phone operator to the quarterback to to do everything perfectly, very rational and systematic planning and scripting of everything, lots of lists. It's no wonder it's one of Jack Dorsey's and Sam Altman's favorite books. His way of doing this really transfers very well wherever you want to be the best.

Klog · 110d ago

Cool. Ty

ZorianKazinski · 111d ago

The Founder's Dilemmas. Complete roadmap of the startup journey with academic data pooled from thousands of failed and successful startups from 2000-2010. Every mistake you can make and what that means.

Klog · 111d ago

Found this book super helpful for understanding equity splits and the "wealth or kingship" bifurcation.

ShaneDevane · 87d ago

What's your main problem and I'll try to help you

junaidchowhan · 88d ago

Straight Talk for Startups - It's a great read and structured in a way that you can use as a refresher or quick guide when you reach certain points or problems in your company.

nicoladefilippo · 109d ago

Customer development

jackson · 112d ago

Shoe Dog! Best of the best. Nike's origin story.

Klog · 111d ago

Love this book. Agreed. I wonder if there's a correlation between marathon running and successful company-founding...

ElijahMizrahi · 101d ago