ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Popular Business Books for Developers

7/28/2011 6:25:29 PM


I haven’t been working for a “man” since 2001. I never seriously looked back. I was making just enough money not to think about looking for a “real job”, but it always felt like it’s going nowhere. A certain someone always encouraged me to read these motivational, pseudo-business books, but titles like “Become a gazillinaire without lifting a finger while sitting on the couch” were so vomit inducing that I couldn’t even think about it.

In October 2010 I finally gave in, and, even though I’ve read my share of fiction and technical books in-between, I became kind of addicted to these popular business books (as I like to call them collectively). I don’t know if these books are in any way responsible for helping me start what I consider to be IT, but it was undoubtedly started in that period. So, I guess these books deserve some credit for sure.

  • The 4-Hour Workweek. Timothy Ferris. This was the book I chose as my first book of a kind. The title immediately appealed to me. It wasn’t some crazy title promising me millions in a month. That’s what I wanted – make enough money to chill on the beach, or work a little more and make even more money while still chilling on the beach. And put it on auto-pilot. Little did I know that the title was carefully constructed/selected using AdWords and landing sites to attract jerks like me. This book immediately challenged my moral compass, but it was really helpful and inspiring. At the very least I’ve derived my “email of happiness” concept from there and am happily using it since. Highly recommended.
  • ReWork. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book is from people I definitely respect and I totally like the business concept behind 37 signals. That said I don’t remember a thing from this book :) All I remember that I enjoyed reading it and that it was really really short. So maybe I should just ReRead it.
  • Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup. David Cohen and Brad Feld. This one is from the founders of TechStars startup accelerator program and includes lots of chapters from new and seasoned entrepreneurs. If launching something big and ambitious is your thing, then this is a definite must read. Highly recommended.
  • Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup. Rob Walling. This one is quite the opposite of “Do More Faster”. It preaches freedom and quality of life over striking it really big. Lots of useful advice inside. If you want to go big – read “Do More Faster”. If you want to create small profitable businesses and enjoy life – read this one. Want to get confused? Read both. Highly recommended.
  • How To Be The Luckiest Person Alive! James Altucher. I’ve discovered James’s blog recently and this book through it. That not as much a business book as a fun read with lots of life and business hacking advice in it. I’m a fan. Highly recommended.
  • Startups Open Source. Jared Tame. This one came recommended by a friend but I found it pretty boring. There are quite a lot of interesting bits in it. Author interviews lots of startup founders. But a couple of things annoyed me a lot. First of all the set of interview questions is 90% identical for all the founders. Reading the same questions over and over is pretty boring. The fact that most of the answers are quite identical too, didn’t help much. The other issue is that vast majority of the startups interviewed in this book (as Jared’s own) went through Y Combinator and unsurprisingly have very similar stories to tell. And unlike “Do More Faster” book that kind of made me want to apply to TechStars, this one left me with pretty negative, yet inexplicable, aftertaste for Y Combinator. Another thing – the magnitude of the founders/startups fluctuates dramatically – from people who started Reddit or Foursquare to someone who launched some random websites, slapped AdSense on them and made enough money to do something that’s is not even a business yet (nothing personal). I guess it’s fine if you want to just read interviews with people you are interested in selectively. But reading it cover to cover was something I shouldn’t have done.

That’s it for now. I’m off to read Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. I guess this is going to be the least “popular” read of the bunch, requiring a substantial amount of my brain power. But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be worth it.

Feel free to recommend books in the comments below.

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