Entrepreneurship in the age of startups, when all happens fast, is all about doing, trying things out for your self, practice, not theory. Seize the opportunity, carpe diem, jump on the bandwagon, act now – I can go on and on with the cliches.
And that’s all fine and dandy, I’m personally glad there’s more stress on action than words these days (says the person who deals in words, oh the irony!), but lets not stretch that too far. Yes, you learn best by doing, but there’s also something in letting other people try, and learning from their mistakes or right calls.
Education is all about learning rules and tricks of the trade, but also what other people before you did and what they tried. You know, someone else invented penicillin so you don’t have to play around with bacteria hoping a fortunate accident will occur in your Petri dish and rid you of that microscopic pest. We would never have gotten far as a civilisation if we never took notice of what other people did.
I’m still all for good old formal education (as to why, I think Maša explained it pretty well in her post), but you can also take a crash course focused on your field of interest by reading some handpicked literature.
Oh, but you’re a super-busy entrepreneur, you’ve got no time to read.
Ha! Got ya there – you have time to listen.
On your commute, walking down the street, in the gym, what better time to tune into an audio book!
So here’s my pick:
Let’s start with the basics – this is the go-to book for startup newbies, that will give you all the ins and out of the fast paced, innovation-driven startup economy. Eric Ries explains how to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty, but in more practical terms, this book just might save you from making a lot of rookie mistakes.
If you’re wondering what the hell design thinking is and if it has something to do with picking the right curtains, I suggest you first read the report on a speech by Elina Zheleva, delivered on the stage of the last year’s Spark.Me conference. As she put it, quite plain and simply, design thinking is developing (a product/service/process) with the end user in the mind.
This book by Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO expands on how the mindset and approach of a designer can transform the way you develop anything and help your business, whether it’s a starving startup or corporation.
Scott Berkun, who was also a speaker at Spark.Me, explores the different approach to working, trying to answer the question “What is the future of work?”. He decided to experiment with the remote working model and see what other work conventions like a fixed workplace are completely redundant and reiterated just out of habit. Dressing up, endless meetings, email – can we ditch all that and get away with it? But the book is not just about letting old habits die – it’s about questioning old practices and experimenting, which should go hand in hand with the tag “innovative” that’s a choice word of just about every startup out there.
Time for some girl power! Oh, no, you manly man, don’t skip ahead, this goes for you too. Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook, shares her personal stories and uses research to shine a light on gender differences, as well as offers practical advice to help women achieve their goals.
This book followed her TED talk on all the ways women are held back – by the society and themselves, and its goal is to shift the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can do. It’s not a “woe me” type of book, but a pretty fact based down-to.earth one, and women should read it to become aware of the obstacles they put on their own paths, whereas men should dive into it to realise that some things that take matter of faculty are downright wrong, as well as counterproductive – for women and themselves.
Business, after all, is a social affair. You can’t make it on your own, against the world – you need to find the right people to go the distance with you and you need to know how to reach them. In his book, Guy Kawasaki talks about enchantment, a way of interaction which “transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity.” It’s all about changing your position from negative to positive – and that’s a quite handy skill to have in the business world.
…And just one more
I’ll let you pick this one by your self, but there’s one rule – this book will be completely unrelated to whatever it is you’re doing. I don’t care if it’s a fifth grade Math text book, Harry Potter novel, a collection of Leonard Cohen poems or a cook book. We toss around terms like “innovation”, “creativity”, “thinking outside the box”, but the truth is, when you spend so much time focusing on this one thing, you start constructing your own box around your head and never even notice the constraints you put on your oh-so-open mind.
Just get outside your head, your daily routine, your train of thought and read/listen to something completely different – that’s how you get the creative juices flowing and that’s how you free your mind to explore ideas that actually are innovative.