“The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company.”
Actionable tip: Take Care of The People, The Products, And The Profits – In That Order
Ben Horowitz discusses this quote from Jim Barksdale at length. If you take care of your people first, they’ll stick by you when problems arise in the product or profit areas. A strong team can solve most problems, especially the ones you can’t solve alone.
People are the most difficult area to take care of, but you’ll learn quickly that they’re also the backbone of your business.
Prompts you to question your business idea so you can find new, and hopefully better ways to serve your audience.
Getting from Zero to One is the hardest part of starting a business because you’re moving from nothing to something, essentially creating something that doesn’t yet exist.
This book positions innovative startups as builders of the future. We don’t know what the future will look like, but we do know that it will be different. By creating something new and different, your startup is building the future.
The most important lesson I learnt from this book is that “Competition is most fierce for mediocre things” — easily achievable things are counterintuitively difficult because everyone is doing them.
“Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.”
Actionable tip: Don’t build a culture, define a mission
Startups often throw time, money and energy into building a strong company culture. But a well-defined mission to build a company that is innovative and unique enough to change the world will unite your employees way more than any team-building activity can.
Put time into defining your mission and constantly reminding your team why it matters.
A valuable manual for instilling inspiration in your team, and removing the obstacles that get in your way.
Written by one of Pixar Animation Studios co-founders, Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc. explores creativity and what it takes to lead creative teams to bring ideas to life. Before something exists, it must be created in someone’s mind. That was the case with Toy Story, the first-ever full-length digitally animated film.
The book has important lessons about building trust and candor in the workplace because creativity can’t thrive without them.
"Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it."
Actionable tip: Protect new ideas, or as Ed calls them, ‘Ugly Babies’.
New ideas often arrive incomplete and poorly defined. It’s much easier to write off the ugly babies than to treat them like they’re going to become the next Toy Story.
But that’s the thing with projects as great as Toy Story, they all start as ugly babies and become great with nurturing, time, and patience. Protect the ugly babies because they’re the future of your business.
Essential food for thought to make sense of some macro trends like AI.
After taking us back in time with his previous books Homo Deus and Sapiens, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century unpacks what’s happening in the present. Harari gives perspective on a range of modern-day issues from inequality to AI to planning the Olympics all the way back in 1016.
“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.”
Actionable tip: Start practising mindfulness in your day-to-day life
The overarching message in this book is that we need to stop worrying. Harari isn’t saying we can solve problems by meditating, but practising mindfulness will help us worry less about the things we can’t control so we can focus more on the things we can.
As the world becomes a smaller place, we’ve become more aware of global issues and less willing to tolerate misery and misfortune. Mindfulness is the only way to gain clarity while navigating the 21st century, especially for founders and leaders.