5 Educational AND Entertaining Business Books to Read NOW

Founders/Startups Personal Development

I love to read.  And I almost exlusively read business books.  My favorites are both educational and entertaining.   Yes, business books can be entertaining – and even exciting.   For me, these are the ones that tell true accounts of the failures and successes of entrepreneurs/startups, and provide gems of wisdom, and lots of humor, along the way.   Below is a list of 5 of my 2010 favorites.  They make for great Holiday reading as well as great Holiday gifts.

1) Stealing Myspace – the myspace story is one of countless twists, turns, villains, and saviors.  Not only does it include a Who’s Who in today’s Internet space (Richard Rosenblatt of soon-to-go public Demand Media, Ross Levinsohn who was literally just hired last week to take control of  Yahoo!  Americas, and countless others), it also includes Sumner Redstone and Rupert Murdoch.   It reads like a great fiction book, but is an accurate account – which makes it all the more entertaining.

2) CRUSH IT – if you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk (“Gary Vee of WineLibraryTV”) is by now, get with the program.  This guy has more passion and energy when it comes to business development than I do – I am a HUGE fan!   The book is a quick read and a must read.  Its all about hustling and the best ways to leverage social media to build your personal brand and “cash in on your passion”.   Here are Gary’s 3 Secrets to Success – which I LOVE:

        Love Your Family
        Work Superhard
        Live Your Passion

Be entertained and educated by Gary daily by reading his blog www.garyvaynerchuk.com  and following him on Twitter @garyvee.

3)  The Accidental Billionaires – you have most likely seen (and loved!) The Social Network. This book is just as good, if not better. It is a tale of sex, money, genius and betrayal, and also a tale of how one of today’s most prominent and dominant Social Networking/Internet companies came to be.

4)  Delivering Happiness – this is a book by an amazing entrepreneur and human, Tony Hsieh.  I had the privilege of listening to him speak at last month’s PerfectBusiness Summit 2010.  DH is an important book, as it is as much about passion and purpose as it is about profits.  It tells the story of Zappos and provides great insight into the importance of company culture in building a brand and growing a company.  It also includes thoughts on tribal theory, happiness, and what one can learn about business by playing Poker.

Keep up with Tony by following @zappos on twitter.

5)  Do More Faster – this book was put together by David Cohen and Brad Feld of Techstars.  They, as I, believe that mentoring and community are key factors in flourishing entrepreneurial ventures.  There is no better way to avoid the many pitfalls of launching a business then learning from those who have gone before.  This book is filled with 1-2 page chapters by Techstars Mentors and Mentees and is chockfull of great insights.  I read this book in 2 days and bet you will too.

I have learned a great deal by reading Brad’s blog site Feld Thoughts . You should definitely check it out as well as follow him on Twitter @bfeld

Happy reading!  Please share your must-reads with me via the Comment Box.

PerfectBusiness Summit 2010

Founders/Startups

Wow!  I’m exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.  Just got back from The Perfect Business Summit 2010 in Las Vegas.  It was the first-ever national conference for Entrepreneurs & Investors  and, by all accounts, it was a huge success!  The Summit was produced by Dan Bliss, co-founder of PerfectBusiness.com, a  site dedicated to entrepreneurship that provides professional business planning software, startup resources and inspiring interviews with leading entrepreneurs.  PerfectBusiness was one of our first Docstoc partners so I have gotten to know Dan well.  He is a scrappy entrepreneur from the Midwest, as am I, so we have become good buddies.  When Dan shared with me his intention for the Conference, I immediately hopped on-board.

As we all know, there is no lack of Conferences or Trade Shows these days.  But they tend to be industry-specific.  There really was no broad-based, national conference addressing the key issues any entrepreneur faces when launching a new venture, regardless of whether he/she is opening a store, has invented a product or is delivering and product or service via the Internet or mobile app.   My role was to wrangle kickass speakers, VCs and angels to participate and solidify marketing partners.  Basically, it was a Bus Dev role for a startup Conference that was focused on starting businesses.  A dream come true for someone passionate about entrepreneurship and fascinated by entrepreneurs and their stories.

The speaker list for the Conference was outstanding.  We had over 60 great entrepreneurs, across many industries, discussing all manner of relevant concepts from bootstrapping to how to get your invention into stores and how to drive traffic to your site.  Some of the keynote speakers and panelists were:

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com – his book Delivering Happiness is a must-read.  This is my favorite Tony quote: “Profits are like oxygen. You need it to survive, but ultimately what matters is passion, growth, and a higher purpose.”

Jeff Taylor of Monster.com – this guy is wildly entertaining and lists being a DJ as one of his best talents.  According to Jeff, “Some people think that they’re great at everything. I happen to know that I’m terrible at a lot of things, but I’m good at a few things. So I had the advantage as an entrepreneur of hiring into my weaknesses.”  Love this statement as it is so important to hire a great team that fills your “holes”.  Of course, being able to actually delegate to them and let them take ownership and shine is also another great skillset of successful entrepreneurs.  For more info on Jeff and his fellow panelists on the CEO Roundtable, check out this great article from moderator Laura Petrecca of USAToday.

Kimberly Fowler of YAS Fitness Centers – Kimberly was the lone female entrepreneur on the main stage.  Her talk on bootstrapping and perseverance was inspiring and educational. If you want to learn from her story – check out her amazing DVD Overcoming Obstacles.

You can check out the entire line-up and a schedule of all the break-out session topics here: http://www.perfectbusiness.com/summit/.

For more insight into the successful entrepreneurs that shared stories of their “start”, check out this great blogpost from Tina Ong

Hope to see you at next year’s Summit!