Top 3 books for start-up managers

Top 3 books for start-up managers

One of my favorite books of all time is “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely.

While not truly a management book, it completely changed the way that I interact, help, and work with people. It was an eye opener on the way that we behave as human beings. I read it when I was in first year of college. Back then, I used to read about a book or two a month. I loved being inspired by ideas from people with more experience and knowledge than myself.

After joining a startup, I rarely read. In fact, I piled up so many books “to read” that I’ve had to buy two new bookcases. The reality of start-up life meant that I was constantly reacting to the present, and spending the rest of the time planning for the future. I thus rarely had time to reflect and look into the past, learn from others’ mistakes and insights. By not reading, I knew I was doing both my team and myself a disfavor.

So I forced myself back into reading. I dedicated time in the morning and on weekends to read. My goal was to at least read one book a month. I averaged three. The result? In the first month after I restarted reading, I had more ideas than the entire previous quarter. I also became more self-aware, recognizing many mistakes and weaknesses that were limiting my leadership. Most importantly, I felt reinvigorated by all the new ideas and thoughts I was exposed to. I became more confident of my team and our future.

Of all the books I’ve read to date, the top three that had the most profound impact on my leadership, and in turn the professional life of my team members, are:

  1. The One Minute Manager: A concise, short read, that reveals the essence of people management.
  2. Competitive Strategy: The bible on strategic planning. Most start-ups make the mistake of doing everything for everyone in their early days – this book shows you how to be more strategic and choose what not to do.
  3. Are Your Lights On?: The best book on problem solving I’ve come across. Why? Because it’s not about solving problems, but rather defining them. We waste so much time solving the wrong problems – this book will save you that time.

Comprehensive list

That said, I obviously can’t just stop at three, so I’ve also shared below a collection of books I’ve recommended to fellow friends and colleagues.

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