GrowthHacker Space 2015 Reading Roundup

Seth Knapp | @iamsethknapp

2015 Reading Roundup

2015 was a year where I consumed more information than I ever have in my life.  I read more books, listened to podcasts, and had more unique and new experiences than any prior year if my life and I plan to make it a point to improve upon that in 2016.

Here is my roundup of my 10 favorite titles I consumed in 2015…

1. Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived by Peter Barton and Laurence Shames

This book will probably become my favorite book to gift, as I feel it gives the recipient the greatest gift in life; renewed and invigorated perspective and appreciation. Not Fade Away is the memoirs of Peter Barton, a media mogul, who lived life fast and with a vigor many of us would envy.  This book was written as Barton’s life was at the tail end from stomach cancer, and you get the unique opportunity to view the world as Peter does, as he not only comes to terms, but embraces his waning moments of life. After reading this, you will love a little harder, hold your loved ones more closely, and hold dear the most precious moments in life.

2. We Learn Nothing by Tim Kreider

We Learn Nothing is a collection of essays that takes you deep, and I stress deep, into the psyche of the human condition.  They are a raw, and for some, may be a far too real look at some of life’s less than ideal moments. Despite the sometimes dark and depressing nature of his essays, Kreider will leave you feeling a bit closer to the rest of the world.  If you only commit 15 minutes all year to reading, the one thing I would recommend you read is his “Lazy Manifesto”.

3.  All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

Godin is one of the most well known voices and thought leaders in the marketing world.  He is short and succinct, but always insightful.  In All Marketers are Liars, Godin discusses the power of storytelling.  The rub is that marketers are not in fact, liars, rather as he states, it’s the consumers who are liars.  The consumer believes the story they want to believe, and will lie to themselves to support those beliefs, and it’s the marketers job to tell that story to build a culture around a brand or product.

4.  Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield

This is the follow up to Pressfield’s War of Art, probably the most influential book in my life and a book I continue to re-read.  War of Art describes the moment an individual “turns pro”.  This is a moment that no one else can choose for you, and it is up to you to make the decision to “turn pro”.  In this title, Pressfield dives into many of the logistics that are required of professionals: the high level of self accountability, ridding yourself of escuses, and above all, showing up every damn day! This book provides the framework for taking your career to the next level, or turning your hobby or passion into your livelihood.  I highly suggest reading War of Art first if you haven’t and are interested in reading this.

5.  Bold: How to go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis

In Bold, Diamandis invites you into the “age of the exponential entrepreneur”.  We are at a point in time where due to a high availability of resources, and a highly accessible, global marketplace, individual entrepreneurs are now able to solve billion person problems, and in turn, start the next billion dollar companies.  Diamandis urges us to rid ourselves of the mindset of trying to make small, incremental changes, and opts for us to rather go big and create products and companies that are 10x better than anything preceding it.

6. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

If Bold takes on the necessary mindset and approach to building billion dollar companies, then Zero to One is the actual blueprint. Thiel is a founding member of PayPal and one of Silicon Valley’s most successful repeat billionaires.  Thiel provides a unique take on building new companies as he remarks that we are no longer in an age of true innovation even though it feels like the opposite. He argues that many of our technological advances aren’t really innovative in the sense that they aren’t new products, rather improved iterations of old products.  This is what he calls going from 0 to n.  Thiel argues that to truly innovate and create something that will change the world, you must create something new, or go from 0 to 1.

7.  Hooked: How to Build a Habit Forming Product by Nir Eyal

In Hooked, Eyal dives deep into the psychology of what makes consumer products stick.  He takes you through the “Hook Model” and shows you how to build a product that people will not be able to get enough of and how to avoid making a product that flops.  If you are an entrepreneur and want to make a product people engage with out of sheer habit, this book is a must read.

8. Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson

I actually read this book as a recommendation of Steven Pressfield.  He considers it a personal staple, so I naturally assumed that if he thought that, that I’d feel the same way.  Madson takes you through all the core maxims of Improv and connects them to everyday life in an effort to show us that we are all technically improvising.  The fact of the matter is that life happens to us every day whether we plan for it or not, and too often, we tediously plan and worry to the point of missing out on the gifts of life.  Improv Wisdom shows you how to put all that aside and how to begin living in and for the moment, the way life was meant to be lived.
9.  48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

This was a title I had been meaning to get to for awhile and am very happy I did at the time I did.  Greene uses amazing anecdotal evidence of figures, some prominent, and some lesser known, to demonstrate his “48 Laws of Power”.  We all strive to get farther and more out of life, and this book shows you how to control situations and perceptions of you so that you can more effectively achieve your goals in life.  Many times we may not even realize how our actions, and subsequent perceptions we create of ourselves for others can affect their decision making process and affect us in ways with less than desirable outcomes.  This book will help you gain a more vertical understanding of how many times we can be our own worst enemy without realizing it, and how we can change our own behaviors to start turning all the tables in our favor.

10. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

You’ll want to set aside a month to read this one.  Even for the voracious reader this title is a commitment, however, it provides an incredible, and highly introspective look into not only the life, but psyche of America’s first billionaire.  Reckefeller may have been viewed as a tyrannical business leader, but he was highly disciplined and had very high ethical standards.  His ability to gain a monopoly on the American oil business was due in large part to his ability to out think and out manuever his competition and it provides for a highly fascinating look at the biggest business tycoon this country and possibly world has ever seen.

For more GrowthHacker Space reading lists, check out 9 Books Every Startup Founder Should Read


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