I’ve really enjoyed Jessica Livingston’s Founders at Work: Stories of Startup’s Early Days — one of many library books I borrowed last month.
This book tells the story of startups like Firefox, TiVo, WebTV, Craigslist, Hotmail, Adobe, and others through interviews with their founders or creators.
Initially, it made me think of If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers (click here to read all my posts on this book) in that both books seek to shed light on what makes entrepreneurs tick.
While Livingston interviews individuals who founded or created dot-com or other technology start-ups, Bowers talks with founders of small businesses from varied fields that include jam making, cosmetics, manufacturing and more.
The main difference in the book lies in the way each author organizes his/her book. Where Bowers organizes his book into chapters based on eight traits of entrepreneurs with stories from 40+ entrepreneurs sprinkled throughout the book, Livingston spends just her two-page introduction discussing the patterns of entrepreneurs and then spends a chapter on each person with an in-depth interview.
Call me crazy, but I much prefer the way Livingston organized her book. It is easier to follow and you learn more from each individual.
And, as you know by now, I love primary sources. so I appreciated how each chapter was an interview with a founder or creator of one or more start-ups.
Here are the patterns that Livingston found for comparison to the list by Bowers:
- Uncertainty that they were actually onto something big.
- Determination, especially to build things that work.
- Perseverance through uncertainty, isolation, and sometimes lack of progress.
- Adaptability and mental flexibility to understand what users/customers want and to change and develop their original idea.
- Empathy for users/customers.
- Desire to change the world and to keep building things.
Livingston doesn’t assert this list as a steadfast rule (where Bowers does); she merely states that these were some of her observations from interviewing the 32 entrepreneurs featured in her book.
Back to reading!
Posted in Business Books, Communication, Entrepreneurship, If at First You Don't Succeed, Leadership, library, Management, Marketing, Reading, Strategy, Writing
Tagged Jessica Livingston, lists
In addition to books, magazines and newspapers, I also read ChangeThis.com.
Since ChangeThis.com was bought by 800-CEO-READ in Summer 2005, I get email updates from both companies.
Those of you who love business books may want to read the latest email I received from:
Hope you’re well. You may not know us at 800-CEO-READ by name, but we are the folks that maintain and care for ChangeThis. And, we have news to share.
The heads of 800-CEO-READ, founder Jack Covert and vice-president Todd Sattersten, have spent the last year writing a book entitled THE 100 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS OF ALL TIME which will be available in February, 2009.
To celebrate the book’s release and help you gear up for the book, we’re hosting a six-month book club culminating with the release of THE 100 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS OF ALL TIME. For six months, September ’08 through February ‘09, you will receive a book a month. The first five books will be one of Jack and Todd’s picks from The 100 BEST and will cover a range of business topics, from Management and Leadership to Entrepreneurship and Marketing.
The sixth and final book will be THE 100 BEST, landing in mailboxes in early February.
To learn more, check out Todd’s blog post about the about the book club:
Or, go directly the following address to sign up:
Many thanks & best of days,
ChangeThis and 800-CEO-READ
Hmm, I don’t know — The Countdown Book Club: Six Months To The 100 Best Business Books of All Time gives you six books for $99. Doesn’t sound like too much of a deal to me.
Still, I’d like to browse through a copy of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Guess I’ll just look for it when it comes out in February 2009.
After reading If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers (click here to read all my posts on this book), I’ve updated the list of the magic eight entrepreneurial traits:
- An aptitude for spotting and seizing opportunities that nobody else has noticed.
- Compulsion to be in charge, a gift for leadership, a strong belief in the importance of integrity, and a hypomanic personality. A “hypomanic is fast-talking, is witty and gregarious, and has a natural self-confidence that can make him charismatic and persuasive.”
- A history of innovative activities and salesmanship dating back to childhood, usually in a family environment that encouraged that bent. Being a male with an absent father seems to help.
- A talent for improvisation and multi-tasking, a tolerance for ambiguity, and openness.
- Doggedness – fierce drive, energy, and tenacity (the combination of patience, persistence, and perserverance). Also, the ability to live on just four hours of sleep per night and the drive to work ninety-hour weeks.
- Lofty ambition, optimism, idealism, passion, and enthusiasm that borders on the delusional for a product.
- Unfailing pragmatism and a good eye for taking calculated risks.
- Self-confidence and a knack for “falling upwards” – viewing setbacks as opportunities.
Bowers also ends his book with these lessons from other entrepreneurs:
- Know when to fold ‘em.
- Try harder next time.
- Stick to what you know best.
- Make pleasing customers your number-one priority.
- Analyze what you did wrong.
- Maintain your self-respect.
- Keep a lid on spending.
- Expect no sympathy for your snafus.
- Don’t assume that all publicity is good publicity.
- Realize that success isn’t as important as being in the game.
While I think both these lists are useful, these two quotes that Bowers used may sum up the entrepreneur in fewer words:
If an idea does not at first seem insane, it has no hope.
Entrepreneurs are dreamers who do.
One thing that surprised me about If at First You Don’t Succeed was the number of other books mentioned throughout the book:
Of these, I’ve read The Monk and the Riddle and the The Plague (and I’ve been meaning to re-read The Plague and read some of Camus’s other works) but will have to take a look at the others. Back to reading!