Leadership & Entrepreneurship
Are great leaders and entrepreneurs born or are they made? We are sure that this is a subject that could be debated with a great deal of enthusiasm. But at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, we believe that no matter what you believe, great leaders and entrepreneurs never stop learning. Their quest for knowledge could come from many sources whether it’s from fellow entrepreneurs, mentors or advisors on the board, or even a book.
Listed below, you will find a few of our book selections from which leaders and entrepreneurs can derive great benefit.
Founders at Work
Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston
This book is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now.
What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company. Where did they get the ideas that made them rich? How did they convince investors to back them? What went wrong, and how did they recover? But ultimately these interviews are required reading for anyone who wants to understand business, because startups are business reduced to its essence. The reason their founders become rich is that startups do what businesses do—create value—more intensively than almost any other part of the economy.
How? What are the secrets that make successful startups so insanely productive? Read this book, and let the founders themselves tell you.
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
This small-business consultant's sharpest observation was that most business owners know a lot about producing whatever it is they sell, but a lot less about running the business. The publication and popularity of this book and Gerber's numerous titles that followed it caused countless business owners to reexamine what they were doing.
Gerber's mantra of "Work on your business, not in your business" powerfully refocuses the business owner's attention away from being what amounts to self-employed employees and toward figuring out how to make their small companies run better. Essentially, he advised systematizing as many jobs as possible through the use of manuals, policies and the like, until practically anyone could run the business as well as the founder.
Blue Ocean Strategy
How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
Kim and Mauborgne's blue ocean metaphor elegantly summarizes their vision of the kind of expanding, competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate. Unlike "red oceans," which are well explored and crowded with competitors, "blue oceans" represent "untapped market space" and the "opportunity for highly profitable growth."
The only reason more big companies don't set sail for them, they suggest, is that "the dominant focus of strategy work over the past twenty-five years has been on competition-based red ocean strategies"-i.e., finding new ways to cut costs and grow revenue by taking away market share from the competition.
With this groundbreaking book, Kim and Mauborgne-both professors at France's INSEAD, the second largest business school in the world-aim to repair that bias. Using dozens of examples-from Southwest Airlines and the Cirque du Soleil to Curves and Starbucks-they present the tools and frameworks they've developed specifically for the task of analyzing blue oceans.
They urge companies to "value innovation" that focuses on "utility, price, and cost positions," to "create and capture new demand" and to "focus on the big picture, not the numbers." It is a precise, actionable plan for changing the way companies do business with one resounding piece of advice: swim for open waters.
by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H. Blanchard
Originally published in 1986, the message of this book is universal and timeless. To get more out of life and more out of your people, this is the guidebook to read. Brief and to the point lessons in the day-to-day application of fundamental management principles.
Good to Great
Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't.... by Jim Collins
Jim Collins begins this book with a startling and counterintuitive claim: "Good is the enemy of great. We've become so conditioned to think of performance as something that develops along evolutionary lines -- from poor to good to outstanding -- that it takes a minute to grasp the notion that competence can actually inhibit achievement." As Collins says, "The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good -- and that is their main problem."
The Effective Executive
The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker.
"The Effective Executive" (1966) was the first book to define who an executive is and to explain the practices of effective executives. Today there are several in this genre. But this book was the first, as is the case with many of Drucker's masterpieces. Drucker starts the book by stating that this book is about managing oneself and that executives who do not manage themselves cannot possibly expect to manage other people. Efficiency vs. Effectiveness. "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things."
Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business by Jay Conrad Levinson.
Levinson, a marketing guru, has written more than 10 books in his "Guerrilla" series during the last decade. First published in 1983, Guerrilla Marketing has always been popular with marketing executives. The latest updated edition provides a wealth of information for micro to medium sized businesses, emphasizing smart tactics rather than big budgets. There is a fascinating discussion on the psychology of marketing and what makes people buy.
Guerrilla Marketing provides a variety of marketing options and offers practical advice in jargon-free language for small business people. New technologies are covered, particularly the use of the Internet. Overall the book is well organized with short chapters, an index, a good table of contents, and useful headings in the margins to focus busy readers.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Ries and Trout
These are the authors of some of the most popular titles in marketing published during the last decade. Marketing Warfare, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind and Bottom-Up Marketing, continue the same breezy style, with lots of anecdotes and insider views of contemporary marketing strategy. The premise behind this book is that in order for marketing strategies to work, they must be in tune with some quintessential force in the marketplace.
Just as the laws of physics define the workings of the universe, so do successful marketing programs conform to the "22 Laws." Each law is presented with illustrations of how it works based on actual companies and their marketing strategies. For example, the "Law of Focus" states that the most powerful concept in marketing is "owning" a word in the prospect's mind, such as Crest's owning cavities and Nordstrom's owning service.
by Neil Rackham, former president and founder of Huthwaite corporation.
SPIN Selling is essential reading for anyone involved in selling or managing a sales force. Unquestionably the best-documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation's massive 12-year, $1-million dollar research into effective sales performance, this groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy.
By following the simple, practical, and easy-to-apply techniques of SPIN, readers will be able to dramatically increase their sales volume. Packed with real-world examples, illuminating graphics, and informative case studies - and backed by hard research data - SPIN Selling is the million-dollar key to understanding and producing record-breaking high-end sales performance.
~ Sol Price, SDSU'34