The 10 Best Books I Read in 2019, recommended by Billionaire Founders

I recently appeared as a guest on the Superdatascience Podcast and was asked about my favorite books. This year I found some real gems using the 1$ billion rule, as I started my journey as an Entrepreneur and I wanted to share them with you.
Bill Gates with the book Shoe Dog

Featuring

I recently appeared as a guest on the Superdatascience Podcast and was asked about my favorite books. This year I found some real gems using the 1$ billion rule, as I started my journey as an Entrepreneur and I wanted to share them with you.

What’s the $1 billion rule?

I used to read every book I could get my hands on. Once I started to get more into reading non-fiction books to get actual answers on career and business-related topics, I realised that that’s a terrible approach. There are just too many books out there and filtering them by looking at amazon reviews or solely relying on the judgement of your friends is not a sound approach.

That’s when I came up with the following rule: to only read books recommended by billionaire founders.

This made it a lot harder for me to find books, but I ended up with a lot more quality content. It gave me peace of mind and confidence in reading and applying the ideas and concepts presented. At the end of the day all billionaires are self-made and at the very top of their respective industry.

Wouldn’t it be great to peak into their bookshelf?

Here’s my Top 10 for this year:

#1 The Startup of You

Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook recommended this book, saying: “Everyone, women and men alike, needs to think big to succeed. This is a practical book that shows you how to take control and build a career that will enable you to have real impact.” (Amazon review section)

Jack Dorsey,
co-founder of Twitter and Square recommended this book, saying: “The Startup of You” describes how to take the Silicon Valley approach to building a life: start with an idea, and work over your entire career to turn it something remarkable. In the world today, I think that the startup approach to life is necessary. This book distills the key techniques needed to succeed.” (Amazon review section)

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape recommended this book, saying: “Silicon Valley revolutionizes entire industries through the way we work. It is now time to export our playbook to the rest of the world. The Startup of You is that key playbook: it will help you revolutionize yourself and achieve your own career breakout.” (Amazon review section)

Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg, L.P. recommended this book, saying: “Being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge. Whatever career you’re in ­ or want to be in ­ The Start-Up of You holds lessons for success.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about The Start-up of You.

#2 The Power of Habit

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Ray Dalio, Co-Chief Investment Officer & Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates mentioned the following on page 221 of 542 of his book Principles: “Then I read Charles Duhigg’s best-selling book The Power of Habit, which really opened my eyes. I recommend that you read it yourself if your interest in this subject goes deeper than what I’m able to cover here.” (Principle 4.3d; Choose your habits well)

Read more about The Power of Habit.

#3 Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Bill Gates, recommended this book as one of his favorite books of 2016, saying: “A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.” (Amazon review section)

Warren Buffett recommended this book, saying: “The best book I read last year. Phil is . . . a gifted storyteller.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about Shoe Dog.

#4 Trillion Dollar Coach

The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell

Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO and chairman of Google co-authored this book.

John Doerr, Chairman of Kleiner Perkins recommended this book in his book “Measure What Matters”. He is also quoted on the author’s website, saying: “Bill Campbell was a world-class listener, a hall of fame mentor, and the wisest man I’ve ever met. His ambitious, caring, accountable, transparent, profane humanity built the culture at Google and dozens of other companies into what they are today. Love was Bill’s most distinguishing trait. He got love, and he got family. I miss you, Coach.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook recommended this book, saying: “Bill shared his wisdom generously, expecting nothing back but the joy he got from teaching others. I was privileged to have him as my coach for several years. Many times since then, when asked for advice by others, I think of Bill and try to live up to the example he set.” (Author’s website)

Read more about Trillion Dollar Coach.

#5 The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape mentioned this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”. (exact time 0:17:31)

Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “I’d say a favorite book that’s more about the experience of running a company is Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which kind of just shows you kind of a mess and adventure and a lot of the crazy highs and lows and what the human experience is of actually having to do this.” (exact time 0:22:02)

Read more about The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

#6 The Goal

A Process of Ongoing Improvement

Required reading for Amazon’s Management.

Patrick Collison, Founder and CEO of Stripe recommended this book in the book section on his website.

Kevin Systrom, Founder and CEO of Instagram recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “It is a book about basically manufacturing and supply chain management. […] I wrote in one of my weekly updates to the team, […] that I was reading this book, and that I loved it. […] It’s a business book that talks about how to optimize supply chains, basically. But it’s written in narrative form, which is kind of cheeky. […] we realized very early on in reading this book that a lot of the lessons that usually apply to manufacturing actually apply to making decisions at a company as well.” (exact time 1:00:38, check out the exact part in the recording here).

Read more about The Goal.

#7 Competing Against Luck

The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

Scott Cook, Co-founder & Chairman of Intuit recommended this book, saying: “This game-changing book is filled with compelling real world examples, including from inside Intuit. Jobs Theory has had — and will continue to have — -a profound influence on Intuit’s approach to innovation. It just might change yours, too.” (Amazon review section)

Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix recommended this book, saying: “Clayton Christensen’s books on innovation are mandatory reading at Netflix.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about Competing Against Luck.

#8 Principles

Life and Work

Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “I think he sketched really concise and good thoughts for […] how do you approach life?” (exact time 0:26:28)

Kevin Systrom, Founder and CEO of Instagram recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “For some reason, I didn’t get around to it for maybe a year-and-a-half, and then I read the actual book, and I was blown away. It’s both a guide to life, a guide to business, and also I think an insight into Ray and someone who’s built an amazing business. […] I give that out a lot because I think it’s a great guide to life.” (exact time 0:01:41, check out the exact part in the recording here).

Bill Gates recommended this book, saying: “Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you in Principles.” (Amazon review section)

Michael Bloomberg recommended this book, saying: “Ray Dalio’s market acumen is legendary, but it was creating and living by a set of principles that allowed him to reach the top. Everyone with goals and dreams can learn from Ray’s approach.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about Principles.

#9 High Output Management

John Doerr recommended this book in his book “Measure What Matters”.

Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “I have a handful of books I really love and the concepts that I use and think about every day. […] High Output Management by Andy Grove. […] when I heard about this book, it was introduced to me as the best book on management ever written. And I agree, and it just breaks down all the mechanics of, okay, how do you run a team? How do you break down a goal into sub-goals? …” (exact time 0:19:50)

Tobi Lutke, Founder and CEO of Shopify recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”, saying: “That’s one of the best books ever. […] I had a completely wrong view about how good business books were after I read some, High Output Management by Andy Grove and Influence by Cialdini.” (exact time 0:24:03)

Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder and CEO of Facebook recommended this book, saying “[Andy’s] book played a big role in shaping my management style.” (Amazon review section)

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape recommended this book, saying: “Andy exemplifies the best of Silicon Valley. Andy built the model for what a high quality Silicon Valley company could be.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about High Output Management.

#10 The HP Way

How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

Dave Packard co-authored this book.

Read more about The HP Way.

What’s on your list for this year?

If you liked this list and want more quality recommendations check out the rest of my blog.

Until then, happy reading!

more books recommended by the people featured in this post

podcasts featuring the people mentioned in this post

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