The 13 Best Biographies Featuring Successful Founders

The Best Biographies featuring some of the most successful Entrepreneurs of our time. Read about the backgrounds and stories from the creators of Walmart, Ford, Nike, Walt Disney, Tesla, SpaceX, GE, Apple, Intel and HP.
Biographies featuring successful founders

Featuring

The Best Biographies featuring some of the most successful Entrepreneurs of our time. Read about the backgrounds and stories from the creators of Walmart, Ford, Nike, Walt Disney, Tesla, SpaceX, GE, Apple, Intel and HP.

When I was running a startup I often went back to reading biographies from successful founders. Not because I thought the had the answers to my problems but because it’s motivating to see the struggles these people had to go through to get to where they are. Also, because running a startup is f*** hard and you sometimes need motivation to get through hard times.

Ev Williams, the Founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium shared his point of view on this in a Medium post, saying: “Reading about success doesn’t make you successful, but it does tend to make you want to be successful. That’s important. We benefit from positive models that show us what’s possible and make us want to think bigger, work harder, and keep trying — especially when the going gets tough.”

That being said, here’s the list of my favourite biographies including the recommendations of other successful founders:

#1 Sam Walton

Made in America

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart wrote this book himself. “It’s a story about entrepreneurship, and risk, and hard work, and knowing where you want to go and being willing to do what it takes to get there. And it’s a story about believing in your idea even when maybe some other folks don’t, and about sticking to your guns.” (Amazon review section)

Read more about Sam Walton — Made in America.

#2 My Life And Work

Henry Ford Autobiography

Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors wrote this book himself.

Read more about My Life and Work.

#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 Walt Disney

The Triumph of the American Imagination

Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb recommended this book during his appearance on “Masters of Scale”.

Marc Andreessen, Founder of Netscape and Co-Founder of Andreessen Horowitz recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”.

Ev Williams, the Co-Founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium recommended this book in a post on Medium.

Read more Walt Disney.

#5 Elon Musk

Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin recommended this book, saying: “Ashlee Vance’s stellar biography captures Musk’s remarkable life story and irrepressible spirit.” (Amazon Review Section)

Read more about Elon Musk.

#6 Jack

Straight From The Gut

Warren Buffett recommended this book, saying: “Jack is the Tiger Woods of management.” (Front Cover)

Read more about Jack — Straight From the Gut.

#7 The Wizard Of Menlo Park

How Thomas Alva Edinson Invented The Modern World

Marc Andreessen, Founder of Netscape and Co-Founder of Andreessen Horowitz recommended this book during his appearance on “The Tim Ferriss Show”.

Read more about The Wizard of Menlo Park.

#8 Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

Patrick Collison, Co-Founder of Stripe recommended this book in the booksection on his website.

Read more about Steve Jobs.

#9 Andy Grove

The Life and Times of an American

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

Patrick Collison, Co-Founder of Stripe recommended this book in the booksection on his website.

Read more about Andy Grove — The Life and Times of an American.

#10 The HP Way

How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company

Dave Packard co-authored this book.

Read more about The HP Way.

#11 The Man Behind The Microchip

Robert Noyce And The Invention Of Silicon Valley

Warren E. Buffett, the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. recommended this book, saying: “Leslie Berlin does an excellent job of capturing the Bob Noyce I knew: part small-town boy, part big-time genius and always a wonderful friend and citizen.”

Gordon E. Moore, the Co-Founder of Intel Corporation recommended this book, saying: “Bob Noyce’s contributions to the development of the semiconductor industry go well beyond his inventions. He was industry spokesman, visionary, and leading entrepreneur. But this well written book does more than just chronicle his many contributions; it is a window into his complex and charming personality.”

Patrick Collison recommended this book in the booksection on his website.

Read more about Robert Noyce.

#12 Benjamin Franklin

An American Life

Elon Musk, the CEO and Co-Founder of Tesla and SpaceX recommended this book during an interview with Kevin Rose. (exact time 8:01)

Read more about Benjamin Franklin.

#13 The Innovators

How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook recommended this book, saying: “Walter Isaacson has written an inspiring book about genius, this time explaining how creativity and success come from collaboration. The Innovators is a fascinating history of the digital revolution, including the critical but often forgotten role women played from the beginning. It offers truly valuable lessons in how to work together to achieve great results.”

Patrick Collison recommended this book in the booksection on his website.

Read more about The Innovators.

What’s your favourite biography?

If you liked this list and want more quality recommendations check out 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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