6 MUST READS if you Want to be Successful

I’ve done quite a bit of reading in my life. When I was a kid, my dad had an agreement with me whereby he would buy me any book I wanted, provided that I would read it cover to cover. He kept his promise all the way up to my 18th birthday; though my mom hated making good on that promise since that meant taking me to the bookstore twice a week and trying to find a place to put the literally 10,000 pages/month that I would read. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made special note of the books that have had a major impact on my success in life:

1. Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur – When I failed to raise the money I needed to grow Scaled Dynamics, this book taught me exactly why. From setting up a business plan to negotiating a term sheet, this book walks you through startup finance from inception to exit. I ultimately succeeded by bootstrapping, however if I ever do try to raise capital again, I’ll do so armed with the confidence to pull it off successfully and under favorable terms.

2. Founders At Work – Owning a business is no joke. It is full of great highs, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of well being by providing job opportunities, and if you do everything right and have a bit of luck, untold riches. But being a business owner has its lows too. The 18 hour days become grueling, the roller coaster that is startup finance will wear on your nerves, and having to be the center of hope for everyone who relies on you for product and paycheck will also take its toll. This book is what gets me through those difficult times. It’s the stories of people that I consider to be my mentors and role models, and it gives me hope.

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People – This is the quintessential human interaction handbook. 99% of this book is common sense, but it’s incredible how easily we often lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to working with others. This book is a cure for that.

4. Ultimate Sales Machine – Based on the premise that your skills will only ever get better through “pigheaded discipline,” I’ve made it a point to read this book at least once a year since it was recommended to me. This book will teach you how to manage your time in an efficient manner and will walk you through a number of the intricacies of the sales process. With that said, the author, Chet Holmes is a perfectionist who is obsessed with discipline. This isn’t a “tips and tricks” book that will give you sales tactics, it’s a true game changer as long as you have the resolve and persistence to implement the Chet Holmes way.

5. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management – I’ve read this book twice. Once when I was 17 and again when I was 27. This book was my first introduction to capital markets, and I would say that it is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand how markets work. A decade later, I was struck by how former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine was deeply involved, and it gave significant color to another industry blowup.

6. Barbarians At The Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco – Anyone who wants to understand how private equity works should give this a thorough read. A number of the characters are shared between this and When Genius Failed, so I’d recommend reading this before When Genius Failed to get a sense of chronology.