Warren Buffet once claimed to spend 80% of his day reading. He says that knowledge “builds up, like compound interest." I believe in the benefits of reading and I love giving and receiving book recommendations. Here, I’ve made a list of my top six recommendations of great books for great leaders.
It may come as a surprise but this books states that it is important that the top leadership at your company understand not only what it takes, to be a great manager, but also what it takes to be a great CEO. In order for a company to succeed, it's not enough to have just one leader with the big picture; all the top leaders need to understand the role, make decisions and ask the tough question like a CEO.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is one of the best books on CEO philosophy. The author, Ben Horowitz, pivoted from LoudCloud to Opsware and sold it for $1.6 billion dollars after overcoming many seemingly impossible challenges. Ben is now the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, one of the top Silicon Valley Venture Capital (VC) investment firms and one of Silicon Valley's most respected entrepreneurs.
Each chapter of this book is filled with his lessons' learned and failures (from mild to epic) and addresses real issues and real dilemmas that entrepreneurs face.
He speaks to his struggles and experiences as an engineer, a founder, a manager, and an employee. From recruitment to product management, funding and office politics - there's definitely more than a handful of chapters that will be relatable to you and each of your leaders.
Lean In is one of the best management books of this decade. Very different from the typical “best practices” management books out there, Sheryl addressed the gender blind spots of leadership, management and employees that can run your company to the ground or, if addressed, empower everyone in your company to be the best they can be. Few leadership books discuss gender issues so directly, but I gaurantee the ideas shared in this book can make a big impact on how you lead, communicate, hire, promote, mentor and develop ideas. Lean In is a great addition to your reading list.
This is by far The Sales Guidebook for the past two decades. The ideas shared in predictable revenue have taken the sales world by storm. Author Aaron Ross is the mind behind converting Salesforce into a 100 million dollar sales machine, and his book, co-written by Marylou Tyler, reveals how he did it and how other companies can do it too. Aaron does a great job of making what could be a dry subject, come to life, by developing his own vocabulary for "Sticky Ideas" that really stick with you, like "Cold Calling 2.0", "Hot coals" and "Layers of an onion." Aaron teaches his readers how to update their sales techniques. He discusses the importance of segmenting teams, favoring discovery and prospecting calls instead of cold calls and catering to your customers and your employees. You need to read this book, I can’t stress it enough.
After you read Predictable Revenue, you should read The Sales Acceleration Formula. Mark Roberge is MIT-educated and HubSpot’s Vice President of Sales. He saw the growth of Hubspot from a $0 to a $100 million dollar company. The book is the result of what happens when you mix data with sales and will teach you how to test every process, automate as much as possible and use data to grow your sales. As the book description states, there is a formula, and Mark shares it with us. Our team learned a lot about identifying different personas and stages of the buyer's journey, as well as how to use role-playing to identify strengths and increase productivity. We also learned how our team can use our product to feel the pain of our customers. Additionally, this book is incredible to learn which KPIs to look for, how to optimize your sales operation and how to build scalable companies.
This book is from 1995, so you will have to overlook the man on the cover's smug expression while proudly sporting his entry key card snapped to his belt. In all seriousness this book has really stood the test of time and remains an essential read for anyone looking to impact the growth of a company. Andrew S. Grove was the third Intel employee and gives practical advice on management including this simple yet deep formula:
"A manager’s output = the output of his organization + the output of the neighboring organizations under his influence."
Ben Horowitz, who wrote the foreword for the 2015 version further simplified the idea stating “A manager’s skills and knowledge are only valuable if she uses them to get more leverage from her people.” This timeless book will teach you to lead a team. This book helped us implement strategies like leading by example (our team knows that they play a big role in setting values for our company), regular 1-on-1s to address problems and enhance the quality of our work, and budgeting time and investing in our team by blocking off time for big picture thinking. These changes have been quite successful at VOIQ, I recommend you consider them as well.
When you’re a fast-growing technology company, Crossing the Chasm is your map to navigating your journey. Closely related to technology adoption life cycle, the "chasm" is the metaphorical gap that exists between the early adopters of your product or service, and the rest of your potential customers. Tech companies usually reach this chasm much faster than other companies so it’s important to know how to navigate difficult situations that arise during this period. The book helped us identify where we are in our journey, and gave a sense of what to expect next.
VOIQ’s best practices have been based on these great books and they have brought powerful results. I hope you enjoy!
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