I was inspired by Derek Sivers book list and have “borrowed” his FAQ philosophy for books where I have documented personal notes from highlighted sections:

  • My notes are not a summary of the book. They are derived from highlighted sections that resonated with me.
  • These notes do not replace the book. You need to read the book to gain a full context and derive meaning from content that may not be relevant to me.
  • I use these notes to re-read and reinforce the core ideas so that they continually shape my thinking and actions. These notes are especially handy to access on my phone when I am not at home with easy access to my book collection.

Business & Strategy

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh

The co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, outlines how to scale a business from one to a billion when speed is a competitive advantage. As a product leader, I especially related to business model design, getting market feedback as quickly as possible and “launch a product that embarrasses you”. Accelerating the ability to adjust product-market fit is a key element of blitzscaling.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy by Joan Magretta

Harvard professor Michael Porter is a master of competitive thinking and strategy. While choosing a unique career path must be guided by your strengths, deciding which market to enter can be a driver between success and failure. I was lucky to meet and share a lunch with Professor Porter in 2015.

Read my notes,  or visit the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle

The true-life story of Bill Campbell who had an incredible impact on so many companies in Silicon Valley. The book also shared intriguing insights into running Google through the eyes of Eric Schmidt. The power and influence of a coach can have a remarkable impact on teams both on and off the field.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevanby W. Chan Kim 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Good to Great by Jim Collins is one of those classics that outlines how and why certain companies separate from the pack to become great. Collins’ material is always backed up by extensive research and real-world examples.  The Hedgehog Concept – the intersection of what you can be best in the world at, what drives your economic engine, and what you are deeply passionate about – is what drives the strategy that fuels good-to-great companies. Jim Collins’ website has many articles and resources about his time-tested work that has remained relevant over the decades.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

I became intrigued by the 33 Strategies of War given how the strategies that Greene outlines are relevant to many domains beyond warfare. Strategies such as “Pick Your Battles Carefully”, “Know Your Enemy” and “Know How to End Things” can be applied to business and personal life. It’s the fundamental structure and enduring nature of these strategies that can influence how you apply them. For example, #14 – the blitzkrieg strategy – is the fundamental idea behind the business strategy “blitzscaling” exemplified in the popular book Blitzscaling (see above).

Read my notes, and or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Learn and practice these 48 laws to develop and use power to achieve success in life. The 48 Laws of Power is a world-renowned classic that shines a spotlight on the reality of how power shapes and dictates business, relationships and world dynamics. The book describes each power law with vivid examples and how to apply the key ideas to gain the influence of power. This is the type of book that you will often go back to read specific chapters based on a situation that is actively relevant to your life.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

A collection of guiding principles garnered over the life of the legendary investor.  Applying these 1st order principles will increase the likelihood of success no matter what career path you choose.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau

Experiment with side hustles to test and find a unique path that derives additional income and deeper insight into a specific target. Everybody needs multiple sources of income to diversify our risk. A side hustle may even lead to realizing your unique path on a full-time basis. I have been a fan of Guillebeau for many years given his ability to distill and simplify ideas that anyone can implement given the drive. Side Hustle takes you through the end-to-end lifecycle of how to take an idea and build an income-generating machine.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Money Tree: A Story About Finding the Fortune in Your Own Backyard by Chris Guillebeau

 

Go to the Amazon page for details for reviews.

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

PSYCHOLOGY | Philosophy | self-help

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is an amazing author and this book is an inspiration for pursuing creative work – whatever form it may take. This is a book that is succinct and an easy read that can be completed in a half-day. It motivates you to embrace the “Resistance” as a means to become stronger.  The ideal of the “Professional” is a way of thinking that separates you from the amateur. The Resistance is keeping you from turning Pro. Read the book and learn how to break through!

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield

All of us have a craft, a trade we practice. The question is do we want to remain an amateur or propel ourselves into a pro. Turning pro is a choice. Turning pro is free. But turning pro leaves the past and our comfortable life behind to embrace a mindset that powers a path to a true calling.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Artists Journey by Steven Pressfield

The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning by Steven Pressfield

This is an inspirational read for anybody who needs guidance to transition from the hero’s journey to the artist’s journey. One of the key themes that stuck with me was this idea of the constant transitioning from the material, physical world to the superconscious world of pure potentiality, and then back again throughout the day. As a writer, I can relate to ideas coming in from nowhere – they appear instantly on cue without thought.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello

 This is a small pocket size book of the last meditations by Anthony de Mello. The short chapters reinforce deepening self awareness and how to disconnect from attachments that are an illusion to what you think are needed for happiness but are actually the source of your unhappiness. 

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

In 2019, I subconsciously passed over reading Range primarily because of my belief that those who deeply specialize do indeed end up delivering significant accomplishments. How can this book make a claim that generalists triumph? After updating my LinkedIn profile summary in December 2019, it was a reminder that I was more of a polymath with deep skill in one technical discipline and knowledge across other disciplines. I was inspired to read Range to gain perspective and I am glad I did. It freed me of the idea that gaining experiences in different fields and jobs were inefficient in my career progression or how it may appear to hiring managers. David Epstein’s content on maximizing “match quality” throughout life with jobs and careers resonated with what I have believed for many years. Highly recommended.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and review.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

The principles from over 2,000 years ago have stood the test of time for building character and a better you. This book changed my life and I often take it with me when I am on the road. It helped me let go of my past and embrace what happens to you in a positive spirit. Time-tested stoic philosophies that are simple but powerful when applied. This is book is an essential read for anybody that needs to adjust their mental model about life and becoming the best version of themselves.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

I am simply obsessed with the depth and accuracy of how Greene explains human behavior that is often a mystery to us. It explained and provided context to events of my past that I could never explain. This masterpiece will drive you to inspect how you live and consciously engage with others to understand their behavior. Learn the laws that will protect you from the dark shadows of others or their deep narcissistic behaviors that can ruin your life. It’s almost 600 pages but the stories and content keep you deeply engaged to the end. This book changed my life and most of the pages are highlighted in yellow. I also bought the audiobook and occasionally listen to chapters when I have a particular topic on my mind.  Currently, the book I gift the most and an all-time favorite.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Achieve relentless focus on your target by a systematic discipline for discerning what is essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that matter. I loved this book as it shapes you to think about what is critical right now and develop the skill of filtering everything else. After hearing Greg McKeown on a Tim Ferriss podcast, I was motivated to read the entire book.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello

Timeless advice for a book published in 1990 – “leave this go-go-go work of illusion and become aware”. Reading this book helped me reaffirm what I had been feeling for many years. The author reinforces observing yourself as you can only change what you understand. This book is an easy read that I could not put it down.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

An internal journey of self-discovery and distance to guide your journey in life. This book gave context to the chatter that is ever-present in our minds. Upon finishing the book I could feel a sense of peace and calmness with my life that I so desperately needed. He reinforced the need to find freedom from ourselves and letting go and giving room for pain to pass through you. My copy of this book is filled with highlights and material you will continue going back to.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer

After reading The Untethered Soul, I was compelled to hear more about Michael Singer’s life. Instead of fighting the voice inside his head and the chatter, he shared about his willful practice of accepting what the flow of life was presenting to him. Singer let go of his personal preferences and let life be in charge. Surrender is not a sign of weakness, but the acceptance that life has more control and embracing what it has to offer can bring more success and joy that we could have ever imagined.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Atomic Habits became a blockbuster book in 2018 given its practicality to focus on small behaviors that can translate into remarkable results. Clear outlines four simple “laws” on how to create a good habit and break a habit (download the Atomic Habits cheat sheet). I especially related to “design your environment” as an effective strategy given how daily living in a specific environment can shape our lives. James Clear also publishes a valuable weekly newsletter.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday

If you are a fan of Ryan Holiday’s previous books and the dailystoic.com podcast then you will enjoy this book. It’s the practicality of putting his ideas into practice is what I value. The three domains of the mind, spirit, and body provide a framework of ideas that are relevant to all of us. Holiday’s book provides practical ways to escape the noisy world and the stillness that gives us the space to think and live our best lives.

Read my notes, or visit the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Mark Manson presents five counterintuitive values that you should adopt to have a better life. He urges people to embrace fears, faults, and uncertainties instead of running from them. It’s through confronting these in a positive spirit that can we begin to find the courage and confidence we all seek. He reinforces that “depth is where the gold is buried” and that you have to stay committed and go deep to dig it up.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday 

Your plan and journey are guaranteed to be marked by obstacles and failures. Stoic philosophy underpins the powerful, yet simple concepts for building character and powering through life no matter what it throws at you. You will find this book helpful if you are experiencing a challenging situation in life and need a mindset that will embrace and overcome obstacles. Holiday’s content will shape the way you look at daily life and learn to see the hidden treasures in obstacles.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

Gain insight into why EQ is more important than IQ for success in life.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday

Connecting with yourself using a daily prompt from Stoic philosophy is a helpful way to stay on course.  Holiday also offers a journal for documenting your morning and evening thoughts to a daily prompt.

Go to the Amazon book page for details and reviews.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

I read this book during my data science grad studies at UC Berkeley. It’s an incredible book that gives you deep insights into human behavior and decision making. Learn the biases that negatively influence our decision making in everyday life.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg 

Understand your behavior and build productive patterns that drive the outcomes you seek in life.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN by Tara Brach

I am into the early stages of this book and love it. Tara Brach also has a podcast that includes group meditations using the RAIN methodology. I find her podcasts soothing and ideas that can be easily put into practice during daily life.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

First, I listened to the Audible audiobook and it was amazing since it was narrated by Malcolm Gladwell. It also included audio clips from real-life events that were best communicated in the voices of those people. The book reinforces what can go wrong when we don’t have the skills or intuition when engaging with strangers. I bought the book since I value highlighting material and reading excerpts again. A highly recommended read or audiobook listen.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Product management & MARKETING

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business by Donald Miller and Dr. J.J. Peterson

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue by Robbie Kellman Baxter

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave by Robbie Kellman Baxter

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

Crossing the Chasm is the classic product management and marketing book for selling products to the mainstream. The “Whole Product Planning” concept was introduced early in my career when I had the opportunity to incorporate Moore’s work into how we planned and positioned software products. It’s a bible for anyone building and marketing products to large markets.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

 

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Strategyzer

Learn how to create products and services that customers want to buy.  Articulating the value proposition that is quick and easy to understand is critical to converting people into customers.  The career path you select should have a value proposition is can be easily communicated to anyone with a few sentences.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder

Learn how to architect a business model that will create and deliver value for your customers and ultimately you. While this book is focused on products and services created by organized, the concepts equally apply to “you” as a single person business.  I recommend downloading the one-page business model canvas on strategyzer.com.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz

 

Got to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

This is Marketing by Seth Godin 

This book summarizes Godin’s latest thinking on marketing strategy and getting yourself seen. Gain insight into developing your minimal viable audience for the product or service you provide. I love the size of this book and how the key points are easily outlined. It’s filled with ideas for anyone that seeks to market a product or service in an authentic, personal, and sustainable way.  I used the book to guide content development for this website.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Melissa Perri

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Career & Personal Productivity

Hell Yeah Or No: What’s Worth Doing by Derek Sivers

 

See Derek’s site for book details and purchase.

Unreasonable Success and How to Achieve It: Unlocking the 9 Secrets of People Who Changed the World by Robert Koch

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Mastery by Robert Greene

The book provides a solid playbook of how to discover your calling and the steps required to develop the knowledge into mastery. This is ideal for anybody starting in the work world or considering a transition across fields. Robert Greene takes a strategic lens to his books so ideas stand the test of time.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

So Good They Can't Ignore You

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport

Cal Newport debunks the well-accepted career advice to “follow your passion”.  As an alternative, he presents the compelling benefits of adopting the “craftsman mindset” to produce great work that is rare and valuable.  This career capital translates into valuable opportunities, more control, and a compelling career mission.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews

Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail by Keith Ferrazzi 

Visit the Amazon page for details and reviews

Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive by Dorie Clark

Visit the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark

Go to the Amazon book page for details and reviews.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

One of my favorite books, Christensen shares his business theories about success and failure developed at Harvard Business School. The same strategic thinking learned by his MBA students about businesses applies to the lives of all of us. Important questions that only you can answer. I used this book for workshops I held at Microsoft.

Read my notes, or go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker

Timeless best practices from the greatest business management thinker of all time. It’s remarkable that a book that was written by Drucker over fifty years ago is more relevant than ever. “Executives” is a broad term he uses to describe knowledge workers, managers, and individual professionals. These people are expected by virtue of their position or their knowledge to make decisions in the normal course of their work that has a significant impact on the performance and results of the whole. Drucker is speaking to everyone who has a job to fulfill in this modern world.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith takes you on a journey to discover and find what makes you energized – your mojo.  I had the pleasure to meet Marshall at a Microsoft event and his energy and presence were spectacular. How this book influenced me was the idea of being aware and measuring your mojo in everyday life. For example, feeling a sensation where you are feeling alive and delivering impact that is valued. Just as important was learning how to gain insight into the factors that were negatively impacting your mojo. Learning what influences the mojo signal will help you navigate to work opportunities that fuel your mojo.

Read my notes, or visit the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

Learn to get unrealistic by “dreamlining” the creation of a plan to realize your dreams. The 4-Hour Workweek spawned a new mindset of lifestyle design when the book was published by Ferriss in 2007.  Although the specific examples are dated, many of the core ideas remain relevant to choosing to pursue an alternative career path and traditional progression.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

Use this collection to learn and apply best practices from the top in their field.

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself by Harry Beckwith and Christine K. Clifford

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

TECHNOLOGY

Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell

 

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.