What single book/text changed your life and why?


What book/text changed your life or most influenced you and why? One book by answer please!

Books Inspiration

asked Jan 9 '10 at 17:05
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points

21 Answers


The 4 Steps to the Epiphany - Steven Blank

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Steps-Epiphany-Steven-Blank/dp/0976470705 This is the how to guide for building a start up and one of the foundation's of the "lean startup" movement. The premise is simple, dont build out your product until you have verified that people will buy it first. Not so simple in practice of course but that is why you need to read the book.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 04:51
Ian Wilson
88 points
  • Just ordered the book, can't wait to read it ! – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago


For me the most influential book to read was the The Mythical Man-Month. Yes, the book is more than 30 years.

The most important for me was to realize that even though the tools and the hardware are changing almost every day, there are still a lot that stays the same. I also realized that there are experience out there and that it is stupid not to read some books in nearby fields (psychology, marketing etc).

answered Jan 10 '10 at 05:01
Peter Olsson
400 points


I'll start:

How to Make Wealth, by Paul Graham.

Why? It inspired me to become an entrepreneur and changed my vision of capitalism.

answered Jan 9 '10 at 17:09
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points


Getting Things Done

David Allen

answered Sep 26 '10 at 09:35
331 points


Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead. Whatever your opinion of her writings, and those who over the years have claimed her for their own purposes, she held rationality to be the hallmark of what was good and right in humanity and ignorance, fear, and manipulation the basest of what we are.

answered Jan 10 '10 at 07:26
Bob Walsh
2,620 points



The focus on the need for repeatability in business and the distinction between having a job and having a business. Working on your business, rather than in/for your business.

answered Jan 9 '10 at 22:48
Pete Gordon
61 points
  • I've mentioned this book before. I read it nearly 20 years ago. It was a complete game changer for me. It's been updated but I've never read anything that duplicated its keen insights for the fledgling entrepreneur. – Keith De Long 14 years ago


Ender's game

Its a great book. Not business related, but a great book.

As for business books, I tend not to read those, but rather to read book summaries. They contain most of the info of the books, but are much shorter, and so it allows me to go though a lot of books in a short time (more time to work on my business :) )

answered Jan 9 '10 at 21:43
Ron Ga
2,181 points


I can't really say any one book changed my life - that is a bit overly dramatic. But one compelling book that is worth reading if you are involved in software development is "Peopleware "

It confirmed my beliefs on how a development organization can and should be run and helped me convince others of the value of treating people as people, not as interchangeable "assets" or "human capital"

answered Jan 10 '10 at 03:54
Tim J
8,346 points


E-Myth Revisted

Written for the small business person with insight as to why small businesses either fail or under-perform. Contains great advice on how to make any business successful. Outstanding!

answered Jan 10 '10 at 06:22
Tommy Jaye
231 points


I enjoyed very much "Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality" (by Bob Walsh) and was one of the inspirational sources of my current entrepeneur adventure in software. The book exposes different perspectives, steps, considerations and real cases about the creation of little software companies.
link text As a developer, always was one of my ideas to create my own (packaged) software and stop doing what other people/companies wanted. Plus, I worked in consulting companies for 12 years and was thinking on taking a good (long) time for myself. Initially having the idea of a "sabatic year", then I had a better one: why not try to make my own business by doing what I like? Then I take my savings and drop my job to work full-time in my project.
link text

answered Jan 15 '10 at 06:55
Nestor Sanchez A
690 points


I like "Maverick", from Ricardo Semler... Here in Brazil the title of the book is something like "Turning your own table"...

Ricardo is such an amazing man, with amazing ideas...

I love it...

He wrote another book name "Are you crazy?", thats awesome too.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 04:42
108 points


Timothy Ferris' 4-Hour Work Week Made me realise I didn't want to be an employee my whole life and inspired me to follow the path of becoming a Web Entrepreneur. Timothy doesn't focus on the nitty gritty of how to get it all done but he certainly provides the vision and inspires you to "design your lifestyle. "

answered Jan 11 '10 at 17:14
James Spittal
79 points
  • Yeah, vision always sell... – Stefanos Tses 14 years ago


The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge.

This helped shape how I see the business world, what it can be like.

It also introduced me to many topics, such as dialog vs. debate/discussion and systems thinking, which helped to continue reshaping my world-view, as well as understanding what a mental model is.

answered Jan 9 '10 at 17:29
James Black
2,642 points


The Innovator's Dilemma IMHO one of the most important book for entrepreneurs.

answered May 4 '10 at 00:58
J Delage
277 points


Talent is Overrated What makes top performers and how you can become one.

answered May 4 '10 at 01:00
J Delage
277 points


Selling the Invisible - Harry Beckwith

Today, most of us sell things that are intangible (i.e. services, experiences, expertise), but most businesses still market these offerings like they were tangible products. This book helped me realize what was really important (and different) when marketing and executing for my business. Highly recommended.

answered Jan 10 '10 at 03:28
Chris Hagner
881 points


Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

This book taught me to be humble and not to mistake a simple fluke or dumb luck for skill. Success can happen by chance ... but it's more reliable if by skill.

answered Jan 11 '10 at 12:15
Chris W. Rea
688 points


"Getting Real" (http://gettingreal.37signals.com )

Having been developing web applications for 15-years, I think it is the book that most honestly describes the reality of the process. It has alot of solid advice about the processes and people involved in a building a successful web-based startup. It's straight and to the point and can be read within a couple of hours.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 00:07
Chris Dansie
491 points


I probably come at this slightly differently as I came to the ISV industry from a completely unrelated base - the food wholesale market. The main book that influenced my thinking in running my businesses was:

Allen Leighton - On Leadership. UK businessman and former CEO of Asda (Wal-Mart in the UK)


answered Jan 12 '10 at 05:38
Dr. Phil
86 points


I just finished Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. While I don't know that the book will change my life, it does an excellent job of capturing some of the trends in technology that will definitely change all of our lives.

If you're working in or around social media, crowdsourcing, digital media, etc. - this is a great book. Many useful insights and an entertaining read.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 05:45
298 points


Cashflow Quadrant It made me realize I didn't want to be an Employee for the rest of my life.

answered Jan 9 '10 at 23:02
230 points
  • The one good thing one can say about Kiyosaki is that he has inspired people. That is something at least. – Tim J 14 years ago
  • Lest anyone else think I am just trolling - here are some objective criticisms of Mr. Kiyosaki: http://www.johntreed.com/Kiyosaki.html His books and propaganda should be taken with a grain of salt. Or a whole salt mine... – Tim J 14 years ago
  • I've read "Rich dad, poor dad" and I have to agree with Tim: it is inspiring but lacks concrete advice. – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago

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