Many of the most successful and wealthiest people share one key trait. They are avid readers. After interviewing more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people over the past three decades, Steve Siebold, an author and self-made millionaire, discovered that they share one pastime in common. They self-educate by reading. He explains, “Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."
Many of today’s most prolific venture capitalists share a strong passion for reading. Take Warren Buffett. When asked about the key to his success, he pointed to a stack of books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
Are you looking to join the ranks of the most successful leaders? Here are three venture capital book recommendations from some of the most successful VCs.
1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
On his podcast, The Twenty Minute VC, Harry Stebbings has interviewed hundreds of the top VCs and picked their brains on some of their favorite books. Based on these recommendations, Joe Hovde, a data analyst, compiled a visual chart that reveals the most commonly cited. Included on this list is Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations”.
Entrepreneurship and venture capital are not for the faint at heart. They are both pursuits rife with challenges, obstacles, and tough days. Oftentimes, what separated the winners from the losers is the strength of their mental conviction. It’s understandable that many entrepreneurs and VCs have gravitated towards mindfulness.
“Meditations" teaches us that our minds have great power. While we can’t control external forces, we can control our own thoughts and actions. We can choose to be good even when we are surrounded by bad. When we are harmed, we can respond with kindness, In reading “Meditations”, you’ll become more resilient and learn to approach your days with more conviction.
2. By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission Paperback by Charles Murray
“By the People” is a favorite of Joe Lonsdale, Co-Founder of Palantir and founding partner at 8VC. Eerily relevant in today’s political environment, “By the People” explains how The American way of life, built on liberty and the limited role of government, is in danger. Author Charles Murray explains the increasing role of government and how we can no longer constrain the power of the government through traditional means. It takes the provocative stance that the Constitution is beyond repair. Murrah argues that the government can be kept in check by civil disobedience, which can essentially make the Federal Code of Regulations unenforceable. Regardless of your stance on government and technology, it’s a provocative read that will cause you to re-evaluate your perspectives.
3. Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes--and What We Can Learn from Them by Mark McClusky
Faster, Higher, Stronger comes highly recommended by Jeff Jordan, a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and former CEO of OpenTable. It explores the intersection between sports and science, with a first-hand look at how athletes at every level can incorporate cutting-edge science into their own workouts. It asks us to question how far we can push the boundaries of our bodies and minds. There are many parallels to VC and entrepreneurship. How do we find hidden champions? Is the 10,000 rule valid? To what extent is fatigue a manifestation of the mind? Can we optimize for greatness? After reading this book, you’ll learn to rethink you can apply cutting edge science to improve your own focus and impact.
Roald Dahl once said, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” Follow in the footsteps of some of the most successful VCs and add some of their recommendations to your reading lists.