What makes Business of Software Conference speakers so smart?
Like most smart people, they read a lot. We always ask which books have had the biggest influence on their business lives and what they are reading now. It’s fascinating to hear what books other people read and great to see so many BoS speakers appearing on the list. This year’s book list is here. (There is more diversity in the book list than the speaker walk on music choices this year by the way – any guesses as to most requested walk on music this time round?
A great reading list.
Jared Spool, Center Centre, Founder
Most influential book:
There are many to choose from. (I guess I’m easily influenced.) In honor of the recent passing of Gerald Weinberg, I’ll choose my favorite of his: The Secrets of Consulting. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t reference some lesson I learned from that book.
I’m currently in the middle of reading a whole slew of books on JTBD, for the research I’m doing on the topic. Currently in the middle of Alan Klement’s Why Kale And Coffee Compete. Finished Ulwick’s Jobs-To-Be-Done. Next up: Moesta’s Jobs-to-be-Done Handbook and Christensen’s Competing Against Luck.
I’m also reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice and Frieda Kapor-Klein’s Giving Notice (a book about why it’s hard to keep a diverse workforce due to unintentional bias).
Mikey Trafton, Alamo Drafthouse, CTO
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Rich Mironov, Mironov Consulting
Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. I think every day about my audiences (esp. non-engineering VPs, CEOs, CxOs) and their natural thinking/decision-making biases. How do folks act/think, and why do they…?
A Double Life, Flynn Berry… Escapist, lightweight thriller that’s a break from tech.
Peldi, Balsamiq, Founder & CEO
Growing a Business by Paul Hawken – it gave me permission to take it easy and *organically*.
The Power by Naomi Alderman – yes! Entertaining and thought provoking!
Shawn Anderson, PDQ, CEO/COO Founder
Free, the future of a radical price Chris Anderson)
Scaling Up Verne Harnish
Shane Correlian, PDQ
Herding Cats and Coders by Greg Ross-Munro
Ayat Shukairy, Invesp, Co – Founder
I don’t think a single book has had the “biggest” influence on me, but rather lessons from many books and blogs: Most recently I loved Lost and Founder: A painfully honest field guide to the start-up world by my friend Rand. I related to that book a lot. Of course the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey has been taught to me by mentors and has been as staple throughout my career. I loved The Hard things about hard things by Ben Horowitz, because again, I related to some of the downs (although not at that scale). I enjoyed Radical Candor by Kim Scott and used some methods she describes with my own teams.
Currently I’m reading Launching for Revenue by my friend Jennifer LeBlanc and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Although Trevor’s book isn’t a business book, it’s an important read in light of racial inequality and immigration reform.
Claire Suellentrop, UserList.io, CMO
Technically Wrong, by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. It’s an eye-opening study of how homogenous (and, therefore, ignorant) teams accidentally create products & customer experiences that insult, exclude, or even harm people.
Rahul Vohra, Superhuman, CEO Founder
“Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares. The key concept for me was to invest 50% of resources into growth, and 50% into product. At Rapportive, we were 100% product. And I think if I had read this book back then, I’d still be running Rapportive now! At Superhuman, we incorporate this philosophy into how we work.
“The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses” by Jesse Schnell. It’s not a business book per se, but it has informed much of how we think about product design — a constant quest to create beautiful things that make people smile!, ,
Bethany Pagels-Minor, Apple, Agile Coach
Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen
Rick Nucci, GetGuru, CEO Founder
The Big Switch by Nick Carr. Its a mainstream concept now, but the way he talked about cloud computing back in 2009 when cloud was still “a fad” really stuck with me. He simplified a complex subject so well.
“Thank you for being late” by thomas friedman. Yes i love it. He weaves macro concepts that are changing the world as we know it into a cohesive narrative and brings an optimistic point of view which is always appreciated.
Tania Katan, Creative Trespassing, CEO Founder
The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hahn
Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman
Bruce McCarthy, Product Culture, Founder
I am currently reading Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker about how, despite recent setbacks, the general direction of civilization is inexorably positive for the whole of humanity. He extensive use of statistics and broad, cross-disciplinary approach is compelling and feeds my optimism in a way that current politics do not.
The list of books that have informed my thinking in business is extensive but I will cite Simon Sinek’s Start with Why as its basic thesis that people don’t so much buy what you do but why you do it is something I strive to remind myself of every day.