The Fetch Blog

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The top 10 business books every professional and entrepreneur should read — July 31, 2015

The top 10 business books every professional and entrepreneur should read

There are hundreds of thousands of books about business available today, which can make it tough to cut through the noise to find those that actually provide actionable advice. From great reads for startup CEOs to books about the importance of team building and psychology, we’re sharing a few of our favorites:

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

    It’s an unfortunate fact that 80 percent of startups fail, but Ries believes that many of them don’t have to. When writing, he considers that a majority of failed companies don’t have the surplus time, money or manpower to complete extensive A/B testing and other market research strategies — so he offers advice about how to reduce product development cycles, find out what customers really want, and adapt to the marketplace before resources run out.

  2. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

    There’s a reason why this book landed on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller lists. A company is only as good as the talent it attracts and keeps, so Bock offers an in-depth explanation for a proper manager-employee relationship. Furthermore, he lists the exact qualities to look for when adding members to a team and explains the importance of finding balance between encouraging creativity and maintaining structure. Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work, and the insights shared here make it easy to understand why.

  3. The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick

    How did a student create one of the fastest growing companies of all time, completely transforming the Internet and how humans interact online? Here, veteran technology reporter Kirkpatrick offers a detailed history of Facebook and how it became the incredible company that it is today. This impressive, inside story speaks to why Facebook was started, the company’s early missteps, power of uncompromised vision, struggle between growth versus profit, and what’s next.

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

    It’s a well-known fact that it’s easier and more cost-effective to keep a customer than acquire a new one. Eyal takes this concept a step further by exploring intriguing questions such as: why do some products get mass attention while others just flop? What makes a product so addictive that the customer can’t put it down? Is there a pattern as to how technologies hook us? Based on years of research, experience and consultations, Eyal is able to share smart findings along with practical, actionable steps for building a successful product.

  5. Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook by Dan Shapiro

    One of the best ways to learn is by example, and Shapiro’s book is chock-full of summaries that cover companies with varying degrees of success. Vividly explained are the five stages of a startup CEO, how to finish with respect to board members, staying loyal to a management team, and tips for maintaining financial security. As one reviewer wrote, “The thing that sets Dan’s writing apart from other startup books/blogs is his focus on translating his experiences (across several different types companies) into actionable advice for other entrepreneurs.”

  6. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

    “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.” We’ve all heard the popular phrase “mind over matter,” and Dweck builds on this age old theory that with the right mindset, you can change your internal dialogue from being judgmental to helping one to grow; from praising talent to acknowledging hard work. Many have deemed this a must-read for anyone in a leadership position (including managers, teachers, parents and even CEOs).

  7. Hackers And Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham

    Graham takes the unique approach of drawing on historical events and examples to explore what he calls, “an intellectual Wild West” in this series of essays. As computers swiftly take over our lives, Graham discusses the roles of programmers, hackers, and software designers and how they will forever change how we think and live. While you may disagree on some of his views on life, it will certainly get you thinking.

  8. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

    In the 1980s, Kawasaki helped shape Apple into one of the greatest companies of the century. As founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, he has field-tested his ideas with dozens of entrepreneurial companies. With the incredible experience and success to back up his theories (presented with humor and real-world savvy), Kawasaki brings an arsenal of ideas to equip any business owner for potential challenges.

  9. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

    Theil started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002 — establishing a new era of fast and secure online commerce. Here, Theil shares his personal insights and anecdotes while raising important questions for budding entrepreneurs, including: Is now the right time to start your particular business? Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future? Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product? Are you starting with a big share of a small market? With strong ideas and principles to help build the foundation of any business, Thiel’s advice shouldn’t be missed.

  10. The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz

    If you want a simple, cut-to-the-chase approach to launching a startup, this is it. Michalowicz explains his path to success in just three simple steps: 1) Plant the right seeds by identifying the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it; 2) Weed out the loser customers that waste your time and invest in the customers that add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth; and 3) Nurture the winners by focusing on how you can make their wishes come true and deliver on every single promise.

About our contributor // Christina Morales is a freelance writer specializing in creating online marketing content. Her dream is to one day rule the world with just an iPad, a case of Cherry Coke, Twizzlers, and a glue gun.

Book review: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry — July 5, 2014

Book review: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

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What is it about the LEGO brand that sees this company’s products excite and delight the toy market 80 years on?

When you read page by page of ‘Brick by Brick’ you soon learn the many lessons of how to stay an innovative market leader throughout the decades and into the digital age. It’s a fascinating read as you experience the dizzy heights of phenomenal success resulting from the Star Wars and Harry Potter themed sets of toy to the calamity of 2003 when the cracks in the LEGO empire began to show.

The beauty of this read is the warts and all insight into the people behind the company, the vast array of products and the interesting reasons behind the creation of the product ranges. You are taken on a journey where every step is incredibly detailed and where it is clear that the path to success was not an easy one. Time and time again the words determination, perseverance, tenacity and failure appear. The many mistakes are analyzed and explained providing valuable learnings for the reader. One also reads of experimentation, belief and passion.

The book discusses the six principle approach to innovation that worked: An aspirational mission, relentless experimentation, systems thinking, discipline and focus, the appeal of the real and of inspiring the customer/prioritizing the retailer.

The book challenges your approach to innovation as you learn what worked and what certainly did not work for LEGO. Profitable innovation instead of run-away innovation is key and accompanying that continuous innovation becoming the norm. ‘Brick by Brick’ shares the innumerable signposts that were missed at crucial times seeing the fortunes of LEGO plummet and providing sage advice for the reader. Having offered all the insights, signposts and guidance however a crucial take-away stressed by authors, Professor of Innovation and Technology Management David Robertson and founding member of Fast Company Bill Breen, is that it is up to you to ownership and ‘make the bricks click’.

About our contributor // Jacs Ford’s inquisitive nature sees her say yes to pretty much anything – a Tough Mudder, an African Safari, sailing down the Nile in a felucca and even a HTML workshop. Follow her on Twitter via @jacsford.

Book Review: The $100 Startup: The rise of the roaming entrepreneur — November 25, 2012

Book Review: The $100 Startup: The rise of the roaming entrepreneur

This week, we’re pleased to kick-off our first book review for The Fetch Blog. Thanks Elise Bialylew for this gem…

If you’ve been dreaming of launching that new business and living the location independent lifestyle, The $100 Startup by New York Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau is your perfect companion. Chris is an impressive entrepreneur who has spent the past five years writing about his quest to visit every country in the world before he turns 35. His popular blog, The Art of Non Conformity, has become a successful six-figure online business and a vortex for freedom-seeking, conscious, community lovers from across the globe.

The $100 Startup is like a Lonely Planet guidebook for entrepreneurialism. With a collection of inspiring stories and specific roadmaps, it guides the reader in navigating a path from idea to business execution on a shoestring budget. Chris discusses the key to “the quest for personal freedom [as being] through the pursuit of value for others,” emphasising the need for convergence between matching your passion with something that someone else would pay for.

He flirtatiously warns his readers that “There is no rehab program for being addicted to freedom. Once you’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, good luck trying to follow someone else’s rules ever again.”

Throughout the book there are diverse stories of micro-entrepreneurs who have found their way to success through different routes. Whether choosing to leave a soul suffocating corporate job or being made redundant, each story is inspiring in its trajectory. A particularly inspiring interview describes Brett Kelly, a man who was struggling to financially support his family and noticed an opportunity in the market place. He realised that there was no existing manual for the Apple Mac Evernote program and within a few months developed one himself. He published it as an ebook and made $120,000 on its sales which led to a phone call from the CEO of Evernote offering him a lucrative position in the company. The book emphasises the importance of paying attention to opportunities that exist in our rapidly changing environment and bringing ideas into action to allow serendipity to amplify one’s possibilities.

The book is in many ways the manifestation of a movement, evidenced by the annual World Domination Summit (WDS) hosted by Chris Guillebeau’s in his hometown, Portland. It is a conference founded by Chris and aimed at those who are interested in living “remarkable lives in a conventional world”. This year the keynote speakers ranged from Jonathan Fields, writer-entrepreneur, to Scott Harrison founder of Charity Water. In its second year, WDS sold out within hours of its online ticket sales with waiting lists already in place for next years event in July 2013.

Committed to contributing to the world and sharing the business lessons he has learned, Chris motivates people from all over the globe to action their ideas and embrace mistakes as a necessary part of the learning.

This year at WDS, after receiving an anonymous donation of $100,000, Chris decided to generously “invest” in each attendee by giving us one hundred dollars and inviting us to spend it how we wished. Leaving the conference with a free copy of the $100 Startup and a one hundred dollar bill in my hand, I reflected on his gesture as both an ingenius marketing strategy and a brilliant way of conveying his underlying message:

There are no excuses for not starting. Take action now.

About our Ambassador // Elise Bialylew is a multi-passionate, curiosity driven, doctor, writer, documentary filmmaker, dancer, humanitarian, philanthropist, connector and the founder of Mindful in May. Follow her on Twitter @meditatecreate.

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