8 Books Every Start-Up Founder Should Read

By Heather Serden On February 25, 2016 Photography By:   Darcy Hemley

Innovative entrepreneurs often face challenges when launching something new; unproven products, disrupting the status quo, and reaching beyond your traditional skill set can all be sources of anxiety. The good news is, entrepreneurship itself is no new concept, and many successful entrepreneurs who have come before us have written about their experiences. The challenges they faced and subsequent lessons they learned can prepare us for the entrepreneurial journey ahead, and remove some of the uncertainty in the whole process. Read on to discover our list of eight books every start-up founder should read.

Man’s Search for Meaning

Why pursue entrepreneurship in the first place? Philosopher Viktor E Frankl argued that meaning of life comes from three places: purposeful work, love, and your response to suffering. Nothing makes us feel more purposeful in our work than creating something new to solve an existing problem. While some people thrive as part of a team in a stable corporate environment, we at Above the Glass love to see the immediate and direct impact of every decision we make. The fulfillment from bringing an idea to life is incomparable, and is an ultimate source of meaning in our lives.



NastyGirl Founder, Sophia Amoruso, is the ultimate example of someone who thrived despite her circumstances. With humble beginnings, but a killer gut instinct, she was able to create a product that customers craved. She had no formal business education, but built a multi-million dollar empire by staying true to herself, and to her brand. The lesson: if she could do it, so can you.



Lean In

When Sheryl Sandberg released Lean In in 2013, she opened up the world for a conversation around a woman’s role in the workplace. She argued that women should take control of their own careers, and stop waiting for men to do it for them. While critics have questioned the exact way she proposed we do this (by acting more like men, or “leaning one way”), this book is a rallying cry for female empowerment. Sheryl is a role model for working women everywhere, and her words of wisdom should not be missed.



Crazy is a Compliment

Innovative ideas can seem crazy, and extreme measures must be taken to execute them. But that is exactly the point; these ideas are often the most successful, so if people think you are crazy, then maybe you are on to something. Linda Rottenberg created an international business network, called Endeavor, despite her fair share of criticism along the way. This book preaches resiliency, so disruptive entrepreneurs take note.



Zero to One

Peter Thiel is the genius founder behind Paypal. If you are also a genius, Thiel argues you should be using your brain to create new products. Society is moved forward by the creation of things and independent thinking. Instead of iterating or improving things that already exist, or taking the world from one to n, we should be applying original thought to take the world from zero to one. We all have ideas, and Thiel reinforces our belief that each person’s thoughts have the capacity to change the world.



The Lean Startup

Eric Ries developed the “build, measure, learn,” model that enables businesses to grow more quickly, and with less money. Since one of the greatest barriers to entry in the start-up world is access to cash, this approach to launching a business benefits most. Even in the luxury market, where first impressions can make or break your success, there are lessons to be learned about making the most out of your investment.



The Hard Thing About Hard Things

As outsiders we often see the success and glamour awarded to business-owners. For those on the inside, it is an entirely different story. Famed entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Ben Horowitz, gets real about the struggles he encountered as a founder in the start-up world.




Arianna Huffington burnt out. This happens to so many entrepreneurs, given the pressure and high-stakes nature of business. But her experience led her to realize that there is more to the world than working yourself into the ground. By readjusting her perspective to focus on well being, wisdom and wonder, she has made herself into an even better and balanced businesswoman.



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