Nine Business Books To Read In 2016 by Natalie White, Stanford Business
What is the best business book you have read? Stanford GSB alumni share their top picks:
Business Books – The Filter Bubble By Eli Pariser
–Susan Akbarpour (MBA ’11), founder and CEO of Mavatar
In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for all users, and we entered a new era of personalization. With little notice or fanfare, our online experience is changing, as the websites we visit are increasingly tailoring themselves to us. In this engaging and visionary book, MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser lays bare the personalization that is already taking place on every major website, from Facebook to AOL to ABC News. As Pariser reveals, this new trend is nothing short of an invisible revolution in how we consume information, one that will shape how we learn, what we know, and even how our democracy works.
[drizzle]The race to collect as much personal data about us as possible, and to tailor our online experience accordingly, is now the defining battle for today’s internet giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. Behind the scenes, a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking our personal information to sell to advertisers, from our political leanings to the hiking boots we just browsed on Zappos.
As a result, we will increasingly each live in our own, unique information universe—what Pariser calls “the filter bubble.” We will receive mainly news that is pleasant, familiar and confirms our beliefs—and since these filters are invisible, we won’t know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation and the democratic exchange of ideas.
Drawing on interviews with both cyber-skeptics and cyber-optimists, from the co-founder of OK Cupid, an algorithmically-driven dating website, to one of the chief visionaries of U.S. information warfare, THE FILTER BUBBLE tells the story of how the Internet, a medium built around the open flow of ideas, is closing in on itself under the pressure of commerce and “monetization.” It peeks behind the curtain at the server farms, algorithms, and geeky entrepreneurs that have given us this new reality, and investigates the consequences of corporate power in the digital age.
THE FILTER BUBBLE reveals how personalization could undermine the internet’s original purpose as an open platform for the spread of ideas, and leave us all in an isolated, echoing world. But it is not too late to change course. Pariser lays out a new vision for the web, one that embraces the benefits of technology without turning a blind eye to its negative consequences, and will ensure that the Internet lives up to its transformative promise.
Business Books – The Hard Thing About Hard Things By Ben Horowitz
“Unless you’ve done it, you just don’t have enough empathy around what it means to build a company. You have the least number of people to talk to but you need it the most. The decisions are not black and white. There is so much gray.”
–Dennis Yang (MBA ’02), CEO at Udemy
Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.
While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.
Business Books – The Everything Store By Brad Stone
“I loved it as entrepreneur therapy. It’s helpful to look at a company that has become so successful and peer behind the curtain to see how much adversity even Amazon had to deal with in the beginning when they were getting the business off the ground. I find that reading about the struggles of other entrepreneurs has a way of helping me keep seemingly very similar challenges of my own in perspective.”
–Jonathan Beekman (MBA ’09), founder and CEO of Man Crates
Amazon.com’s visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that’s never been cracked. Until now.
Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, and his book is the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. The Everything Store is the book that the business world can’t stop talking about, the revealing, definitive biography of the company that placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read.
Business Books – First Things First By Stephen R. Covey
“Being a CEO requires goal setting and prioritization. Most startups die from indigestion, not starvation. I do an exercise every week with a friend of mine. At 8:30 every Sunday we go through our ‘first things first’ things for the week. We put it on a spreadsheet and we are accountable to each other. Each week we check in to see how we did against our previous week’s goals and set new goals for the following week. In addition to work, I pick one or two things to do with my wife and my kids that will be special. I’ve been doing this for six years. Setting aside time in your calendar to stop, reflect, and plan is really important.”
–Josh Becker (JD/MBA ’98), CEO of Lex Machina
I’m getting more done in less time, but where are the rich relationships, the inner peace, the balance, the confidence that I’m doing what matters most and doing it well?
Does this nagging question haunt you, even when you feel you are being your most efficient? If so, First Things First can help you understand why so often our first things aren’t first. Rather than offering you another clock, First Things First provides you with a compass, because where you’re headed is more important than how fast you’re going.
Business Books – The Power of Now By Eckhart Tolle
–Ai Chloe Chien (MBA ’13), cofounder and COO of Homemade Cooking
It’s no wonder that The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and