People mean well when they get you presents but often you know what gifts are more practical than they do. Here’s a list of the top ten things to give yourself to improve your knowledge of entrepreneurship, investing, and technology. Though targeted at entrepreneurs, I feel like much of this list would be very useful for people pursuing music careers either solo or with a band.
- The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup: this is one of those books that changes the way you think about starting a company and who you co-found with. I suggest this for musicians because you will likely face the same issues that founders of tech startups face. Bands are the leanest of startups and things can get ugly or painful quickly.
- Treehouse subscription: Have you ever wanted to build an app? How about build a website for your business or band? Stop wasting your time messing around with templates that look incredibly derivative and learn how to do it yourself. Treehouse has some of the best instructional videos I’ve seen online. There is student pricing available if you email them a recent transcript.
- The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?: Seth Godin’s latest book is all about treating your work like an artform. Not out yet but his track record guarantees this will be brilliant.
- Mastering the VC Game: Written by Jeffrey Bussgang of Boston’s Flybridge Capital, this is a fascinating look at the world of Venture Capital. Jeff has been on both sides of the entrepreneurial equation so he can explain VCs in a way that entrepreneurs will understand. This is also covers some truly interesting Boston startup history that younger entrepreneurs may not be familiar with.
- Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup: This is as much a book about fast iteration as it is an insight into the culture and rapid prototyping of TechStars, a premier startup accelerator that has locations across the country.
- The Lean Startup: This is the book that will change the way you think about business and developing ideas. It’s another book for startups that I cannot recommend enough to bands.
- The Play Ethic: Pat Kane’s revelatory book on the power of play in ideation and business. Sadly it’s only available digitally for Kindle or used (and pretty pricey for a physical copy since it’s so popular).
- The Dharma of Capitalism: A Guide to Mindful Decision-Making in the Business of Life: I read this book when I was studying meditation. It’s a very interesting take on how we make decisions and how sometimes things that on the surface appear to be simple actually have greater ramifications than we had imagined.
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In: My friend Amy Mantis suggested this book to me after hearing good things. My pile of books to read is stacked pretty high but I have added it to my list. I feel those that don’t think of themselves as “business people” (engineers, musicians, etc) would do themselves a great service by reading this.
- Absolute Beginner’s Guide to C (2nd Edition): I’m taking the Harvard’s edx course on Computer Science and this is the textbook they suggested we get to follow along with the lectures. Author Greg Perry assumes no prior knowledge and does an incredible job of making the C language very accessible. Python and Ruby are all the rage but if you want to learn C this is the book for you.
Do you have a dream or a desire to learn a new skill or improve a current one?
I think most of us do.
The response to our dreams is far too often, “I can’t because…”
“…I’m not smart enough.”
“…I don’t have the time.”
“…I’m too old.”
“…I’m too young.”
The list of reasons can go on and on.
They aren’t reasons, they are excuses.
If you want to learn something new or improve on something you already know, there is little stopping you with the only exceptions being lack of money, resources (laboratory, spaceship, etc), or poor health.
Most of the time the problem isn’t being broke or in poor health-it’s laziness and fear.
The laziness that convinces you to be content with who you are currently.
The fear that if you try and fail you will have wasted time and possibly humiliated yourself in the process.
This is not unnatural. Do not be ashamed if you feel this way from time-to-time.
You must combat fear and laziness.
No time? If you are like the average internet-savvy individual you probably really don’t have much time because you waste it all online. Download RescueTime and run it nonstop. At first you will be disgusted with yourself. You should be (I was). Look at all of the time you spent browsing Facebook, HN, and the like. Think about the things you could have been doing; reading, learning to code, practicing an instrument, spending time with friends and family outdoors. The list of better activities can go on and on.
For the most part, the only thing stopping you from realizing your aspirations is yourself.
Work on changing that. It’s an ongoing process.