Books 2

Our top book picks from 2019

| Insights

Reading is essential for staying on top, or even ahead, of the learning curve. It not only reduces stress and helps us focus while developing our verbal skills and imagination, it’s a window into the world of others. In our industry, we are lucky to have many luminaries who are willing to share their knowledge and help others become better leaders, find purpose, and change the world. From AI to VC, from coaching to sleeping, here are our top book picks from last year.

  1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell
    Trillion Dollar Coach illustrates how one man helped Silicon Valley’s most well-known leaders excel, and shares the common patterns for successful leadership he promoted. Bill Campbell, a professional coach and football player, mentored visionaries such as Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt, and coached many other entrepreneurs and leaders throughout his career. This book is based on interviews with people who knew and worked with Bill Campbell and assembles his lessons about how great companies are built. The result is a playbook for creating higher performing and faster-moving teams and companies. The book is co-authored by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle.
  2. Possible Minds: Twenty-five Ways of Looking at AI
    In this collection of stories, the 25 leading AI scientists of today share how they look at AI. In the wake of advances in unsupervised, self-improving machine learning, a small but influential community of thinkers is considering where AI might be taking us. Possible Minds provides a view of how these scientists have been thinking about AI throughout their careers and provide an unparalleled examination into the intellectual landscape of AI.
  3. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
    This life-changing book reveals the real reasons for why we sleep, and why we need to change how we value the time we spend snoozing away. Written by Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, Why We Sleep shatters sleeping myths and questions our current understanding of the relationship between sleep and general health. Matthew Walker states, “Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.” This alone should make us doze more often. If you are not the reading type, we can also warmly recommend the Ted Talk by Matthew Walker on this subject.
  4. VC: An American History
    InVC: An American History, author Tom Nicolas emphasizes the importance of investing with a point of view. As Chuck Newhall reinforces in the book, venture investing is an apprenticeship business, and good investing is less about stated rules than about developing the instinct to apply them effectively. The book is an exploration of venture financing in America, from its origins in the whaling industry to the rise of Silicon Valley. This is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the origins of our industry.
  5. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
    Greta Thunberg is arguably the voice of a generation, and the most outspoken critic of how governments around the world are addressing the most pressing issue of our time, climate change. This collection of her speeches before the British Parliament, the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, the French National Assembly, and other organizations and governments sheds light on the urgency and criticality of addressing climate change on a global scale. An inspirational read for anyone who wants to understand climate science, the book illustrates how one person can make a difference, no matter how young.
  6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
    Bad Blood recounts one of the biggest business frauds since Enron. Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes promised to revolutionize medical testing using a single drop of blood. She actively wooed senior industry and political leaders, who brought credibility to the company. Henry Kissenger and George Shultz served on the board, attracting other political heavyweights, including Betsey DeVos and James Mattis. Each new luminary added to the aura and perceived authenticity of Theranos – and eroded the vigilance of new investors. The book is hair-raising read and a lesson for investors in deal pressure, unconscious bias, premature commitment, and the search for truth in an uncertain world.
  7. The Rise of Modern China, 6th Edition
    This introduction to the history of modern China documents China’s journey from a conservative monarchy into today’s superpower. Immanuel Hsü shares a definitive overview of the past 200 years of Chinese history, informing us of the events that shaped the Chinese mentality and society. The book is worth a re-read, as it has been updated to contain more context around Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.
  8. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
    Time is one of our most valuable resources. We often say that we’d like to have more time to do the things we don’t have time for, like going to the gym regularly, or trying new hobbies, or maybe writing a novel. In 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam challenges our view of how we spend our time, helping us manage our time better through prioritization. By examining how we spend our time and doing a little prioritizing, we really can sleep eight hours per night, exercise five days a week, and still have time for work, family, and other hobbies.
  9. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
    In Range, David Epstein argues that there is no single path to excellence, contrary to what we may have previously believed. Instead of starting early and specializing – narrowing our focus and really zooming in – he argues that we should sample widely, gain a breadth of experience, take detours, and experiment. This book is a good read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.

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