Recommended Reading

Business Resources

  1. Adam L. Penenberg, Viral Loop, Hyperion: Like many of the authors who have examined the growth of social media, Penenberg engages in fair bit of “Ain’t it cool” cheerleading, but his thesis, (that creating an incentive for users to engage other users drives adoption to a rate above 1.0, creating viral growth), makes sense and is well supported with careful case studies.

  2. Mitch Joel, Six Pixels of Separation, Business Plus: In this book, we still find some of the “Ain’t it cool” entusiasm that typifies books about social media marketing, (this may be inevitable in a marketing book); but Mitch Joel also provides a wealth of practical advice on how to leverage social media to market your business without spending a lot of money. This book should be part of every business library.

  3. Bob Gilbreath, The Next Generation of Marketing: Connect With Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning, McGraw Hill: Unhandy title aside, this is one of the best marketing books I’ve read. Gilbreath’s thesis is that in order for marketing to be effective in today’s saturated market, it has to offer something of real value to consumers by being meaningful or responding to a real need.

  4. Simon Ackland: Angels, Dragons and Vultures: Capital Advice for Entrepreneurs, Nicholas Brealy Publishing: This is probably the most terrifying and disheartening book a budding entrepreneur could find to read, but it’s invaluable because it lays open the dark world of corporate finance and the confusing array of financial instruments that are employed in the venture capital market. Don’t even consider trying to finance your venture without reading this book first.

  5. Fabrice de Pierrebourg and Michel Juneau-Katsuya, Nest of Spies, Harper Collins: The first time I read this book, I thought that prolonged exposure to spook country had turned the authors, (a former CSIS operative and a Montreal Journalist), into tinfoil hat paranoiacs.

    However, after the third amateurish but determined attempt by a wannabe industrial spy to steal information from my little start-up I figured it was time to re-read the book. Pierrebourg and Katsuya not only sound the alarm about the state of espionage, (industrial and otherwise) in Canada today, they also provide a practical perspective for protecting your intellectual property without wasting money on useless technology or turning into a paranoid nut. This book was written from a Canadian perspective, but Americans should read it too.

  6. Henri Charmasson et al., Canadian Intellectual Property Law for Dummies, John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd.: This little book was a free handout from a law firm looking for business. It won’t provide you with much of the information you’ll need in order to secure intellectual property in the United States, but it offers a readable introduction to the complexities of Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights in Canada. Naturally, the thesis of the book is “hire a lawyer”, but it at least demystifies the what and how of intellectual property. I’ve linked to the US version. These books are a good introduction, but there’s no substitute for reading actual patent specifications.

Fiction for Entrepreneurs

Remember that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You can’t subsist on textbooks alone. If you’re interested in exploring truly innovative ideas, I recommend that you take some leisure time to read a few science fiction authors whose visions of the future have shown something akin to prescience. These include the following:

  1. William Gibson – Gibson is credited with inventing the concept of Cyberspace in a series of classic science fiction stories including Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive, but over time, his high-art, ultraviolent sci-fi romps have been set nearer and nearer to our present reality as Gibson’s focus on human peculiarity and how we interact with technology has sharpened.

    His last cycle of stories follows the adventures of a seemingly unconnected group of people drawn into the orbit of an eccentric marketing billionaire named Bigend, who is trying to re-invent the way people relate to technology. There are some really cool marketing ideas in these books that bear exploring, as well as some of the most beautiful, terse prose you could hope to read.

  2. Neal Stephenson – Stephenson, the author of mega-hits Snow Crash, and The Diamond Age, is at least slightly monomaniacal; and he writes terrible sex scenes. (Here’s a tip: If you’re not interested in sex, and you write as if your experience is limited, you can leave the sexy bits out of your books – nobody will mind.)

    However, he is unique in his approach to exploring the way that technology can transform economies and human expectations in a remarkably short time. He’s also obsessed with ninjas, cryptography, and World War II, and seems to have only a very vague idea of how many years there are in a century; his intergenerational timelines get a little tenuous.

  3. Cory Doctorow – I was captivated with Doctorow’s book For the Win, which explores the possibility of interstitial and underground economies, (like gold farming), becoming a real economic power. He plays with the idea that crowdsourcing will precipitate a post-technological revolution and may in time transform second world economies. Doctorow and I come from very different places philosophically, but I love the way he thinks.

  4. Ayn Rand – You can’t be a captain of industry unless you’ve at least tried to read Atlas Shrugged. It makes a great pillow book, because at over 1200 pages it’s big enough to use as a pillow, and I guarantee that the slow bits will help you fall asleep at night.

    Rand, who was a crazy Russian virago, writes the creepiest and least convincing sex scenes I have ever encountered. In spite of all that, her thesis that capitalism and liberty are actually fragile and living entities bears examination, and her prescience about the risks and consequences of large-scale state intervention into the economy is absolutely spooky.

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