February 05, 2015 0 Comments.

I’m going to try to do this every month in 2015 with the books that I finish.  I’m trying to figure out a way that isn’t completely ridiculous to do the same for impactful stuff I’ve read online as well.

Book 1

Zero to One

Let me save everyone some time when it comes to business books.

Go read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ by Dale Carnegie (written 79 years ago).  Then read ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ by Steven Covey (written 25 years ago).  Then read ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill (written 78 years ago).

Done?  Congratulations.  98% of all of the business books in the world are some poorly done, modernized re-hashing of these books.

Zero to One is in the 2% of books that aren’t Cover-Carnegie-Hill imitators.  A few of the things that stood out –

  • Successful companies are monopolies disguised as fair competitors.
  • Successful startups are founded by people who have ‘secrets’ – things that the person knows are true that other people don’t.  This fits in well with Paul Grahams thoughts on Schlep and Heresy, which I enjoyed.

You should read it if…

If you’re wondering whether you would like the book, go skim this –  http://blakemasters.com/peter-thiels-cs183-startup – it’s notes from a series of lectures that the author (billionaire co-founder/investor Peter Thiel) gave to a Stanford class.  If you like the notes, you’ll like the book.

Book 2

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Why did Christopher Columbus sail to America and dominate the Native Americans rather than the reverse (Pocahontas sails the Atlantic with Meeko and crew and dominate Europe?)  This book answers why.  Quick answer, in case you don’t want to pound through the 500ish page book  – there wasn’t anything special about Europeans, but a lot that was special about Europe.  It walks through how developments with food productions, animal domestication, natural resources, climate differences, and civilization sizes all coalesced to give us the world we live in now.

You should read it if…

If you like learning about history, you’ll enjoy the book.  If you don’t, then don’t even try this one.  It reads like an engaging history professor, but a history professor none-the-less.

Book 3

Yes Please

Amy Poehler is funny.

You should read it if…

If you’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey and liked it, you’ll probably like this too.  And while we’re talking about those two books, don’t read them.  Listen to them.  Get the audiobook.  So much funnier.  (It’s VERY PG-13, so if you’re VERY not 13, you probably shouldn’t listen.)

Book 4

The Art of Learning

Written by the now adult subject of the film, ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’, Josh Waitzkin talks about the parallels he found between becoming a national chess champion and later a tai chi champion as an adult.  Reading what he found to be critical for success in two completely disparate fields was very interesting to me.

You should read it if…

Tim Ferriss gives a much better breakdown of the book on his blog here – http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/03/20/the-art-of-learning-joshua-waitzkin/  than I could give, so read the blog post.  If you’re still interested, then go buy the book.

Book 5

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

This is awesome.  Here is how to know if you’ll think it’s awesome.

Look at these:

You should read it if…

Did you laugh?  Get the book.

Did you not?  What’s wrong with you?

Book 6


Written by my friend from Arvada and from BYU, Corry Smith (his first book he’s written!).  It’s a short fiction story (about 80 pages).  The Giver meets Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ is a close approximation.

You should read it if…

Do you like dystopian fiction?   Read it.  Do you like happy, feel-good stories?  Don’t.


I”m going to do this again at the end February.  Sign up for the email updates up at the top on the right hand side if you want me to ping you about it when I do.

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