Here we are again- July has arrived! June was busy with our 3rd Annual Golf Tournament, the last Collision Conference, and the end of another school year. 

School’s out for summer!! To celebrate, we’ve put together a short reading list to help you through the summer. Honestly, I find most business books to be a drag. There are hundreds of books about startups and businesses, and many of them are filled with cliches and basic advice. 

Many of the recommendations below are nonfiction and would fall into the “business” or “self-help” category. 

In reality, I read much more nonfiction. I have fond memories of reading while out in the backyard or impatiently waiting for the newest Harry Potter book to arrive in the mailbox. So, I have also snuck a few of my nonfiction favorites in there. Research suggests that reading fiction may provide far more essential benefits than nonfiction. For example, reading fiction predicts increased social insight and a sharper ability to comprehend other people’s motivations. Reading nonfiction might be valuable for collecting knowledge, but more is needed to develop EQ, a far more elusive goal. 

The list below is by no means comprehensive; rather, it is a collection of books that have left a lasting impression on my conduct and work. 

On Leadership... Start with Why & Leaders Eat Last, both by Simon Sinek

Start with Why is possibly my most recommended book to early-stage founders. Why would that be? The idea at the core of this book—that successful companies can clearly articulate WHY they are in business (beyond making a profit) rather than just being able to describe WHAT they do and HOW they do it—is a compelling one. Starting with WHY works in big business and startups, in the nonprofit world, and politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate; they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to; they follow because they want to. The most compelling and often successful founders are obsessed with a problem. Start With Why is also a great TED talk if you prefer the “movie version” of the summer reading list. 

Sinek’s other book, Leaders Eat Last, offers lessons from the military relevant to new and experienced leaders. Leadership is not a position you have but the person you are. When leading an organization, you want to avoid a team of dedicated followers ready to do your every whim; you want people who can lead themselves and those around them to accomplish the task. We all know that a founder, CEO, or, perhaps, a former boss could use this lesson. 

On Startups... Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell, by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle

Trillion Dollar Coach is a compilation of management lessons from legendary coach and business executive Bill Campbell, whose mentoring of some of our most successful modern entrepreneurs has helped create well over a trillion dollars in market value. Campbell played an instrumental role in developing several prominent companies, such as Google, Apple, and Intuit, fostering deep relationships with Silicon Valley visionaries. This business book, which you could take to the beach, is an easy and fun read. It is peppered with fascinating stories and insights on many of tech’s most famous builders and leaders. The book also contains clear-cut and actionable takeaways, such as Bill’s framework for one-on-ones. 

On Coming of Age... A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews

The hot, muggy summer months perfectly set the tone for a coming-of-age story. A Complicated Kindness, by Canadian Author Miriam Toews, is the world according to Nomi, a bewildered and wry sixteen-year-old trapped in a town governed by fundamentalist religion and in the shattered remains of a family it destroyed. It is a cold kindness that prevents us from becoming who we need to be. At first, many who are enveloped in it find warmth, inclusion, a sense of belonging, and the answer to a need for identity, but over time, the rules become suffocating, the constraints a cell for the soul. Nomi is coming to grips with this, and Toews handles her journey brilliantly. 

On Creativity... Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is an honest discussion about the creative process. Gilbert’s philosophy of living “Beyond Fear” as the necessary step to freeing yourself for creative inspiration is a concept that transcends anything that can be taught in a classroom. She describes a way to live–and enjoy–creative living that is the opposite of what is often taught. She doesn’t try to sugarcoat the work involved in creating something beautiful or pretend that you will be able to rid yourself of fear completely, but she permits you to enjoy the ride. Even when the work doesn’t turn out beautiful, you spend time with your creativity. And learning through the process

On The Dangers and Wonders of Expanding One's Horizons... The Hobbit, by J.R.R Tolkien

There is no better time to dig into a fantasy series than the summer. The Hobbit is a classic and introduces the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth. The novel recounts the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. No matter how much startup advice you read… the best learnings will come from getting your hands dirty, getting customer feedback, playing the VC game, and doing a lot of trial and error

Personally, I am picking up “101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think” By Brianna Wiest. The book is a compilation of, well, 101 Essays. I love this essay format for nonfiction books as it makes it easy to pick up throughout the summer months. I have finally given in to the hype and am listening to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I love audiobooks because that means I can do other things while listening. My favorite activity for an audiobook? Cleaning and needlepinting! 

What’s on your summer reading list? We would love to know! Happy July- we hope you have an enjoyable summer! 

Many thanks for reading!
Kate Tomen

This post came from the June edition of the AIO Newsletter. Sign up below to get your copy delivered directly to you every month and stay up to date on everything happening in the angel investor ecosystem. 

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