12 Must Read Books Recommended From Top Entrepreneurs (Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, David Allen, More!)

With all the incredible business and personal development books that have been recommended on the Growth Everywhere podcast, it was about time we put together a best of compilation of Eric Siu's favorite recommendations. This episode features 12 unique recommendations from some of our most popular episodes with Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, David Allen, Nanxi Liu, Josh Pigford, and more!


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Full Transcript of The Video

Eric Siu: In this video, we are going to talk about my favorite book recommendations from the Growth Everywhere podcast, where I interview world-class entrepreneurs, over 300 now. Such as, people that have invented the little credit card stripe that you have on the back of your credit card. And, billionaires and best-selling authors. All over the place. Best books from these people. And, without further ado, let's check out the books.
What would you say is one must-read book [inaudible 00:00:27]?

Rand Fishkin: You know, personally, I'm always attracted to stories, narrative. My favorite book, the one that inspired me the most, over the years, is called The Billionaire Who Wasn't.

Eric Siu: Oh, that's my favorite book, too.

Rand Fishkin: Yeah. It's the story of Chuck Feeney.

Eric Siu: Yep. Good book.

Todd Garland: First real book about startups that I read, after Palmer Andrews book. Oh, no, excuse me. It's his wife, Jessica's book. After that one that I read, I read the book, by Jason Freed, I believe it was Getting Real.

Eric Siu: Okay.

Todd Garland: It was the one that they initially distributed online.

Rick Perreault: Actually, it isn't so much a book. I mean, I could recommend all the same old customer development stuff that's out there. But, actually, I would get a subscription to Harvard Business Review.

Eric Siu: Okay.

Rick Perreault: And, they cover fundamental everyday challenges for small business, and big businesses. And, some of the best takeaways, and best lessons I ever learned were in some of the little stories in every issue of the magazine.

Spencer Fry: One of the best books I ever read was actually on venture capital. And, it was Brad Feld's Venture Deals book. I read that about three years ago, and I was like, "Oh, my God. I understand it all now. If you're interested in VC stuff, I would totally read that book. And, even if you're not, it's just really awesome, because he takes specific segments of the term sheet, and the financing documents, and then explains them fully. And, then, has an entrepreneur's take on it, too. It's just a great book.

Ryan Carson: I would say it's How to Win Friends and Influence People, the classic from Dale Carnegie. It's from 1930, or something. It has just been so good. The other is, if you're scaling your business and you've moved into a CEO role, I just finished a book called The Great Game of Business. And, it's about open-book accounting, and it's awesome. The Great Game of Business, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Eric Siu: I'll have to check that one out.

Neil Patel: I like reading The Dip. It tells people when to stick, and when to click, 'cause too many people don't know when to bail-out of a business.

Eric Siu: Okay. How many times have you made that mistake?

Neil Patel: A lot. I don't even know, I can't even count on one hand.

Eric Siu: Why do you think that is? I'm cheating here. One more question.

Neil Patel: Just young and naïve. Not enough experience. I know, now, when to quit. But, when you're 21 and you're a young entrepreneur, you don't always know what's best for you.

Amy Balliet: Here's one that you wouldn't think of that I actually have been reading. I've read all of the series of these books, The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read, and The Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read. And, the only reason I say that, is because if you want to be a responsible employer, and give your employees financial security for their future, then setting up a for 401(k) program for them is great. But, I would definitely The Smartest 401(k) Book You've Ever Read, that's what it's called, because it will tell you how to setup a 401(k) in a fair way for your employees, instead of in a way that could actually really harm them in the future.

Sunil Patel: I like Steven Johnson's ... I'm trying to see it on my shelf here. I think it's called Future Tense. It basically talks about the power of peer networks, and their profound ability to change, really, all aspects of society, and, certainly, the world of business.
That deeply affects my thinking, and I think the ability of individual actors, people to work together is a capability that's kind of architecturally enabled by the internet, and is spreading. And, certainly, Sidecar's part of that movement. But, it is spreading, and it's going to continue to spread to pretty much all sectors of the economy. I think it's gonna spread beyond that. I think it's gonna spread to sectors, it's gonna transform the way we think about government, the way we think about other segments of society, how we think about philanthropy, how we think about science, and potentially, even how we think about religion.
I think it's a deeply profound thing that's going on, that we're living through, that we are participating in, that we're building ourselves. It's one of the things that makes me excited about the era that we're in.

Gabriel W.: I just finished reading that Ben Horowitz book, Hard Things About Hard Things. And, I can't recommend it enough. I think it tells the most realistic story of what's going on [inaudible 00:05:52].

Eric Siu: Yep. It's funny, 'cause I'm about to make all my team members read it. And, it's the seventh time this book has been recommended on my show. And, I can't recommend it enough, either, it's probably the best book I've read in the last year.

Gabriel W.: Yeah, I agree with that.

Joshn Pigford: The book that I recommend to anybody, especially when they're early on building stuff, is The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. It was massive, for me, to get over the ... A lot of people, you end up making up excuses for why you were not able to pull off things, or you procrastinate things that are really, really difficult, when the fact that those are difficult are the main sign that you should be doing them, and it's sort of a quick ... I read it on a plane, in a couple of hours. So, it's a good read.

Eric Siu: Nice. Yeah, I've heard good things about it. I think it's on my Amazon Wish List, so I think you might press me to actually buy it-

Joshn Pigford: You should, it's great.

Eric Siu: Okay.

Nanxi Liu: At any given time, I'm usually reading three to four different books.

Eric Siu: Okay.

Nanxi Liu: Another book that I actually just really liked a lot is Battle Hymns of the Tiger Mother.

Eric Siu: You're like the 30th person ... No, I'm just kidding.

Nanxi Liu: What? Okay.

Eric Siu: No, I'm just kidding. No, no. What is it?

Nanxi Liu: All right. Okay, so, that's the book by Amy Choi, that's about how Asian parents, or Asian moms, specifically, raise their daughters. It's not so much the tactics, but it's about when you do things, and why people can accomplish things. It's less about luck, it's really self-created. You make things happen. And, I really appreciate the book, because my parents came here as immigrants. They definitely were like, "We didn't get here because we got lucky. We got here because we got scholarships to go to grad school, and it was really difficult. You make things happen. You can either pursue things, or you just think that things will just happen for you, which it doesn't."

David Allen: A book that came out right before that, and they didn't even know each other, but very, very similar, and they're two of my favorite books right now, is the Organized Mind by Dan Levitin. L-E-V-I-T-I-N. And, a whole lot of that is about the requirement for the external brain, and a lot of the research, a lot of the aggregation of the research that showed up in the last 20 years, that your head is really capable of handling about four potentially meaningful things. And, you add any more than that, and it loses it. And, so, they're certainly favorite books of mine, right now, because I'm very much [inaudible 00:08:27] this whole getting things done methodology.
I learned it on the street, 30 years and thousands of hours, desk-side, with some of the brightest people on the planet, sitting there and working this model, and seeing how it works, and refining it, and testing it out. But, these guys, now that the cognitive scientists are providing it coming around from the other side, from the scientific side, they're about how it works.

Eric Siu: Right.

David Allen: I can't help but be enthused about it, because it very much helps sell the idea. "Hey, guys, your head is for having ideas, but not for holding them."

Eric Siu: All right. So, I hope you enjoyed those books. I hope you, at least, go pick up one. Let me know in the comments of what you plan to do with one of these books to help level up what you have going on in your life. And, go ahead and hit subscribe, and we'll see you in the next video.

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