Back to School Reading

Posted: September 28, 2014 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

bill-cunninghamNow that Fall has arrived, it’s time for everyone to go back to school. Here are some recommendations about what you need to study to enhance your entrepreneurial knowledge and skillset.

The Startup Owner’s User Manual written by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf are a must-read for every aspiring entrepreneur. This essential guide complements all of the current “Lean Startup” ideas and gives you a step by step approach to a successful startup. The reading makes sense. The work is hard. The benefits are fantastic.

Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner (E-Corner) hosts a collection of podcasts and videos based on the Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s Thought Leaders Seminar. The seminar is a weekly lecture series on entrepreneurship featuring entrepreneurs, innovators and industry leaders. Stanford students earn credit for attending the series by registering for Management & Science Engineering Course 472. The series is also free and open to the public. If you don’t happen to be in Silicon Valley on Wednesday afternoons, you can get access to all the past speakers through the e-Corner website: http://ecorner.stanford.edu or subscribe to the series via iTunes.

If you are looking to improve your communications — either personal or corporate — here are several great reads to guide you to a better message. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is one of the best how-to guides to de-cluttering your message and making your points crystal clear. The book itself is a work of art and pleasing to the eye. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo provides all the inside scoop on how to deliver your story like the great master of Apple. Steve Jobs was a master showman who turned presentations into theatrical experiences. Just watch Jobs in action with the launch of the iPhone in 2007.  (http://tinyurl.com/jobsiPhone)

Silicon Valley

Watch this online at http://tinyurl.com/psbSilValley

If you feel like chilling out and watching a few movies, then the PBS American Experience Series film Silicon Valley: Where the Future was Born should be first on your list. This documentary chronicles the birth of the semi-conductor industry  in the late 50’s to its adolescence in 1971. This movie is not just about the products, but the personalities and the culture that created Silicon Valley. Smart guys (mostly all guys back then) with white shirts, skinny ties and crew cuts were the rebels of the revolution. They created great products, but also created a new culture of leaving the mother ship to start new ventures. The original crew from Fairchild Semiconductor left and started Intel, AMP and many others.

Another great flick is Something Ventured, a story told through the visionary risk-takers who dared to make it happen: Tom Perkins, Arthur Rock, Dick Kramlich and others. The film features some of the world’s finest entrepreneurs and their stories with the venture capitalists to grow world-class companies like Intel, Apple, Cisco, Atari, Genentech and others.  Amazon.com’s editors write “Beginning in the late 1950s, this small group of high rollers fostered a one-of-a-kind business culture that encouraged extraordinary risk and made possible unprecedented rewards. They laid the groundwork for America s start-up economy providing not just the capital but also the guidance to allow seedling companies to reach their full potential. Our lives would be dramatically different without the contributions that these venture capitalists made to the creation of PCs, the Internet and life-saving drugs.” Both of these movies are available on Amazon.com and through Netflix.

EnchantmentYour studies would not be complete without a little philosophy by reading Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki. This inspirational guide applies to startups, corporations and life in general. He offers a simple guide to the art of persuasion and influence in the digital age through simple strategies utilizing personal skills as well as current social technologies. His humorous style coupled with anecdotes to highlight his approach will enchant you into being a better person.

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