Tabitha Goldstaub, serial entrepreneur and cofounder of CognitionX and FutureGirlCorp, takes us on a thought-provoking tour around her bookshelf.
In recent years, I learn mostly from online resources - this list of Medium Bloggers, Nautilus, Wired magazine, podcasts like A16Z, The Bottom Line, This Week In Startups, etc. However, there is nothing better than a great book to really dig into, without the distraction of being able to open a new tab or scroll down the page. So here I’m taking you on a tour of my bookshelf, in the hope that you too can find a quiet moment with some of my favourites.
NB: I lend a lot of books out so the ones below are a good snapshot of what’s there at the moment but do check out my Amazon suggestion list for even more inspiration.
1. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
This is the first strategy book I ever properly read. It helped me structure many of my thoughts, not only because of the brilliant examples but also the tools that accompany the book. In particular, the Buyer Utility Map is very useful for understanding where to focus your energy.
Key Takeaway… ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ doesn’t aim to help you out-perform the competition. It teaches you to make the competition irrelevant by reconstructing industry boundaries. Why go and compete in a crowded marketplace with all the sharks feeding when you can move the marketplace to a clear, open space where only you can win?
Read This If… You are validating your business and people keep asking:
- Isn’t that market too crowded?
- Are you sure there is a market there at all?
- What makes you unique and have a competitive advantage?
- What features should we develop to set us apart?
2. Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Never Will by Geoff Colvin
As the cofounder of CognitionX, a Market Intelligence Platform for all things Artificial Intelligence, I’m often asked if machines will take all our jobs. I’m a proponent of the argument that AI is about Augmented Intelligence and Man/Women & Machine working together. There are many brilliant books on AI but this one gave me the most hope for the future of employment of everyday people.
Key Takeaway… Skills like “she’s a real people person,” or “she’s naturally creative”— it turns out they can all be developed and these high-value skills create tremendous competitive advantage when it comes to the machine age.
Read This If… You want to be the positive voice of reason during the utopian, dystopian AI debate.
3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell was my earliest introduction to thinking “outside the box,” questioning everything and looking for trends rather than taking perceived wisdom at face value. ‘Outliers’ highlights that success has many more factors than we presumed. When outliers become outliers, it is not just because of their own efforts. It’s because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances — and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds —and how many of us succeed—than we think. At some points I felt frustrated I didn’t get the advice in this book earlier but mostly I felt hopeful for the future.
Key Takeaway… 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field.
Read This If… You are looking to interrogate what makes people successful in order to inspire themselves or others into becoming an Outlier.
This is a brand spanking new book that was given to me by the 4th Estate publishing house, before it hit the bookstores, as inspiration for a project I’m working on for regarding Gender Bias in Artificial Intelligence. “From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story.” Angela Saini brings to light the controversial research and investigates the gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology.
Key Takeaway… The blatant misogyny buried in the forever of patriarchy has led us all to believe women are Inferior. This book left me enraged and inspired to spread the word about these once hidden facts. Another quiver in my feminist bow.
Read This If… You are interested in trying to inspire more women into STEM subjects and want to know what they have always been up against.
5. Man’s Search for Meaning: The classic tribute to the hope from the Holocaust by Viktor Frankl
‘Man's Search for Meaning’ is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II. It describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.
Key Takeaway…"He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how." - Nietzsche (Viktor E. Frankl quotes). “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” Viktor E. Frankl.
Read This If…I read this book at a very challenging point of my career and I think anyone who like me forgot there was more to life that your career will benefit from this book.