To understand business, you need to understand people. Our founder and the mastermind behind WAH London, Sharmadean Reid, shares some of her latest sources of inspiration for running a company successfully.
Since my last installation, I’ve moved from reading a lot of books about business to more books on human behaviour, psychology and holistic health. Running a business is ultimately about people, so understanding a bit about behavioural psychology and what drives human kind is as important as reading business stories! - SR x
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
The first time I bought this book I was thinking about different ways to motivate my team and why some people have a certain mindset than others. It was an incredible read and actually made me realise that in some respects, we are all trapped in or “oppressed” by pressures and expectations. This book is for everybody to question how we can escape from such pressures and live our lives in a whole and human way.
2. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks
This is more business focused and reminded me a lot of the Good Strategy Bad Strategy book. It’s really fascinating to look at how all of these giant companies throughout history have effected society as a whole. Basically, business is like a wild west movie. You can’t judge what’s going on for a company by what you see on its socials or in press releases. If you want to know about a business fully, you need to research absolutely everything about it.
I genuinely believe that our only role is to build a good product that your customers like, so that in turn you’ll get even more customers and make more money. Intercom is incredible at helping you really focus on what makes a product and a company good.
It’s great for anyone building a start up, reminding you not to be brought down by start up hysteria. All you should be doing is making the best possible product and talking to your users regularly in order to find out more about their needs, not what you think they need.
This book is all about how to be a good boss, something I found very useful because understanding how to manage people effectively is tough. What makes a good boss is regular communication with your team and telling them when they are messing up, not just brushing issues aside and then firing them at the last minute.
5. The Airbnb Story: How Three Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions of Dollars … and Plenty of Enemies by Leigh Gallagher
I read this book in 4 hours straight, which is record reading for me. It's a really good story because it doesn’t just talk about the glamorous bits, it talks about the legal issues and lawsuits they faced along the way too. I believe that truly disruptive businesses will always have to come against the establishment. They fear that these sorts of businesses will become too big and establishments in their own right, so they do as much as they can to put a stop to growth. I’m also in such awe of the founders having been together for over 10 years, that almost never happens.