I was recently visited by a good friend I went to university with. He's still in the field of architecture, and it was the first time we'd seen each other since I'd given up on the industry in favor of entrepreneurship.
During his visit we talked a lot about the Architecture industry as a whole, our biggest problems with it, and why I ultimately decided it wasn't what I wanted. I described moments at my job when I was working on designs for a high-end luxury apartment in the Lower East Side and thinking, “If I stay in this job, I will never be able to live like this.” Not that I dreamt of luxury penthouses and a $70,000 custom millwork closet (yes, this happened), but I did dream of financial freedom and travel, as well as working for myself.
As I mentioned in my previous post, when I was working at my job in architecture, I started a side project, Calm The Ham, which after 18 months of work was making decent money, especially compared to the $40,000 I was making at my job (which does not stretch far living in New York City). I was only able to work on Calm the Ham on weeknights and weekends, which slowly became harder and harder as I juggled this new life. In the 6 months prior to quitting my more stable job, I kept thinking what if I had the time and resources to make my newer venture full-time. What could I create if it was my only focus?
Then the negative thoughts kick in. I don't have an MBA. I never took a business studies class in high school. What do I know about running and growing a business?
I wasn't about to quit my job, join an MBA program, and then start a business. I didn't have the time, patience, or money for that.
I needed to learn the basic principles of business, both running and growing one. I made a reading list for myself of all the business books I had heard about from people I admired or that had been recommended to me personally. I spent $237.91 on books and $199 on a Mixergy Premium subscription.
I must read my list of 22 books before I was allowed to quit my architecture job.
In January 2013, when I made the list, I was already itching to get out of thecorporate world, so it was the perfect fuel for me to consume as many books as possible. Every morning and evening on my subway commute I would consume as much knowledge as possible, knowing that this could be my escape from the 9–5.
I quit my job November 26, 2013.
Here’s the list of books that made it possible to build not just one, but two businesses:
An inspirational book by Tony Robbins. Difficult to drill down to one lesson I’ve learned but essentially this book has the potential to change your life.
Understanding the true stories of success and how people have thrived. Malcolm Gladwell presents the idea of it taking 10,000 hours to master a skill. I loved the great anecdotes of how hard work and luck (family background, birthplace, or even birth date) can play equally into success.
Malcolm Gladwell explores the moment when a trend or idea reaches the magic “tipping point” when it spreads like wildfire.
Become a producer instead of a consumer to attain wealth, and stop trading your time for money. This book partners well with the concepts from Rich Dad, Poor Dad (in the Finance section below).
A 5 year study on what differentiates good companies from great companies. This is a great book for playing the long-game with your company as opposed to a quick fix.
Takeaway: Making more money by working less – an alien concept, especially coming from architecture where we tend to work many more hours than we're compensated for. I also learned the power of outsourcing. This alone has has helped my productivity immeasurably. I recommend this book to everyone whether they're an entrepreneur or not.
Incredible book on how to make lasting changes by paying attention to the smallest decisions we make – and their cumulative effect on us. Many of the things learned in this book became fundamentals for how I worked and invested my time wisely.
Takeaway: Focus on critical tasks which require only 20% of efforts and create 80% of results. Hugely powerful concept, and I've found it to be generally true with my businesses. I used it with Calm the Ham to define my top customers – the 20% that give me 80% of revenue. Then I asked myself, How can I better serve these people?
Takeaway: Stop doing 4,000 different things in my business. Through pigheaded discipline and determination I should do 8 specific tasks perfectly 4,000 times instead.
Takeaway: Through learning the science of habits creation, I've learned how to break some of my bad ones. There's also great stories of how corporations have used habits to sell products. (The toothpaste one was my favorite.)
A great overview of everything I needed to know (and more) about business without any fluff or buzzwords.
Allocating resources as efficiently as possible so your business is organized for fast learning. Great book for how to make best use of limited resources.
Takeaway:Startup inspiration: You don't need much money to begin a life of adventure and purpose. Proof: I started Calm The Ham with less than $500.
Gary Vaynerchuk wrote this great book on turning passions and interests into real businesses. He explains how he uses passion, social media, and transparency within his businesses to crush his competition.
Takeaway: Putting things in place so I'm working on my businesses instead of in them. This has allowed me the freedom to grow revenue and have more free time.
How the key to success is to stand out among my competition and avoid distinction in today's economy.
Short yet impactful read by the thought leaders of 37 Signals. Stay small, embrace constraints, and build less.
This short read by Neville Medhora of Appsumo is a great introduction to copywriting and learning how to write better, converting people into customers and mind-hacks that make it easier to simply write.
Takeaway: “Selling” is not a dirty word. This book helped me become comfortable with the idea of selling. This book is great for understanding concepts behind sales and how to approach them.
A great introduction of how to structure sales calls or presentations to ensure prospects are engaged enough to buy in. Coming from a non-sales background, I found this especially interesting.
Takeaway: This book really drilled in the concept of wealth, liabilities and assets. I remember sitting on the subway commute and thinking, Why didn't I read this book 10 years ago? Better late than never.
Takeaway: Personal Finance doesn't have to be boring. I applied savings and negotiation tactics from this book to my life which both made and saved me money.
Like this article?
Enter your email below for my best content on design, marketing, and business. Exclusive free content directly to your inbox.
Did you like this post?
Subscribe to get weekly updates
You will be notified everytime I have something valuable for you.