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Lessons in Entrepreneurship and Big Data: 4 Must-Read Books

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2016 is bound to bring a wake-up call to tech industry observers. Many will find out that their favorite “unicorns” were actually “donkeys”, and that forgetting to focus on revenue is a capital sin in the enterprise software world.


As you go through the year and read the sensational headlines of “explainable entrepreneurial failures”, you might want to shut down the noise, and find books that can help center your attention around the biggest lessons of our tech era. There are many books you could read but if you could read one book every quarter, I’d suggest these below. Spoiler alert: they all touch on entrepreneurship and big data, my two favorite subjects.

Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

The Hard Things about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz
If you ask Ben (of Andreessen Horowitz) how well he slept when he was CEO of his company, he’d say: “I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours and cried.” You get the point: running a company is hard. Very hard. This book gives a realistic view of the ups and downs of startups. It will teach you why hiring great product managers is essential, how to train and develop people and how to build a sustainable culture (hint: it has nothing to do with paid lunches, yoga classes or pilates at work). This book will make you feel normal again. I read it 3 times, last year alone.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams
Scott is the creator of Dilbert. So, you might be wondering what does he know about success and entrepreneurship?! Trust me. Pick up the book and you’ll be amazed. Scott’s no-nonsense style makes reading this book a breeze and he shares some amazing (and not so popular) entrepreneurial lessons. Scott shares some of his productivity secrets and habits. His style is to the point. He made me appreciate the true talent of cartoonists - distilling complex messages into few words, without losing meaning. Very powerful AND funny.

Big Data, by Bernard Marr
Bernard is the Founder and CEO of the Advanced Performance Institute (Disclaimer: I’m one of the Institute’s fellows). I’ve known Bernard for a long time and have admired the work he has done for the Analytics, Business Intelligence and Big Data world. This book is aimed at demystifying Big Data. A lot of research went into creating it. If you’re not convinced, check out this LinkedIN post on the “20+ Mind-Blowing Facts About Big Data Everyone Must Read”. Once you read this book, you’ll understand why Big Data isn’t about just Data (hint: it’s about being SMARTER). And if you have the time to squeeze in a fifth book in 2016, I just got wind that his upcoming book, Key Business Analytics just became available for pre-order.

Data-Ism, by Steve Lohr
Steve Lohr is a New York Times columnist and has been writing about technology before terms like “Big Data” or “Data Science” became hot. This is the book you want to read if you want to understand the implications that Big Data has on our civilization and culture. Steve took a 7-month leave to research for this book, he interviewed countless leaders to tell the story of what he started to call “The Age of Big Data” back in 2012. Read this book if you want to know why the reality that we often only associate with Google and Facebook is in fact the reality your company lives in, consciously or unconsciously. This is not a technology book. It’s a story about the future of our data-driven civilization. If you want to understand why “Big Data is a Big Deal” read this book.

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Happy New Year to all! 

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