Book Recommendations from Alex Turnbull from Groove

Alex runs a customer service software called Groove. He is well respected for his insightful blog where he shares the lessons he learns in growing and scaling his SaaS startup.
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The Innovator's Dilemma

by Clayton M. Christensen

About the book:  Examines how companies can create a balance between marketing cutting-edge technology and anticipating customer demand.


Notes:  And while the book is meant as a cautionary tale and guidebook for those established companies, we’ve found it to be invaluable in our own position as the new guys.

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The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

by Al Ries,Jack Trout

About the book:  Ries and Trout share their rules for certain successes in the world of marketing. Combining a wide-ranging historical overview with a keen eye for the future, the authors bring to light 22 superlative tools and innovative techniques for the international marketplace.


Notes:  It’s brilliant, easy to follow, and the principles taught by the authors are just as valuable today as they were over 20 years ago.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

About the book:  The most famous confidence-boosting book ever published; with sales of over 16 million copies worldwide Millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding. His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to: - make friends quickly and easily - increase your popularity - persuade people to follow your way of thinking - enable you to win new clients and customers - become a better speaker - boost enthusiasm among your colleagues This classic book will turn your relationships around and improve your interactions with everyone in your life. Dale Carnegie, known as 'the arch-priest of the art of making friends', pioneered the development of personal business skills, self-confidence and motivational techniques. His books - most notably How to Win Friends and Influence People - have sold tens of millions worldwide and, even in today's changing climate, they remain as popular as ever.


Notes:  In fact, if there’s a single book on this list that I’d recommend you read if you’re growing a business, it’s this one.

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Titan

by Ron Chernow

About the book:  National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist "A biography that has many of the best attributes of a novel. . . . Wonderfully fluent and compelling." --The New York Times "A triumph of the art of biography. Unflaggingly interesting, it brings John D. Rockefeller Sr. to life through sustained narrative portraiture of the large-scale, nineteenth-century kind."--The New York Times Book Review In this endlessly engrossing book, National Book Award-winning biographer Ron Chernow devotes his penetrating powers of scholarship and insight to the Jekyll and Hyde of American capitalism. In the course of his nearly 98 years, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., was known as both a rapacious robber baron, whose Standard Oil Company rode roughshod over an industry, and a philanthropist who donated money lavishly to universities and medical centers. He was the terror of his competitors, the bogeyman of reformers, the delight of caricaturists--and an utter enigma. Drawing on unprecedented access to Rockefeller's private papers, Chernow reconstructs his subject's troubled origins (his father was a swindler and a bigamist) and his single-minded pursuit of wealth. But he also uncovers the profound religiosity that drove him "to give all I could"; his devotion to his family; and the wry sense of humor that made him the country's most colorful codger. Titan is a magnificent biography --balanced, revelatory, and elegantly written. "Important and impressive. . . . Reveals the man behind both the mask and the myth."--The Wall Street Journal "One of the great American biographies. . . . [Chernow] writes with rich impartiality. He turns the machinations of Standard Oil . . . into fascinating social history."--Time From the Trade Paperback edition.


Notes:  I’ve gotten more and more into biographies over the last few years, and this is one of my favorites.

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Lean Analytics

by Alistair Croll,Benjamin Yoskovitz

About the book:  Offers six sample business models and thirty case studies to help build and monetize a business.


Notes:  This book was a huge help with that, and explores metrics at every stage of the startup growth process, especially if you, like me, weren’t a statistics major in college.

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The Lean Startup

by Eric Ries

About the book:  Most new businesses fail. But most of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It's about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late. Now is the time to think Lean.


Notes:  Eric made the lean startup concept accessible for everyone with this book, and frankly, I’d expect every founder who’s constrained by resources but wants to win to read it.

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The Year Without Pants

by Scott Berkun

About the book:  A behind-the-scenes look at the firm behind WordPress.com and the unique work culture that contributes to its phenomenal success 50 million websites, or twenty percent of the entire web, use WordPress software. The force behind WordPress.com is a convention-defying company called Automattic, Inc., whose 120 employees work from anywhere in the world they wish, barely use email, and launch improvements to their products dozens of times a day. With a fraction of the resources of Google, Amazon, or Facebook, they have a similar impact on the future of the Internet. How is this possible? What's different about how they work, and what can other companies learn from their methods? To find out, former Microsoft veteran Scott Berkun worked as a manager at WordPress.com, leading a team of young programmers developing new ideas. The Year Without Pants shares the secrets of WordPress.com's phenomenal success from the inside. Berkun's story reveals insights on creativity, productivity, and leadership from the kind of workplace that might be in everyone's future. Offers a fast-paced and entertaining insider's account of how an amazing, powerful organization achieves impressive results Includes vital lessons about work culture and managing creativity Written by author and popular blogger Scott Berkun (scottberkun.com) The Year Without Pants shares what every organization can learn from the world-changing ideas for the future of work at the heart of Automattic's success.


Notes:  Like Groove, Automattic is a fully distributed team, and many of the insights in this book have helped shape the way I’ve built and led the Groove team.

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Flow

by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

About the book:  Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.


Notes:  This book explains the science behind flow, and has helped me systematically engineer it into my business life, and I’m more productive and happy because of it.

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Trust Me, I'm Lying

by Ryan Holiday

About the book:  An influential media strategist reveals how blogs are controlling the news in the digital age and exposes the ways in which today's marketers are manufacturing news stories, affecting stock prices and shaping elections through fake story planting and misleading marketing tactics. 20,000 first printing.


Notes:  Effective PR is not what it looks like on the surface, and anyone who’s into getting big PR value without investing many thousands of dollars would do well to read this book.

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Permission Marketing

by Seth Godin

About the book:  Whether it is the TV commercial that breaks into our favourite programme or the telemarketing phone call that disrupts a family meal, traditional advertising is based on the hope of snaring our attention away from whatever we are doing. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing, and, as companies are discovering, it no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity, time, Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to voluntarily accept advertising. Now the Internet pioneer who has dramatically improved marketing effectiveness in media introduces a fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising products and services. By reaching out to only those individuals who have expressed an interest in learning more about a product, Permission Marketing enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness, and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.


Notes:  In our own experiments with marketing, we’ve found that to be incredibly true, and now permission marketing makes up 100% of our channels.

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The Fish That Ate the Whale

by Rich Cohen

About the book:  The author of Sweet and Low presents a historical profile of Samuel Zemurray that traces his rise from a penniless youth to one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful men, offering insight into his capitalist talents and the ways in which his life reflected the best and worst of American business dealings.


Notes:  Reading this book, though, I was reminded what true “hustle” really looks like; Zemurray was tireless, productive and used leverage in brilliant ways to get what he wanted.

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Do More Faster

by Brad Feld,David Cohen

About the book:  Practical advice from some of today's top early stage investors and entrepreneurs TechStars is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator with operations in three U.S. cities. Once a year in each city, it funds about ten Internet startups with a small amount of capital and surrounds them with around fifty top Internet entrepreneurs and investors. Historically, about seventy-five percent of the companies that go through TechStars raise a meaningful amount of angel or venture capital. Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup is a collection of advice that comes from individuals who have passed through, or are part of, this proven program. Each vignette is an exploration of information often heard during the TechStars program and provides practical insights into early stage entrepreneurship. Contains seven sections, each focusing on a major theme within the TechStars program, including idea and vision, fundraising, legal and structure, and work/life balance Created by two highly regarded experts in the world of early stage investing Essays in each section come from the experienced author team as well as TechStar mentors, entrepreneurs, and founders of companies While you'll ultimately have to make your own decisions about what's right for your business, Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup can get your entrepreneurial endeavor headed in the right direction.


Notes:  TechStars is one of the most powerful startup accelerators in the world, and this book shares valuable growth lessons from some of their standout companies. It reads more like a collection of short blog posts, but each one has insights that any first-time founder would find useful.

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Predictable Revenue

by Aaron Ross,Marylou Tyler

About the book:  Discover the outbound sales process that, in just a few years, helped add $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce.com, almost doubling their enterprise growth...with zero cold calls. This is NOT just another book about how to cold call or close deals. This is an entirely new kind of sales bible for CEOs, entrepreneurs and sales VPs to help you build a sales machine. What does it take for your sales team to generate as many highly-qualified new leads as you want, create predictable revenue, and meet your financial goals without your constant focus and attention? Predictable Revenue has the answers!


Notes:  We don’t do much outbound sales at Groove, but the insights Ross shares from his experience are valuable for anyone that’s doing sales or marketing in any SaaS company.

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