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5 Book Recommendations From Bill Gates

5 Book Recommendations From Bill Gates

Are you a leader? An influencer? A linchpin? Or are you just starting out on your journey towards entrepreneurship? No matter where you are on your journey, it’s a difficult road to traverse. There is no map. No chart. No gold at the end of the rainbow. There is just a great deal of hard, focused work. But where do you begin this epic journey? This is a question that I struggled with for many years. I learned that you can’t wait until you can answer that question, you just need to begin.

One of the best resources for helping me to start my entrepreneurial journey was to educate myself. I began by reading recommended books by those who are where I want to be. Bill Gates has been one of my greatest influences and has been a (virtual) mentor. Here are five books that Gates recommends. They have helped me, and I am hoping that they can help you in your own journey:

1. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013, by Carol J. Loomis

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    Book Summary: Carol J. Loomis has collected and updated the best Buffett articles Fortune published between 1966 and 2012, including thirteen cover stories and a dozen pieces authored by Buffett himself.

    Why Bills Gates Recommends the book:

    I think anyone who reads this book from cover to cover will come away with two reactions: First, how Warren’s been incredibly consistent in applying his vision and investment principles over the duration of his career; and, second, that his analysis and understanding of business and markets remains unparalleled.

    2. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, by John Brooks

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      Book Summary: What do the $350-million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame.

      Why Bills Gates Recommends the book:

      Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer.

      3. Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, by Kofi Annan

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        Book Summary: This is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage.

        Why Bills Gates Recommends the book:

        Only after reading his recently-published book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, did I get a true sense of how difficult a job Annan had. As a voluntary organization of 192 states, it’s easy to criticize the effectiveness of the UN, but without it, we would be substantially further behind on issues of global health and development.

        4. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson

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          Book Summary: The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery—these are all great ideas. But where do they come from?

          Why Bills Gates Recommends the book:

          I picked up Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, with a little bit of skepticism. Lots of books have been written about innovation—what it is, the most innovative companies, how you measure it. The subject can seem a little faddish, but Johnson’s book is quite good at giving examples of how to create environments that can encourage good ideas.

          5. Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America, by Jay Mathews

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            Book Summary: When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators.

            Why Bills Gates Recommends the book:

            Jay did a great job in writing this book. It gives a great sense of how hard it was to get KIPP going and how intense the focus on good teaching is.

            Final Thoughts

            Which one of these amazing books will you read first? My personal favorite is Tap Dancing To Work, but it doesn’t matter which you choose, just choose one and read it. Learn it. The most important act you can do to improve your chances of being a successful entrepreneur is to educate yourself, and that includes a healthy portion of reading mind-opening books.

            Featured photo credit: Boom Beats/Tumblr via boomsbeat.com

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            Last Updated on January 21, 2020

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

            your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

              Why You Need a Vision

              Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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              How to Create Your Life Vision

              Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

              What Do You Want?

              The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

              It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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              Some tips to guide you:

              • Remember to ask why you want certain things
              • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
              • Give yourself permission to dream.
              • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
              • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

              Some questions to start your exploration:

              • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
              • What would you like to have more of in your life?
              • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
              • What are your secret passions and dreams?
              • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
              • What do you want your relationships to be like?
              • What qualities would you like to develop?
              • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
              • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
              • What would you most like to accomplish?
              • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

              It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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              What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

              Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

              A few prompts to get you started:

              • What will you have accomplished already?
              • How will you feel about yourself?
              • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
              • What does your ideal day look like?
              • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
              • What would you be doing?
              • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
              • How are you dressed?
              • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
              • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
              • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

              It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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              Plan Backwards

              It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

              • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
              • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
              • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
              • What important actions would you have had to take?
              • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
              • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
              • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
              • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
              • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

              Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

              It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

              Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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