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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 December 2, 2018

            How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

            How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

            Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

            The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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            The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

            Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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            Review Your Past Flow

            Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

            Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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            Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

            Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

            Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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            Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

            Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

            We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

            Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

              Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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