Entrepreneurial

These days, anyone can drop out of college or quit their job, start a company (or more specifically, build a product), and sell it to Facebook 22 months later for $1 billion.  Well, not anyone, but there's precedence now thanks to Instagram.  I don't imagine anyone will follow quite the same trajectory, but reading about Silicon Valley - the epicenter of modern entrepreneurism - can be educational, invigorating, and just plain interesting.  The following list of books includes entertaining tales and practical advice from successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.  All contain common themes like individualism, hard work, fun, and, dare I say it, unconventional thinking!


Higher education is the place where people who had big plans in high school get stuck in fierce rivalries with equally smart peers over conventional careers like management consulting and investment banking. For the privilege of being turned into conformists, students (or their families) pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in skyrocketing tuition that continues to outpace inflation.
— Peter Thiel

You may have heard about Peter Thiel, or even seen him (well, an actor playing a caricature of him) on HBO's Silicon Valley.  He's an uber-successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, most notable for starting Paypal and investing in Facebook.  In this book, he shares all his wisdom and learnings in his characteristic pull-no-punches manner.


Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do.
— Ben Horowitz

Like Peter Thiel, Ben Horowitz doesn't sugar-coat anything.  Also like Thiel, Horowitz is an amazingly prescient entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist.  In this book, he intersperses his own business advice with hilarious real-life stories.  It's an unoriginal formula, but it ain't broke.  Don't fix it, just read it.  (Wow that's corny, haha.  Oof.) 

Note: At points, this book gets heavy on business advice, so if that's not your cup of tea, keep scrolling.


Changing the world during the industrial revolution required you to open a factory — in the internet revolution, all it takes is opening a laptop.
— Alexis Ohanian

If you've heard about Reddit or Hipmunk, than you know Alexis Ohanian: he started both.  He's a relatively young guy compared to Horowitz and Thiel, and he's a lot more "bash-against-the-walls" than that older generation.  Impossible is nothing to him, and after reading this book, you'll feel the same way.


I took classes in real-world business and got paid for it instead of paying tuition.
— Mark Cuban

It's hard not to like Mark Cuban.  If you've ever seen "Shark Tank," you know he's practical, outspoken, and extremely smart.  He's definitely a "non-conformist," and this quick read (it's short!) cements that.  In it, he explains why you should think twice about college and graduate school (sound familiar), why money really isn't important in life, and more.


Google dress code was: “You must wear something.
— Eric Schmidt

Google may be old and bloated in Silicon Valley terms, but that doesn't make it any less innovative and interesting to read about.  It's unlike any of the traditional "corporations" you probably know, and hearing it directly from the former CEO Eric Schmidt makes it all the more interesting to learn about.  After reading this, you'll start to question why certain things are the way they are in your own organization (unless, of course, you work at Google.)


As I observed more than once at Facebook, and as I imagine is the case in all organizations from business to government, high-level decisions that affected thousands of people and billions in revenue would be made on gut feel, the residue of whatever historical politics were in play, and the ability to cater persuasive messages to people either busy, impatient, or uninterested (or all three).
— Antonio Martinez

This is the Liar's Poker of Silicon Valley.  Antonio Martinez is a guy who worked as a quant for JP Morgan, started a company that he later sold to Twitter, and then joined Facebook during its formative years.  Fortunately for us, he decided to write a tell-all book about the inner workings of Silicon Valley companies!  It's a little gossipy, but it's a super-fun read, and Martinez's blistering commentary on everything from Wall Street to middle management in general will have you cracking up.