🎅 📚 Five books for CTOs to read during the Christmas break

Five books CTOs should read during the Christmas 2021 break

a month ago   •   3 min read

As the end of the year is approaching, you’re probably planning to take a short break between Christmas and the New Year. With everything slowing down a bit, it’s usually a good time to go back to your reading list and get some inspiration for your 2022 objectives. If you’re looking for reading recommendations (or maybe some prioritisation in your existing list), you can find below five books that will undoubtedly impact your thinking and hopefully bring some answers to your current challenges.

1- It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

From Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Basecamp co-founders)

Basecamp is well-known in the tech community for its contrarian approach to entrepreneurship, work organisation and software development. While most tech companies have an over-work culture and create all sorts of perks to entice team members in staying at the office, Basecamp has chosen an alternative path. Team members work regular hours from anywhere they want, and they even have a 4-day work week during the summer. In this book, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson argue their work philosophy and share the tools and frameworks used at Basecamp to have a calm working environment while growing and making money.

Why you should read it → you don’t have to agree to everything Basecamp does to take some best practices here and there and make your workplace calmer for everyone.

2- The Cold Start Problem: Using Network Effects to Scale Your Product

From Andrew Chen (General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz)

Why do some products take off and some not? How to leverage a small community of users to create network effects? In his first book, Andrew Chen, Uber’s former head of growth, now venture capitalist at a16z, tries to answer these questions and more. After interviewing the founders of LinkedIn, Zoom, Uber, Dropbox, and more, Chen shares best practices, tools and frameworks you can use to take your product to the next growth stage.

Why you should read it → every CTO should know about product growth and network effects, whether or not they’re in charge of their company’s product. Andrew Chen is probably the best expert on the topic and has a very scientific way of explaining these concepts.

3- The Almanack of Naval Ravikant - A guide to Wealth and Happiness

From Naval Ravikant, created and edited by Eric Jorgenson

Naval Ravikant is one of the most influential Silicon Valley thinkers on life, freedom, money, happiness, and entrepreneurship. Aside from his business life as an entrepreneur and investor, Naval has gotten famous by sharing philosophical yet practical insights on Twitter in the past years. This book collects and curates Naval’s wisdom from Twitter, podcast interviews and essays from the past decade.

Why you should read it → Naval is one of the thinkers who has completely changed my thinking. His tweetstorm on How to Get Rich without getting lucky (retweeted over 56K times) has helped me build my current business and way of life. Also, the book of free to read on the Internet, so another great reason to read it 😉

4- Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day

From Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (former designers at Google)

While Knapp and Zeratsky are more known for creating the Design Sprint methodology than their productivity expertise, Make Time is the best book I’ve ever read on time management and productivity. We have never been less focused on our tasks between smartphones, social media, and our always-on culture. There is always a notification reminding you to answer a question, rush to a meeting or watch the latest insight online. And at the end of the day, you’re exhausted, and you don’t know what you’ve accomplished. Make Time helps you take back control of your Time by creating new habits and being more disciplined.

Why you should read it →  it’s clear, practical and contains tons of great tools you can use to make more time for what matters. As I’ve written in the past, time management is the root of all team problems. So if you’re looking to get better at time management in 2022, start reading Make Time.

5- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

From Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Initially published in 1984, The Goal remained relatively obscure before becoming a management classic. In this novel (yes, it’s a novel), factory manager Alex Rogo has a few months to improve performance and prevent its closure. Fortunately for him, he reconnects with a former professor who will help him get back to the performance path by introducing him to the Theory of Constraints (TOC).

Why you should read it → even though the book is not about computer science, it’s an introduction to a way of thinking of performance and systems that any CTO should possess. Also, since it’s a novel, it’s super fun and easy to read. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

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