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    - Venture Capitalist @ GGV Capital
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Recently Read: The Everything Store

Everything StoreJust finished reading Brad Stone’s excellent book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.” I’ve recommended it to every entrepreneur I’ve met for the past few weeks. So many great nuggets to take away about entrepreneurship, product development, innovation and execution.  I highlighted many sections throughout the book, and here is one of my favorites from Rick Dalzell, Amazon’s CIO from ’97-’07:

“Jeff does a couple of things better than anyone I’ve ever worked for. He embraces the truth. A lot of people talk about the truth, but they don’t engage their decision-making around the best truth at the time. The second is that he is not tethered by conventional thinking. What is amazing to me is that he is only bound by the laws of physics. He can’t change those. Everything else he views as open for discussion.”

A great read for anyone who is an entrepreneur or who cares about the inside story of development of industry game-changers like AWS or the Kindle.

Recently Read: Boomerang by Michael Lewis

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a new Michael Lewis book.  He’s written several of my all time favorites, including Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short and the New New Thing.

Boomerang is a quick – but scary – read about the recent economic meltdowns in Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and the US.  Boomerang doesn’t go into nearly as much detail as a book like Too Big To Fail (highly recommended read), but it does provide some high level insight into the origins of the issues (it wasn’t all the housing meltdown), the players involved, and, in most cases, the incompetence that led to where we are today.

Sample scary stat from Lewis’ section on California (“Too Fat to Fly”): “This year the state will directly spend $32 billion on employee pay and benefits, up 65% over the past 10 years.  Compare that to spending on higher education (down 5%), health and human services (up just 5%), and parks and recreation (flat), all crowded out in large part by rising employment costs.”

If you like Michael Lewis’ writing style and are interested in what’s happening in our global economy, Boomerang is worth the read.

Recently Read: Delivering Happiness (Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos)

Really enjoyed reading Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness, the story of how he funded, became CEO, and sold Zappos for over $1B to Amazon.  It’s a great story if you are interested in entrepreneurship, and a well-written read (not all great stories are told well) – 225 of the 238 reviews on Amazon are either 5 or 4 stars. 

Although it gets a little preachy on the customer service angle (there’s a reason – Zappos is one of the best in the world at it), there are some great lessons for entrepreneurs on a) how to build a winning and customer-centric attitude within your company, b) what it takes to survive 10 years of ups and downs in the e-commerce space (might be a good read for entrepreneurs with companies started in the last 18 months), and c) some of the pros and cons of raising venture capital (although Hsieh personally made $200M+ on the sale to Amazon, the book described a scenario where he did not want to sell). 

Although the part about selling under duress from his investors garnered all the headlines, this is actually a good read throughout, with some great lessons on how to build a winning culture that will stand the test of time – whether you get acquired by Amazon for $1B or go it alone.  I’d put it up there with Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table and Howard Schultz’ Pour Your Heart Into It as recommended reads for entrepreneurs.

Recently Read: Recommended Reading

I decided to make my first post on the new blog one that I would look back on and always feel good about.  Hence, a list of a few of my favorite books.

In an Uncertain World – the story of Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton; great read no matter your political views

Freakanomics – makes you think

Too Big to Fail – a riveting blow-by-blow account of the US financial crash of 2008

The Snowball – a bio on Warren Buffett / long read but good if you are a fan

Setting the Table – a must read for entrepreneurs, written by über restaurant entrepreneur Danny Meyer

Lone Survivor – unbelievable but true story of a US Navy SEAL in Afghanistan

Dream Golf – the story of the making of Bandon Dunes by entrepreneur Mike Keiser

Moneyball – terrific book by Michael Lewis about playing the game differently – and winning

House of Mondavi – good history of CA wine, for those who like wine

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