SEED Conference

I will be at the SEED Conference in Chicago on Monday. If you’re reading this, and you’re going as well… say “Hi” in the comments below :)

What I've Been Reading

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385512058?ie=UTF8&tag=approachingno-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0385512058

Geeks are, generally speaking, much better with technology than people - I’m no different. But the fact is your ability to build and maintain relationships with other people will take you farther in life than any technical skill you can acquire. For a lot of people, myself included, these are just not skills that come naturally. Fortunately for us, this book was written. Never Eat Alone does a very good job of explaining the hows and whys of developing and maintaining relationships over the long term. The book is a quick read, but explains very well some important concepts of “networking” (I term I don’t care much for, but that’s neither here nor there). Mr. Ferrazzi discusses why it’s important to build a network of associates, and then immediately delves into the the how. He also explains how to leverage your network when you need to, like looking for that new job, or when you need the help of a friend of a friend of a friend to close a big deal. This book is written in a casual style, and is peppered with real-world examples of what works and what doesn’t. If developing and maintaining relationships with people is not something that comes naturally to you, then you need to read Never Eat Alone

Developing The Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell

:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785281126?ie=UTF8&tag=approachingno-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0785281126

John Maxwell is one of the best authors on the topic of leadership. Developing The Leader Within You is easily the best book I’ve read on leadership. Mr. Maxwell covers how to develop influence with people, creating positive change, problem solving, and developing people - among other things. If you were to only read one book on the subject of leadership, this is the one I would recommend. Developing The Leader Within You covers the fundamentals of leadership, does it well, and does it in an easy to read manner. If you are (or aspire to be) a leader, you need to read this book.

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston

:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590597141/104-3429296-6459107?ie=UTF8&tag=approachingno-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1590597141

This book is, very simply, a collection of interviews with the founders of successfull internet companies, such as del.icio.us, 37Signals, Craigslist, Flickr, and more. As such, it’s easy to read this book in small chunks - most interviews are only 3-4 pages long. It was written by Sarah Livingston, who is one of the founding partners at Y-Combinator, best known as “that VC firm Paul Graham runs” (Paul is one of the interviews in this book, naturally).

I really enjoyed reading this book. It gives a rarely-seen perspective on what it’s like in the early days of a startup. If you’re interested in starting a startup of your own (or even joining one), buy this book - it’s always better to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Note: The links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy a book, or anything else (need a copy of OS X - Leopard or a MacBook Pro to run it on?), I get a small commission. You too, can help feed my book addiction :)

Marc Andreesen on Career Planning

Marc Andreesen has written a very good series of articles on career planning that is worth a read, regardless of whether you are just starting college or have been working for decades. Marc has a lot of good thoughts on how to choose a career, a college, and a job. He then goes on to explain his ideas around what skills you need to develop to be succesfull.

The series so far contains three articles:

The Pmarca Guide to Career Planning, part 1: Opportunity

“Instead of planning your career, focus on developing skills and pursuing opportunities.”

That quote pretty much sums up this article.

The Pmarca Guide to Career Planning, part 2: Skills and education This one has some good advice on choosing colleges and majors, but the real wisdom is in his advice on which skills you need to have, regardless of your chosen field. I won’t spoil it for you (seriously, go read it), but Marc really nails the key skills and why they are important.

The Pmarca Guide to Career Planning, part 3: Where to go and why The final article in the series discusses how to choose the place to work, not only in the sense of which company, but where (domestic vs. international). Marc discusses the different types of companies you can work for and why you would want to work there. Marc has a bias towards small high-tech startups (surprise!), but does discuss other types of companies, as well as starting your own.

That’s all he has written (for now). All in all, there is a lot of good advice in these articles. Read them yourself and then pass them along.

Paul Graham on Stuff

Paul Graham has a new article up called Stuff:

I first realized the worthlessness of stuff when I lived in Italy for a year. All I took with me was one large backpack of stuff. The rest of my stuff I left in my landlady’s attic back in the US. And you know what? All I missed were some of the books. By the end of the year I couldn’t even remember what else I had stored in that attic.

And yet when I got back I didn’t discard so much as a box of it. Throw away a perfectly good rotary telephone? I might need that one day.

On a related note, Paul’s site now has comments, which is a first. They’re powered by Disqus, which is a Y Combinator funded site. The comments look nice, and it supports threading and some advanced functionality like forums.