This is an ongoing list of what I’ve recently read, listened to, or watched that I found interesting. Every two weeks I share new reads, listens, and watches in my Millennial Money newsletter you can subscribe to here.
What It Takes by Stephen Schwarzman
As terrible as the title, subtitle, and picture on this book are, I wasn’t expecting much when I bought this for $4 at a used bookstore. But I went from being skeptical of a potential puff piece written by the boomer billionaire founder of Blackrock to a bit of a fanboy. Stephen Schwarzman is a controversial figure, but this guy left nothing on the floor with this book. It blew me away and I don’t say that lightly. If you want to think bigger and learn about building a billion-dollar business from the ground up, I think it will be worth your time.
Am I Being Too Subtle? by Sam Zell
In my pursuit of actively not becoming a billionaire, after finishing What It Takes, I went down the rabbit hole of reading books by billionaires. This was the next best one. Sam Zell has a lot of lessons to share from his 60+ year business journey and he’s a straight talker. I flew through this book and loved learning all the creative ways he thinks. The dude has pet ducks who live on the terrace of his Chicago office. He is curious, down to earth, and like Stephen Scharzman has his fair share of controversy. But I learned a lot and it’s a quick read or listen.
Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrilow
For some reason, I decided to read a number of books about selling a business after selling my business, but I think this book does the perfect job of distilling how to best build a business that you could eventually sell. This is a must-read for any entrepreneur or solopreneur.
Buy Then Build by Walker Deibel
Walker argues that it’s less risky and more effective for an investor to buy a business than to start one from scratch, given the rate of failure for startups. While this is a high-level overview of how to identify, evaluate, and buy a business, I found his section on searching for a business to be the most compelling. He encourages readers to think creatively about the type of business they should acquire and provides an insider view of what you should expect on the journey. This is a solid overview and a great place to start if you’re remotely interested in buying a business. I enjoyed it.
One From Many by Dee Hock
This book surprised me. Dee Hock was the Founder of Visa and pioneered the credit card industry. I stumbled on this book after reading his obituary in the WSJ and he sounded like he lived a cool life. His deep interest in nature and philosophy is woven through his history of starting Visa and creating what he coined a “chaordic organization,” or an organization existing in organized chaos. He pulls this idea from nature and evolution, believing that companies that thrive amidst increasing uncertainty, just like nature, are seemingly chaotic but are actually deeply organized systems. To thrive, companies need to live in this balance. Dee is a powerful writer and creative thinker. I had to re-read a few sections to grasp how profound they were. I didn’t want this book to end. It’s a great read.
I Love Capitalism: An American Story by Ken Langone
In my continued path down the billionaire book hole, I just finished listening to this one by Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot. While not as good as What It Takes, listening to Ken reminisce in his Long Island accent about deal-making and what it took for him to succeed in the 70s, 80s, and 90s made me a bit nostalgic. It sounds like the 80s were an insane time to build and acquire businesses – less competition and many opportunities. Where the book excels is when Ken shares how he finds good investments no matter what industry they’re in.
Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos
Despite Amazon being one of my best investments ever, I have a love/hate relationship with Jeff Bezos. But his writing really makes you think, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. His relentless pursuit of evolution is infectious in these essays. Well worth a read.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton Christensen
I had the opportunity to hear Professor Christensen speak at a conference and it was one of the best talks I‘ve ever heard. He passed away last January and I‘m currently re-reading this book. This is pure gold if you’re building a business or want to understand how companies can best innovate. It’s more relevant than ever.
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham
This book highlights some of the best small companies and what we can learn from them.
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis
Small is the new big. I enjoyed Paul’s take on building a company of one, which is more relevant than ever.
The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment by Guy Spier
The author walks in Warren Buffett’s image and you learn a lot about Buffett through his mirroring. Worth reading if you manage money or enjoy value investing.
The Dhandho Investor: The Low-Risk Value Method to High Returns by Mohnish Pabrai
This is an exceptional book that’s changing how I think about investing. I’m learning a lot.
Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life by William Green
Learn to think like the world’s best investors. Spoiler alert: Not holding on too tightly is the key to happiness.
The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett’s writing is always full of wisdom. I‘ve been enjoying this collection a friend sent me. It’s well-edited so you don’t have to dig through old shareholder letters.
Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor by Seth Klarman
One of the hardest-to-find value investing books out there and for good reason – it’s thought-provoking. (Hunt for a used copy that’s cheaper than the $1,299 one listed on Amazon. You can also find a PDF of this out-of-print book if you dig for it.)
The Light We Give by Simran Jeet Singh
This is a beautifully written book about Simran’s experience following the Sikh path. I didn’t know much about Sikh wisdom, but this book is a beautiful meditation on the path of love and service. The book is a mixture of autobiography and practical tips to enrich your life. So if you’re looking for a book to open to, this is worth checking out.
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodran
I love this book. Pema is a beautiful writer and her words are helping me to slow down and live more compassionately. A worthwhile read to calm and expand your mind.
Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein
I love Mark Epstein’s work and find myself returning to it over the years. This is a wonderful book for anyone who feels stuck right now.
A Still Forest Pool: Insight Meditation of Achaan Chah
This is a wonderful book I read a few months ago but keep returning to often. There are short meditations on life and the mind.
The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin (Book)
I’m a Rick Rubin fan, so I was pumped to read his first book this past week. I liked how it explores the idea of creativity as aligning your energy with the universe and then gets a bit more granular into how to create something. It’s not a how-to book; it’s a how-to be book. It reminded me a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh’s work, all the way down to some of “you are a cloud” metaphors and the uber-popular Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which I surprisingly enjoyed reading a few summers ago). I enjoyed reading it in pieces – an hour or so each night. It’s too heady to binge-read. All in all, this is a meditative read that is valuable for any creator.
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
This book will make you sad and hopefully inspire you at the same time.
Billion Dollar Whale by Tom White and Bradley Hope
An insane true story of a global multibillion-dollar theft that I couldn’t put down. Super entertaining and eye opening.
Freedom by Sebastian Junger
This book expands the definition of freedom in America and is a quick read.
The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self by Charles Eisenstein
This book has changed my relationship with food.
An End to Upside Down Thinking by Mark Gober
A great book that hypothesizes consciousness comes before matter and consciousness created our minds, not the other way around. If you’re interested in seeing the world in an entirely new way check out this book. It’s well-argued and presented in very clear language. I loved it.
The Creator Economy is the Future of The Economy by Richard Florida (Article)
I’ve seen the creator economy explode since I started creating content online in 2015, but I could never have anticipated the huge power shift from traditional media and corporations to creators. But we’re deep in the middle of a massive transition where creators of all types are garnering more attention and pulling dollars away from more traditional media.
It’s been wild to watch companies like Buzzfeed and Vice, who once dominated the millennial psyche, lose massive amounts of ad spending and see their valuations plummet because more dollars are being allocated directly to creators. In addition to ad dollars, increasing amounts of venture capital are also being funneled into creator-driven startups as creators develop products to sell to their audiences. It’s never been a better time to be a creator. Check out this Fast Company article and the report it’s based on to dig deeper into this seismic shift and opportunity.
Retirement The Margaritaville Way by Nick Paumgarten (Article or Audio)
Either before or after your watch the documentary above, read or listen to this article on the Margaritaville retirement communities. I enjoyed listening to it. It dives into Jimmy Buffett’s businesses and puts you on the ground of his boomer-filled retirement communities where it’s always a party. One take away – a lot of the people in this article sound extremely happy and are making the most of their time on this earth. It’s a worthwhile listen or read.
Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell (academic paper – PDF)
This completely blew my mind the first time I read it. Deep Adaptation is a fascinating paper and now a full-blown movement. This is the most downloaded academic paper of all time. If you want to see what the world will look like in the next 30 years and be prepared for it this is a must-read.
Embracing Extinction by Stephen Batchelor (Article)
I really loved this article. Whether you’re interested in Buddhism or not it’s worth reading. It gave me words for things I was already thinking. It really puts money in an entirely new perspective.
Watching or Listening
Some Kind of Heaven by Darren Aronofsky (Documentary)
This documentary about the world’s largest retirement community in Florida, called The Villages, is so good I watched it twice in one week. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve seen. If you’re interested in money, time, or the commodification of the retirement dream, this is a must-watch.
Hello, Bookstore by A.B. Zax (Documentary)
This lovely little documentary made me want to own a bookstore even more than I did before. I enjoyed spending a few hours hanging out with Matthew Tannenbaum, the owner of The Bookstore in Lenox, MA, as he works to keep his bookstore afloat during COVID. In a time that already feels so far away, this reminded me of the languid days of quarantine and also made me happy that people like Matthew and his bookstore exist in the world. I want to make a pilgrimage to his store after watching this. If you want to see the ins and outs of having an impact and becoming a beloved part of a community, this is a worthwhile watch. I enjoyed it.
Interviewing Bill Gurley by Tim Ferriss (Podcast)
I’m not a big podcast listener, but every so often I stumble on an episode that excites me. Bill Gurley has a great mind, so I was pumped to listen to this interview, and it didn’t disappoint. He drops a ton of value in this that had me digging into the show notes to learn more. I’m not a silicon valley guy or a venture capitalist, so I enjoy learning how VCs evaluate the future. Bill’s no-nonsense and animated conversation style brings a lot of energy to a lot of topics. He also dives into Michael Porter’s, whose book Competitive Strategy is one of my all-time favorite business books. It’s worth a listen.
Charles Eisenstein’s Full-Length Interview From Living the Change
Charles is an inspiring writer and speaker who has an incredible ability to distill the challenges of our increasingly uncertain future. Listening to and reading his work helped me expand my definition of investing at a time of unparalleled change. This is well worth a watch.
Navigating the Realities of Climate Change With Jem Bendell
Deep adaptation theory has huge implications for the future of investing (and the planet).
Grant Sabatier writes about money, mindfulness, and financial independence – all with the ultimate goal of helping you build a life you love.
His story and ideas have been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNBC, Business Insider, and many other places.