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1. “The people leading almost every successful startup in history are just different. They’re a very tiny percentage of the world population, and their brains are wired for chaos, uncertainty, and blinding speed. They’re irrationally focused on customer needs and delivering great products. Their job is their life. It’s not 9-to-5, it’s 24/7. These are the people who found high-growth, highly successful scalable startups.” – Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s The Startup Owner’s Manual

One of the most influential books in entrepreneurship. While we have no clue how to help entrepreneurs be more successful, we are starting to learn how to at least help startups fail less.  The implications of pushing the edge and learning here will continue to have an enormous impact on the way we look at starting new businesses and ultimately our economy.

 
2. “You don’t concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.” – Chuck Yeager as quoted in The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

An incredibly inspiring book that takes us back in time through the lives and stories of the men and women who pushed everything we though possible from breaking the sound barrier, the first space flights and finally to the moon. These are the stories and the fearless efforts that brought us together as a nation and forced us into the technological age we live in today. What will the equivalent in our generation be?

 

3. “Without actions, the world would still be an idea.” – Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital by Spencer Ante

Early innovations required substantial investments and even more ingenuity. The beginnings of a era when we brought the ability to mitigate risks and spur disruptive thinking and action. Institutional investing truly became one of the enabling factors to exploit the creative freedom and risk taking the mid-1900s American capitalism enabled.

 

 
4. “If you try and lose then it isn’t your fault. But if you don’t try and we lose, then it’s all your fault.” – Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

One of the most memorable novels from my youth, Ender’s Game continues to be a staple in social conversations and imagination. The purpose of having an imagination is to push the limits of what is possible, and Card did an incredible job at creating a classic that has done just that for several decades.

 

 

 

5. “The History of being spectacularly right has a shadow history lurking behind it: a much longer history of being spectacularly wrong, again and again. And not just wrong, but messy. A shockingly large number of transformative ideas in the annals of science can be attributed to contaminated laboratory environments.” – Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

As much as we like to believe all of the huge success stories like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs emerged from one magical moment of unmatched clarity and brilliance, the reality is that innovation is the result of a long series of hard work and failure. Steven Johnson does a tremendous job exploring all of the major innovations of the 20th century and how the ideas emerged to be ones of world changing consequence. The more we can understand where these come from, the more likely we are to recognize the patters and engineer the key elements that help foster truly disruptive ideas.

Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.