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Serial Entrepreneur Boban Dedovic Talks about the Books that Changed His Viewpoints

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Boban Dedovic is a serial digital entrepreneur who is looking to do more than just business. He’s focused on the technology space, interested in projects that can be scaled at a global level, but he also invests part of his energy into some local community initiatives and non-profit contribution.

He is the Vice President and CTO of the Nevada Center on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide foreign relations information to the public’s knowledge. Their purpose is to have people aligned with the U.S. foreign policy, to ensure national security and maintain justice and peace.

Boban is also the Chairman & Executive Officer of the Agopri Corporation, a company that offers content-related solutions for businesses. For more than seven years, he’s also been at the head of Ultius, an online platform that connects customers with American freelance writers.

He also has a personal blog, where he writes all sorts of insightful articles related to business, technology, travel, personal development, and more.

Boban’s reading list is a gem for anyone who’s looking to learn about the mindsets and processes an entrepreneur has to deal with.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

My favorite business book is Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. It’s my favorite because it explains lots of important and consequential concepts in a way that makes sense for a normal person. Moreover, the concepts discussed challenge conventional wisdom taught in schools and enforced by society.

For example, the book discusses how competition is the antithesis of capitalism (the accumulation of capital). In capitalism, the goal is to accumulate wealth by trying to build a monopoly business, not compete with lower and lower margins. This challenged what I had learned about business throughout my life, so it was a refreshing perspective that impacted how I thought about opportunities.

Additionally, it helped me stay confident in my decisions, even when other people thought I was crazy.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

When I was starting my career I wasn’t very even tempered, especially when dealing with people who I believed wronged me. This demeanor wasn’t helpful when I started running my own company because things go wrong every day—it’s just the way of things. I found myself spending lots of time chasing down contractors who didn’t finish work properly, domain squatters…etc.

We were planning to initiate legal action against a party who was misusing our copyright when I recalled Sun Tzu’s famous The Art of War, a short read on dealing with military conflict. The book outlined how any conflict should be avoided because it’s costly and a real leader achieves victory by their ability to avoid such entanglements in the first place.

Comparing the teachings I remembered in the book with my own actions at the time was a big step towards humility for me. I was making a huge mistake by spending time on such inconsequential matters. I immediately changed my approach to how I deal with such folks and have never looked back.

This was surely a prominent example of how a book impacted my decisions as a leader at a specific turning point.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Mainly, The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin had the biggest impact on my thinking and viewpoint towards decision making.

Among many other themes, the book stressed the idea that successful leaders (the top 10%) had one distinguishing characteristic: they took traditional two-option decisions (both with pros and cons) and found a winning alternative, we’ll call it C. The winning alternative (C) comes from creative thought and generally minimizes the cons while maximizing the pros of any option. This kind of thinking had a profound impact on my decision making outcomes.

Here are some others that are important to me.

What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Here are the main five I would recommend (in chronological order):

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read as much as I can, but generally go in cycles of a few days on, a few days off. I prefer physical books, but more often than not I go with audiobooks because they are more time-efficient.

How do you make time for reading?

I make time for reading by making it a bedtime activity, always having new books available on flights, and keeping one with me during my trips (especially vacations).

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I try to make notes in the margins for all my books or read slowly. If a book is extremely important to me or directly useful, I will re-read it with more clear intentions of summarizing it in my head.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I choose what to read next by two methods:

1. I always have a list of books to read based on the recommendations of friends and people I admire. Also, I ask people what they are reading.

2. I find books based on specific problems I need to solve for my job.

Also, I don’t always finish every book I start reading. If I don’t understand the material or find it too esoteric I will stop reading it.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

I don’t prioritize books recommended by certain people, I try to just take the best ones they recommend.

What book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Currently I am listening to a very long lecture series by Jordan P. Peterson on the psychological significance of the Biblical stories. After I am done with the 24 lecture series I hope to have a better understanding on the importance of storytelling and why stories are such an enduring part of human culture.

What would you say are three common mistakes made by entrepreneurs?

The three most common mistakes entrepreneurs make:

1. Not being humble (calling themselves a CEO when their company is incredibly tiny).
2. Talking too much.
3. Believing that their idea is worth something.

Links where you can follow Boban Dedovic or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Boban Dedovic in this interview:

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