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Founder of Scott's Cheap Flights talks about his favorite books

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In 2013, after getting his degree in political science, Scott Keyes was working as a freelance journalist in Washington D.C.

One night, while randomly browsing flights, he ran into a bargain: an incredibly cheap round-trip plane ticket, between New York City and Milan (Italy), for only $130. The city wasn’t a priority on his travel bucket list, but he decided he couldn’t miss the opportunity. When he got back from his vacation, his friends and coworkers asked about his travel hacks, so they could also discover similar offers.

That’s how Scott’s Cheap Flights was born. Instead of just notifying each person that was interested in deals, Scott started a free newsletter that he sent to his friends, where he alerted them of extremely cheap flights. It started as small side project, but grew into what’s now a business based on a freemium-model, with more than half a million subscribers, 15 employees and $4 million annual revenue.

I reached out to Scott, curious to learn what books influenced him, what he learned from them, what books he’d recommend, what’s his reading routine and the likes. Find out more from our interview below!


Was ist dein Lieblingsbuch und warum? Geschäftlich und nicht geschäftlich, wenn möglich.

1491. It’s one of those books that takes everything you thought you knew about the history of European colonialists and indigenous groups in the Americas and turns it on its head. Just a fascinating deep-dive into early American history that questions a lot of dogma we were taught in school.

Business-wise, Getting Things Done. Big believer in the David Allen method.


Gab es einen bestimmten Moment, in dem Ihnen etwas, das Sie in einem Buch gelesen haben, geholfen hat? Kannst du mir davon erzählen?

Reading How To Win Friends And Influence People when I was young and realizing how important empathy is. Putting something in someone else’s best interest rather than your own. Few books that were written nearly a century ago are still as true and eloquent today as they were then, but Dale Carnegie’s work is certainly one of them.


Welche Bücher haben Sie am meisten beeindruckt? (vielleicht hat sich Ihre Sicht der Dinge verändert, Ihr Karriereweg dramatisch verändert)

Reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey dramatically improved my productivity and work-life balance. It showed me that most great historical figures weren’t workaholics, but instead worked hard (mostly in the morning) and then had plenty of unscripted time in the afternoon to ruminate, digest, and brainstorm. It’s a model I’ve tried to emulate, waking up early in the morning, churning out a bunch of work before lunchtime, and then taking it relatively easy thereafter.


Welche Bücher würden Sie jungen Leuten empfehlen, die sich für Ihren beruflichen Weg interessieren? Wieso den? (keine Anzahl Begrenzung hier)

Other than How To Win Friends And Influence People und Daily Rituals (for the reasons outlined above), I would recommend reading both Malcolm Gladwell’s collection, everything from Tipping Point to David & Goliath, und Michael Lewis’ as well, from Moneyball to The Blind Side. Irrespective of content, both are wonderful writers who use stories in effortless, compelling ways to make larger points. It’s something that can and should be emulated by everyone, not just writers.

Gefällt dir dieses Interview? Wenn Sie mehr interessante Sachen rund um Bücher & Wirtschaft wollen, abonnieren Sie unseren wöchentlichen Newsletter. Finde mehr heraus hier.


Ich bin daran interessiert, mehr über Ihre Lesegewohnheiten zu erfahren. Wie oft liest du? In welchem Format?

Not often enough! Once I entered the start-up world too much of my free time got eaten up focusing on work. But doing my best to get back into reading books and long-format magazines like the New Yorker.


Wie nehmen Sie sich Zeit zum Lesen?

I used to read before bed every night, but then my body associated reading with sleeping and it made it hard to last more than a few minutes. So nowadays usually late afternoon once I don’t have any creative juices left is when I’ll turn to a book or magazine.


Machen Sie sich Notizen oder haben Sie eine andere Technik, um die Informationsflut zu bewältigen?

Not really! I’ll keep a list of books I’ve read and enjoyed, and maybe one or two most interesting takeaway points from each, but other than that I just enjoy them as-is.


Wie wählen Sie aus, welche Bücher Sie als nächstes lesen?

Whichever one on my ever-expanding to-read list is available from the library the fastest, I’ll grab.


Priorisieren Sie diejenigen, die von bestimmten Personen empfohlen werden? Gibt es jemanden, den Sie als Guru für Buchempfehlungen bezeichnen?

Absolutely! Not anyone public per se, though I do enjoy the book recommendations that The Ezra Klein Show always ends his podcast with. In general though I’ll usually post a bleg on Facebook to get ideas from friends about books I may enjoy.


Letzte Frage: Welches Buch lesen Sie gerade und was versprechen Sie sich davon?

Just started The Skies Belong To Us. Working in the travel industry, excited to get a sense of what flying was like decades ago.



Links where you can follow Scott Keyes or find out more about his projects:

  • ScottsCheapFlights.com
  • Scott @ Twitter
  • Scott @ LinkedIn
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights @ Twitter
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights @ Instagram
  • Scott’s Cheap Flights @ Facebook
  • Scott’s interview @ CNBC
  • Scott’s Reddit AMA session from 2015
  • Scott’s second Reddit AMA session


  • Books mentioned by Scott Keyes in this interview:

  • 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  • Dinge erledigen: Die Kunst der stressfreien Produktivität von David Allen
  • Wie man Freunde gewinnt und Menschen beeinflusst von Dale Carnegie
  • Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
  • Der Wendepunkt: Wie kleine Dinge einen großen Unterschied machen können von Malcolm Gladwell
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
  • The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis
  • The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner

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