Dragoș Novac shares with us his favorite books & reading habits
Dragoș Novac and I met 10 (or perhaps even more) years ago. He was one of the key people who helped grow and nurture the bloggers community in our home country. One of the ways he accomplished that was by organizing RoBlogFest, an event that awarded the best local blogs (the project I was working on back then was among the winners 🙂 ), but also the biggest and most important networking opportunity for those with an interest in the blogosphere. Dragoș helped plant the seeds that eventually led to a stronger community, lots of new partnerships emerged thanks to him.
But he is foremost renowned as a serial entrepreneur, which is why I was really excited when he accepted my interview proposal (he’s not usually keen about staying in the spotlight or bragging about what he did, even though he’d have plenty of reasons to do that).
With an MBA in Finance from CMC/Katz Business School USA and MSc in Strategy from BI Norway, he experienced all stages of entrepreneurship. He founded and managed the Fourhooks digital consultancy agency and media network. Under this umbrella, he built Metropotam, the biggest (and oldest) entertainment website in our country, as well as many other online projects.
If you want to find out what books influenced him and what his reading habits are, grab a mug of your favorite liquor and read on.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
I have several, depending on the age I was when discovering them. However, for me books are as important as the people who wrote them, as I like to understand what’s behind the creation most of the times. As such I would mention some writers I like or used to like rather than books – Hemingway, Zola, Salinger, Coelho, Kafka or Ayn Rand, from my youth, Clay Christensen, Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries or Seth Godin are some business recommendations that come to mind. Most of their work is very good.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?
Probably one such a moment was about 20 years ago when I discovered Clayton Christensen, first via his academic papers and then after he started writing his books. Innovator’s Dilemma was his first and an a-ha moment for me at that time, as I started to perceive the value of creation process in a company in a different way than I thought it was like and which ultimately made me quit my corporate career and become an entrepreneur.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Clay’s Innovator’s Dilemma was important. Also, about 10 years later, he had another which really had a profound impact on me and on my belief systems – How will you measure your life. Then, again when I was younger, at the beginning of 2000s, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and The Cluetrain Manifesto were two pieces of work I’d always refer to, as well as Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, later on when I was looking at how to become a better tech entrepreneur.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
There is a long list and really depends on the professional path they’re taking, so I cannot get into specifics. As I said, rather than remembering some business books I find it more useful to follow people and their work, as I’m rather interested in how their thinking evolves over time.
My rule of thumb is finding specific verticals I am interested in, identifying who contributed in that space and reading more or less everything that is relevant so that I have an idea about what is going on. For example, the above mentioned Innovator’s Dilemma made perfect sense at that time (at the end of the 1990) but now the book is obsolete as times have changed.
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I try to read as much as possible and whenever I have some spare time. I usually read in digital format, but I love paper, some of them are beautiful products and I enjoy the experience of reading them. Those are usually reserved for late at night, before going to bed.
How do you make time for reading?
I try to fill out all my dead moments, or the times that I need a distraction or relaxation. It’s difficult to make the habit but once you’ve developed it, it comes rather naturally.
Do you have a favorite place where you read or are you able to read just anywhere?
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
Yes, I usually send them myself via email, for further reference and as reminders.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I am either interested in the field and try to understand who contributed what in that field, or take recommendations from people I trust.
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
No, I don’t think there’s such a guru. I usually read different types of books, and try to change the field as much as possible – I mostly read for knowledge not for entertainment purposes, so I usually prioritize by what I think I want to learn next.
Links related to Dragoș and his projects:
- His website: DragosNovac.com
- Personal blog: UnaPeZi.ro
- Follow his Twitter account
- Nordic 9
- Best Shot
Books mentioned by Dragoș:
- The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christensen
- How Will You Measure Your Life? – Clayton Christensen
- Purple Cow – Seth Godin
- The Cluetrain Manifesto – Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger
- The Lean Startup – Eric Ries