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Gary Bury, Co-Founder of Timetastic, About His Favourite Books

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Gary Bury is the co-founder of Timetastic, a simple app that 100,000 people use for booking and tracking time off work.

Originally, Timetastic started as a a side project of another company, Mediaburst, and it was built primarily for internal use. Three years ago, when Mediaburst was acquired by a larger company, a deal that Timetastic wasn’t part of, Gary and his partner left their secure jobs and decided to dedicate Timetastic their full time.

Gary has a background in accountancy, but for the last 10 years he’s been involved in internet based startups. Find out from our interview more about his favorite books and why they influenced him.


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

Truthfully, I have 3 young kids so don’t get much time to read other than to my kids at bedtime. So you’ll understand when I say my favourite books are Children’s books by Dr Seuss, they’re a joy to read and cover a range of social and political issues with an elegance and simplicity that exceeds many adult books. The anti materialism/ consumerism ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ and ‘The Lorax’ about environmentalism are favourites in our house.

I find it difficult to say I have a favorite business book, there is no perfect book in my opinion, each has its own elements to take away, and each will inevitably have elements that don’t apply to you or you disagree with. Getting Real by 37Signals is undoubtedly a book I refer back to and recommend to others. Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion sticks in my mind as one I particularly enjoyed reading.


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

I read Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography – Humble Pie. In it he talks about some of the lessons he learnt building up his restaurants, and indeed failing. I grew up in a hotel so the hospitality industry has always interested me. I recall him talking about improving profits by targeting one additional pound per customer. I liked that, it resonated with me. There is so much emphasis these days on landing that one big deal that it’s often forgot that a wide range of small customers will bring you a steady income stream without the volatility of a small number of large customers.


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

Getting Real was an important book for me, the ideas were defying conventional wisdom and teaching. I’m not a fan of large multi national businesses and the focus on corporate transactions, so to read something that aligned with my small business beliefs and focused on simplicity was gratifying. It was the kind of book that I read thinking, ‘yes, this is what I’ve been thinking all along, but never been able to vocalise’.

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

Getting Real, certainly, read it.

How Google Works is a good insight to a large corporate in the tech world.

Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion – very entertaining and a great insight into people’s minds, marketing and selling. I was writing a lot of web copy at that time and this book really helped me get to grips with the ‘what’ and ‘why’ I was writing.

Any good book on copywriting – it’s really important to be able to write well, for websites, help files, the copy on your app, emailing customers, anything a customer sees, it’s so important. I don’t think I had any clue how to structure an article. I remember once reading that the object of every line of copy is to get the reader to read the next. That helped me a lot, I started to write more effectively – or at least I’d like to believe I did!


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

I don’t read as much as I’d like these days, currently a lot of articles on websites and blogs. I read the news each day (which depresses me, I should stop) on the BBC and Guardian websites.

I got an ebook reader thing once, a Kobo, but didn’t get on with it. It was smaller than a standard paperback novel so the amount of content on each page was less than a traditional book. Not my scene sorry, I prefer a book with actual pages.


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

I’m not a note taker. I realised many years ago that I never referred back to them so was wasting my time. I believe that if it’s important, if it’s valuable, I’ll remember it.


How do you choose what books to read next?

Usually recommendations from colleagues or friends. It’s rare I’d browse a bookshop or website for something to read. My wife reads a lot of novels and recommends ones that she believes I’d like, and equally people at work will recommend books on given business subjects.


Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

The book at the side of my bed is The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Unusually for me I choose it from a book store based on the current charts. I just wanted a book that was neither Children’s, work or current affairs related, something to switch off to, bedtime reading.

Links where you can follow Gary Bury or find out more about his projects:


Books mentioned by Gary Bury in this interview:


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