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This book has 18 recommendations

Jeff Bezos (CEO/Amazon)

"Collins briefed Amazon executives on his seminal management book before its publication. Companies must confront the brutal facts of their business, find out what they are uniquely good at, and master their fly wheel, in which each part of the business reinforces and accelerates the other parts," Stone writes.

Michael Sanderson (CEO/Sanderson Stewart)

I’m an avid reader, so it’s hard to pick just one. I really think you need to read everything you can get your hands on — history, biography, fiction, all of it. As an entrepreneur, I think there are some books that you need to read just because they have become such an integral part of the business lexicon, books like Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and Jim Collins’ Good to Great.

Bogdan Iordache (Co-Founder/How to Web)

There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list.

Bogdana Butnar (Head of Strategy/Poke)

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.

Joel Gascoigne (Co-founder/Buffer)

Good to Great is one of the first transformative books I read as Buffer started to grow beyond a product, and into a company. This happened when we were around 7 people and I started to feel like we needed to think about "culture", a concept that I previously had no real way to understand apart from conceptually.

As the team grew beyond 7, I noticed that team dynamics came much more into play, and we couldn't assume that everyone knows everything anymore.

In addition, I realized that the people we work with affect us immensely. Good to Great helped me to understand how important culture is for building a great, lasting company that has an impact on the world. It started to become clear that we already had a culture, and it was evolving.

Marvin Liao (Partner/500 Startups)

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).

Rand Fishkin (Founder/Moz)

When I first finished the book, I admit that I still had trouble thinking about how to apply many of the lessons to a company like SEOmoz - with our 7-person team and eclectic industry focus, we would seem to be a far cry from the Krogers, Circuit Citys, Walmarts, and Fannie Maes of the world. But, I did something I rarely ever do - I went back and re-read. I think I've probably read each chapter at least twice in the past 75 days. And, finally, it started to sink in. I wanted to apply these lessons and ask these tough questions about SEOmoz.

Theresa Evanoff (Founder/Gift-it-Forward)

Here are some of my favourites around purpose, positive habits, positive thinking, and business goals. I’m a firm believer that subject expertise can be learned, but character-building traits, like perseverance and purposefulness, must be honed.

  • “Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren
  • “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek
  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey
  • "The Magic of Thinking Big", David J. Schwartz
  • "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale
  • "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz
  • “Good to Great”, Jim Collins
  • “Doing Good Well”, Willie Cheng

Louis Grenier (Podcaster in Chief/Everyone Hates Marketers)

If you want to think about strategy, the proper strategy, how to understand what to do, what not to do, read: “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy”, “Good to Great” and “Blue Ocean Strategy”.

Catrinel Hagivreta (Co-Founder & CEO/MEDIjobs)

Good to Great: Jim Collins – to learn about the most successful companies and their keys of success.

Boban Dedovic (Serial Entrepreneur)

Question: What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.

Answer: Here are some others [books] that are important to me.

  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel (on startups)
  • Mastery by Robert Greene (life and career path study)
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins (on growing a great company)
  • Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher (negotiation)

Cody McLain (CEO/SupportNinja)

Will assume career path is running a startup, getting clients and managing a team of employees or collaborating with founders. These are some of the best books to cover these areas. It’s hard running a startup, let alone being the person who has to make the highest decisions in the organization. These books help provide the framework in how to run a successful organization but also share some of the stories and pitfalls from other founders so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Brian Scudamore (Founder and CEO/1-800-GOT-JUNK? & O2E Brands)

Being a great company isn’t about high-tech products or rockstar CEOs. It’s about sharing values and rowing together as a team. At O2E Brands, we hire for culture and train on skill, because having people who see our vision for where we want to go is more important that a resume.

Mark Moses (Founder, CEO/CEO Coaching International)

Every time I read it I get more out of it. I appreciate the way he instills the impact of having the very best people and having the courage to replace those that are not.

Iulia Ghita (Co-CEO/Bookster)

On the leadership side, my favorite concept is Jim Collins’ “Level 5 Leadership” from Good to Great. Level 5 Leaders look out the window when things go well, to find the reason for success or progress. At the same time, they look in the mirror when things go poorly, taking responsibility, never blaming bad luck.

Chandini Jain (CEO/Auquan)

This book talks about how a good company can become a great company by conscious choice and discipline. Specifically, the idea of First Who, Then What (first get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to drive it) is interesting.

David Brudo (Co-Founder/Remente)

What really struck me when reading Good to Great was the importance of strength-based leadership and focusing on the strengths/positives instead of being problem-oriented, and how this is linked to success. This is specifically important when you are an entrepreneur because generally speaking you have larger ambitions than you have resources. Given the success rate of startups, the odds are statistically against you. So if you have a strength-based mindset, focus on the things that work, and understand why and expand on that, you have the keys to survival and success.

Brian Burkhart (Founder & Chief Word Guy/SquarePlanet Presentations & Strategy)

Jim Collins’ “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t,” which is about acquiring the right talent. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim and working with him. Just watching him and the way he talked about businesses—from tiny firms you’ve never heard of to global giants everyone knows—meant a great deal to me. Early in my career, there were times when I let some less-than-great team member stick around. After working with Jim, it was a different story.

Amazon description

The Challenge:

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study:

For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards:

Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons:

The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings:

The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

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See more books recommended by

Jeff Bezos, Michael Sanderson, Bogdan Iordache, Bogdana Butnar, Joel Gascoigne, Marvin Liao, Rand Fishkin, Theresa Evanoff, Louis Grenier, Catrinel Hagivreta, Boban Dedovic, Cody McLain, Brian Scudamore, Mark Moses, Iulia Ghita, Chandini Jain, David Brudo, Brian Burkhart

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Jim Collins


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