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Marin Gerov, Co-Founder of DULO, Learned at Least One Valuable Lesson from Each Book Read

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Marin Gerov is the co-founder of DULO, a company that makes dress shirts from performance fabrics.

Back in 2016, the initial idea behind DULO was to create a dress shirt that needed no ironing. DULO evolved from that and became more than just a shirt, it became an icon for people who wanted to look good, feel good, and save time. Why are their dress shirts better? Because of they’re made out of high quality, antibacterial, anti-odor fabrics, that not only saves you time with ironing, but also has a longer life-span and you can wear more than once before washing.

Marin and Julian Samarjiev, the two Bulgarian natives that started DULO, have been very open about their journey of building the business and documented it all, from Day 1. This is a central part of their strategy, with the primary intention of learning, while also providing value to fellow entrepreneurs.

They also have a podcast named The Early Days — a show where they interview entrepreneurs about their experience of building a business from scratch.

Aside from being part of DULO, Marin has also founded Soulstone, a company that creates video animations and motion graphics for story telling purposes.

Marin’s book recommendations are delightful, because he shares some amazing fiction, business and motivational reads (spoiler: he is a fan of stoicism). Don’t take our word for it, just keep on reading!

P.S. don’t miss our book-talk with Julian, with whom Marin co-founded DULO.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 11 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

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

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

I just love the story and lore that Tolkien creates in his books. The expansive universe, storytelling, characters, world-building – it is something that always spurs my imagination. The book never fails to take me to Middle Earth when I read it.

When I discovered the book I was in high school and I remember how several classmates and I were competing who would finish reading the full trilogy first. I think I won, but I cannot be sure 😀

It is also the first book I have read entirely in English, and I remember how proud I was of the achievement at the time (English not being my mother tongue).

Creativity, Inc.

As for a non-fiction/business book I would say Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. It is a great look inside the mind of one of the founders of Pixar, but also a great case study on how to deliver blockbuster success time and time again.

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

There are so many cases when I have found helpful advice in books.

Coming back to The Lord of the Rings – Gandalf’s quote “All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us“, is such a powerful one. Even at an earlier age I understood that it is only up to us to decide and do what we believe needs to be done. We are in charge of our time.

I have read and learned a lot from Stoicism and in particular, Seneca’s Letters from a stoic. It is an incredible guide, an operating system for the mind (as Tim Ferriss says) to put things in perspective, how to deal with hardship, and to generally operate in life.

Talking of Tim Ferriss, his series (The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef) has been extremely good resources for improving work, health, and learning.

Creativity, Inc. by Pixar’s Ed Catmull is another book that I have learned a lot from, about working with with others to bring new projects successfully to life, one after the other.

The Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday is a book I read last year which stuck with me. It teaches the importance of making things that last. The Obstacle is the Way is another one of his creations that is more related to Stoic philosophy.

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

The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg is the one book that started my interest in the non-fiction, productivity genre. It pointed me to Tim Ferriss’ books which have had the most impact on me as they helped me change my behaviour quite a few times, especially when it comes to health and learning.

Letters from a Stoic also had a big impact, especially on my philosophy of life. It takes a lot of effort to practice gratitude, and learn that the only thing you have control over is your own mind. Then, all external factors become irrelevant. Still trying to get better at that part 🙂

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

The 4-Hour “trilogy” (Workweek, Body, Chef) – it is a great collection of practical advice and experimentation that can set people on a track to become a better version of themselves, both professionally, as well as personally.

Rework – it is a great case study of a company called Basecamp that works in a calm manner with a long-term perspective in mind.

Letters from a Stoic – because it will show you ways to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Antifragile by NN Taleb – will show you a lot of examples of how to make investments (not just financial ones) in life, so that you always end up with a positive outcome.

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

Honestly, I read every day. It is not always books. Often it is blogs, newsletters. I read a lot. But if I feel like reading I just read. I usually have several titles that I read at once, so it is never a problem to find something to read.

As a particular time, I prefer to read in the mornings, the quiet early hours (I wake up quite early). I also like to read on the weekends, especially if I have to catch up on my reading list.

As for the format, I like physical books, but they are a bit impractical – too heavy and bulky. So, I mostly read digital books nowadays.

How do you make time for reading?

If I feel like reading, I just read. I don’t schedule time for it. It is just something I enjoy.

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

I don’t really do notes. If a quote or a passage really resonates with me, I can take a note of it in my journal, or somewhere else (Google Keep) for future reference.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I have mostly chosen books based on current interests. Lately, I have been thinking about turning my attention to classic works, but I haven’t really committed to it yet.

A few times I have chosen books that were mentioned in other books 🙂

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

My friend Boyan is someone I listen to for recommendations, because our reading preferences are quite similar.

I also follow recommendations from Tim Ferriss from time to time.

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

Principles, by Ray Dalio. I want to get a better understanding of the man, his work, and his thinking.

What are the biggest challenges in running a side project while also having a full time job? How do you manage to stay efficient?

For me, the biggest challenge is the division of attention. I often have to break out of a state of flow to get to my day job.

The way I manage that is through discipline. I like to run on a routine. I wake up very early, before 5AM on weekdays, take 15 minutes to make a cup of coffee and get into the day. Afterwards I start working, because I feel most inspired in those early hours, when the world is still asleep. It is the time I read most. After that it is time for exercise and then I go to my day job.

In the evening, I try not to work if I don’t feel like it. But most of the time I am quite happy to spend an hour or two working on building DULO. Before I go to bed, which is early – around 9-10 PM, I plan the next day using the Bullet Journal technique.

And that’s it.

One of the main components of promoting your business is through content marketing. You chose to share your story in a transparent way – a strategy that’s extremely efficient on the long term and helps you keep customers close and loyal, but some avoid because it takes a lot of energy and doesn’t lead to overnight direct results. What were the unexpected outcomes of documenting your journey?

The biggest outcome was our successful first month and reaching €2000 in revenue. This became possible only because we spend a year developing a very close connection with a small group of people who became really invested in our journey and success. It is one of the most rewarding feelings to connect with people on such level. It’s like we are insiders of a very exclusive club. And that is something we want to keep on building and growing.

The documentation of our process and decision-making has also been helpful in analyzing and course-correcting our work. We learn a lot through self-retrospection and because we have the blog, the vlog, and the podcast – we can trace back the reasons for all decisions. Plus, it is fun to look back and witness how your thinking changed, the idea evolved, and what is today, looked like in the beginning.

Links where you can follow Marin Gerov or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Marin Gerov in this interview:

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