Michael Hebenstreit, Founder of MH Themes & Former Stock Broker, on his Favorite Books
Michael Hebenstreit is an entrepreneur from Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He’s the founder of MH Themes, one of the most popular companies specialized in premium WordPress themes for online magazines, news websites and professional blogs.
But Michael’s background is in an entirely different field: he left behind a careeer in the banking industry, where he worked as a stock broker (institutional equity trading) for various banks and broker firms. A few years ago he didn’t even know what WordPress was, nor how to code a WordPress theme.
It all changed in 2010, when he became interested in online marketing and SEO, and launched 2-3 online magazines in order to try things out. Running his own projects with WordPress, he wasn’t always happy with the themes. That’s when he started digging more into code and learning how to build a WordPress theme from scratch.
I read Michael’s story on Indie Hackers and wanted to find out more about what books he’d recommend to those who want to start their own business, but also those who might be interested to get into stock trading. Read on to find out more.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
Although I nowadays run a company as a digital entrepreneur, my original background is in the banking industry. I previously worked as a stock broker for broker firms in Frankfurt am Main (Germany). The reason I got into this career path was partially because I’ve been inspired by the movie Wall Street by Oliver Stone, but also very much because of the book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre which I read as a child.
In my opinion this book is one of the best investment books ever and I highly recommend it to everyone who is interested in stock and commodity trading. The book is a biography of Jesse Livermore who is such an interesting character and the book is full of insights and advice while you learn about the crazy life of Jesse Livermore. Even today this book is still my favorite!
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
Books or reading online helped me many times when I was looking for information. But there is no special moment I can think of. However, in my opinion you can learn from every book you read. Some books contain advice about life, others valuable knowledge about particular topics. And then there are these kind of books that actually influence your life, like it happened with me after reading Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Besides the book I already mentioned, there are no particular books that changed my life or had a noticeable impact on me.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
If you want to get into stock trading or in case you want to become an investor, then I definitely would recommend to read the book I already mentioned and in addition:
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
- The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett
There are many more, but these would be a good start. If you want to become an entrepreneur and succeed in a competitive environment, then there are some evergreen books as well, for example:
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
Since a couple of years I mostly read on-screen, meaning on my MacBook, iPad or iPhone. I rarely read books (paper) which mainly is because I basically don’t sit down and take the time to read. Since a couple of years I’m fighting a never-ending war with my to do list and it seems this war won’t be over for a very long time. However, when I read, then most of the time only for a couple of minutes while taking a break.
How do you make time for reading?
As mentioned in the previous answer, this really has become an issue. We basically are understaffed since a long time and somehow I got used to it while working crazy hours for years. That means I barely have time to read and when I do, I mostly read blogs or other content online. The little spare time I have, I rather spend with my wife and daughter than reading a book.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I barely take notes, but fortunately I seem to have a talent to process lots of information. When reading I usually focus on what is important, while quickly fading out less important stuff. The only notes I take is my to do list where I list everything I need to take care of. However, it may occur that something I read online will be added to my to do list.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I really don’t like reading novels or fiction books. I very much like watching all kinds of movies or series, but when it comes to books I absolutely need to get useful information out of it. That means it always depends on what I’m currently doing or what venture I’ve planned and if I need more information. For example when I wanted to learn programming a few years ago, I started reading programming books. Now if I wanted to start playing Golf tomorrow, I would grab a book about Golf or even better, read structured information online.
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
To be honest, I can’t name a single book-recommendation guru. I guess I’m not that much into the world of books. I rarely read book recommendations and I’m absolutely not up-to-date regarding new book releases. But if I want to learn about something new, and in case I want to grab a book about it, I usually check the reviews on Amazon.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
I’m currently not reading a particular book, but If I would take the time to read, I definitely would love to read Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future about Elon Musk. Elon is such a fascinating character who is truly changing the world in a positive and future-oriented way. I wish I could say the same about politicians.
Links where you can follow Michael Hebenstreit or find out more about his projects:
- MH Themes – WordPress Themes
- Array Internet – Media Company
- Michael’s Twitter account
- MH Themes blog
- MH Themes story @ Indie Hackers
Books mentioned by Michael in this interview: