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Independent Designer Pedro Cortés Talks about Books that Teach & Inspire

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Pedro Cortés is a Portugal-based independent designer and consultant, specialized in working with sales driven SaaS startups that struggle to optimize their conversion rates. He does consultancy for websites that have good products, good traffic and great features, but still can’t turn their visitors into customers.

Pedro’s passionate about the psychology behind how buying decisions and persuasion. He’s worked for companies that range from bootstrapped to backed by Seedcamp, 500 Startups, Boost VC and YC SC, which includes DULO (remember Marin and Julian, the awesome guys from DULO?).

Pedro’s also the author of a comprehensive guide on how to break down a landing page to capture more leads, and creator of a free email course designed to help startups with CRO.

We talked to Pedro about the learnings he took from books, those that helped him with his anxiety, and how reading shifted his mindset. Keep on reading!

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

For business, definitely The 4-Hour Workweek as it keeps you in check to constantly evaluate what things I should be paying the most attention to get the best results while reminding me the life of freedom I could have while working for myself. It’s hard to choose on the non-business side but probably “Play it away” by Charlie Hoehn as it helped me keep a more peaceful and restful mind while forcing myself to schedule time for “play”. I’ve had a bad case of anxiety in High School and the book gave me a process to bring me back to a more playful mind every time I tend to be more anxious (which is very under control now).

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

Yes, tons of times!! If I choose books based on what I am going through or my needs at that moment I take the time to think about ways to implement it tomorrow or in the same week even if out of the 20 insights I might get I was only able to apply one, it would still be super valuable. Again, “Play it away” gave me a 4-week plan that I was able to implement as I was reading the book and quickly helped me to relax at a more anxious phase I was going through.

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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 books that had the biggest impact are the ones that are controversial and challenge people’s beliefs around work, relationships, life, and money most of them were things I already thought about (that’s how I found them or decided to read them) but just by putting it in an actionable and structured way it made me think 100x more clearly about my goals and beliefs. Such examples could be the 4hww, Rich Dad Poor Dad, F.U. Money, The Five Love Languages, So good they can’t ignore you, Predictably Irrational and Ego is the Enemy are the ones who stand out the most.

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

To get a good a fulfilling career I believe you need to balance money with your mindset and personal life and for those, I would again recommend the 4hww (to question the 9-5 life), F.U Money (to turn your beliefs about money into good ones), Ego is the enemy (to keep the ego in check), So good they can’t ignore you (to adopt the mindset of a craftsman and mastery instead of passion) and Predictably Irrational to be aware of the irrational things you and other people can do so you can adapt to them instead of living your entire life being blinded by them.

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

Right now I read if I still have the time at the end of the day but it’s usually 1 hour per day every night. I used to read much more but that’s because I planned to consume as much as possible to build a great mindset asap so I can come back to the best books I’ve read and apply them with hopefully better/different perspective to get the most results I can out of them. The other reason I slowed down on the reading is that I find a lot of BS books or stuff that’s just a copy of other books I’ve read, which sucks…

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

Yes, but it depends on the book and how I am consuming it (audiobook or real book). I try to take notes on Evernote, underline the books and bookmark the pages when possible but would love suggestions on how to get the best notes out of a book.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I choose the books based on what I need at the moment and I prioritize them based on other entrepreneur’s opinion on a particular book and only if they have done something I am trying to accomplish and recommend the book as a tool to achieve that.

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

I’m not reading a book atm as it’s been extra busy lately.

Were there any unexpected outcomes of starting a newsletter and not being totally dependent on social media channels for communicating & attracting potential clients?

Starting a newsletter or my new email course was beneficial on so many levels! It enabled me to write more frequently and realize that the tips turned out pretty good, I even got some people saying how valuable it was for their business (which always makes my day). I underestimated the number of people that would be interested in this and simply how good the leads and connections I could attract with it, definitely trying to drive more traffic to it in the future and I can picture it as a super beneficial thing for my business long term.

Links where you can follow Pedro Cortés or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Pedro Cortés in this interview:

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