Santiago Basulto, Co-Founder of rmotr.com, Provides a Reading List for Founders, Coders & Stoics
rmotr.com is specialized in Python and React/React Native, and combines the best teacher and learning experience from a traditional bootcamp, with the convenience of working remotely. By providing real teachers and mentors, it delivers an authentic online learning experience. Santiago, together with his co-founder, Martin, created rmotr.com because they were unhappy with the current available options for programming education.
Santiago picked himself up from failing with a previous startup and learned from his mistakes. For their previous startup they didn’t test the concept and their ideas, so now they decided to validate everything before writing a single line of code code. Another mistake was not charging for their service from day one, thus not being sure if people really wanted it. By understanding the build-measure-learn cycle, they put rmotr on its feet.
Santiago prides himself in being an avid reader. Since he is also an experienced programmer, he shared with us some valuable reads for programmers, business founders and even something for stoics.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
It’s hard to pick a favorite business book, they all have a lot of insight spread among different publications. But if I’d need to choose one, it’d be The Blue Ocean Strategy. It completely changed my way of seeing business when I was just getting started. It’s filled with amazing stories and insights.
And non-business is even harder, but I’d probably choose 1984; its power and narrative are just amazing.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
Reading for me is an iterative process, I stop after every page and re-think what I’ve just read. I don’t do it on purpose, just something that happens. So I’ve had many of those special moments. I remember reading the Lean Startup, when Ries tells the story of putting letters in envelopes and how doing serialized work might be a bad idea. I was raised thinking about serialized, batched work, and when I read that, it completely changed my way of looking at it.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Meditations (Marcus Aurelius) was one of them, and probably one of the most profound impact. Made me get into stoicism and fall in love with roman history.
The Innovators (Walter Isaacson) was another book with profound impact. Learning how the tech world was shaped by these group of hackers and revolutionaries.
Another book with great impact was “The power of habit”. But to be honest, I read only a couple of pages. It’s a good book, with many interesting stories. But to be honest, the idea it tries to communicate is simple and after a couple of pages you’ve pretty much understood all of it. Happens the same thing with those types of books (Getting things done, Crossing the chasm, etc.)
There are many more that I should name, and they all meant something special. The catcher in the Rye, Mark Twain’s classics, Sherlock Holmes, etc. I read a lot and I usually associate books with personal events and that particular time in my life, so they have an important meaning.
What five books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
If my career path is hackers turned business people, I’d say:
Start with the basics and fundamentals:
I love the following books, even though I don’t code in these languages in a daily basis. It’s still interesting to learn the concepts behind them
If you want to make the transition into business, sales is a must. Most sales books are bloated and spand many thousands of pages without much insight, but there are a few that are different and you MUST read:
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I read a lot. I don’t have a lot of time available but I always squeeze a few minutes between lunch or before going to bed.
If conditions were ideal, I’d prefer paper. But I’m always moving, or traveling, and it’s really hard to carry paper books, so I’ve learned to love Kindle and ebook formats. Plus, the dictionary helps a lot, specially for a not native english speaker like me. I’ve been reading mostly in English (and learning Italian) and having the chance to consult the dictionary with a single tap is amazing.
How do you make time for reading?
Time is there. There’s no need of “making” it. Cut Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Cut news sites, focus in your work and give yourself 20 minutes to read every day; make it a habit. And you’ll “find” the time.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I’ve said this again, but every page I read makes me thing and wonder about it. So I have a pretty good memory. Still, kindle notes are pretty good. I sometimes just go back to old books in the Kindle and glance through notes, it’s really interesting to see what I had highlighted.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I usually just go with the classics, which is a safe bet. Reading reviews and recommendations is of course extremely useful.
Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
No, just the people I appreciate and respect.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
I’m currently reading “How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower” by Adrian Goldsworthy. It’s really good. Mankind hasn’t evolved much in the last 2000 years sadly, we keep making the same mistakes.
Links where you can follow Santiago Basulto or find out more about his projects:
- Santiago Basulto on LinkedIn | Twitter
- rmotr.com – Official Website
- Santiago Basulto’s IndieHackers interview: ‘Waiting Until Our Idea Was Validated to Write a Line of Code‘
All books mentioned by Santiago Basulto in this interview:
- Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Innovators – How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
- Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman
- Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell
- Programming in Scala by Martin Odersky, Lex Spoon, Bill Venners
- Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! Miran Lipovaca
- Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer
- SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston
- Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming by Peter Seibel
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
- Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
- How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy