What is the best book(s) you read in 2018? Which books would you recommend to your friends?
2018 marked the biggest change in my life and hence the books I read reflected the same. I ended the road most travelled and ventured into the road most loved but afraid to travel.
I read countless books on entrepreneurship, startups, leadership, and investment this year. I said “countless” as I don’t remember how many books I read.
Besides the 3 books I read annually; yes they have the staying power; I added another one (which was recommended by the ultimate coach Steve Hardison from a question I posted on facebook): The Way of Mastery.
The following books have made the most impact for an entrepreneur who just started out on the road most loved but afraid to travel:
- Competing against giants by Uyen Phuong Tran. I witnessed how she has been living what she wrote in the book. The book is an excellent account of how her family-owned company, Tan Hiep Phat – the leading multi-billion dollar Vietnamese beverage company, competed against powerful multinationals such as Coke and PepsiCo. The author planted the philosophy behind Tan Hiep Phat’s success in every chapter. It reads like a business case study but also a biography of her family with her father as the leading figure. They truly live their credo: Nothing is impossible.
- The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune Without Anyone Knowing by Conor O’Clery. Chuck Feeney is the billionaire founder of Duty Free Shoppers who gave away all his wealth. Feeney lives a frugal lifestyle. He’s loved and admired by his employees. He cares for everyone, especially children. Feeney started Duty Free Shoppers from 0 and made it into the billion dollar company. I didn’t know till reading this book that Feeney has been probably the most generous giver to Vietnam.
- The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future by T.Boone Pickens. Pickens was a very successful oil man. At 68, his company was sold (or he was forced to sell it). He decided to start up again trading futures (oil, natural gas) with 5 employees. He raised money by calling everyone he knew. In the first two years of trading, he lost 90% of the fund. However, he made it back many times over in the next year. Pickens like Warren Buffett and other long-term investors did due diligence before taking a position. He ignored daily fluctuation and held a long-term view. He believed that great profit is in the long-term, not in daily fluctuation.
- Am I Being Too Subtle? Straight Talk From a Business Rebel by Sam Zell. Sam is a model of living the credo “nothing is impossible.” He realized problems and found possible solutions.When facing a No, he listened actively and presented different angles. When you are not aware there are any limitations, nothing stops you from trying.“If you are really good at what you do, you have the freedom to be who you are.”“When there’s a scarcity, price is no object.”Take risk, test your limit, and ask “why not?”Formula for success: 1+1 = 3Sam started in real estate in Ann Arbor, a suburban. He found opportunities to buy an entire block by buying all homes and lands. He then either developed student apartment buildings or sold the entire block for more money. He repeated this method: high-growth real estate, small cities… The basis is that in small cities there would be less competition. Later, Sam changed his method: buildings that are available below replacement cost, good quality, and well-located. (replacement cost is the key. It can determine the price of future competition)Then his method became generalized: supply and demand, barriers to entry, and tax considerations.Sam spends most of his day listening to people. He asks questions, probe, and raise possibilities.
- The Habit of Labor: Lessons from a Life of Struggle and Success by Stef Wertheimer, the founder of ISCAR. Stef was an immigrant to Israel from Germany. He was kicked out of his high school as he didn’t listen to authority and bureaucracy. Stef joined the army and fixed weapons. Stef was working for the government after his army service till he was 26 years old. He didn’t see himself as someone who could climb the government rank nor do boring stuffs. He left his government job which provided a steady income, high status; and started ISCAR with little capital. He was a lieutenant when he left. It was a tough decision since he got 2 kids and a family to take care of. “Take action when necessary and act in an unconventional way when there is no alternative.” When ISCAR first started, Stef had no capital. He couldn’t get bank loans. He couldn’t borrow money needed to buy materials and machines that he needed.
The takeaways from those reading can be summarized: nothing is impossible; just do it; there are many roads to success; pick one and go all out; people will laugh at you at first; let them laugh and carry on.
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About the author: Hoan Do is a certified leadership coach, a value-oriented investor, and an entrepreneur. Hoan led multiple teams at Symantec Inc. across the globe delivering world-class solutions to protect consumers and businesses. Hoan is an expert in building highly performing teams. He believes that the best leader is the leader that could grow his followers to be leaders. Hoan has trained many leaders via mastermind groups, workshops, and one-on-one coaching.
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