I’ve always been perplexed when I read blogs by entrepreneurs or talk with entrepreneurs in person who list the recent books they’ve read. All business books; all management books; all marketing books. We all get plenty of that every day from articles, each other, conferences, etc. Entrepreneurs should be reading other kinds of books – psychology, politics, history, self-help, religious, a great novel, biographies – to become interesting people who are well-rounded. As Jim Collins says in this article, many of the world’s greatest thinkers read the most outside their primary field. He thinks the business to non-business books ratio should be 1:20; for me it’s probably 1:10.
Also at the Jim Collins site there’s a nice audio excerpt where he elaborates on the idea that entrepreneurship is fundamentally a life idea, not a business one. The other week I was talking with Mike Bateman about how exciting it is to work with passionate entrepreneurs. That passion, that desire to change things, can be found in nurses, teachers, authors, and yes, business people. Collins says:
You can do a paint by numbers kit approach to your life and end up with a nice, little pretty picture at the end. Or you can throw that out. Or you can start with a blank canvas. And try to paint a masterpiece. Entrepreneurship is about throwing out the paint by numbers kit, and starting with a blank canvas, and trying to make your own life a work of art. To me, entrepreneurship is about carving a path that is so idiosyncratically YOU, that it fits you like a glove. And figuring out how to do that. If it so happens that starting a company is that path – all the better – if not that, it should be something else that is uniquely you.