You may have noticed we love reading at Matoyana. We also love sharing information, so this month it’s all about keeping you inspired with a selection of books our Founder, Nokwazi Mzobe, has found perspective-changing.
Enjoy and please leave us a comment about your favourite read.
- The Upstarts: Uber, Airbnb, and the Battle for the New Silicon Valley by Brad Stone
“Until you prove yourself, modeling the behavior of iconoclasts is dangerous.” Brad Stone
“Uber, and Airbnb to a different extent, implemented the same battle plan. Bezos is an investor in both companies and, to some degree, has relationships with both CEOs. It is not a surprise that they are heirs to Amazon.” Brad Stone
This book by journalist Brad Stone takes us on a entrepreneurial roller coster, following founder “upstarts” -Travis Kalanick of Uber and Brian Chesky of Airbnb – two men described as having, “An overabundance of self-confidence and a limitless drive that pushed them to rewrite the rules, better and sometimes for worse.” Sounds interesting? It is.
An insider’s view of the Silicon Valley tech playground is something every entrepreneur should read about. It’s a fascinating, cut throat and ever changing landscape which may well be past it’s zenith now. An exert from the book, for example, reads:
“Every great startup starts as a side project that isn’t anybody’s main priority. Silicon Valley’s startup scientists have a name for this phase in a company’s gestation; they call it the Trough of Sorrow, when the novelty of a new business idea wears off and the founders are left trying to jump-start an actual business.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Brad Stone explains how he structured The Upstarts, “I wanted to frame the defining question of the book for the reader. Are these brilliant entrepreneurs who have built tremendous businesses through sheer creativity and ingenuity? Or are they renegades that grew in large part through contempt for the status quo? There’s an ambivalence that surrounds companies like Uber and Airbnb, and I think this question over their identity – and the dual meanings of the word “upstart” – gets to the heart of it. My own squishy answer, of course, is that they are a little bit of both.”
2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
“It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.” Carol S. Dweck
“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way.” Carol S. Dweck
“True self-confidence is the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.”Carol S. Dweck
Carol S. Dweck is a Stanford University psychologist (pHD) whose years of research have been recognised around the world. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, follows a profound and groundbreaking idea – the power of mindset.
During the course of the book she takes us through examples of how success can change, based on how we value ourselves and think about our abilities. She covers almost every field: school, work, sports and the arts.
The core message of the book, which she’s proved through decades of interacting with people on a research level is:
“People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.”
Other things worth exploring in Mindset? The idea that “A growth mindset and guides people toward adopting a deeper, truer growth mindset”. This extends beyond just yourself and can inspire others to transform their lives, and so on.
Of particular interest to parents will be Carol Dweck’s deep focus on how to give their children the greatest gift in life, confidence. Here’s another brief taste of the inspiration zinging off the pages: “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
3. Alibaba’s World by Porter Erisman
“Learn from competitors but never copy them. Copy them and you will die.” Porter Erisman
“Alibaba is no longer a David. It is a Goliath. And as a Goliath it will face an entirely new set of challenges.” Porter Erisman, Alibaba’s World
Alibaba’s World is Porter Erisman’s tell-all-tale (well, most of it) of his time working as Vice-President of the Chinese business Alibaba. A company which, at that time, was still on the rise to achieving the huge growth it has now has now – which is the largest IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook and Twitter combined.
Why should you read Alibaba’s world? If nothing else it opens up a vista into a non-Western based business model. In addition, Erisman recounts how Alibaba handled the e commerce crash, huge competition from Google and eBay, operating within a country where the government has a firm handle on business and basically building an e commerce site which came to dominate the world.
Michael Levin’s book review of Alibaba’s World highlights how essential this read is to anyone in business, saying, “The book is certainly replete with lessons for any western (or eastern) business leader who wants to get a big company off the ground with few resources and enormous challenges.”It is also an important read to have background on Alibaba and to follow how the business currently responds to global pressure. As Erisman says, “Alibaba is no longer a David. It is a Goliath. And as a Goliath it will face an entirely new set of challenges.”
The book also includes fascinating inside information about Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chair of the Alibaba Group, who began his career as an English teacher and failed his university entrance exams twice. Jack Ma is now one of the world’s richest men – with a net worth of $35.6 billion.
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“When you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you.” Paulo Coelho
“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” Paulo Coelho
“We must not confuse humility with false modesty or servility.” Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist has sold over 150 million copies and been translated into 80 different languages – which is a Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author.
The actual story behind the success of book is the first source of inspiration, particularly for aspiring authors. This is because when Brazilian born Paulo Coelho published the book in 1988 – it didn’t sell. How did he change that? Literally by knocking on doors, believing in the story and that the universe would help – it sure did!
The novel is essentially a “hero’s journey” tale – the hero being a young shepherd who follows a recurring dream he has which finally takes him to the pyramids of Egypt. The book is brimful of inspiration: Follow your dreams, never give up, the road will not be smooth and although you can’t always get what you want you may receive what you need.
A beautiful passage in the book reads, “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself … and that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”