Where my ideas come from

Was talking my Lyft driver’s ear off yesterday about how he ought to skip law-school and instead start or buy his own business.

Realized that I have a very specific view on how someone can go about doing this that has been shaped by a lot of reading / listening over time.

Figured I’d share some of the books / podcasts / etc. that have shaped my thinking. So, in no particular order (except that Buffett is the best):

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters, beginning in the mid-1960s and continuing through this past year – taught me about long-term holding, the value of compounding, the power of trust, the right way to think about reputation, the right way to think about leverage, and a LOT more
  • The Lean Startup, by Eric Reis – This is the state-of-the-art in thinking about new companies
  • Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin – A bit outdated now, but really explains the value of building an audience and, especially, an email list (by the way – sign up for my emails!)
  • reddit.com/r/smallbusiness – This is a community of small business owners, some of whom are really, really smart about “normal” businesses (lawncare, painting, etc.)
  • Everything I’ve ever read from Brent Beshore – Especially on the value of reputation and humility
  • King of Capital, the Blackstone book – Really the gold standard for thinking about growing a huge asset-management business
  • The Bonanza King, the John Mackay book- In particular the early part, where Mackay transmutes his labor and skills into ownership in mines
  • Everything I’ve ever heard from Trish Higgins of Chenmark CapitalTrish is super-real about what is actually involved in small business, as opposed to how you think about it when you’re in finance (as I was)
  • Principles of Corporate Finance – All about how companies and assets are valued and why
  • Den of Thieves – Particularly the section about how Milken built a huge business based on one idea (which turned out to be horseshit, but still)
  • Barbarians at the Gate – About the danger of falling in love with a deal
  • HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business – About how to tell the difference between a good business and a bad one
  • The Outsiders by Will Thorndike – Specifically, about discipline in capital allocation (see the part about John Malone, in particular)