The entrepreneurially-minded see summer as an opportunity. It can mean extra time to get ahead of the pack and sharpen yourself by reading. 

The CFE has polled its staff to come up with a list of books that foster the entrepreneurial spirit. From creative thinking, to leadership styles, to finding funding, there is a little bit of something for everyone. 

This summer we hope you are able to enjoy one or more of the following books that will help you feel inspired.

Dune by Frank Hubert and/or Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

“Entrepreneurship is ultimately about developing new products or services that solve problems for others.  However, to do that effectively, you have to have a deep understanding of other people, what motivates them, and under what circumstances they will change their behavior.  Although both books leverage science fiction settings, they are gritty psychological explorations of the human mind, the best of humanity and the worst. The characters must see through and navigate multiple layers of motivations by different groups of stakeholders as well as the deceptions that often sit on the surface of many human interactions.  Plus, these books are classic examples of creativity and innovation that were the first of their kind and just plain fun to read.” –  Jonathan Fay, CFE Dixon and Carol Doll Executive Director 

The Martian by Andy Weir

“For fiction lovers, I highly recommend this book. It teaches you important lessons on teamwork, survival, operating in constraints with limited resources, and perseverance.” – Divya Patil, Technology Development Specialist  

This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler 

“This book, written by the Co-Founder of Kickstarter, challenges the idea that businesses and startups, in particular, must rely on a growth strategy, solely. The message of this book is to create value with empathy, and it takes significant work to do so. If you’re a leader, you should read this book.” – Nick Moroz, Assistant Director of Entrepreneurial Practice  

Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade

“Photographs and essays of people left behind in small towns of America. If anyone who has read the “Hillbilly Elegies” – this is a more nuanced take on the stories of the ‘backrow’ and the pictures are great – heartbreaking at times.” – Hirak Parikh, Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Manager

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

“A fascinating biography of the quintessential Renaissance man (by the same author of biographies of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein). It traces Leonardo’s life and works across fields ranging from painting and engineering to mathematics and anatomy. Anyone interested in innovation can learn from how da Vinci saw the natural world and sought to manipulate it.” – Charles Keenan, Educational Programs Specialist

Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein

“Asking insightful questions is surprisingly hard.  Most questions are designed to reconfirm what the asker already knows or at a minimum signals to the listener what the preferred answer is.  Although this may be useful for pushing a point of view, it rarely changes anyone’s mind and traps us in our current worldview by providing a steady stream of self-reinforcing information.  Insight and innovation go hand in hand. The foundation of insight is the ability to ask questions that lead to surprising and new information on why people do what they do and the problems they face while doing it.  Humble Inquiry is a great book to explore the “art of the asking” and make us all better at truly listening to each other.  A great book for anyone who really wants to get to know their customers and how to help them.” –  Jonathan Fay, Dixon and Carol Doll Executive Director 

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business by Douglas Hubbard 

“The accessible skills from this book will help you make quick decisions, specifically helpful to understand your entrepreneurial opportunities. All leaders should read this book.” – Nick Moroz, Assistant Director of Entrepreneurial Practice 

Oh the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss 

“A children’s classic for budding entrepreneurs? Absolutely!! The message is simple – Carpe Diem! Keep an open mind, it’s okay to fail, there is no one “straight” path to success and most importantly, “your” mountain is waiting for you – do what makes you feel happy and successful. :)” – Divya Patil, Technology Development Specialist  

VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas 

“A comprehensive history of venture capital in the US. Well-written and documented – telling the stories behind some the best know firms in the US. A uniquely American story of risk-taking, adventure and untold wealth creation.” – Hirak Parikh, Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Manager

The Startup of YOU: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

“We’ve used this book for Entrepreneurship Hour/Discussion to the delight of students, freshmen through PhD, for a number of semesters now. It is a fast read. Some of the concepts in this book will seem obvious and some will seem provocative. We encourage students to decide what information has value and impact on their own entrepreneurial journey.” – Christine Gordon, Curriculum and Experiential Learning Assistant Director 

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

“The central theme of this book is about how a technology gets adopted into the market (the classic technology adoption cycle bell curve).  A deep “chasm” exists between early adopters (tech enthusiasts and visionaries)and the mainstream market. This book gives actionable strategies to cross the “chasm” by creating a whole product. That said, these strategies are very much applicable even at early stage new product development – customer segmentation, selecting a beachhead (term coined in this book!), defining value proposition, user personas, identifying key partners and resources, creating a compelling elevator pitch.  Originally written in 1991 (ergo the dated case studies), the strategies still ring true and have been ingrained in business development frameworks. Although the book is typically shelved with marketing, I think anybody considering a career in product development, sales, marketing in tech should definitely consider reading this book.” – Divya Patil, Technology Development Specialist 

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

“I love this book because it completely changes your perspective on the importance of vulnerability in leadership and life in general. Courage requires vulnerability, as this book shows time and time again. The best part is that her work is based on rigorous academic research, not just her own experience. ‘When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.’” – Lora Stevens, Technology Acceleration Programs Manager 

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

“Legendary investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio lays down the principles that have been the cornerstone of his success at Bridgewater. Life and Work Principles.” – Hirak Parikh, Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Manager

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

“A full revised edition of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book on startups and entrepreneurship. As each new generation of entrepreneurs emerges, there is a renewed interest in how venture capital deals come together.” – Nick Moroz, Assistant Director of Entrepreneurial Practice   

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

“The title says it all –  consideration for one’s approach to interactions with people. Along a similar vein, anything by Malcolm Gladwell!” – Christine Gordon, Curriculum and Experiential Learning Assistant Director 

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

“And what makes online content go viral? This book has great examples and actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share. For those looking to spread their ideas or get them noticed, this is an excellent read.” – Nick Gallo, Marketing and Communications Manager  

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

“Interesting history of the commonest household spice.” – Hirak Parikh, Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Manager