After 50+ episodes of Crossing Borders, my podcast where I have conversations with entrepreneurs, investors and the people who support them with a focus on Latin America, I decided to go back and make a list of the books they’ve recommended the most. There were two books that stood out from the crowd, but be sure to check out some of the other gems below, from business, to history, to finance and fiction.
1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
“I love that book… I remembered the night before I was set to meet with a top tier VC. I woke up and threw up in the bathroom. In the book Ben is always throwing up. There is a problem, he throws up. He is constantly throwing up. And I remember thinking like oh this is what it feels like. And then like ten minutes later I throw up again and I realized it is probably food poisoning… It made me realize stress is part of the experience. That kind of ramp up and gear up is okay.”
“The single most important book I read. I still go back to that book… I realized I was going through a lot of the same things… The struggle is real and hearing someone else’s perspective allowed me to understand that I am not that alone.”
Jonathan Nelson, founder of Hackers/Founders put it this way:
“I love the first half of the book where he just talks about the misery of being a founder and that was in my mind very cathartic.”
Zero to One was the second most recommended book by Diego Saez Gil, Mayer Mizrachi and two others.
“This is an amazing book for anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur. It highlights the problems and the choices really closely.”
I recommend this book to most founders and many of the developers from the companies we support. Sean Park, cofounder of GroupRaise agrees:
“It just has to be read… It is just so helpful as a person to work side by side but also as a leader.”
“One of my favorite book of all times… It is really one of the best.”
“I didnt’t like Steve Jobs a lot before reading it. and I think it very useful to see all the creative process for building products that people want without them asking for it. ”
“There are some really great values in this book.”
“This book shows how startups go from early adopters to a larger majority of the population.”
“A really good book about how to take early adopters and innovators to the rest of the public.”
I love this book. We gave Spanish copies to many of our LPs and I recommend it to all of our Magma entrepreneurs when they’re starting to raise money.
GroupRaise’s Devin Baptiste called it “a really amazing resource. Really really useful,” and Jaguar Ventures’ Cristobal Perdomo said “I could honestly say that 99% of entrepreneurs and investors in Latin America have never read it and they would all benefit from doing it.”
I still remember reading this book and nodding in agreement. Codie Sanchez says “The 4 hour work week for me was one of the most poignant books. I was doing so many silly, ridiculous, unnecessary things that I considered “work” that were really just busy work and he helped me cut those out and focus on what matters.”
Kevin Valdez says, “GroupRaise ended up building a 50 person team in the Philippines that continues to grow. The idea initially came from the book.”
Cristobal Perdomo: ” I will also specially recommend this book. You know once you get the money you have to start thinking about putting the right team on the ground and getting people to follow your direction. This book really builds that.” It was also recommended by Nestor de Haro.
Brenna Loury: “It is about positioning your marketing in terms of your company values… being less feature focused and more value focused”
Codie Sanchez: “He was one of the first ones who I thought, ‘man, I can travel around the world for a living, I can make a lot of money doing it, and i can have some fun.'”
Jonathan Nelson: “A history of how money works. It is really really good. There was an economic history of the world since 1400 which was fascinating to me.”
Pierpaolo Barbieri: “I think that everybody that wants to innovate should read some financial history.”
Fabricio Bloisi, cofounder of Movile, Latin America’s mobile giant said: “It is a very well known book in Brazil… It is super inspiring because it shows how a few entrepreneurs created it and became a big part of a $300B global group.”
Fabricio recommended this book to me in 2016 and I highly recommend it to other entrepreneurs.
Diego Saez Gil: “He tells the story of how he built Nike. Great book.”
Pedro Neira, founder of Mi Media Manzana: “That simple book would have probably prevented me from making tons of mistakes and mostly prevented me from trying to apply everything I have learnt in a MBA to startup which is completely nonsense.”
Kevin Valdez, GroupRaise: “It is really foundational in terms of building beautiful experiences, and thinking through delighting and enchanting your customers and users. ”
David Lloyd, cofounder of The Intern Group: “The #1 book I recommend on teamwork which applies to both remote and physically present team is Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Team work is going to be a lot harder if you are remote and disperse. But it is a surmountable challenge. ”
Amir Salihefendic, founder Doist, a 100% bootstrapped company that makes Todoist and Twist: “If we look into the future all of the problems that face us are very very hard, you cant just fix them by thinking in one liners… the company that actually adopt all of these things will be much better suited than those who don’t. ”
Doist’s Brenna Loury: “This book has been really useful for me in terms of leadership, being more effective, giving feedback and communicating with my team members.”
Jaguar’s Cristobal Perdomo: “It is amazing consistency and how Jeff Bezos has had one visions from 21 years ago.”
Antonio Nunes, cofounder Mercadoni: “It is about history and understanding how humanity became to be what it is.”
Mak Gutierrez, founder Hackers/Founders Mexico: “This is completely different science fiction and showing us different world views… It is really amazing.”
I read this on Mak’s recommendation and loved it. He’s spot on about how it looks at science fiction from a non US/European perspective.
Jonathan Nelson: “… a really interesting book that changed how i thought… they examine job creation, startups and tech hubs. Out of every job that happens at a start up, there are five other service jobs. Service jobs would pop up… and we end up changing culture. ”
Alba Rodriguez: “Everybody can have economic freedom… And if you are in a good financial position you can help others more easily.”
Criptext’s Mayer Mizrachi, who launched his startup from a Colombian prison: “I read it when I was in prison. It was so close to the world of startups, of being little guys, how being little has that advantage… I was in that point in my life where I had fallen so far down that you can’t fall any deeper. So being the little guy or having been in a disadvantage I had the advantage. ”
Jonathan Nelson: “It is fascinating to think of it that Latin America might have been able to be a United States of Latin America but they didn’t end up working together as much as United States. But it was fascinating to look at all of the histories and you can kind of see in the culture of every country in Latin America where a lot of that just started from how the country started… I never learnt that even I grew up in Central America. ”
I recommended this book to multiple entrepreneurs, as I think it helps understand Latin America’s history: “Two books about what the world was like before Columbus came to the new world.”
27. Delivering Happiness – Tony Hseih and Rob Ten Pas
Sean Park: “When i wanted to build a culture, a lot of inspiration came from there”