Every now and again there is a shift in what we consider great leadership. Biographies and autobiographies give us terrific insight into the minds of these leading individuals and there seems to be a shift as to which biographies are trending. It’s no longer mainly saturated with business giants, the biography genre is more balanced and uses athletes, small business owners, musicians to help us in our own lives. Understanding what athletes face on the sporting field can be applied to many businesses, acknowledging the grit required for a start-up is eye opening, and challenging an entire industry can lead to extraordinary results and a new normal. We have found six inspiring stories that are jam packed with lessons that you can transfer to your career and business.
Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter by Curtis Jackson
For the first time, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson opens up about his amazing comeback from tragic personal loss to thriving businessman and cable’s highest paid executive. In this unique self-help guide, his first since his blockbuster New York Times bestseller The 50th Law.
In his early twenties Curtis Jackson, known as 50 Cent rose to the heights of fame and power in the cutthroat music business. A decade ago the multi-platinum selling rap artist decided to pivot. His ability to adapt to change was demonstrated when he became the executive producer and star of Power, a high-octane, gripping crime drama centred around a drug kingpin’s family. The series quickly became “appointment” television, leading to Jackson inking a four-year, $150 million contract with the Starz network, the most lucrative deal in premium cable history. Now, in his most personal book, Jackson shakes up the self-help category with his unique, cutting-edge lessons and hard-earned advice on embracing change. Where The 50th Law tells readers “fear nothing and you shall succeed,” Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter builds on this message, combining it with Jackson’s street smarts and hard-learned corporate savvy to help readers successfully achieve their own comeback, and to learn to flow with the changes that disrupt their own lives.
That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph
This is the incredible untold story of how Netflix went from concept to company.
Once upon a time, brick-and-mortar video stores were king. Late fees were ubiquitous, video streaming unheard of, and widespread DVD adoption seemed about as imminent as flying cars. These were the widely accepted laws of the land in 1997, when Marc Randolph had an idea.
It was a simple thought, leveraging the internet to rent movies, and was just one of many more proposals, like personalised baseball bats and a shampoo delivery service, that Randolph would pitch to his business partner, Reed Hastings, on their commute to work each morning.
But Hastings was intrigued, and the pair, with Hastings as the primary investor and Randolph as the CEO, founded a company. Now with over 150 million subscribers, Netflix’s triumph feels inevitable, but the 21st century’s most disruptive start-up began with few believers and calamity at every turn. From having to pitch his own mother on being an early investor, to the motel conference room that served as a first office, to server crashes on launch day, to the now-infamous meeting when they pitched Blockbuster to acquire them, Marc Randolph’s transformational journey exemplifies how anyone with grit, gut instincts and determination can change the world, even with an idea that many think will never work.
What emerges, however, isn’t just the inside story of one of the world’s most iconic companies. Full of counterintuitive concepts and written in binge-worthy prose, it answers some of our most fundamental questions about taking that leap of faith in business or in life: How do you begin? How do you weather disappointment and failure? How do you deal with success? What even is success? From idea generation to team building to knowing when it’s time to let go, That Will Never Work is not only the ultimate follow-your-dreams parable but also one of the most dramatic and insightful entrepreneurial stories of our time.
What It Takes by Raegan Moya-Jones
This book is set to inspire many business ideas. I loved it and read it in a day and it is the perfect read while staying safe at home.
When Raegan Moya-Jones was told by her overbearing male boss that she didn’t have an ‘entrepreneurial bone’ in her whole body, she almost laughed in his face. What he didn’t know was that the business she’d been secretly working on in the small hours of the night after putting her baby to bed had just hit a revenue of $1 million. Today, aden + anais, the swaddling blanket and baby goods company Moya-Jones founded is a global, multi-million dollar franchise and one that Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge loyally support. In this clever, relatable and iconoclastic success story, Moya-Jones busts every myth and misconception about women in business and argues that women should embrace the attributes that set them apart from men. Blanket conventions and perceived barriers attached to the female entrepreneur can be transformed into assets and profit – all you have to do is take the leap.
Quirky by Melissa Schilling
From historical figures such as Marie Curie to contemporaries such as Steve Jobs, a handful of innovators have changed the world. What made them so spectacularly inventive? Melissa A. Schilling, one of the world’s leading experts on innovation, looks at the lives of seven creative geniuses; Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Elon Musk, Dean Kamen, Nicola Tesla, Curie, and Jobs to identify the traits and quirks that led them to become breakthrough innovators.
Though all innovators possess incredible intellect, intellect alone does not create a serial innovator. There are other very strong commonalities: for instance, nearly all exhibit very high levels of social detachment. They all have extreme, almost maniacal, faith in their ability to overcome obstacles. And they have a passionate idealism that pushes them to work with intensity even in the face of criticism or failure. These individual traits would be unlikely to work in isolation being unconventional without having high levels of confidence and direction, for example, might result in rebellious behaviour that does not lead to meaningful innovation.
Schilling reveals the science behind the convergence of traits that increases the likelihood of success, and shows us how to nurture and facilitate breakthrough innovation in our own lives.
We Are The Nerds by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
We Are The Nerds is a riveting look deep inside the legendary rise of message-board start-up Reddit; its controversies, its struggle for profitability, and the way its unique platform has changed the culture of the Internet. Reddit hails itself as ‘the front page of the Internet’. It is the fourth most-visited website in the UK and USA, whose army of highly engaged (obsessed even) users have been credited with everything from solving cold case crimes to seeding alt-right fury and helping to land Donald Trump in the White House.
We Are The Nerds is the gripping tale of how Reddit’s founders, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, met as two idealistic young men at the University of Virginia in 2001, with the common goal of creating something that would make a mark on the world. Within a few years they had become millionaires and created an icon of the digital age, before seeing the site engulfed in controversies and nearly losing control of it for good. This is the story of Alexis and Steve losing grasp of the beast they created, as it lurched out of their control and morphed into an untameable creature, and their return to try to tame that beast. Based on Christine Lagorio’s unprecedented and exclusive access to founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, We Are The Nerds is also a compelling exploration of the way we all communicate today and how we got here. Reddit and its users have become a mirror of the Internet: it has dingy corners, shiny memes, malicious trolls, and a sometimes heart-melting ability to connect people across cultures, oceans, and ideological divides. The legend of Reddit embodies all the triumphs and challenges of the start-up age.
LeBron Inc. The Making of A Billion Dollar Athlete by Brian Windhorst
With eight straight trips to the NBA Finals, LeBron James has proven himself one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan before him, LeBron has also become a global brand and businessman who has altered the way professional athletes think about their value, maximise their leverage, and use their voice.
LeBron, Inc. tells the story of James’s journey down the path to becoming a billionaire sports icon – his successes, his failures, and the lessons both have taught him along the way. With plenty of news-making tidbits about his rollercoaster last season in Cleveland and high-profile move to the Lakers, LeBron, Inc. shows how James has changed the way most elite athletes manage their careers, and how he launched a movement among his peers that may last decades beyond his playing days.