Beachside business and entrepreneurship reads: recommended by Conrad professors

Ah, summer! It's the perfect time for busy students and startup founders to take a break and catch up on their reading. Looking for some inspiring entrepreneurship books for your next trip to the beach, the pool, or the park?

Conrad faculty members have got you covered with this list of their favourite business and entrepreneurship reads. 

The classics

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The Origin and Evolution of New Business, by Amar Bhide

Recommended by MBET professor Margaret Dalziel, who says:

This book is based on a study of companies that made the Inc. 500, a list of the fastest growing companies in the US. It explores what they have in common—most importantly, a pursuit of ambiguous opportunities—and their diversity. It's an excellent read for anyone who is prepared to believe that it's not all about apps.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship, by Peter Drucker

MBET professor Nada Basir says:

Imagine this: even though the book was written in 1985, Drucker correctly predicted an entrepreneurial economy based on the technology shifts of that time. He was a leader in management philosophy and effectiveness. His work has influenced and shaped key concepts around business, innovation, decision making, leadership, and productivity. It's a classic, but still relevant decades later.

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber 

Howard Armitage, founder of the Conrad Centre, recommends this title.

There are now scores of books on entrepreneurship. I have read many of them. However, I find myself often coming back to this little gem. This book precedes the lean canvas and similar contemporary publications, so if you are looking for this kind of insight, you won’t find it here. However, I keep seeing what Gerber describes in many of our entrepreneurial students. An understanding of the 'e-myths' can be very helpful.

Fresh takes

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How Breakthroughs Happen: The surprising truth about how companies innovate, by Andrew Hargadon

Nada says:

This book is what got me interested in the innovation process. Being “raised in the lab” as a molecular biology student, I had always envisioned breakthroughs happening by sole scientists working endlessly in their labs until that “eureka” moment. This book argues the complete opposite.

Hargadon spent over eight years researching how innovation happens. He found that connecting otherwise unconnected people and concepts is what leads to breakthroughs.

This is a great book because it delves into the infinite possibilities available when different industries, firms, and divisions come together, and when we take old ideas and explore how we can apply them in new ways.

Leadership is Half the Story, by Marc & Samantha Hurwitz​

MBET practucum leader and BET 310 professor Marc Hurwitz recommends adding this book to your leadership arsenal (and yes, he is the author). He says:  

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. But it's a strong leadership book and a very modern take on the topic. There are plenty of good books on leadership—both John Maxwell and Marshall Goldsmith have written a few—but this one is different. 

Getting to Maybe: How the world is changed, by Frances Westley, Michael Quinn Patton, and Brenda Zimmerman

This book is recommended by MBET Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence Allyson Hewitt. The author, Frances Westely, is also Chair of Social Innovation at the School of Environment, Enterprise & Development (SEED) at UWaterloo. 

This book applies the insights of complexity theory and the experiences of a wide range of social innovators towards a new framework for making change in communities, in business, and in the world.

For personal and professional development 

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Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

​Nada explains why she considers this a must-read for all business-minded students: 

This book has been primarily written for and marketed to a female audience, but it brings to surface a discussion and contains a wealth of research-backed information that men can appreciate as well. 

For women at the earlier stages of their career, the book provides advice for those who are still figuring out what they want, what they can handle, and how to get what they want. I don’t believe this advice is women-centric.  

I also think everyone can benefit from the book as it increases our awareness of the gender biases that do exist. Being a big fan of systems change, bringing men into the discussion is critical in addressing these biases. 

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey

Howard recommends this book. 

I found this a particularly important book, probably because it aligned well with my own value system. One of the best testimonials I can give is that I gave a copy to my son and daughter and insisted that they read it. It has assisted them, like it did me, in their transition from young adulthood to leadership positions.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

Marc says:

This is an oldie but goldy. It describes the way we ought to treat others, and work with them. I've had the chance to use the principles in the book many times and can attest to its value. The amazing thing is that, 80 years after first being published, it still well read and contains advice that anyone could and should use.

Further reading...

  • Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, by Roger Martin and Sally Osberg. Allyson Hewitt recommends this book as an excellent introduction to social entrepreneurship. 
  • The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. Management Consulting lecturer Jim Love considers this book mandatory reading for new companies. The book introduces the "minimum viable product" and other key concepts.
  • Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore. Jim recommends this book for those who want to learn about bringing disruptive products to market.

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