Best Books of 2017

2017 was a great year for us on all fronts. Tapzo’s business continued to grow from strength to strength and we are now on a very visible path to break even. We continued to deliver value to our existing partners and struck some very strategic banking partnerships.

We continue to believe that the best thing going for us is our hunger to learn and that keeps our noses buried, in books, of course. Hence we thought of sharing some of the books we enjoyed reading in 2017 (they could have been published earlier):

1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (5 stars)

What a story and how well told (makes you want to keep regular notes of your own life)! Favourite book of the year. Reinforced the belief that it pays to stay in the game and never give in. And reminded me of Ben Horowitz’s statement (paraphrasing): entrepreneurship is like playing 3D chess, there’s always a move!

2. Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark (4 stars)

While this book is not talked about a lot there was quite a lot of good stuff in it – the early days of Alibaba, the fight with e-Bay, relationship with Yahoo and Softbank and the controversies along the way. But the book doesn’t reveal much about Jack Ma’s personal working style.

3. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire… by Ashlee Vance (4 stars)

Great book though the last 1/4th of the book wasn’t very strong when it began sounding like PR for SpaceX. The chapter on “Pain, Suffering and Survival” about the worst time for Musk in 2008 is golden. Similar to Shoe Dog, the struggle to build a business is crazy.

4. The Unusual Billionaires by Saurabh Mukherjea (4 stars)

The book talks about: the story of Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Astral Poly etc. The best discovery was the IBAS framework by John Kay.

5. Principles by Ray Dalio (5 stars) 

One of the most successful hedge fund managers, Ray Dalio, shares his thought process and principles for living a successful life and building a great culture. His definition of a great culture – “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency” – really made me think hard about how to build such a culture at our company.

6.  Digital Bank: Strategies to launch or become a digital bank by Chris Skinner (4 stars)

The book talks about the growing influence of mobile, social media, analytics etc. and implications for banks. Skinner discusses the activities of some international banks like Barclays, mBank, FIDOR Bank. It was interesting to read how things like being data driven, iterative approach, customer first thinking which are common place in start-ups are differentiators for these banks.

7. Winning With Data by Tomasz Tunguz & Frank Bien (4 stars)

Data is great for all organizations because it doesn’t care about opinions. Big data has become a big topic in business, yet no one is asking the right questions. The most important part of the book in my opinion are the steps needed to take full advantage of data – most changes reside at the organizational level, not the product or tech level. It’s a must read if you want to make your organization data driven.

8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (5 stars)

After reading this book I felt that learning about the ways people (honestly and dishonestly) influence you is one of the best things to learn early in life. But it’s never too late. The book highlights six principles of persuasion (now referred to as Cialdini’s principles), which are most commonly and effectively are used to persuade people.

Which books did you like in 2017? Any recommendations for us?

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