This is the second part of my reflecting on the following quote:
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
In part 1 I talked about five people I’ve met in the past five years that have impacted me. Here are five books I’ve read in the past five years that have impacted me.
1. CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Andy Budd, Cameron Moll, Simon Collison
In my last job I worked for a bank and integrated systems for the different departments I supported (Human Resources, Wire transfer, Recovery). The software I supported was a hodgepodge of random home-grown systems and purchased software. The languages used ranged from MS FoxPro, C#, shell programming, and perl. I knew I didn’t want to continue working in IT departments forever since they are not usually profit centers for companies and are treated like overhead. This book was my first step toward learning how to build things for the web.
2. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Like many people I was challenged and inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book. He introduced concepts that have reshaped my thinking. Nobody I knew was taking about things like geo-arbitrage, location independence, nouveau-riche (being time rich), and life automation. Before I read the book my target and life path was something totally different than it is today. I used to want a normal job, annual raises, and vacation time. Now I want to own businesses that produce revenue, have the ability to live anywhere in the world, and be with my family all the time.
3. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
This book continued to alter my thinking away from the “live someone else’s life plan” to “make your own life recipe and go for it.” Chris talks about things like “Setting The Terms of Your Unconventional Life” and redefining security. His book changed my thinking from finding security in a job to finding security in my own skills and abilities (there is a faith element to security too). The book encourages a contrarian view of doing anything that is imposed on you by someone else. Take a step back and evaluate why you are doing something, then figure out what you really want to be doing and go do that.
4. Quitter by Jon Acuff
When I read “Quitter” I felt like I was reading the anti-story of my past five years. In the book Jon Acuff tells a story of his own path from “day job” to “dream job”. He encourages people to keep a job they can “fall into like” with while they hustle on nights and weekends building their dream job. That way when they leave their job they are able to quit well. Looking back on my story I quit my bank job way too early. If I had it to do over again I would have waited at least another year doing my day job and working my web business on the side. I also wouldn’t have quit my day job until we were debt free with a sizeable emergency fund. Quitting too early we invited stress, risk, and instability into our lives. Jon’s book is a very good resource for anyone who wants to build a dream job and needs a vision of how to go about doing it.
5. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
EntreLeadership is a book based on a week-long in-person training seminar that Dave Ramsey offers. The course is cost prohibitive for me so I was glad that the book was published so I could learn some of the information offered in the course. The book is a fantastic read for anyone that owns a small business. It covers several aspects of business from hiring/firing, getting office space, building a team culture, marketing and selling. The most impactful part of the book for me was a section called “Product Lifecycle” where he talked about the different phases of selling a product. His example was with books he authored, but the concepts were applicable to software. The section helped me think of the software I build as products that will go through different cycles of Introduction, Growth, Strenght, and Decline. This mindest helped me to transition from offering client services that don’t scale to products that scale very well.
How about you? Looking back over the past 5 years of your life who are the 5 people or books that have changed you?