The Spinoff Business Book Club assembles

The Spinoff Business Book Club’s essential summer reading guide

Want to be an entrepreneur/innovator/generally smarter person in 2018? We assembled some of the brightest minds in New Zealand’s business landscape today to ask them for their favourite page-turners to savour over the summer break. 

Kendall Flutey, Banqer

Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus

“Not a business book, but this adult storybook really speaks to the journey I feel like I’ve taken co-founding a start-up. Through two caterpillars, it elicits the reader to question the linear path that so many of us take: school, university, corporation. When I initially left my job as an accountant with no real plans, I found small refuge in this book. I feel it would resonate with anyone who decided to live life more unconventionally — something inherent to entrepreneurship.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“Personally, I feel like this book should be compulsory to anyone in business. The lessons derived from this book may not present themselves as business tools, but I find the struggle in entrepreneurship is often more personal. Developing skills like dedication, motivation, and resilience, this book speaks to all of those. Personally, I also think that it helped me decipher what I really wanted from life and how to align that with my efforts in business.”

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

“I love biographies and I feel this is the most relevant biography right now. Elon is significantly impacting the trajectory of humankind and to get a glimpse into both his childhood and his early career is fascinating. Albeit on a smaller scale, entrepreneurs will be able to draw parallels between Elon’s actions and those they’ve made along their personal journey.”

Alexia Hilbertidou, Girlboss

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif.

“This is an intimate memoir of a devout Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, who leads the campaign to allow women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Manal’s gripping, heart wrenching story inspires me to continue my work as an activist and entrepreneur, working for the betterment of women worldwide.”

Craig Hudson, Xero 

Legacy by James Kerr

“Taking lessons from the most successful sporting team in the world and learning how we can apply them to business life is fantastic for me. James shadowed the All Blacks for 12 months and talks about 15 practical lessons that we can apply [to our own lives] to drive culture and high performance. It’s so much more than just a rugby book. For managers and leaders this is a great gift to start the New Year on fire with your teams.”

Anna Guenther, PledgeMe

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

“This book proves that in business (and in life), givers come out ahead. Adam Grant is a business professor who provides anecdotes and academic research to back up his hypothesis, and shares stories from American presidents through to business leaders. He also provides some tips on how to do giving well. This is my most recommended book ever.”

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

“This was Adam Grant’s second book and it talks about how you start something truly original. Again, he provides a mix of stories and stats, reexamining some deep-seeded assumptions we have about entrepreneurship (and proves them wrong).”

Sian Simpson, Kiwi Landing Pad

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J Stanley

“I find it relatively hard to concentrate on a full novel these days, but these are pretty good. As much of my role and career is centered around being a dot connector and growing communities, I found the first three pretty useful for this. The Millionaire Next Door is a great read for anyone who wants to put their finances into perspective and cast a transparent lens on the world we live in, especially the next generation. I think it offers not only a window into some good and terrible financial practices, but also a platform to decide where you fit.”

The Spinoff Business Book Club

Nick Hill, Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED)

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida

“Richard Florida was one of the first writers to talk about the importance of the creative class and the role they play in the creation of cities. In this book, he explains how globalisation has created disparity in cities and presents the argument for inclusive growth. This disparity is a challenge facing cities all over the world. It’s an area I’m really interested in and something I think is really important for Auckland to tackle.”

Kirk Hope, Business NZ

Innovate! by Richard Bentley

“A review of technology-based business sectors in New Zealand and the challenges they face, along with recommendations for how we review our innovation system to make New Zealand business more competitive.”

Rebooting the Regions: Why Low or Zero Growth Needn’t Mean the End of Prosperity edited by Paul Spoonley

“A collection of essays on issues facing regional New Zealand, the drivers of those challenges and what might be done about it from a policy perspective.”

Globalisation and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz

“Released after the GFC challenging a lot of the sacred cows of modern global capitalism. I don’t agree with some of it, but Stiglitz is powerful and his critique of the status quo has been influential.”

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

“Speaks for itself really. Brilliantly written description of how some people made lots of money by shorting mortgage securities in the days prior to the GFC.”

In Love With These Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records by Roger Shepherd

“It’s not really about business, but it’s a book about taking risks, finding a niche and being globally competitive in a saturated market (ie: New Zealand music).  I like it because it’s basically a rock n roll (or more aptly put, an alt-pop) business book with great anecdotes about some of our most enduring music from that time. But more than that, it’s a survival guide (or not) for establishing a business that becomes a movement. Lots of lessons on things like how your business model can be disrupted by technology (even then), why local manufacturing matters (record presses), and what can happen when lines are blurred between personal and business relationships and how that can go wrong. This book has it all, peppered with stories about the special people, bands, songs and albums that helped define a distinctive New Zealand voice in a generation of post-punk music.”


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