100 Big Ideas from 100 Books

Recently, I found myself reflecting on a handful of books that I had read in the past, and found that I could usually recall one big ideas and several smaller ones.

The lean startup triggers the idea of rapid experimentation to get to product-market fit, whereas Mating in Captivity triggers ideas of maintaining desire by engineering distance into a relationship.

I surveyed my bookcase (and Audible library) and took stock of the 100 most impactful books on my life. Below, I detail the 100 big ideas that first come to mind when I think of these books.

Hopefully some of you will find this useful.

As the UFC’s glittering ring announcer, Bruce Buffer, likes to say… here we go!

Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss

Be effective instead of efficient, validate your business ideas and charge a premium for your services.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari

The three biggest threats to humanity are: technology, nuclear and environment

Why We Sleep, Matt Walker

8 hours of sleep is critical to ongoing performance and mental health. Sleeping 7 hours a night is like pulling an all nighter once a week, in terms of the toll on your body.

Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Before you think about what you do, or how you do it, be clear about your why. As Nietzsche said, “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how”.

Drive, Dan Pink

Once fair pay is taken care of, what employees need most to motivate them isn’t more external rewards, but intrinsic motivators such as mastery, autonomy and purpose.

Employee to Entrepreneur, Steve Glaveski

Avoid analysis paralysis or jumping to conclusions by testing your assumptions fast. (shameless 🔌)

The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

The startups that build, measure, learn and adapt the fastest…win.

The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

Don’t assume, and don’t take things personally.

The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

All you have is the present moment. Be present.

The Future is Asian, Parag Khanna

The majority of the world population is Asians in Asia, and Asia (not just China) is poised to become the new economic, political and technological heartland of the world.

Buy Then Build, Walker Deibel

Acquisition entrepreneurship presents huge opportunities. 90% succeed, compared with building a business from scratch where less than 10% succeed.

Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel

To maintain desire and intimacy in a relationship, you must engineer distance and separateness into it.

The Prince, Machiavelli

To succeed, you must proceed with the times.

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Happiness is the achievement of your values.

Mind-Gut Connection, Emeran Mayer

We have 10 times more in our gut to our heads.

Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche

When you fight with monsters, be careful that you don’t become a monster.

New Power, Jeremy Heimans

In the digital economy, it’s about open instead of closed, collaborative instead of combative.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Seek first to understand people, then to be understood.

Behave, Robert Sapolsky

We are a byproduct of genetics, fetal conditioning, upbringing, past experience, current environment, and therefore, only have so much agency over our decisions.

Getting to Yes, William Ury

Every no gets you closer to a yes. Use objections to guide you.

80/20 Sales and Marketing, Perry Marshall

Focus on the 20% of customers, tasks, marketing channels and so on that will generate 80% of the value.

Lost and Founder, Rand Fishkin

Don’t sacrifice your personal health for your business. Oh, and taking on VC money doesn’t make you rich — it makes you a bet. A bet that you’re likely to lose. If you want to make money, it’s far easier to do so with a service based business.

The Truth about Relationships, Neil Strauss

Youve got to build a healthy relationship with yourself to let go of the past and build a healthy relationship with others.

Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff

In order to successfully win a deal when pitching, controlling the frame is key.

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Systems one thinking is gut reaction, systems two is deliberate. Engineer more distance between you and your response, where possible, and use more deliberate systems two thinking.

The Odyssey, Homer


The Iliad, Homer

Find an unconventional way to your goal, a trojan horse if you will.

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch.

Superintelligence, Nick Bostrom

Artificial superintelligence (more intelligent than the human collective) comes to be, it will quickly surpass anything we can imagine, because we aren’t superintelligent and therefore it is almost impossible for us to pontificate about what ASI might be or do. This is why keeping the genie in the bottle, and managing the risks associated with AI, are key to human flourishing.

The Republic, Plato

In the best of all States, the wisest should rule.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen

Large companies get outcompeted by small startups because they aren’t incentivised to pursue small markets until it is too late, and the small markets have become the primary market.

Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely

We are far less rational than we think. Hidden forces are at play — often evolutionary ones — but being aware of them can help us stay on top of our finances, interact better with others and live happier lives.

Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari

Humans will become Gods with mastery over our environment and ability to create and destroy life. This is in large part thanks to our merging with technology.

The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

The more you do something, the more it becomes habit.

Atomic Habits, James Clear

Start with the smallest possible act. Eg. working out fo 2 minutes a day, instead of 60 minutes.

Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins

Belief = Action = Result

Factfulness, Hans Rosling

We are living in the best times ever, insofar as healthcare, education, crime, war and general living conditions and prosperity are concerned.

Change by Design, Tim Brown

Design thinking encourages us to take an integrative approach to innovation. This approach combines three overlapping spaces; inspiration, ideation and implementation.

Grit, Angela Duckworth

Grit, persistence, passion, perseverence….whatever you want to call it — this is a stronger predictor of high-achievement than intelligence, talent, genius or education.

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

In order to achieve mastery, 10,000 hours of effort are required. *note: this has since been challenged quite convincingly

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

Once an idea reaches the point of critical mass, it’s viral qualities become unstoppable.

The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman

You can learn more by going out and starting a business than you can by investing in an MBA. And it’s cheaper too.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson

You control how you choose to interpret and respond to what happens to you.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki

Pay yourself first, and put your money into income producing assets

The Messy Middle, Scott Belsky

When it comes to business, starting up is easy, staying up is not. To play the long game, give yourself small rewards and manufacture milestones.

Running Lean, Ash Maurya

Your product is more than your solution, it is all of the building blocks of a business model combined.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

Be proactive.

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking

Theories can never be proven.

48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene

Too many people go through life living a false purpose, buoyed on by society or convention, at the expense of their own potential and fulfilment.

The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene

If your opponents are never sure what messing with you will cost, they will not want to find out. Be unpredictable.

Unshakeable, Tony Robbins

Bear markets and crashes are a cyclical event. As are recoveries. Over the longterm, markets trend upwards, and by investing in low fee index funds, providing you keep your money invested over the long term, you will come out on top and outperform fund managers. A low cost, low fuss way to invest in your financial future.

Letters from a Stoic, Seneca

He who is content with what he has is rich. He who always yearns for more is poor.

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

You have control over your mind, not external events. Realize this and you will find strength.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Sometimes you need to go on a journey to see the treasure at your feet.

Creativity Inc, Ed Catmull

When it comes to the creative process, set up a brains trust of believeable people to share critically honest feedback, with no fear of reprisals. Don’t be afraid to throw out the script half way through if it means the outcome will be significantly better the forth time around.

Quiet, Susan Cain

Contrary to popular opinion, introverts don’t have something wrong with them, and their insular nature can and has offered distinct advantages when it comes to innovation and leadership.

Principles, Ray Dalio

Document your decision-making process, build a meritocracy and always practice radical transparency.

Radical Candor, Kim Scott

By engineering radical candor into your organization, problems are resolved quicker, and people and the organization move forward faster.

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Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore

About 2.5% of product adopters are innovators, 12.5% early adopters. The rest — early majority, late majority and laggards, require crossing the chasm to acquire.

David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell

The gap between Davids and Goliaths is often set early. Early success begets more opportunity begets more success and a widening of the gap between haves and have nots. This is why hockey players born in the first quarter of the year feature prominently in national teams. They are picked for the A-team at a young age because they are older and therefore bigger. They then tap into better coaching and the snowball effect kicks in.

Built to Last, Jim Collins

Key idea: most of the companies profiled in this book went bankrupt, so it’s best not to share its lessons. Narrative fallacy warning.

Leaders, Stanley McChrystal

Leadership can’t be boiled down to a set of character attributes; because leadership is contextual, and what works in one set of circumstances won’t necessarily work in another

Good to Great, Jim Collins

To go from a good organization to a great one you need disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action.

Transformed, Remi Adeleke

Persistence alone is omnipotent. When people are counting on you, don’t let them down.

The Rise of Superman, Steven Kotler

The flow state can help us become up to five times more productive.

Trillion Dollar Coach, Eric Schmidt

Your title makes you a manager. Your people make you a leader.

Sprint, Jake Knapp

You can design solutions to business problems in just five days of rapid experimentation.

Endure, Alex Hutchinson

We can physically endure for much longer than our brains tell us we can.

Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg

Purpose is the world’s greatest performance enhancer.

Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday

Your ego doesn’t want to get hurt, so it prevents you from doing the things you need to do to get ahead.

Growth Hacker Marketing, Ryan Holiday

Get your product-market fit right, and then growth hack through rapid testing, learning and iterating on your marketing strategies.

The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin

You are either an upholder, obliger, questioner or rebel. In entrepreneurship, an upholder/obliger duo works well.

Free Will, Sam Harris

We don’t have free will. Your decision to pick up a book, for example, in order to improve your life, was a predisposed one based on biology, upbringing, past experience and so on.

Powerful, Patty McCord

To build high performing cultures like Netflix’s, trust is key. With trust, you can keep process only to what’s required, which supports, speed, innovation and motivation.

The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells

Coastal cities around the world will all be flooded by the end of the century if we don’t get our shit together.

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work, Jason Fried

It’s just not true that if you work longer hours, you get more done. Organizations should strive to support asynchronous communication, and deep work as a result. 8 hours a day is all it should take, and that includes breaks.

Originals, Adam Grant

It’s not always a case of hell yeah or no, some of the world’s best entrepreneurs have hedged — including Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak.

Thinking in Bets, Annie Duke

We tend to wrongly associate an outcome with a decision — this is referred to as resulting. But a decision could be the result of many factors, including luck. What matters, is the process.

The Courage to be Disliked, Fumitake Koga

The story you tell yourself about your life dictates your behaviour. Change your stories.

The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi

When you know the way, you will see it in all things.

Irresistible, Adam Alter

Smartphone addictions are like smoking, and 40% of us are addicted.

Hooked, Nir Eyal

Today’s apps use triggers, variable rewards and investment to mimic the dopamine release of slot machines, exploit a vulnerability in human psychology and keep us hooked to our devices.

Traction, Gabriel Weinberg

There are 19 marketing channels you can explore, and you should spend 50% of your time on marketing when growing a business — the other 50% on product. Get just one channel to work and you’ve got a winning channel.

12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson

Clean your room. How will you change the world if you can’t change your own quarters?

Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss

Watch out for the counterfeit yes — when a prospect says yes because it’s easier than telling you no, but then goes missing. Use active listening and empathy to decode a prospect before they disappear.

Deep Work, Cal Newport

Deep work is another word for ‘the zone’, and we can only really get into the zone for about four hours a day. Fortunately,that’s all it takes, but in a connected world and in bureaucratiuc organizations, getting into deep work for just four hours can be incredibly challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.

Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink

No matter the cause. Take ownership. Full ownership. This empowers you to find a solution. Playing the victim card or passing the buck does you no good.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell

Leadership isn’t about titles, charisma or qualifications — it is about influencing others and facilitating outcomes.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Resistance is that little voice in your head urging you not to do that difficult thing. But it can be your friend, if you learn to listen to it as a guide and overcome it.

The Art of War, Sun Tzu

He who knows his enemies, and himself, will win in almost every battle.

The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross

There will be no room for mediocrity in an AI-world.

The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly

We will all be eternal newbies in a world where things are always changing. As such, the number one skill you must learn is adaptability.

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

Happiness is not to be pursued. It must ensue.

The Blockchain Revolution, Don Tapscott

Blockchain goes far beyond bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and can fundamentally transform almost every industry.

SCRUM, Jeff Sutherland

Measure happiness, Happiness is a leading indicator of future performance.

The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort

If you want to get people to be loyal to your company, encourage them to live large and take out huge loans, so that they couldn’t quit — even if they wanted to.

Zero to One, Peter Thiel

The last mover can win, by taking on the lessons of the first movers. Just look at Facebook. Also, what’s one thing you believe in that everybody disagrees with?

The Intelligent Investor, Ben Graham

Buy when everyone is selling. Sell when everyone is buying.

Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman

The ability to monitor your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and label them correctly, can guide you to behaviors the lead to far better outcomes in your personal and professional life.

The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz

You are either a satisficer or a maximizer. Satisficers are content with ‘good enough’ outcome whereas maximizers optimize for the best possible outcome. While maximizers tend to, on average, pick the better option, they are never happy or content as a result — as they are always comparing and on the lookout for better. Satisficers, on the other hand, who pick and commit end up significantly happier and content. As Lao Tzu said, the content man is rich.

September 8, 2019




Steve Glaveski


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