Reid Hoffman Book Recommendations
For many reasons, billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman and books simply go hand in hand, whether we’re talking his favorite business classics or soul-stirring texts.
“All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA, and creation is the essence of entrepreneurship,” he wrote in The Startup of You.
Reading has clearly played a profound role in shaping him as a person, and furthermore, this favorite educational activity of his must have had something to do with the spirited – and rewarding for that matter – approach he takes to life.
Therefore, in order to get to the bottom of what inspired a most capable individual to the heights of financial prosperity, we’ve compiled this list of 20 inspirational books Reid Hoffman has read himself and would certainly recommend to others as well.
Measure What Matters by John Doerr
In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up whom he’d just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They’d have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress – to measure what mattered.
Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results.In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “whether you’re a seasoned CEO or a first-time entrepreneur, you’ll find valuable lessons, tools, and inspiration in the pages of Measure What Matters. I’m glad John invested the time to share these ideas with the world.”
New Power by Jeremy Heimans
Why do some leap ahead while others fall behind in our chaotic, connected age? In New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms confront the biggest stories of our time – the rise of mega-platforms like Facebook and Uber; the out-of-nowhere victories of Obama and Trump; the unexpected emergence of movements like #MeToo – and reveal what’s really behind them: the rise of “new power.”
For most of human history, the rules of power were clear: power was something to be seized and then jealously guarded. This “old power” was out of reach for the vast majority of people. But our ubiquitous connectivity makes possible a different kind of power. “New power” is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It works like a current, not a currency – and it is most forceful when it surges. The battle between old and new power is determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “the networked age has revolutionized the way the public engages with institutions and organizations. New Power is an essential and extremely insightful guide for anyone who wants to maximize the opportunities for progress and impact in today’s new tightly connected world.”
Conscious Business by Fred Kofman
Consciousness is the main source of organizational greatness. Conscious business, explains Fred Kofman, means finding your passion and expressing your essential values through your work. A conscious business seeks to promote the intelligent pursuit of happiness in all its stakeholders. It produces sustainable, exceptional performance through the solidarity of its community and the dignity of each member.
Source: “[The author’s] whole kind of thread is to say actually in fact, how you can express business and capitalism as a spiritual practice of compassion,” Hoffman said while on The Time Ferriss Show.
Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan
Within each corporation are anywhere from a few to hundreds of separate tribes. In Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright demonstrate how these tribes develop – and show you how to assess them and lead them to maximize productivity and growth. A business management book like no other, this gem is an essential tool to help managers and business leaders take better control of their organizations by utilizing the unique characteristics of the tribes that exist within.
Source: “Tribal Leadership presents a clear road map for the new reality of managing organizations, careers, and life,” Hoffman writes. “It explains what to do in a world where every professional will have an electronic shingle on the internet to create a vibrant, active, network.”
Essentialism by Greg Mckeown
Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.
By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.
Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “entrepreneurs succeed when they say ‘yes’ to the right project, at the right time, in the right way. To accomplish this, they have to be good at saying ‘no’ to all their other ideas. Essentialism offers concise and eloquent advice on how to determine what you care about most, and how to apply your energies in ways that ultimately bring you the greatest rewards.”
The Inner Lives of Markets by Ray Fisman
The past twenty-five years have witnessed a remarkable shift in how we get the stuff we want. If you’ve ever owned a business, rented an apartment, or shopped online, you’ve had a front-row seat for this revolution-in-progress. Breakthrough companies like Amazon and Uber have disrupted the old ways and made the economy work better – all thanks to technology.
At least that’s how the story of the modern economy is usually told. But in this lucid, wry book, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan show that the revolution is bigger than tech: it is really a story about the transformation of markets. From the auction theories that power Google’s ad sales algorithms to the models that online retailers use to prevent internet fraud, even the most high-tech modern businesses are empowered by theory first envisioned by economists.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “this book is essential reading for any non-economist who wants to understand how markets shape our world, including transformational marketplaces like Amazon, Airbnb, and eBay.”
High Growth Handbook by Elad Gil
Global technology executive, serial entrepreneur, and angel investor Elad Gil has worked with high-growth tech companies including Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Stripe, and Square as they’ve grown from small organizations to global enterprises.
Across all of these breakout companies, Gil has identified a set of common patterns and has created an accessible playbook, which he has now codified in High Growth Handbook.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “if you want the chance to turn your startup into the next Google or Twitter, then read this trenchant guide from someone who played key roles in the growth of these companies.”
The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher
In under a decade, Airbnb became the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry – and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott. Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members in its “host” community and the travelers they shelter every night.
Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher explores the success of Airbnb, along with the more controversial side of its story. Regulators want to curb its rapid expansion; hotel industry leaders wrestle with the disruption it has caused them; and residents and customers alike struggle with the unintended consequences of opening up private homes for public consumption.
This is also the first in-depth study of Airbnb’s leader, Brian Chesky, the quirky and curious young CEO, as he steers the company into new markets and increasingly uncharted waters.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “Gallagher captures the remarkable journey of Airbnb exceedingly well; she takes readers from its earliest and scrappiest days through becoming an enduring company with a brand beloved by millions around the world.”
Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang
As the Founder and CEO of Venture for America, Andrew Yang places top college graduates in start-ups for two years in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. He knows firsthand how our current view of education is broken. Many college graduates aspire to finance, consulting, law school, grad school, or medical school out of a vague desire for additional status and progress rather than from a genuine passion or fit.
In Smart People Should Build Things, this self-described “recovering lawyer” and entrepreneur weaves together a compelling narrative of success stories (including his own), offering observations about the flow of talent in the United States and explanations of why current trends are leading to economic distress and cultural decline. He also presents recommendations for both policy makers and job seekers to make entrepreneurship more realistic and achievable.
Source: Hoffman mentioned the book in a tweet, adding it’s “about entrepreneurship for young people.”
The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo
The Seventh Sense is the story of what all of today’s successful figures see and feel: the forces that are invisible to most of us but explain everything from explosive technological change to uneasy political ripples.
The secret to power now is understanding our new age of networks. Not merely the Internet, but also webs of trade, finance, and even DNA. Based on his years of advising generals, CEOs, and politicians, Ramo takes us into the opaque heart of our world’s rapidly connected systems and teaches us what the losers are not yet seeing – and what the victors of this age already know.
Source: One of the select books Reid Hoffman has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “to understand the tsunami of the networked age, you need history, biography, tech, philosophy, politics – and you want a book that has a depth beyond whatever else you could be streaming, podcasting, or wiki-ing. This is that book.”
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution – a #1 international bestseller – that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”
From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?
Source: Hoffman describes this book as “a grand theory of humanity.”
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
Source: Listed among the books Reid Hoffman told McKinsey he was reading.
Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie
In Alpha Girls, award-winning journalist Julian Guthrie takes readers behind the closed doors of venture capital, an industry that transforms economies and shapes how we live. She follows the lives and careers of four women who were largely written out of history – until now.
Source: “The story of four women who entered the tech industry to follow their dreams and managed through hard work and creativity to make those dreams come true,” Hoffman writes. “I’m glad Julian has written this book; we need to tell the success stories of women in tech.”
This Brave New World by Anja Manuel
In the next decade and a half, China and India will become two of the world’s indispensable powers – whether they rise peacefully or not. During that time, Asia will surpass the combined strength of North America and Europe in economic might, population size, and military spending. Both India and China will have vetoes over many international decisions, from climate change to global trade, human rights, and business standards.
From her front row view of this colossal shift, first at the State Department and now as an advisor to American business leaders, Anja Manuel escorts the reader on an intimate tour of the corridors of power in Delhi and Beijing. Her encounters with political and business leaders reveal how each country’s history and politics influences their conduct today.
Through vibrant stories, she reveals how each country is working to surmount enormous challenges – from the crushing poverty of Indian slum dwellers and Chinese factory workers, to outrageous corruption scandals, rotting rivers, unbreathable air, and managing their citizens’ discontent.
Source: Listed among the books Reid Hoffman told McKinsey he was reading.
More Human by Steve Hilton
People feel angry and let down by their leaders, as well as by the institutions that dominate their lives: political parties, government bureaucracy, and corporations. Yet the cause of this malaise, according to political advisor turned tech CEO Steve Hilton, is not being addressed by politicians on the left or the right.
Hilton argues that much of our daily experience – from the food we eat, to the governments we elect, to the economy on which our wealth depends, to the way we care for our health and well-being – has become too big, too bureaucratic, and too distant from the human scale. More Human sets out a radical manifesto for change, aimed at the root causes of our problems rather than just the symptoms.
Source: Listed among the books Reid Hoffman told McKinsey he was reading.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Source: The Hobbit belongs to the series Hoffman says he’s “most often read.”
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein
The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the dwarf; Legolas the elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider. J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume masterpiece is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale – a story of high and heroic adventure set in the unforgettable landscape of Middle-Earth.
Source: The Lord of the Rings is the series Hoffman says he’s “most often read.”
On Entrepreneurship and Startups by Harvard Business Review
If you read nothing else on entrepreneurship and startups, read these 10 articles by experts in the field. The team at Harvard Business Review has combed through hundreds of articles and selected the most important ones to help you build your company for enduring success.
This collection of articles includes “Blitzscaling,” an interview with Reid Hoffman by Tim Sullivan
Source: An interview with Reid Hoffman is featured in the book.
The Meaning Revolution by Fred Kofman
Fred Kofman’s approach to leadership has little to do with the standard practices taught in business school and traditional books. Bringing together economics and business theory, communications and conflict resolution, family counseling and mindfulness mediation, Kofman argues in The Meaning Revolution that our most deep-seated, unspoken, and universal anxiety stems from our fear that our life is being wasted – that the end of life will overtake us when our song is still unsung.
Material incentives – salary and benefits – account for perhaps 15 percent of employees’ motivation at work. The other 85 percent is driven by a need to belong, a feeling that what we do day in and day out makes a difference, that how we spend our time on earth serves a larger purpose beyond just ourselves.
Kofman claims that transcendental leaders, wherever they are in the hierarchy, are able to put aside their self-interests and help others to feel connected with others on a team or in an organization on a great mission and part of an ennobling purpose. He argues that every organization involved in work that is nonviolent and non-addictive has what he calls an “immortality project” at its core. And the challenge for leaders is to identify and expand on that core, to inspire all stakeholders to take part.
Source: One of the rare books Reid Hoffman has written a foreword for.
On Reinventing HR by Harvard Business Review
If you read nothing else on reinventing human resources, read these 10 articles. The team at Harvard Business Review has combed through hundreds of articles and selected the most important ones on how HR leaders can partner with the C-suite, drive change throughout the organization, and develop the workforce of the future.
This collection of articles includes “Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Contract,” by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh.”
Source: An article by Reid Hoffman is featured in the book.
If you enjoyed this guide to books Reid Hoffman recommends, be sure to check out our list of 20 Inspirational Books Steve Jobs Recommended Reading!