Books have the power to transform lives and businesses. With our section “The favorite books of…” we inform you once in a while about the favorite books of some of the most successful Internet entrepreneurs. Today we’re looking at the bookshelf of Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk:
Jack Dorsey (Founder and CEO of Square): New employees at his company Square usually get a welcome kit which contains inter alia a book called The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. The premise of the book is that a simple checklist can help people manage complex situations.
On Tumblr he once quoted one of his favorite passages, which is about venture capitalists choosing which startups to invest in: “You would think that this would be whether the entrepreneur’s idea is actually a good one. But finding an idea is apparently not all that hard. Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is a different matter entirely. One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane. Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”
Elon Musk (Founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) told NPR that he enjoyed reading the Lord of the Rings series and that he has read the work of many philosophers. But one of his favorite books surprisingly is Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Glaxay, which he read while growing up.
Probably the most important takeaways Musk got from reading this book was that sometimes it’s harder to come up with the right question than to find the right answer. He once stated: “When we ask questions they come along with our biases. You should really ask, ‘Is this the right question?’ And that’s hard to figure out”.