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22 Best Books To Read About Startup Cultures

What exactly happens inside a startup? Read on.

America is the home of opportunities, the capitalistic environment it operates serves as a mechanism for countless individuals to try and test their luck in creating massive wealth. Some startups last for many years while others fizzle into bankruptcy in a couple of years, even months. Let’s examine the inner dynamics and social culture observed within startups by reading the 22 best books on startup cultures we’ve handpicked and listed here.

#1 Culture Your Culture by Karen Jaw-Madson

This is the much needed step-by-step how to for designing, implementing, and sustaining employee experiences and company culture. It also has relevance for company culture in general, culture change, and employee experience/engagement.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

Contributor: Karen Jaw-Madson from Design Of Work Experience

    #2 Upscale by James Silver

    It contains articles on recruitment, growth, sales etc with contributions by those who have scaled companies to the hundreds of millions in revenue. A core recurring theme in the book is about culture, how to integrate culture and how culture plays a part in scaling up a business, recruitment and integrating culture across the globe at international offices.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Craig Murphy from ALT Agency 

    #3 Brotopia by Emily Chang

    Despite the push to have more women involved in STEM fields, it’s a known fact that men are still the dominant presence in startups, and especially in Silicon Valley. This book by Emily Chang explores this male-heavy culture as well as how it affects women. Covering everything from discrimination to sexual harassment to flat-out sexism, reading this will open your eyes to the toxic culture that exists in some companies. However, the good news is that women are starting to stand up for themselves and demand change, and Chang explains just how this can be done.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Nate Masterson from Maple Holistics

    #4 Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin

    is by far the best start-up book I’ve come across to and I highly recommend reading it. The author opens up the harsh reality of startups and talks about his own journey in a very transparent and relatable way, offering genuinely useful advice. You will fall in love with the humorous, sincere and easy to digest writing style.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Ruta Puistomaa from LiquidBlox

    #5 Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

    It takes a birds-eye view of how biases are written into our everyday technology. The author aptly describes how girls and minority children often have a keen interest in tech but by the time they reach the job market, they're passed up for not being a good fit for the startup culture, which in turn contributes to myopic ideas that influence all levels of tech.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Renee M. Powers from Feminist Book Club Box

    #7 Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

    I think this book is very insightful and I will recommend whether you're an artist, manager, computer science history buff, a fan of Pixar or Disney, an aspiring animator or an entrepreneur, you'll get something great out of this book.

    Two important takeaways from this book are: -how to build a great, lasting culture -how to build a creative company

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Brett Helling from WhatsAByte

    #8 Fast company by Jon Bradshaw

    According to FastCompany, 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail. But many don't realize that those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. It can help entrepreneurs learn how to test their vision, adapt, and adjust before it's too late. The approach the author uses is scientific in nature and very innovative in manner. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in startup culture.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Brian Meiggs from My Millennial Guide

    #9 Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez

    This book provides an inside look into startup culture, its failures, and what it can offer to those who wish to overcome the chaos. Martinez is cynical about startup life unlike many who focus only on the positives of these small enterprises. The reader will learn about Martinez' work experiences including his time as a YC-backed founder and employment at Facebook. In addition, Martinez offers interesting rules and lessons for potential startup workers and entrepreneurs.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Nicolas Straut from Fundera

    #10 Getting Unstuck 101 by Serhat Pala

    It acts as a guidebook for people who want to get out of their corporate jobs and start their own business. It goes through the steps of preparing yourself for the transition, coming up with ideas, vetting your ideas so you end up with the right one, finding funding, hiring the right people, etc. It also has a chapter devoted to creating the best corporate culture for your startup.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Rob Swystun from RobSwystun

    #11 It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried

    It's not a manual but a manifesto. Startups are very susceptible to becoming cultural cesspools where no one leaves, smiles, or takes risks. Fried and Hansson have a ton of suggestions for how to create a culture that's as free of BS as possible, and they've tested all of them. Leave this on your bosses' desks.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Tyler Adams from TINYpulse

    #12 Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

    In this short book (less than 100 pages), Derek Sivers explains how he funded CD Baby before he sold it 10 years later for 22 million dollars. Sivers didn't have a business plan and he wasn't trying to become a billionaire when he created his startup. He just wanted to help people sell their CDs online. His philosophy and the advice he gives are very different from what people usually say on startup culture. You should read this book if you're looking for an alternative point of view on Silicon Valley.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Gregory Golinski from YourParkingSpace

    #13 Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

    I have read on start-up culture. It sounds silly, but it's a classic tale about a bunch of different people coming together in the hopes of capturing a mythical victory. It's also incredibly dense and hard to get through, at times stormy yet romantic—what better analogy for the life of an entrepreneur.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Marc Lewis from Remedy Review

    #14 The Everything Store by Brad Stone

    It shares the story of the brand that did the exact opposite. During a time when the future of the internet was an unknown, Jeff Bezos had the vision and brilliance to take a risk on what became not only one of the world's biggest brands, but a transformative influence on modern day shopping culture.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Karl Chorpa from Design 911

    #16 The C.A.S.H. Formula by WenFang Bruchett

    The author provides frameworks for entrepreneurs on tactics to establish, improve and maintain a sound credit file. Based on the insights into the banking world, the author shares the underwriting secrets as for how business loans are approved. This book also details creative ways to leverage assets to secure lending through powerful true stories.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: WenFang Bruchett from BlissFinance

    #17 The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

    A no nonsense look into the nitty gritty of what it takes to actually run a business. This fantastic book delves deep into a lot of the uncomfortable areas of owning a business and how to face those challenges and succeed. It has a wealth of advice from Ben Horowitz about owning and running a start-up along with all the wonderful stresses it brings along. It's a great book to get you thinking in the start-up mindset and can provide valuable insight into the difficult decisions you'll have to make as a leader.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Ben Currier from Excel Exposure

    #18 Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

    For a non-traditional approach to your business, I'd suggest checking out Rework. It details the success and challenges that 37Signals faced in their climb from an unknown start-up to a worldwide success known as Bandcamp. It has fantastic advice for how to remain productive and ahead of the competition, how to get renewed joy and perspective on your business, and many counter-intuitive ideas for how to make it in the business world. Valuable reading for anyone trying to make it on their own, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to start (or improve) upon their business achievements.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Ben Currier from Excel Exposure

    #19 People Over Profit by Dale Partridge

    Though this book is great for businesses of any size, it is an especially good read for entrepreneurs that are in the startup phase of designing their culture and what they stand for. Here are the big takeaways from the book: people matter, truth wins, transparency frees, authenticity attracts, quality speaks, generosity returns, and courage sustains.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Danielle Roberts from Boomer Benefits

    #20 Culture Infusion by Kerry Wekelo

    Starting a company should be synonymous with starting a positive thriving culture. This author (Kerry Wekelo) sets you up for this alignment with simple actionable tips and principles so that your startup starts up right! Culture Infusion merges the author’s philosophy of living a life of wellness with her corporate background to create a work environment that supports thriving employees, lower turnover rates, and a sought-after workplace. The book is based on personal experiences and includes mindful mind-expanding experiences as well as thoughtful self-reflective questions designed to move you and your new company forward. Startup grounded in principle.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Lori Lite from Actualize Consulting

    #21 Good To Great by Jim Collins

    Good to Great examines several stories of founders who took companies from good to extraordinary. One key takeaway is what Collins calls the flywheel effect. You can imagine success as a giant wheel. You push this wheel through consistent effort but don't notice any movement at first. Suddenly, it takes off, and the same level of effort that originally seemed to have no effect now spins this accelerating wheel to the point it becomes unstoppable. As a startup founder, you must be disciplined in your effort to reach your goals and build the momentum necessary to become great.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Carter Malloy from AcreTrader

    #22 The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

    The Lean Startup introduces the principles and techniques of lean manufacturing to the startup community. Ries shows founders how to quickly identify and develop advantages in the marketplace by focusing on innovation and positive financial outcomes. My key takeaway from this book is that we should experiment constantly, measure only what brings actual growth, look for ways to create more value for our customers while using fewer resources, minimize wasted effort by only doing what is needed for the next step, and always be practicing continuous innovation.

    Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the link below:

    Contributor: Carter Malloy from AcreTrader

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    Written by Taegan Lion