Favorite Business Books from the SmartBiz Executive Team

Learning doesn’t screech to a halt once you’re out of school and running a business. Constantly striving to learn and improve – both professionally and personally – helps you meet and exceed goals.

We caught up with the executive team of SmartBiz Loans to discover how they continue to hone their skills while running a very busy startup. They’re doing something right – SmartBiz has grown to a robust 80+ employees. Along the way, SmartBiz has picked up several awards such as the #1 fastest growing private company along with the distinction of being one of the best places to work in San Francisco. No surprise that many of the SmartBiz executives mentioned books that helped shape their management style. Here’s their recommended reading.

Evan Singer, CEO

  • The Soul of a New Machine (Tracy Kidder) A great book about how a group of people came together under strong leadership. They formed an absolutely incredible, gritty, and hard working team that developed a next generation computer for Data General.

Judy Balint, CMO

  • Positioning – The battle for your mind (Al Ries & Jack Trout) Explains in a very compelling way, why “positioning” a product in a prospective customer’s mind is the most important strategy in business
  • Funky Business – Talent Makes Capital Dance (Jonas RidderstråleKjell Nordström) One of the first books that focused on the importance of human talent and how they think as the real competitive differentiation between successful and unsuccessful companies.
  • Freakonomics – A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything(Steven D. Levitt ) This book got me excited about “big data” and how you can use data and “incentives” to figure out what’s going on in areas you’d never imagine, like the relationship between legalized abortion and reduced crime.

Mike Bertrand, CTO

  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Charles Duhigg) This is a great book on the psychology behind habits and what’s required to engage with or change consumer behavior.
  • Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy (Isadore Sharp) Outlines how the relentless pursuit of a great customer experience can only be attained by elevating and empowering front line employees.

Leo Jacobo, VP Lending Operations

  • Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim & Mauborgne) Expanded my understanding of service and product differentiation and the opportunities for monopoly in the digital age.
  • Smartest Guys in the Room (MacLean) Followed in the great tradition of the Big Short and Predator’s Ball as a warning of the fatal consequences from a singularly dominant sales culture.
  • The Undoing Project (Lewis) The book illustrates the power of behavioral psychology in forming entities with the desired characteristics and abilities to maximize effectiveness in specific roles.

Building your bookcase? Business Insider has curated a list of the 20 best business books of 2016. These recently released books cover everything from the story of two psychologists who astonished economists to a former Googler’s guide to making a career change.

Finally, there are lots of quotes about reading but we’ll leave you with the following from one of the greats:

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him

what books he reads.”**

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

**Applicable to women as well  – of course!