Best of Seeking Wisdom: DC’s Favorite Books

Seeking Wisdom Best Books

Want to start reading more business and leadership books but aren’t sure where to begin? This special episode of Seeking Wisdom is all about DC and DG’s favorite subject – books! Tune into to hear which books have a permanent place on DC’s bookshelf.

You can listen to Seeking Wisdom on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, StitcherGoogle Play Music or wherever you get your podcasts. Or listen to the full audio version below 👇

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with DC and DG on Twitter @dcancel@davegerhardt.

Subscribe & Tune In

Apple Podcasts Spotify SoundCloud

Books Mentioned in This Episode

Full Transcript

Dave Gerhardt: I wanna talk about you. You got these three books. You gave three books to everyone on the management team at Drift. Okay and I think one of the best things about seeking wisdom is we just expose that. We share that with everybody, right. I wanna run through. I want to explain those three books really quick and why you gave them, okay? Do you remember what they are?

David Cancel: Yeah, of course.

DG: Okay, number one.

DC: The book by the old uncle, Sam Walton, Made in America. That’s the first book.

DG: Okay

DC: Should I rattle all three off?

DG: Yeah, rattle all three off and let’s talk about why you gave them.

DC: The second book is called, The Next Uncle, young Uncle its called, The Everything Store, and it was not written by Bezos but it is about Bezos at Amazon, Brad Stone wrote that. And then the third book was written by the founders and that is Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, AKA the founders of the Home Depot and it’s called, Built from Scratch.

DG: So in order the oldest one is Sam Walton than Built from Scratch, then The Everything Store. Most CEO’s hand out books like Good to Great or and you’ve give us those.

DC: By the way we are working on getting Jim Collins on this.

DG: Okay, shout out to Jim Collins.

DC: Jim if you’re listening come on over.

DG: Why did you give those three books? What it is about those three books in particular that you set? Because it was a stack.

DC: That was the management pack. So there’s a whole bunch of books that we always talk about here, there books that I constantly keep going back to and these are three books that I consistently go back too and its weird that we picked these three books because all three of them have nothing to do with be to be marketing, sales anything like that. They’re all retail businesses, right its Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot. But the thing that is common if you read all three of those books is the obsession around customers. Which is the thing that we live and breath and so these are the books that I kept coming back to. The first one, Made in America I read fifteen years ago and I’ve read a million times and I’ve talked about it a million times. The Everything Store more recent I probably read that four years ago, something like that and then we’ve come back to that one. And then the third one is an old book that was out of print but recently came back in print, Built from Scratch and that one is new to me I had never read it before but as soon as I opened it and read it I bought copies for everyone and the story was amazing behind it.

DG: Okay, Sam Walton book. Do you know how much is costs? $7.19

DC: Wow, it went up. When I first bought it was five bucks. They’re raising the prices. It used to be five something, five twenty five.

DG: Okay, so those are three books.

DC: How many copies of that book do you think we sold?

DG: I don’t know.

DC: We bought a lot of copies.

DG: There is one problem though. They only have four. One, two, three, four. He only has four and a half stars on Amazon.

DC: How are they going to do the Uncle Dirty like that.

DG: June 1st 1993. Why do you keep reading all these old books?

DC: 1993? Let’s see I probably read it soon after that.

DG: That’s crazy.

DC: Don’t do the math on that.

DG: Alright, so those are three books. Those are three books which are fundamental to the core. Has nothing to do with sass, nothing to do with what we do on a day to day basis but everything to do with Drift and the business.

DC: So there are a couple of books that I come back to over and over again. One of those books that I recommend and that I read every few years is a different book by the same author here and if you can’t see the name of this author is Peter F. Drucker if you listen to past podcasts that we had with Patrick it is not Drucker it is Drucker and the book that I always hand out and give out to everyone here is called, Managing Oneself. This book right here that were going to review today is called The Effective Executive, the definitive guide to getting the right things done. And this has everything you need as a manager to be able to grow and to be an effective leader. It’s all in this book right here. You know what? You don’t need any other books. If you want to lead people there’s no other books you need it’s all in this book right here and many of those other books that you may read are entertaining but they all come from this book. They come from the master, Peter F. Drucker. And so the little homie here, the young nephew here has some stuff highlighted in here. So we’re ready to set it off, get into Peter Drucker.

DG: Yeah, it’s been a minute. There’s five things. I’ll do what we usually do, I’ll read my notes and you’ll get some commentary on them. So number one, the number one things there is five things. Number one is that effective executives know where their time goes. OK. So it has a whole chapter, Know Thy Time. Initial reaction while I pull up my notes, what does that mean? Like they know their time.

DC: It’s all about being proactive about the time that you have. I had realizations the other day and you’re not going to believe this thing. I’m going to tell you, it’s a discovery that you won’t believe.

DG: I’ll believe it.

DC: Okay. You ready?

DG: Oh yeah.

DC: What do you and Elon Musk have in common?

DG: Me?

DC: Yeah. There’s something that you have in common.

DG: I don’t know.

DC: It’s not that he wears black t-shirts. Which DG is wearing today.

DG: I have no idea. I read his book.

DC: Elon Musk, the creator of, how many companies does he run now? Three companies?

DG: Three, three.

DC: Three companies, Boring, Tesla and SpaceX. Elon Musk and DG both have twenty four hours in a day.

DG: I thought you were going to compliment me. I thought this was going to be something.I love it.

DC: While young DG has some notes in this book that we are going to read. Elon Musk is running three companies at the same time.

DG: It’s crazy.

DC: And what’s the same thing between the two of them? They both have twenty-four hours in a day. Right? And my point is when it comes to managing your time some people can change the world in twenty-four hours, like Elon Musk.

DG: Totally.

DC: Some people can’t change their shirt in twenty-four hours. Right?

DG: Yeah.

DC: It’s the same.

DG: And I think the core of this is he says, he asks this question. The question you have to ask yourself, What would happen if this were not done at all? And if the answer is nothing would happen then obviously you have to stop doing that thing. And to me that’s what this is about its like the rude less prioritization. Like what would happen if we didn’t do that one thing. And that’s liberating. A lot of people just get caught up in that. It’s liberating to be like nothing.

DC: Nothing, so get rid of it.

DG: Focus on the big rocks. That’s where this stuff comes from.

DC: It’s all about first principals. It’s all about big rocks and it’s all about one thing. Focusing on that one thing.

DG: This could be a DC line and I love this. He says “It’s amazing how many things busy people are doing that will never be missed.” I love that.

DG: The High Growth Handbook.

DC: Yup.

DG: This is like, man. So when I saw this book, I was like this book is going to be forty bucks. This book was ten dollars.

DC: Unbelievable.

DG: Ten dollars. So you got this first so I want you to tell me about this book.

DC: So this is a great book here its called the High Growth Handbook and a reason that it is ten dollars it is that it is published by the good people or good friends at Stripe.

DG: I hoped you were going to start there.

DC: And if you don’t know Stripe. Stripe is a payments company, kind of revolutionizing payments and for most people Stripe is a backend API provider, so they may not even know the name but their rethinking modern payments and most of the stuff that you pay for online is probably going through Stripe. Anyway, the reason that I point that out is because something that we talk about a lot here and others are starting to listen, copy, wake up.

DG: There’s a lot of copying out there.

DC: Lot of copying, a lot of people talking

DC: Branding and B2B.

DG: Brand is so hot right now.

DC: But anyway I digress. Shout it out. The amazing thing that you see from the good friends at Stripe here is that they have invested in building not a pamphlet, not an E-book, not a white paper, not a form, not a download but publishing a real, valuable book and subsiding it.

DG: They ran laps, they ran marketing laps around people by publishing this book.

DC: Look at that, look at the inside of that. This is a reason why you have to subscribe to our You Tube so you can actually see what I’m pointing at here. But if you look at the quality of this.

DG: It’s amazing.

DC: It’s mind blowing. But anyway they got and excuse me if I mispronounce your name.

DG: It’s OK

DC: But you’re a hero. Elad Gil. So how did I do the Elad? Israeli style.

DG: Yeah its good, nice.

DC: And Elad Gil who’s the author of this book is a well known. I have heard his name forever entrepreneur operating exec investor to such companies, you may have heard of some of these. Airbnb.

DG: Heard of them

DC: Coinbase.

DG: Yes.

DC: Checker.

DG: No.

DC: Gusto.

DG: Yes.

DC: We use Instacart.

DG: Yes.

DC: Opendoor, Pinterest.

DG: Yes.

DC: Square, Stripe, Wish and others.

DG: Pretty good. Pretty decent. He’s a good guy to follow.

DC: Yup, and previously he was the VP of corporate strategies at Twitter. And spent many years at Google, McKinsey. And he has a PHD from MIT right here.

DG: Pretty good.

DC: In sunny Boston. But anyway he wrote this book and what I love about this book is that it’s a series, I love the style that it’s written. It’s a series of interviews.

DG: You know what it reminded me of? Remember that book, Founders at Work.

DC: Yes.

DG: The Jessica Livingston book.

DC: Yes, yeah, shout out to Jessica.

DG: It reminded me a lot of that.

DC: It’s very much like that. And he goes into different chapters like, managing the board and hiring a team and all that stuff. But the way that he answers those questions that we all have is not in his own words it is by conducting a series of interviews with some of the best and brightest that there are out there. Right and you’ll, oh look at that they even have a chapter here on hypergrowth.

DG: Huh

DC: Organizational Structure and hypergrowth.

DG: On September 4th actually. What I love about this book is and I haven’t gotten my way through it yet but I read pieces of it.

DC: And this is a book that’s made to skim around to the areas you care about.

DG: That’s what I was going to say. The beginning of this book, where just doing free press out here on seek your wisdom today.

DC: Elad what’s up

DG: Elad shout it out. He said it’s not to be read thorough but flipped through like a guide and I love that so I got it the other night flipped through it went right to marketing and it was an interview with the CMO of LinkedIn, Shannon Brayton and this is why I love this book is because she just talked about her life as a CMO and she said the role of CMO is to be good at a hundred different things and a CMO can come from a number of different backgrounds. She’s a CMO but her expertise is in communications, not demand gen not brand expert not product marking. So she hires strong in those areas. I love that as an example because I think that’s true in every role. Everybody that’s in any department anywhere wants to feel like they have to know everything.

DC: Yes, all the time.

DG: If you run engineering you got to know everything top to bottom. If your run sales you got to know everything top to bottom.

DC: Yup, that’s wrong.

DG: But she made it clear, no you got to build a team. What are you doing right now? You’re looking at notes. Are you getting ready for your session?

DC: I’m not looking at notes.

DG: Okay DC’s looking at books on his phone. He’s looking for highlights. I know that for a fact. The other thing she said on hiring which is really powerful is she said I always tell my teams if you were to start with a blank slate what would your team look like? Don’t optimize for one person. It’s very easy to say well we have this person whose great at this. But you need to think about what moves makes sense for the whole company and then figure out if you have the right people.

DC: DG I would suggest that you read that every night before you go to bed and meditate, meditate.

DG: I will, it’s a good lesson. It’s a very good lesson.

DC: Number one Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke.

Maggie Crowley: Wodtke.

DC: You know her?

Maggie: Yes.

DC: Okay she’s done everything, lecture at HDI in Stanford, worked with Yahoo, New York Times on improving their website. She created the LinkedIn news feed. Lead a redesign on MySpace and lead design of the Zynga platform. So that’s one of DC’s favorites out of this list and I know that is now one of your favorite people.

Maggie: Yup.

DC: What did you think of the book, Radical Focus?

Maggie: I loved the book because its not only how to use goals and okay ours but she has a story in the first half that teaches you sort of exactly how one might use those goals in your life when you’re actually working.

DC: Yeah she uses the Patrick Mensionia. I always say his name wrong but kinda of parallel style that she mentioned on the podcast of like teaching by telling stories. So that book is great I can still remember the story and the whole thing they went through in a way that I would not be able to remember it if it was just facts, facts, facts, facts.

DG: I’ve got to tell you something. This might be my favorite book that I have read in a long time.

DC: This is a DC Hidden gem. Supermensch.

DG: Hidden gem.

DC: If you subscribe on YouTube to us and you leave a little comment about this book here I will post the link to a photo of Becky our own Becky here who works at Drift with the supermensch himself, Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper.

DG: Come on. When was that?

DC: Are you subscribed to YouTube?

DG: No, a yeah I am actually.

DC: Okay so I’ll answer you in the comments.

DG: So this book was incredible, DC sent me this a couple of months ago and said please make Shep Gordon your mentor and study it and it would have been easy to say Well this guys a rock and roll manager, I don’t even like rock and roll and also what does that have to do with marketing? I learned so much about marketing from this damn book right here. And you’ve probably seen it maybe you’ve seen the documentary but the book is phenomenal because it’s his take.

DC: It is a Netflix documentary, right?

DG: Yes, so Shep was the manager for Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass, he brought Emeril Lagasse and the whole celebrity chef movement over here. The Gypsy Kings and so many more people and I won’t tell you all his stories from the books but this was a lesson for me in reminding myself that the best lessons about marketing don’t come from people who actually say they do marketing. This guy was a PR freaking genius.

DC: Bingo, you nailed it right there. The best lessons in marketing are not in marketing.

DG: They’re not in marketing.

DC: No

DG: No there from people like this who have created something out of nothing. Right, so if you’re into the cooking channel, any celebrity chef it all traces back to being popularized by the man here, right like you said Emeril Lagasee, Wolfgang Puck, Roger Verge, Daniel Boulud all of these people managed by him. You know who else?

DG: Who?

DC: The late great.

DG: The late great who? Chef? Yeah

DC: Anthony Bourdain

DG: Oh yeah that’s right this is a Bourdain book.

DC: Yes

DG: That’s right he put this book on, pretty good.

DC: So Anthony Bourdain himself who was managed, you know the late great, Anthony Bourdain was managed by Shep Gordon was a long time friend and he actually put this together and if you watch the documentary on this which is available I believe on Netflix. It was put together by another friend of Shep Gordon, Mike Myers. If you don’t know Mike Myers, Austin Powers.

DG: Get to know him.

DC: Get to know him, yeah. Famous Comedian so that’s says a lot. And this guy did not want to be famous, did not want to write a book and his friends pushed so hard and believed in him so much they forced him to write this book and to do the movie.

DG: It’s an amazing book. I don’t want to give away all the secrets. I’m going to give you one Shep Gordon story.

DC: Don’t give away too much.

DG: When he’s trying to put Alice Cooper, when he was trying to make him famous. They were in London in the busiest traffic circle in the city. And he bought a big truck and they put a poster they put a billboard of Alice Cooper like basically naked on it and a massive eighteen wheeler truck. He told the driver I want you to go in the middle of rush hour and I want you to just brake the truck down in the middle of traffic. I don’t care what happens, I’ll take care of you, I’ll bail you out, whatever.

DC: When you go to prison.

DG: When you go to prison. I got you and I’ll write you a check.

DC: And he did go to prison.

DG: So literary at rush hour, the busiest intersection in London there’s an eighteen wheeler they broke it down it caused massive chaos and hysteria in the city.

DC: The driver went to jail.

DG: The driver went to jail and then they sold out the Alice Cooper show because they had the whole London being like who the hells this Alice Cooper guy, I got to go to this show.

DC: And on every news program.

DG: Yeah

DC: It’s amazing.

DG: So if you’re going to Dreamforce this year, no I’m just kidding.

DC: Break down a giant eighteen wheeler.

DG: Okay another one Powerful by the real homie Patty McCord.

DC: Still one of our most popular podcasts ever.

Maggie: That one was one of my favorites.

DG: It was amazing. So Patty if you don’t know for fourteen years she was head of talent and people at Netflix and I pulled two Patty McCord quotes because this says everything you need to know about who Patty is in the book. Patty believes, this is from her bio, Patty believes people come to work as fully formed adults with a desire to make an impact to be proud of what they do and she’s on a mission to spread the word that we can do this differently. There is one key word in that paragraph. Adults.

DC: Yes

DG: Because that’s the whole book, right. And that’s her whole mantra if you listen to it.

DC: It’s a whole, it’s a great book, highly recommend it. We have that in our book club but I would recommend the book is like fifty percent you have to listen to her. So listen to her on the podcast, episode will be linked below. Amazing still fan favorite. I think its number one podcast we have ever done, not because of us but because of Patty and then go search on youtube and try to find some talks that she’s given and she’s just an amazing speaker. It comes through more than that book does.

DG: Because, you want to talk to her.

DC: She’s real.

DG: She doesn’t seem corporate. She does not seem like who you’d think of as a seasoned HR exec.

DC: You know the first time I met her years ago, I was like fascinated because I was like how does she say all this stuff. And everyone’s like, Yes! and I’m like if I said all this stuff people would like throw stuff at me. I don’t know how she can say it in such a great way and that she really resonates and can connect with people.

DG: She’s awesome.

DC: Note to self. Connect with people.

Related Stories

P.S. Join 20,000 of your peers. Subscribe to the newsletter for hypergrowth.

Every Sunday evening we'll send you a roundup of the best content and events from Drift and around the web. Make sure you're ready for the week! Subscribe now.

Subscribe Here