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These are the books that shaped my career

A sampling of books that have had a fundamental impact on my career as a designer, developer and startup founder.

These are the books that shaped my career

I am a voracious learner. At this point in my life, I listen to a ton of podcasts, watch loads of this-and-that on YouTube, and listen to the occasional audiobook. In my first few years after finishing my undergrad studies, I was traveling for work just about every week, and because of that I spent tons of time in airports. During my downtime in transit, I'd pull out my trusty Nook (and later Kindle), and dive into something I wanted to learn about.

While I do occasionally read fiction books, for the most part I find myself going back to non-fiction. Reading non-fiction books helps me to understand how other people think, and how they approach problems. I can also get a taste of topics that I might not have otherwise been exposed to - and that's a good thing.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I wanted to share a few books that have shaped my career as a designer, developer and startup founder. I'm sure I'll add to this list over time, but for now, here are the books that have had the biggest impact on me:

Never Eat Alone

By Keith Farrazi and Tahl Raz

I'm a firm believer that your personal network can be one of your most valuable assets. This book helped me affirm that belief. It's a great book for anyone who wants to build a network of people that they can rely on. I'll be the first one to tell you that I think some of the authors' perspective is a bit exaggerated and hyperbolic, but the general themes within are fantastic. If you're looking for strategies to stay in touch with the people in your life, give it a read.

The Design of Everyday Things

By Don Norman

This is an absolute must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in design -- whether it's physical objects, software, or the built environment. Don Norman is a design legend, and this book is a great introduction to his thinking. It's a bit dated, but the core concepts are still relevant today. You know that feeling you get when you can't figure out which light switch turns on the lights in a hotel room? That's a design problem. This book will help you understand why.

Company of One

By Paul Jarvis

This book's subtitle is "Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business," which was a revelation for me. The truth is, it is really hard to build a billion dollar company. There's a delusion in the startup world that we all need to be building billion dollar companies, and we often forget that it can be far more practical to start by building products that will serve a small audience. I've been a fan of Paul Jarvis for a long time, and I think he's got a great perspective on building a business. This book is a great read for anyone who's thinking about starting a business for the first time.

Recommendations for things what can help you learn good

  • is an indie-web product is self-described as "Social discovery for book lovers." I've been using it for about a year to keep track of books I read, and to keep a running list of books I want to read. I've also created a few lists of books to recommend on various subjects, like The Designer's Reading List, which you may want to check out!

  • Snipd is an app for listening to podcasts that uses AI to transcribe the shows you listen to into text. From there, you can save snippets of the show to your notes, or share them online. I've found it to be useful for collecting bits of podcasts to share with friends. It's a fairly new app, so it can be a bit wibbly -- but it's been really cool to see the team building it add features over time.

What I've been up to

I feel like we've all settled into the new year by now, and my work is back to full tilt. In case you missed it, here's the things I've been up to lately:

  • 🎙️ In this year's first episode of the APIs You Won't Hate podcast, I spoke to my pal Drew White about how he broke into the tech world, and what he's been up to in his work at Stashpad.

  • 🫵 If you're local to my home town of Charlotte, NC, I'll be giving a talk at the first ever Charlotte Open Source Meetup. I'd love to see you there!

  • 📝 My AI side-hustle is just about ready to make its way into the real world. The last little step is adding payment features to the thing. If you or someone you know is speaking at a wedding soon and are interested in being a beta tester, reply to this email and I'll drop you a coupon code.



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