We enjoyed reading 'The Lean Startup' as much as the next person but we can't help but think that there are some important lessons to be learnt from the plethora of tomes outside of the standard MBA reading list. We seek overlooked but relevant themes for an entrepreneur in three novels from three great American authors:

The Call of the Wild

Jack London, arguably Northern California's most famous writer, penned his acclaimed work as a serialisation in the early 20th century. Based around the story of Buck, a sled dog, and his journey back to nature during the Klondike Gold Rush, the novel has become a bedtime story staple in countless households.

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His theme riddled account set during the frenetic Gold Rush years resonates with us and, amusingly, not only was Mr London an excellent writer, but he had a sense of humour - in the years after the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he kept himself entertained by rigging hidden ropes to his guest bedroom bed and sporadically yanking on them during the middle of the night while shouting 'Earthquake!'...we would have loved to have had a few beers with the lad... Lesson: Learn to work as a team and collaborate with each other. If you don't, you may end up getting gruesomely mauled by the rest of the pack or drown in ice cold rivers. COLLABORATE.

The Great Gatsby

Whether your point of reference is Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert Redford or F. Scott Fitzgerald himself, the topical social critique is American literary gold. Ironically, Fitzgerald died in 1940 believing himself to be a failure and his work largely forgotten. He would be glad to know that, since, he has not only given the world literary pleasure, but has also allowed us to enjoy a digitally rendered pre-pubescent Brad Pitt and a tub-thumping Jay Z soundtrack. Lesson: If you want to get something done, don't just leer across the bay at ethereal green lights. COMMUNICATE.

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Moby Dick

Last year was the anniversary of Herman Melville's magnum opus and, much like Fitzgerald, the New Englander drifted off into obscurity in the last years of his life. At the time, Moby Dick was critically savaged as the US public was pre-occupied with the Gold Rush in the West and only after the seismic changes resulting from World War I did the novel garner recognition as a classic of American Romanticism. We have looked deeper and gleaned lessons beyond the themes of monomania and obsession - the crew of the Pequod had to stay focused on their tasks! Lesson: Stay focused on the task and, perhaps, don't share your bed with tattooed Polynesian harpooners...COMPLETE YOUR TASKS.

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2 comments

Great post!

? Brook Neale

Great books, for sure, Edward. For something in the 21st century, have you read Jack's Notebook by Gregg Fraley? It's a business novel with a splash of romance, a dash of adventure....and a super useful intro to Creative Problem Solving. CPS is a flexible framework for making change, used by innovators for decades. The way I see it, CPS is the entrepreneur's best friend. (And a few MBA reading lists...from U Cal Berkeley to Cambridge U Judge School are catching on and adding it.)

? Kate Hammer

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