Zen and the Art of Entrepreneurship

One of my favorite books of all times is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read it every few years and recommend that every entrepreneur read it early in their journey.

While a plethora of entrepreneurship books have come out recently, including the ones I’ve written in the Startup Revolution series, there hasn’t yet been the equivalent of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for entrepreneurship.

Matt Blumberg’s new book –Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business – has elements of it and is awesome. It should be out next month and every entrepreneurial CEO should buy a copy of it right now as it’ll be an incredibly important book to read for any CEO at any experience level.

Riz Virk’s post on TechCrunch yesterday – The Zen of Entrepreneurship – also caught my eye. He’s got a book out called Zen Entrepreneurship: Walking the Path of the Career Warrior. He’s sending me a copy but I went ahead and grabbed it on Amazon to read this weekend.

I know Riz from the 1990’s in Boston – I was an advisor to his first company Brainstorm Technologies. It was long ago enough at this point that I don’t know if I was helpful or not, but I had warm feelings toward Riz and smiled when I saw his name pop up again after not seeing it for a while.

Jerry Colonna and I have talked on and off about really digging into this topic and trying to write a philosophical treatise on entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial way that will stand the test of time. I’m not ready to take this on as I’ve got enough on my plate, but I know it’s out there somewhere. In the mean time, I’m psyched to see more CEOs writing real books about entrepreneurship, rather than yet another ego testament to themselves.

Matt and Riz – thanks for putting the effort into this!

  • It’s all about Quality.

  • Molly Rauzi

    Brad, Thanks for the reminder. I haven’t read that since college!

  • jerrycolonna

    I haven’t given up on that dream yet! We’re still gonna write that book!

    • Yup – it’s just a matter of time.

    • Hah! I encourage all entrepreneurs to be very zen-like and embrace the struggle and challenges.

    • Do it 🙂

  • Martin

    Thank you for the recommendations. I’d like to ad ‘Brains versus Capital’ to the summer reading list. It is not focused on tech entrepreneurship, but it changed my view towards entrepreneurship as an way to change thinks and for personal development. http://www.brains-vs-capital.com

  • I have to think it would be a seriously frightening treatise. I know I learned my entrepreneurial instincts from my dad who was totally okay with big doses of ambiguity, uncertainty, lack of predictability and even thrived in situations which required courageous split-second problem-solving savvy, combined with non-stop execution. He was a “try try again and then try try try try try try again” kinda guy.

    Being an entrepreneur is getting to be kind of sexy and cool. The book you’re thinking of might kill all enthusiasm for the subject. Do you really want people to know how dreadful it is?!

    I can imagine your cover art, one of those scary paths in the woods marked with an old windblown sign, the message painted in blood that reads, “TURN BACK NOW!”

  • I picked up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance last time you mentioned it Brad and totally, thoroughly enjoyed it – a very influential book! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

    • Awesome – glad you liked it.

  • Franck Nouyrigat

    I also recommend Epicure 🙂

  • zamm is on my night stand but I’ve never gotten all the way through it . (I do really enjoy the first half to two thirds 🙂 )

    Most people I hear talk about it describe it as being all about quality – and certainly it is – but one of my personal take-aways is that it is also about knowing how things work. For instance, the complexity of the BMW and relative simplicity of the Triumph.

    Its certainly about the journey too : the experience of being on the bike, the wind, the scenery. (I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was around 10 or 12 and really relate to that).


    • That’s a super important insight – the book is about quality, and quality is directly related to how things actually work!

  • I saw the same TC post and also bought it myself. I’m looking forward to reading it. Hope to see your review!

  • Austin

    A whole $2.99 for the Kindle edition…? I’m in…! Thanks for the reminder, Brad…I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time.

  • I found it and bought it on Kindle is a very interesting book that is worth reading

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my favorite books as well.

    Notice that it is fiction. I wonder if the book you’re longing for is fiction as well? I presume writing a novel is harder than writing a treatise, but I don’t know …

    So have you considered writing a novel about this stuff? I bet you could, and I bet it would be great. For an idea of how good technical fiction can be, try reading the Fruition trilogy from Chris Potts: http://www.amazon.com/fruITion-Creating-Corporate-Information-Technology/dp/0977140032. These books come close to Zen and the Art of Corporate IT.

    • Fruition is a good model. And yes – fiction is the right approach.

  • I loved the Chinese dragon quote from that TC article:

    “Ignore the dragon and it will eat you. Confront the dragon and it will defeat you. Learn to ride the dragon and you will take advantage of its might and power.”

  • I try to make a point of reading it once a year, and this quote has always stuck with me. I think helps explain why startup founders are so fanatic about their company:

    “You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

  • Henry Sztul

    Brad, thanks for a great recommendation! I just finished Zen Entrepreneurship and have taken many lessons away as I build Shelby.tv,

    In fact, I have recommended it to Reece, Dan and a few others on the team. We need more of this type of stuff from you and Jerry! Write that book!