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Founders at Work
For me, Founders at Work is proof that Amazon's whole “other people who bought this also bought this” feature must make them rich. I bought Coders at Work which put me onto this, which I also bought. I read Coders at Work in about a week or so; just powered through it. This one I found slightly harder going. Maybe that means I’m a coder at heart, who knows? But don’t get me wrong - this is a good book and well worth a read.
I decided I’d skip my usual style “book review” and just pick out a selection of my favourite quotes from reading the book. Maybe you’ll like them too; maybe you’ll just realise how I think about these sorts of things from the quotes I’ve picked.
As people know, in the business - like Bill Gates is known for this, about being really tough in meetings, and arguing and stuff like that - that's just a way of testing your own understanding of things. By arguing with others about it, that's how you learn.
Dan Bricklin. Cofounder, Software Arts
I think I identify with this approach; having an atmosphere where people can challenge each other is healthy and promotes a higher quality end product.
For someone who’s joining a startup, just learn about leadership from the people at the top of the company. Watch how they talk to people, watch how they present to people. Companies take their shape based on the personality characteristics and human interaction characteristics of the founders. This is true in every company. Learn about the kind of culture that you want to create in your own company based on the positive and negative aspects that you witness in the people that are your leaders.
Ray Ozzie. Founder, Iris Associates, Groove Networks.
I think that whatever organisation you work in, your co-workers and bosses are key. I feel lucky to have worked with some very good bosses in my time, especially when I was first starting out in my first ever job after University.
Before I joined, I knew where the line was, when I would quit, at what point, and so when I was in the game, it never crossed my mind. I also knew why I was involved, what motivated me, and I didn't spend a lot of time perseverating on that stuff. [...] Doing all that thinking up front: why am I getting in, when do I leave, if I leave then why am I doing it, what gets me up in the morning, what could happen that could make me stop getting up in the morning?
Tim Brady. First Non-Founding Employee, Yahoo
I try to follow this whenever I join a new company, especially if it's a startup. Having in mind what my motivations are and what I want to get out of it prevents this becoming a daily obsession, and allows me to focus on producing good work.
These shop programs were almost like a course in themselves, there was just so much work to do. You just spent every waking hour - you come to school early, you go to the shop, work a little bit further on it, then after school you go down there and hope you can finish your homework in time to keep working on what you were doing.
It was a grueling time, but it was rewarding in the sense that we have all these resources, and we basically had a brand new curriculum, so it could go as far as we were prepared to take it.
Mike Lazaridis. Cofounder, Research In Motion.
It's interesting to see how many of the Founders have this kind of background (and the same is true for Coders at Work). These guys has a passion for technology and managed to find an outlet where they could learn more. I was lucky enough to find a similar outlet during school where I could learn a lot about programming outside of normal lessons. For me, it was this learning that prepared me most for work.
Overall, a worthy read and a good book for programmers and entrepreneurs alike.