October 10, 2023
October 10, 2023
Finding the right book at the right time can transform your life or your organization. We help you discover your next great read by showcasing four recently released titles each week.
The books are chosen by Porchlight's Managing Director, Sally Haldorson, and the marketing team: Dylan Schleicher, Gabbi Cisneros, and Jasmine Gonzalez. (Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.)
This week, our choices are:
Jasmine’s pick: Believe-in-You Money: What Would It Look Like If the Economy Loved Black People? by Jessica Norwood, Berrett-Koehler Publishers
There is a huge racial wealth gap in America today. Owning a business is one of the best ways to build wealth—but entrepreneurs need capital. And investing in Black companies is obstructed by systemic racism and implicit biases that continue to create barriers to success.
Merging historical information and data, along with tactical examples and explanations, this practical guide shows us what needs to be done in order to change the way we support Black companies and how we think about wealth.
Norwood calls for investors to move away from extractive, individualistic, exploitative approaches to capital and entrepreneurship. She asks us to move toward transformational, restorative, regenerative, and interdependent relationships to repair the impacts of systemic racism. Investors, large and small, need to say to Black business owners, “we believe in you.”
With an entrepreneur-centric approach, Believe-In-You Money challenges the system failure surrounding Black companies. It’s a guide on how Black entrepreneurs can be supported in sustainable ways and offers a shift in the way we think about who can be an investor, while aiming to change our personal relationships with money.
Sally’s pick: Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens by Rajiv Shah, Simon Element
Rajiv J. Shah is no stranger to pulling off the impossible, from helping vaccinate 900 million children at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to a high-pressure race against the clock to stop the spread of Ebola. His secret? A big bets philosophy—the idea that seeking to solve problems rather than make incremental improvements can attract the unlikely partners with the power and know-how to achieve transformational change. Part career sweeping memoir, part inspirational playbook, Big Bets offers a master class in decision-making, leadership, and changing the world one bet at a time.
Shah animates his strategic insights with vivid behind-the-scenes stories, memorable conversations with household names that helped shape his approach to creating change, and his own personal growth as an Indian-American from an immigrant family looking for a way to belong. He distills his battle-tested strategies for creating change, arguing that big bets have a surprising advantage over cautious ones: a bold vision can attract support, collaborations, and fresh ideas from key players who might otherwise be resistant. Throughout the book, Shah traces his unlikely path to the Rockefeller Foundation across a changing world and through some of the most ambitious, dramatic global efforts to create a better world.
Dylan’s pick: A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food by Will Harris, Viking
Raised as a fourth-generation farmer, when Will Harris inherited White Oak Pastures he was a full-time commodity cowboy who played hard and fast with every tool the system offered – chemicals, antibiotics, steroids, and more. His ancestors had built a highly profitable, conventionally-run machine, but over time he found himself disgusted with the excess, cruelty, and smalltown devastation this system entailed. So he bet the farm on forging a different way of doing things. One that works with nature not against it, and bridges the quickly widening delta between consumers and their food. Armed with tenacity, conviction and an outsized tolerance for risk, Harris called his approach “radical traditional” and it made him the pioneer of regenerative agriculture long before the phrase existed.
At once an intimate, multi-generational memoir and a microcosm of American agriculture at large, A BOLD RETURN TO GIVING A DAMN offers a pathway back to producing food the right way. At a time when food supply chains are straining, climate-induced catastrophes are playing havoc with harvests, and concern around who owns America’s farmland are more prescient than ever, Will Harris urges us to consider where the food we eat really comes from, and to re-connect to the places and people who raise what we eat each day. With keen storytelling, a good dose of irreverence, and an unflinching willingness to speak truth to power, Harris shows us why it’s never been more important to know your farmer than now.
Gabbi’s pick: Smart Startups: What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know--Advice from 18 Harvard Business School Founders by Catalina Daniels and James H. Sherman, Harper Business
Conventional “wisdom” holds that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are born with a genius for starting companies, experience one lightning-bolt moment of inspiration after another, follow a tried-and-true process to scale to a billion dollars, and attract deep-pocketed investors at every turn.
The real story is a bit more unconventional—and much more interesting.
Would-be-entrepreneurs Catalina Daniels and James Sherman, hungry to study and apply the best practices of startups to their own ventures, studied the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship as classmates at Harvard Business School. Years later, after successfully founding and exiting several companies, and as angel investors in start-ups, they were surprised to realize that their experiences greatly differed from what they had been taught in school. HBS provided a world-class education in the basics. But there was so much they learned the hard way—working in the trenches—that, looking back, they wished they’d known before starting up.
Inspired, Daniels and Sherman interviewed eighteen HBS graduates and entrepreneurs about their experiences founding companies such as Blue Apron, Rent the Runway, Gilt, and AdoreMe, probing them about what they discovered along the way and what they wish they had known beforehand. The authors bring these insights to life by showcasing the founders in their own words and giving readers the experience of chatting with these remarkable entrepreneurs over a cup of coffee. No other book has unearthed advice from so many HBS entrepreneurs. The result is wisdom that challenges assumptions, destroys preconceived notions, crystalizes hunches, and articulates perceptions with a depth possessed by few people in the world.
Starting a business is hard. Seventy percent of startups today fail after their seed round, and less than ten percent achieve success for founders and investors. Faced with such a daunting threshold, aspiring entrepreneurs need all the advice, wisdom, and inspiration they can get. Smart Startups is written for them—a timeless record of essential knowledge that can help them avoid failure and achieve success.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN READING AT HOME
"Unreliable Narrator by Aparna Nancherla. This is as hilarious as I was hoping it would be, and it is made more interesting maybe because Nancherla has a degree in psychology, and she cites a LOT of other major writers and thinkers through the course of her own writing. Every piece of somber reflection has a generous pinch of observational humor."
—Michael Jantz, Logistics Director