Chris Fralic’s Top Business Book Picks
First Round Capital partner Chris Fralic is certainly an expert on business development. He’s a venture capital veteran who directed strategic partnerships for both eBay and TED Conferences, meaning he has plenty of insight into how to take a company to the next level.
His curated list of 2016’s best business books has some titles in common with Amazon’s list of business best sellers, but Fralic’s evaluations are based on more than just how many units were sold. What draws Fralic to a business book is the story; he likes details, he wants to hear about the struggles as well as the triumphs. He understands that success is not a straight line, and he appreciates books that are honest about that.
He also likes books that teach—especially about new and emerging technology—with lots of practical examples. It’s clear that he admires people whose knowledge comes from direct experience.
With that in mind, here are five of Fralic’s top business books from 2016.
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
This book is the story of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into human decision-making was both groundbreaking in general (they basically created behavioral economics) and a major influence on Lewis’ own work as a financial journalist. Lewis brings both men and their research down to a compelling, human level, using the narrative arc of their story to present their research and its impact on how we study data and interpret evidence.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Remembering Fralic’s preference for honest biographies, this book about entrepreneur Phil Knight and Nike, a company that almost wasn’t, is right up his alley. Shoe Dog “… offers an entertaining and educational glimpse of how the founding team and the brand grew to became the powerhouse we know today,” while acknowledging that Nike made tons of mistakes and “almost went off the rails” more than once early on.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
This one’s not in Amazon’s Top 20, but Fralic liked it so much he gave it to his son. Duckworth’s take on success—that it is won through passion and longterm perseverance rather than genius—is backed up by both examples and data, and Fralic calls the book “insightful and well written.” Duckworth also gave a TED Talk on the subject that Fralic recommends.
ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun by James Andrew Miller
Fralic has a personal connection to this one, since he took a few people from first round companies on a field trip to ESPN, and was impressed by their operation. Now that he knows their “scrappy startup origins,” he’s even more impressed, and really liked the interview compilation format. Among those interviewed for the book were Keith Olbermann, Hannah Storm, Bill Simmons, Mike Ditka, and Bob Knight.
The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
Fralic briefly met Gaiman at a TED Conference but didn’t know much about him beyond his work writing graphic novels. This book made Fralic dig into Gaiman’s earlier writing; he calls it “a flowing and well-deserved devotional to readers and writers and books and bookstores.” The book is a series of essays on various topics, including Gaiman’s experience at the 2010 Academy Awards, and it’s written with his trademark flair for framing stories in an interesting, thoughtful way.
And that’s just a taste of what Chris Fralic thinks you should read. For his full list of books, click here.