David Recommends

  • Outliers: The Story of Success
    by Malcolm Gladwell
    I believe that Gladwell’s Outliers (follow-up to his previous bestsellers The Tipping Point and Blink) may be the most important, seminal book I’ve read in years. In concise, clearly-written prose, he analyzes, and makes brilliantly clear, what stands behind the extraordinary success of people such as Bill Gates, Mozart and the Beatles, who have achieved things well outside the norm of typical accomplishment. Gladwell’s point is that on closer examination, they are not such outliers after all, and their success can be explained by provable combinations of natural (but not extraordinary) gifts, cultural programming, individual opportunity, and an enormous amount of hard work. I have given copies of this book to every member of my family, and if there’s one thing you are going to read this year, Outliers should be it.
  • Three Moves Ahead: What Chess Can Teach You About Business
    by Bob Rice
    This is an extraordinary work whose author is actually a New York Angel, and liberally illustrates his points with examples from the group’s investments! Aside from being extremely well written (something that one can rarely say about business books), the central thesis here is that in a rapidly changing business environment it is no longer sufficient to give ‘cookbook’ answers to solving problems. Instead, by apply chess theories (NOT ‘rules’), Three Moves Ahead gives business executives (and particularly entrepreneurs with early stage companies) a framework for developing their overall business strategies in a world that is morphing faster than we can understand it. The concepts are rock solid, the 21st century examples to which they are applied are brilliant, and the result is a gem of a book that has the potential to reframe the entire discussion of success factors in business.
  • Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
    by Garr Reynolds
    There’s a reason that none of the country’s best presentation coaches and presenters want you to purchase this book: that’s because it will put the former out of business, and make you as good as the latter. Seriously! Garr Reynolds has done what everyone else (at least among the presentation cognoscente) has been talking about for years. He has created what is truly THE book that is an absolute, positive must-read for everyone who is even thinking about presenting. I coach hundreds of entrepreneurs and CEOs each year for their fundraising road shows, and Garr has written and illustrated with stunning clarity the essence of what I and others have been preaching for years: visual clarity, simplicity, presence, planning and more. If you are even *thinking* about buying a book on presentation skills, this is it. After you devour it cover to cover, you can then go on to the two other books I recommend below: “Presenting to Win” by Jerry Weissman, and “The Articulate Executive” by Granville Toogood (the top presentation coaches on their respective sides of the country.) But start here, heed the lessons in this instant classic, and your audiences will be guaranteed to be putty in your hands.
  • Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story
    by Jerry Weissman
    Unlike Presentation Zen, which is focused primarily on the design and delivery of PowerPoint presentations, Weissman’s ‘Presenting to Win’ is aimed directly at the CEO developing a fundraising pitch for a VC or angel road show. Jerry and I have trained some of the same executives, and he absolutely knows his stuff (while my pitch coaching career began shortly after the ‘nuclear winter’ following the dotcom crash, Jerry has been doing this for some 20 years, and coached a lot of the Valley road shows during the boom.) Presenting to Win is very, very thorough, and is a superb, logical, step-by-step guide to how you should sequence a pitch presentation. Use Jerry for content, and Garr for design. This book is just about letter perfect, and has comprehensive discussions of things like opening dramatic statements, types of flow, etc. Highly recommended for pitch presentations! [The single caveat is that Jerry suggests starting off with an agenda and overview of what you’re going to discuss, which is simply WRONG in the context of this kind of pitch. Listen to me on this one, and Don’t Do It.]
  • The Articulate Executive: Learn to Look, Act, and Sound Like a Leader
    by Granville N. Toogood
    Granville Toogood (and yes, that’s his real name) is one of the most experienced presentation coaches in the country, and actually was MY coach in the early days of my presenting career. Although this book was written before the ubiquity of PowerPoint, and is not geared specifically to fundraising pitches, there are some crucial lessons here that make this short book a must-read. Among other things, Granville is the source for my “SAY it, THEN show it” mantra, which can make the critical difference between a professional presentation and simply a talented amateur. And following his advice to rework your presentation multiple times to get it down to its essence will prove unbelievably liberating. Definitely worth a read.
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
    by Edward R. Tufte
    The world is divided into those who have somehow never heard of this book, and everyone else for whom it has achieved cult status. If you ever HAVE done, ARE doing, or WILL be doing any kind of chart, graph, or visual presentation of numbers, you MUST read this book. It is the classic in the field, and you are simply not qualified to talk about business presentations until you have read this book (after which you will immediately (a) re-read it, and then (b) run out and get the three following books he wrote.) ‘Nuff said.
  • The Startup Company Bible For Entrepreneurs: The Complete Guide For Building Successful Companies And Raising Venture Capital
    AVA Publishing
    In 600 pages of very good (but highly disorganized) information, Stathis provides a comprehensive and unbiased smorgasbord of just about everything you will come across in starting up and managing a company. If you are an entrepreneur with some experience who is considering seeking angel or venture capital financing, this book will help you understand what the picture looks like from the other side of the table, and what things you can do to strengthen your company. While not as laser-focused as Bill Payne’s “Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels” (which stands head and shoulders above everything else in print on this subject), Stathis covers a very, very broad range of topics, and does so much more seriously than most other books on the market.