Book Reviews

Make Elephants Fly Wins Gold Medal for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Book of the Year

Make Elephants Fly just won the CMI Management Book of the Year Awards for Innovation & Entrepreneurship!

CMI Awards: CMI Book of the Year Awards

Buy on Amazon: Make Elephants Fly

The Bonanza King by Gregory Crouch

The Bonanza King by Gregory Crouch can teach entrepreneurs more about business than most business books. It’s the fascinating tale of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, the largest silver mine in the world.

Born in 1831, John W. Mackay was a penniless Irish immigrant who came of age in New York City, went to California during the Gold Rush, and mined without much luck for eight years. When he heard of riches found on the other side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1859, Mackay abandoned his claim and walked a hundred miles to the Comstock Lode in Nevada.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is a must-read book for every startup founder. It shows exactly what happens when an entrepreneur has no values.

Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes cared about nothing but herself and her image, and as a result, she was willing to betray everyone she came across. She hurt so many people in the process, jeopardized the lives of patients, squandered huge amounts of capital, and wound up with nothing to show for it.

Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

Review: Industries of the Future by Alec Ross is a thought-provoking book. It’s not so much about the future but really about innovations taking place around the world right now. He does a good job of providing examples and explaining the implications.

Rating: ★★★★

The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku

Review: After hanging out with Michio Kaku in Malaysia, I was excited to read his latest book: The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth.

It’s all about how we could eventually colonize other planets. Naturally, a lot of it is speculation. No one can know for sure. But it’s fascinating to read about the ideas and physics behind the theories. If you’re a Sci-Fi buff or an Elon Musk fan, you’ll love it!

The Fourth Age by Byron Reese


The Fourth Age by Byron Reese is a philosophical exploration of questions like can machines become conscious? What happens when robots can perform most work better than humans? And how will humans and ultra-smart AI coexist?

Reese is a good writer, and the book is thoughtfully put together. If you’re interested in these types of questions, it’s well worth the read.

Rating: ★★★★

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Review: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI, is an amazing book. It dives deep on how to negotiate deals using techniques that actually work. You’ll find it invaluable.

Rating: ★★★★★

NEXUS by Ramez Naam

Review: NEXUS by Ramez Naam is a brain-twisting, action-packed Sci Fi novel. What would the future be like if a new drug could allow us to reprogram our minds and connect with each other? It’s the first part of a trilogy. Next comes Crux, then Apex.

Rating: ★★★★

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Review: You will love or loath this book: The Black Swan.

You will either think the author is brilliant, witty, passionate and insightful, or you will find him a pompous, egotistical, irritating blowhard.

I actually enjoyed the book, but my partner couldn’t get past the first chapter.

Ironically, all you need to read is the first chapter or two. The rest of the book just elaborates on the same points.

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Review: Great book for a college student who has no idea what career path to take. Not so interesting if you already know what you want to do.

Rating: ★★★

BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown: 10 Lessons on Teamwork

Review: BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown is the story how a group of boys from Washington State went on to win the 1936 Berlin Olympics against all odds.

It’s a fantastic story, but even more important, it will teach you the essence of building a winning team. In this way, it’s one of the best business books ever written.

Here are 10 lessons on teamwork learned from Boys in the Boat:

The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam

Review: THE HIDDEN BRAIN by Shankar Vedantam is a fun read. It’s filled with stories about how our unconscious minds control much of what we do.

It’s similar to THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman but less academic and more readable.

It’s filled with stories on how our subconscious can lead us to mistakes, when electing presidents, investing in stock markets, identifying criminals, and waging wars.

It’s also a popular Podcast. Either way, it’s worth tuning in!

The Sentient Machine by Amir Husain

Review: I just read “The Sentient Machine” by Amir Husain. It’s an insightful and well-constructed overview of AI in today’s world. There’s no big idea, but it will give you a solid foundation for where things are headed. Husain is a computer scientist, but his writing is very readable, without a lot of jargon or technical terms.

Rating: ★★★★

Black Mirror

Review: I finally got around to watching Black Mirror on Netflix. After all the hype, I had high expectations. The first two episodes shattered them.

I was so disappointed in Season 1, Episode 1: THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. The decisions the characters made were inane. No one would do that. Episode 2 was just plain boring.

Then I watched Episode 3: THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF YOU, and I was converted. It was clever and well done.

Principles by Ray Dalio

Review: The book Principles by Ray Dalio is packed with ideas. Clearly, Ray Dalio is a brilliant guy who has accomplished an enormous amount. He’s a pioneer in management and investment.

The problem is that, except for the beginning, the book reads like an automobile instruction manual. Dalio thinks of companies as giant machines, and his book is a list of principles that he has developed over the years.

Extreme Ownership: How the US Navy Seals Lead and Win by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink

Review: Extreme Ownership: How the US Navy Seals Lead and Win is a business book by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink. It’s a fun read.

It’s thrilling to hear the lessons learned from two amazing Navy Seals who fought in Iraq. The business lessons are less exciting. They are mostly common sense, like own the job, prioritize what’s important, simple is better than complex, etc. Very basic stuff.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Review: Just finished reading START WITH WHY by Simin Sinek. He’s a talented writer, but this book is too repetitive. He keeps articulating the same, simple message over and over.

The gist of the book is that leaders should not explain what they’re doing. If they want to inspire and motivate, they need to explain why they are doing it.

He gives plenty of examples, from Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King. The other 90% of the book explains why it’s so important to explain why.

Thinking Fast and Slow — By Daniel Kahneman

Review: Does our intuitive judgment work? What is intuition? How can we best solve problems? These are some of the questions answered in THINKING FAST & SLOW. It’s an interesting but not exciting read. Lots of information to digest. Would have been perfect at half the length.

Rating: ★★★★

Speaking the Language to Succeed in Silicon Valley

Review: If you like Make Elephants Fly, we think you might also like another book that sheds light on how Silicon Valley works, Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley by Rochelle Kopp and Steven Ganz. Where Steve Hoffman’s book shows you how you can innovate like the best of those who came before you, Valley Speak gives you a grasp of the ‘lay of the land’: the techniques, assumptions, and jargon that you will need to navigate.

Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar

Review: Black Edge is a shocking book about the excesses and corruption that pervade Wall Street’s largest hedge funds and investment banks. It’s a meticulously researched and well told story of greed and power.

Rating: ★★★★★