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10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Surviving in life and business…

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)
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It’s time to up your entrepreneurship game!

And what better to help you do that than a list of books recommended by a seasoned entrepreneur himself? Someone who has been an entrepreneur since the age of 19.

Sam Altman is the CEO of Open AI who is behind the now common Chat GPT and the AI image creator DALL-E. An interesting fact about him is that he dropped out of Stanford University only after doing 2 years of Computer Science degree.

Let’s go through the list of his recommended reads!

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

What is the root cause of progress?

The author makes the case that all human progress has resulted from one thing. The quest for explanations.

This book discusses the human thirst for knowledge. The author calls knowledge “the beginning of infinity.”

“The universe is not there to overwhelm us; it is our home, and our resource. The bigger the better.”

Experience isn’t always the prerequisite for explaining and learning. Humans also learn by wondering about the many secrets of the universe. They form theories on how things might be working.

The author also talks about the prophecies of previously learned people.

They thought that humanity would stop advancing. So far, that has not been the case.

The author points to the fact that they didn’t know about what hadn’t been discovered in their time.

“All fiction that does not violate the laws of physics is fact.”

This book invites the reader to embrace the curiosity of the mind.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

What is justice?

This book was written in 375 BC. In this, Plato discusses philosophy and politics.

He discusses justice as it stands in the individual and political realm. Plato defines justice as each person in society doing his/her job.

He divides a state into three types of people:

  1. Rulers

  2. Guardians (soldiers)

  3. Producers (farmers, craftsmen)

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”

On an individual level, Plato tells us about 3 parts of the soul:

  1. Reason

  2. Spirit

  3. Appetite

Reason desires truth. Spirit desires honor. Appetite desires food, drink, and sex.

Individual justice is a state of harmony in which each part performs its role.

“Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.”

For lovers of philosophy, this book is not to be missed.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Turning around a team’s luck!

Bill Walsh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers American football team.

The team was in bad shape when Bill Walsh took over. He led them to success numerous times. This book details his philosophy of success.

“For me the starting point for everything — before strategy, tactics, theories, managing, organizing, philosophy, methodology, talent, or experience — is work ethic.”

The work on this book started during Walsh’s life. He worked on it with the writer, Steve Jamison. When he died, Jemison continued the work with his son, Craig Walsh.

This book is not for competitive sports only. It is for being successful, navigating life, and handling setbacks.

“There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success.”

As a coach, Walsh focused on the smallest details like dressing properly.

He didn’t teach his team members only. He imposed a good standard of performance on everyone who interacted with the team as well. For example, those manning the phones.

This book will give you concise and important lessons for leadership and success.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Stranded in ice…

This book tells us about the explorer Ernest Shackleton’s most famous expedition to the Antarctic. The name of the book is the name of the ship that they set out in.

The Endurance got stuck in ice and later sank. The crew abandoned it and tried their best to live on ice.

“What the ice gets, the ice keeps.”

What followed was a journey of survival and true ‘endurance’. The men traveled in ship’s shipboats to Elephant Island. From there Shackleton and some men traveled in one of the boats to seek help.

They reached South Georgia and arranged a rescue mission for the rest. Ultimately everyone was rescued. Luckily, the whole crew survived the ordeal.

“Optimism is true moral courage…”

There are amazing photographs in the book. They were captured by Frank Hurley, an Australian photographer.

“There can be no turning back. The only way is to go forward!”

This book will show you the meaning of leadership, teamwork, and hope.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Advice from an industry expert.

Jack Welch was CEO of GE for 20 years. He contributed a lot to the company’s growth.

His book is a condensation of whatever he learned and successfully applied throughout his career.

“When you own your choices, you own their consequences.”

He teaches us about the importance of building a company’s mission and values.

Welch also guides us to build an elite team. This can only be achieved by:

  1. recruitment

  2. staff management

  3. dismissal of inadequate employees

According to the author, the team should remain under constant dynamic adjustment.

“If a job doesn’t excite you on some level — just because of the stuff of it — don’t settle.”

The author also details the important qualities of a leader. A leader shows personal growth and helps his team grow too.

This book will show you how to build a company to the top.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Tips for innovators.

Thiel tells us the importance of coming up with unique ideas.

He considers fierce competition to have a negative effect on profitability. When entrepreneurs come up with distinct ideas, they can differentiate themselves and save their products from strong competitors.

“You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.”

The author reminds us to not rely on luck or chance but to build our own destiny.

He also talks about building a strong foundation for a company in order to take it to new heights. This includes a clear mission, vision, and culture.

“In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable.”

Those wishing to be the future of business should read this book.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

We are all biased.

In this book, Kahneman acquaints us with the workings of the human brain.

He makes us see the importance of realizing the pitfalls of the human mind. We think we are being logical and rational. But oftentimes, it is our emotions and impulses that are driving us.

“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”

Confirmation bias is when we look for something that supports our already-formed thinking. We all fall victim to this bias.

Similarly, the author tells us about heuristics and biases that form part and parcel of our everyday life.

“Familiarity breeds liking.”

This book will make you see your own behavior in a new light. You’ll be able to pinpoint when you apply one of your biases.

In turn, you will become a better decision-maker.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

What does the future hold?

As the name indicates, this book discusses superintelligence. Superintelligence is an artificially intelligent system that will exceed human intelligence greatly.

“Even with task variety and regular holidays, it is not certain that a human-like mind could live for thousands of subjective years without developing psychological problems.”

If such a system comes into existence, what would it mean for mankind?

This is what Nick Bostrom discusses in his book.

We might not be able to turn such a system off. What then? We need to make sure that the goals of superintelligence are aligned with the welfare of humans.

“Many of the points made in this book are probably wrong.”

The author also points to the need for global cooperation in the AI sphere. If some secret government program takes the lead on it, it will end up hurting us all.

This book is a comprehensive one. In the current time when AI is all the rage, such discussions are more important than ever.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Scaling, but at lightning speed.

Starting a company from the ground up is a huge task in itself. But how to scale it so it becomes a multi-billion dollar enterprise?

Worry not, for this book is here to show you exactly how.

“When a start-up matures to the point where it has a killer product, a clear and sizable market, and a robust distribution channel, it has the opportunity to become a “scale-up”…”

In German, ‘blitz’ means ‘lightning.’ As you might have guessed in blitzscaling, we are not only scaling but we are doing so at a super fast speed.

This will not give time to the competitors and our company will be dominating the market.

Blitzscaling comes with uncertainty.

In this process, you have to achieve proportional growth. For example, you cannot only increase the number of employees, but you also have to increase the amount of raw material you purchase. You have to achieve growth in all areas simultaneously.

“There’s a common misconception that Silicon Valley is the accelerator of the world.”

The authors give examples of many fast-growing companies and the strategies they apply in order to become number 1 in the market.

Some might even think that the authors are calling for compromise in quality in favor of blitzscaling.

In any case, this book provides a good look at companies that are now a household name.

10 Books Recommended by Sam Altman That Will Expand Your Brain (No, I’m Not Kidding)

Can we survive the unimaginable?

If I had to give someone hope, I’d give them this book.

If Frankl can survive through what befell him, we all can handle everyday stuff. Be it a fight with our spouse, getting fired from work, losing our money, or anything else…

“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.”

The way Frankl describes his experience of surviving the Holocaust in Nazi camps will make you emotional.

But he survived all the torture, hunger, and everything… How? By having control of himself. By having a meaning to his life.

In his toughest times, he thought of his wife.

Since Frankl’s manuscripts were snatched from him, he wrote on scrapes and hid them.

His work also kept him going.

“I do not forget any good deed done to me & I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.”

He advises his reader the same. By having life’s meaning, they can go through the good and bad.

The author describes 3 different ways of having meaning:

  1. Love

  2. Work/Cause

  3. Suffering

This book is one of a kind. It will help you form your own meaning in life.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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