The Advancing Leadership Blog

June 2015 #Shelfie

Montreal TEC Chair John Vincent is our next contributor to the #shelfie series and shares reading recommendations from his bookshelf that inspire him as a business leader and mentor. Share your own #shelfie with us on Twitter @TECCanada

The word entrepreneur comes from the French “entreprendre” meaning, “to undertake”.

This Shelfie is about entrepreneurialism – looked at from the soaring inspiration to undertake massive challenges to the most practical realities of planning and succeeding. The two books mentioned below exemplify these two themes; they are unquestionably the two I most often recommend.


Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis is perhaps the most inspiring and humbling book that I have ever read.  A product of prodigious research by its author it chronicles the early 20th century Mallory expeditions to Everest.  The identification, over 100 years ago, of Everest as the highest point on earth was in itself the culmination of an extraordinary undertaking of unimaginable scale – the mapping of the entire Indian sub-continent – accomplished by force of time and brute will, with only the most basic of instruments. Entering Tibet in 1921, still 100 miles from Everest, Mallory’s expedition literally walked off that map. Wade delves deeply into these men, their histories, personalities and motivations.  Driven by their goal, courageous, intelligent, determined and capable of making crucial decisions with the thinnest of information, they were pure entrepreneurs. To this day we don’t know if Mallory conquered Everest but we do know his undertaking was disciplined and mindful of risk.

In Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, author Bill Aulet sets out a framework for approaching entrepreneurship in a rigorous and disciplined way. Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship as well as a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. More importantly he is a successful serial entrepreneur and his approach deftly blends the academics of business with the school of real experience. In particular, the first eight chapters on market segmentation and the critical choice of a beachhead market are an absolute, no exceptions, must read for any CEO undertaking a product launch not blessed with unlimited resources – which means pretty much most of us.

Aulet would no doubt agree that nothing can replace the drive and inspiration of a Mallory and that nothing can augment it more than the hard discipline of practising a rigorous approach.


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