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Skup Recommends: Books, Blogs & Podcasts To Help You Succeed

Devin Zander 5 years and 2 months ago
Skup Recommends: Books, Blogs & Podcasts To Help You Succeed
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Ask any successful entrepreneur or executive the key to their success. They will all say continual learning.

Learning is a process that goes beyond reading a book and moving on.

It’s best to develop a basic understanding of the material and build upon it with more resources. Podcasts, audiobooks, and video tutorials are equally, if not more, useful.

My professor once explained that the brains learning system is similar to a sprouting tree. Our baseline is the seed, and the information is the water. The seed can’t sprout without a steady stream.

Here at SMART Apps, our goal is to make sure our customers succeed. So I have compiled a list of resources that have helped the SMART team build our company from the ground up!

Devin Zander, Chief Executive Officer

What was the driving force for starting SMART Apps? 

“I’m a huge believer in making things accessible. I was speaking at an event in the United Kingdom about sales and marketing and this guy named Austin Anthony approached me. He showed me the kind of results his team was achieving with this thing called Shopify, that I had neverrrrr heard of, but I was honestly blown away. I loved how simple Shopify made the process of building an eCommerce business, and I knew I wanted to introduce this to the world. So we made it our goal to ‘make eCommerce Simple Again,’ and by doing this, we wanted to ensure eCommerce was accessible to everyone no matter their revenue or technical experience. Our goal is to empower people and allow them to do what they want with their lives.”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career? 

“The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, hands down.  Life will not always be roses, and this book helped me realize that trials and tribulations are not painful. Rather, they are the #1 contributors to growth and being a better version of ourselves every day. The obstacle in the way becomes the way.”

Which podcasts do you listen to for career inspiration? 

Seeking Wisdom by Drift has unbelievable amounts of value. What’s neat is they don’t just talk about one thing – they cover growth, product, culture, and many other topics, that I believe, are key to building an outstanding organization.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

“It isn’t necessarily business advice, but it is some of the best advice I’ve heard.

‘Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.’ – Epictetus

This just helped me realize that it is never about the situation; it’s about how you react and handle the situation.”

What advice do you have to give? 

“Expect failures and don’t be discouraged. Rather, be happy that you’ve seen the wrong way and now know the right way.”

What do you like to do for leisure? 

“Golf and dogs. If I could take my dogs golfing, then life would be perfect.”

Any last thoughts or comments? 

  • “Check out Product Hunt – it’s something I can’t ever put down, I have to check it daily.”
  • “Don’t be a fool, drop out of school … Just kidding, pet dogs and enjoy the small things.”

Austin Roeshink, Chief Technology Officer

What got you interested in engineering? 

“An early interest in math, computers, learning how things work, and subsequently – engineering.”

What are your go-to industry blogs?

Modern CTO releases a lot of content, including interviews with executives (both technical and non-technical) of some very cool companies. I also lurk in the Shopify #technical and #development Slack channel :}”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career?

Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff has been a great book from the perspective of a comprehensive SaaS company’s journey.

The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky is also a great read, and narrated very well, particularly for companies trying to figure out how to connect the dots from the beginning of their startup journey to the successful existence of a thriving, mature company. Many topics in this book have given me, and SMART Apps, a healthy mindset to have when navigating the sticking points of a small business.”

Which books do you read for leisure? 

“I have always had a soft spot for Harry Potter and always intend on reading the series one more time, but the old man in me keeps reminding myself that there are a ton of other books to read beyond this. I recently (and finally) read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and it’s been a wildly entertaining read. I tend to enjoy science fiction books like this, as they allow my brain time to sink into a comfy space and escape a little.”

Which podcasts do you listen to for career inspiration? 

Modern CTO is gonna be brought up here again. It’s an updated take on my primary role and connects all kinds of CTO’s that relate to the idea of a ‘modern’ technological executive.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

“A few points that I have seen come up multiple times over the last couple years:

  • If you want to go far, bring a partner … If you want to go fast, go alone.
  • You can’t do everything alone – you must learn to rely on others (this goes along with the first point).
  • Always hire people smarter than yourself.”

What advice do you have to give? 

“I really agree with the 3rd point above, and would just add:

  • You can’t let your ego get in the way of success. If you want things to happen, don’t limit the success to how well you alone can do it. Share the load, so to speak :p

Also, read, a lot. Find books that others recommend, or are highly rated and just read. It doesn’t hurt to read about things that aren’t your forte. You can always be more knowledgeable, in general!”

Any last thoughts or comments? 

“You can find some hidden gems in posts/comments on Reddit, but take this with a grain of salt. The internet is filled with trolls and do-gooders alike. You can find some Ask Me Anything(s) for some really successful people and, odds are, they’ve been asked (and have answered) which books or podcasts they recommend and enjoy. Those are ones to look into!”

Matt Schmitt, Chief Content Officer

What led you to become an eCom entrepreneur? 

“The inner need to create and manage my own day.”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career?

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.”

Which podcasts do you listen to for career inspiration? 

Joe Rogan and MFCEO.”

What do you read or do for leisure?

“Golf and the gym. I don’t read for leisure really :)”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

“No one owes you anything … including your boss. If you want something, you are better off just finding a way to take it (obviously legally speaking).”

What advice do you have to give? 

“Don’t let a sense of safety stop you from chasing your dream. There is no reason to live life sad and safe.”

The Engineering Team

Sergey Lavrenov, Senior Front End Engineer

Igor Pliuiko, Project Manager

Matt Sparks, Senior Engineer

Huber Muñoz, Technical Lead

What led you to become software engineers?

Sergey: “A series of accidents. I failed an exam at a Liberal Arts College but was able to enroll in a technical one. And then I chose the most non-mathematical programming area :).”

Igor: “I like IT technologies and the fact that you always have the ability to learn something new.”

Matt: “I grew up in a tiny town way out in the country. Having access to the internet (even via dial-up) opened a much larger world to me. I was determined to learn how websites worked and even after 20 years, I still haven’t figured it out. That’s the amazing thing about being a developer; there’s always something to learn.”

Huber: “I always wanted to know how computers work inside. I ended up studying electronics engineering. In time, I found that programming was more interesting for me as a profession and it’s because it’s always challenging you to create great things.”

Which blogs do you follow? 

S: ” habr (the biggest Russian IT magazine), CSS-Tricks, Joel On Software.”

I: “I like Gary Vaynerchuk’s blog as there’s much inspiration for everyday managing of different things.”

M: Hacker News and Laravel News

H: “I used to check the PHP Reddit frequently.”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career? 

S: “Rework by 37 Signals, The Passionate Programmer by Chad Fowler, The Clean Coder by Robert C. Martin, and books by Joel Spolsky.”

I: Remote and Rework by 37 Signals and Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro.”

M: “How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.”

H: Mastering PHP Design Patterns” by Junade Ali.”

What do you like to do and read for leisure?

S: “I love music. I like street walks, a good book or TV series, going to the theatre and cinema and sometimes concerts. Visiting meetups from time to time.”

I: ” Martin Iden by Jack London and Edgar Allen Poe novels :)”

M: Slaughterhouse-Five and everything else by Kurt Vonnegut.”

H: “I spend my free time doing things like photography, playing guitar, and watching movies.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

S: “Be proud of your work. If you’re not, do everything to start proudly.”

I: “I think it was hearing what other people say, it is very important as I am managing people and have to talk/message with different people. It’s very important not only to listen to them but to hear and understand their needs.”

M: “The sun will still rise tomorrow.”

H: “Always be humble and listen to what others have to say. You will learn a lot from others.”

What advice do you have to give? 

S: “Evolve, develop, enjoy…”

I: “Be patient and do your work every day, step-by-step, then you will reach the top for sure.”

M: “When I’ve talked with junior devs in the past, I always tell them that no matter the situation, nothing is as dire as it seems. It’s all just 1’s and 0’s.”

H: “Always be honest with what you know and what you do not. It’s ok to say ‘I don’t know that.'”

Any last thoughts or comments?

S: OMG! Ubuntu! is a cool site about Linux, Art Station is my favorite site for soul inspiration, Code Pen has some cool ideas for the front end.”

I: “Medium has some blogs that are very interesting; for example, here’s Mike Monteiro’s blog that I mentioned before.”

The Customer Success Team

Marius Vicol, Head of Customer Success

Elena Marciuc, Customer Success Rep.

Paul Poama-Neagra, Customer Success Rep.

Johnny Constantin, Customer Success Rep.

Daniel Drobota, Customer Success Rep.

Sorina Manole, Customer Success Rep.

What made you choose a career in customer success?

Vicol: “I never thought I would work in customer service; I wanted to be a programmer. When I started to work in customer success, I realized that I could change things. I love to make customers happy; in fact, I’m addicted to happy customers. Leading the team means a lot of work but at the same time I can feed the addiction, and I am the happiest guy on the planet when I see a lot of happy customers.”

Elena: “I love to see people happy.”

Paul: “The desire to help people better understand technology.”

Johnny: “The need to learn something totally new to me.”

Daniel: “I like helping people and learning new things all the time.”

Sorina: “I enjoy talking with customers. As people are different, their requests are also different, and that makes the job more challenging.”

Which customer support blogs do you follow?

V, E, P, J, S: Totango, Inside Intercom, Relate by Zendesk, Client Success, CX Journey, Help Scout, Planhat, Win the Customer, Think Growth.”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career? 

V: “I’m in the process of finishing ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People‘ by Dale Carnegie; the impact is huge.”

E: Start With Why by Simon Sinek.”

P: The Loyalty Effect by Frederick F. Reichheld.”

J: Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger.”

D: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.”

S: Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime by Immanuel Kant

What do you like to do and read for leisure?

V: “I like to read, learn, drink coffee and tea, and travel. I take 1-2 free days each month when I want to relax and disconnect from everything.”

E: “I love to read, so I spend a lot of my time reading. I also go to the gym 3-4 times a week and cook :)”

P: “I’ve mostly read books written by Karl May, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas (you may notice a pattern).”

J: “Listen to music, game, and watch movies.”

D: “I like reading lots of Manga, and I watch lots of Anime’s.”

S: “I like cycling, A LOT, swimming, and playing around with Microsoft Excel.”

What has been the best career advice you’ve ever received?

V: “There are no untouchable edges, just too short of wings.”

E: “Be yourself!”

P: “The best advice I’ve ever received was to say what I want or need to and not wait for others to notice or realize what that is.”

J: “No matter how hard it may seem to be, NEVER give up on your ideals or on what you are doing.”

D: “Be patient and pay attention to the details.”

S: “‘If you care more about others, you will never find the time to care about yourself’ which is a reference to people’s behavior to look after someone who became successful and gossiped about him/her.”

What advice do you have to give? 

V: “Be yourself!”

E: “Be yourself :D.”

P: “Do what you love, and working will become a pleasure.”

J: “My advice? Well, if you’re doing something that seems to be boring, maybe it’s time to look for something new. We should always learn new things while we live; we’ve only got one life, right?”

D: “Don’t give up :)”

S: “Never forget where you came from.”

The Marketing Team

Shoshana Luria, Marketing Manager

Patricia Protopapadakis, Content Marketer

What led you to a career in marketing? 

Shoshana: “I fell into marketing, really. My love of writing inspired me to pursue a career as a copywriter, and from there my interest in content marketing and the psychology of advertising grew.”

Patricia: “The role fell into my lap after I decided to stop pursuing a career in the medical field. I have always been passionate about learning new things as well as writing, so I decided to take a leap and go for a full-blown change in direction.”

Which blogs do you follow?

S: Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute, Kajabi, Orbit Media, Unbounce, Grow and Convert, The Daily Carnage, AdAge, Mashable, Wired.

P: “Medium, Content Marketing Institute, BuzzSumo, and Hubspot.”

Which books have been the most impactful on your career? 

S: Crucial conversations by Joseph Grenny, Influence by Robert Cialdini, Never Split the Difference by Christopher Ross, Trust me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday, Good to Great by Jim Collins, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

I can’t wait to start these, which I picked up while at the Traffic & Conversions conference: Vivid Visions by Cameron Herald, Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron, The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman.

And so, so many more …”

P: Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, On Writing by Stephen King, Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller”

What do you like to read for leisure? 

S: Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Candide by Voltaire, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and The Stranger by Alber Camus.”

P: Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Dress Your Family in Courderoy and Denim by David Sedaris, Faust by Goethe, Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov, and too many more to name.”

Which podcasts do you listen to for career inspiration?

S: Tim Ferriss, Marketing Over Coffee, Hustle & Flowchart, Demand Gen Chat, The Empowered Marketer.”

P: Ted Radio Hour and Seeking Wisdom.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

S: “When you need the courage to be bold, simply ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” When you have the answer, ask, “Can I live with that?” And if the answer is yes, then take a leap!”

P: “Be a sponge and always listen to the opinion of others, even if I don’t necessarily agree – doors may open that I would have been blind to otherwise. A new favorite line I picked up from On Writing by Stephen King is, ‘Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel sh*t from a sitting position.’

What advice do you have to give? 

S: “Work hard and be nice. It’s simple, I know; but focus, preparation, and kindness go a long way and are often overlooked.”

P: “My best experiences have come from decisions that have absolutely terrified me. So, don’t back down from something because the risks scare you; you will be missing out on something that could beautifully impact your life.”

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the first thing about running a business, or even how to maintain the engine in your car. The key to success is taking control of the stream of information and absorbing it fully.

At SMART Apps, our various backgrounds, self-disciplined education, and importance of taking time for yourself have symbiotically created the apps that land on the first page of the app store for a reason – persistence in learning.

If you want to dominate your industry, make learning a habit.

Comment below and let us know what blogs, podcasts, books, and even leisure activities you use to get through the work week!