At the end of the day, data scientists should have a keen sense of business. They should know how managerial and financial economics work to leverage their skills to the fullest. While being a programming champion or a stat nerd might not hurt you, but ignoring business knowledge will harm a data scientist in the long run.
Any technical professional, especially data scientist should be in a position to under monetary tradeoffs in everyday decision making and also in the larger context. There is a special need for data knowledge workers to understand metrics and strategies in the world of business.
So here are 5 books that get you started:
1. High Output Management By Andrew Grove (Vintage, 1995)
High Output Management is the holy grail of business books. According to many business leaders, it is the best business book out there. Andrew Grove has put down all his experience and inputs into the book. Many lessons from running Intel, both on the day to day basis and all the long term basis. Amazon intro about the book says, “Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, High Output Management is equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.” Get the book here.
2. The Hard Thing about Hard Thing: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers By Ben Horowitz (Harper Business, 2014)
What do you do when you have to run an actual business which does not follow theoretical rules. Actual ground situations in startups and businesses largely differ from textbooks. Leaders are seldom prepared to face these situations and make decisions under duress. This book is a lecture on how to handle situations when going is not easy and the situation is novel in nature. The Amazon intro says, “Filled with his trademark humour and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.” Get the book here.
3. Zero to One: Note on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future By Peter Thiel (Random House; 2014)
Zero To One by Peter Thiel is a unique book that has no competition when it comes to insights about the startup world and business in general. It is a primer born out of startup class by Peter Thiel at Stanford. One of the students complied all the lectures by Peter Thiel and converted them into notes. The notes got a large amount of web traffic. The Amazon introduction says this about the book, “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them. It’s easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. Every new creation goes from 0 to 1. This book is about how to get there.” Get the book here.
4. Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder By Nassim Nicholas Taleb(Penguin, 2013)
Antifragile is a book which is part of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s famous Incerto series. It can also be read as a standalone book. The book talks about luck, transparency, how humans think about risk and decision making. The book throws light on things and humans that do better under uncertainty rather than fail. The introduction says this about the book, “In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.” Buy it here.
5. Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy by Tim Harford (Little, Brown and Company, 2017)
Tim Harford is a very well known economics writer and commentator. This book is a great explainer of all objects that made our modern world and economies possible. The writer takes us step by step, to understand how and where we stand, Many hidden things will be laid out for the readers and also get in touch with the inventors who made these objects possible. Buy this book here.
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As a thorough data geek, most of Abhijeet's day is spent in building and writing about intelligent systems. He also has deep interests in philosophy, economics and literature.