2013-12-05 11.55.33

Like many ‘indie-preneurs’ I love business books.

Lately I’ve been thinking about two that aren’t business books per se; but were very influential to me when I started out on this journey.

A friend referred me to Small is Beautiful – Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher. I’ll admit, this was a hard book to get through. It’s dated. It was written in 1973 and the language isn’t contemporary, on top of that, it’s about economics. But there were sections that really grabbed me like ‘Buddhist Economics’ which discussed the idea of Right Livelihood and the importance of meaningful work. Or ‘A Question of Size’ which illusrtrates how dehumanizing and compartmentalized our work becomes the larger the scale we’re operating in.  The words in these chapters articulated what I felt for years working at a large company. It gave me the ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! I needed to take the plunge.

When I was lucky enough to be involved with the very first Hello Etsy conference in Berlin, I was gabbing with Matt, one of the Etsy founders about the book. He then mentioned Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, which was clearly a touchstone book for him and the work he was doing. I devoured that book. It was much more accessible then Small is Beautiful, but just as powerful. The back of the book states:  “Our purchases need not be at odds with the things we truly value, and the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.”  the thrust of the book is about bringing work and economics back to a human scale.

I am not a hippie. I want my business to succeed and make money. I am also not beyond cynicism. If I hear of one more artisanal this or that in Brooklyn or Berlin or wherever, it will be hard not to roll my eyes. But in spite of my snark, I do think all of this kind of activity is part of real movement and need that people have to inject meaning back into their day-to-day, and I am a part of this.

I guess I’m getting thoughtful towards the end of the year as I think about my business and my goals for 2014. The (surprising and welcome) recent words of the Pope also got me thinking. It’s good to be reminded of the ‘why’ and how I got into this racket.

Were there books that deeply influenced you when you started your business?