The Complete CZ Reading List
Even blockchain BUIDLers and crypto traders need to take a break once in a while. In this blog, CZ shares the books in his reading list and why you should read them too.
The best time to start reading was yesterday; the second-best time is now. Even people who work in blockchain and trade in crypto need a day or two to relax or at least pretend to do so. If you missed the opportunity to read during your previous vacations or leisure times, the next time you have some free time to read is always the best time because reading allows you to ease the mental tensions and pressures caused by everyday life. It allows you to rethink your connection with the world and identify things in your life that will help you become a better version of yourself.
Changpeng Zhao (CZ), Binance Founder & CEO, is a crypto pioneer and an avid reader. Many people in the Binance team also picked up on this habit if they haven’t already before they joined. And CZ makes it a point to not only share his reading list to the team but also encourage his colleagues to recommend their favorite books in turn. Some Binancians (like this author) take the time to read a dozen pages at a time, while others, like CZ, go for audiobooks (usually at 2x speed) to absorb knowledge while on the go or in a hectic work schedule.
“These are the top books I recommend. They all impacted and contributed to my understanding and view of the world as well as shaping my thinking models. I believe they will have a positive impact on you too,” CZ would say when he shares his constantly-expanding reading list.
Now, he shares his favorite books with you too. Through these books, you’ll find bits and pieces of what makes CZ and the Binance team tick. And CZ has been gracious enough to share his thoughts on each book he recommends.
1. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.
“I agree with the book’s assertion that the competitive advantage of successful companies lies more on how healthy and well a company’s organization behaves and operates."
2. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands by Rory Sutherland.
“This book addresses some of the counterintuitive points in life and business in a very interesting way.”
3. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
“From personal investing to building a long-lasting company, it’s important to understand what’s fragile and what’s not is important. We definitely want Binance to be antifragile. This book may explain why we make some of the decisions we make.”
4. Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman.
"This book goes into detail on how organizations of different sizes work, as well as some of the implications when teams grow to different sizes. This has been very helpful to Binance as we chart our growth as an organization. It’s a fairly up-to-date book, which even talks about recent topics like cryptocurrencies."
5. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier.
“If you are leading a team or mentoring someone, you should read this book.”
6. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger.
“This is a must-read for all product designers and marketers, and a lot of people in our team have taken the lessons in this book to heart.”
7. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.
"In the context of Binance and many other blockchain or high-tech companies, there’s an ongoing challenge to market our products and services in a way that the general public will care about it. This book has helped me hone my message with regard to talking about Binance to the world."
8. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle.
"At Binance, we constantly strive to build a great culture, and we constantly draw lessons from this book’s case studies of admirable organizations."
9. The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations by Gene Kim, Patrick Debois, John Willis, and Jez Humble.
“This book explains how modern technology departments work, as well as how to do a continuous deployment of code and build high-quality platforms. This is a must-read for tech teams.”
10. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.
"More than 60 years have passed since this book was first published, but there are few books that better encapsulate the inner workings of economics than this one."
11. Exponential Organizations: New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (and What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest, Michael S. Malone.
“This is an excellent book on organizations, and I found this book more relevant the more we grow our team.”
12. Fallen Dragon by Peter Hamilton.
"Every once in a while, I enjoy science fiction novels like this one. Fallen Dragon is about someone who sought out a treasure and ended up finding something more significant, as well as a variety of characters with compelling quests as well. I wouldn’t divulge too much, as I want you to enjoy the journey yourself."
13. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers by Jay Baer.
“This book is a must-read for marketing and customer service teams. It talks about how we should service our users, interact with them on social media, and more.”
14. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek.
“This book gives a perspective on long term vision. It will broaden your horizons and views. There is a bigger picture out there that’s more meaningful. This sense of meaning explains why some companies last a hundred years and others struggle from invoice to invoice.”
15. The Law by Frédéric Bastiat.
"This short (only 60+ pages) but timeless book by French essayist Bastiat is pretty advanced for its time, and it aligns with a lot of my personal philosophy."
16. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall.
“The title says it all. After reading this book, you will understand why we tolerate failures at Binance, and more importantly, what types of failures we tolerate or not.”
17. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. “Yet another great marketing book, this informs a lot of our public outreach in terms of making our services more essential for our users.”
18. Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy - and How to Make Them Work for You by Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary.
“This is a great book about platforms, how to build them, and why they are important and impactful.”
19. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.
“While many books talk about specialization and the 10,000-hour rule in an ultra-competitive world, this book gives a different view to balance that argument. And how many great inventions happen at the intersection of disciplines.”
20. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
"While I read a lot of work-related books, I also draw inspiration from books like this, which gives me a greater perspective about how humans emerged and why we behave the way we do."
21. Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale by Paul Smith.
With this book, you can learn how powerful storytelling is if you want to be a better salesperson, marketer, and communicator.”
22. Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
“I see this book as a complement to. ‘Economics in One Lesson.’ And it’s an excellent read on its own.”
23. The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman, Rod Beckstrom.
“This book talks about operations in decentralized organizations, especially compared to centralized ones, as well as why decentralized teams are generally more resilient against global and regional challenges.”
24. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac.
“While I don’t think that everyone should follow everything in this book, it narrates the opportunities and challenges that come with developing in a new industry and how Uber took an aggressive approach to those hardships. Regardless of how you view Uber, this book is a great read.”
25. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
“I believe every modern organization should be run under these principles:
Top-down structures no longer work
Decisions should be made by people who understand the situation
Embed/exchange programs help people grow
Information sharing to everyone is encouraged
Eyes on, hands-off.”
26. Team Topologies by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais.
"I think this is a must-read for team players, team leaders, and aspiring leaders. This book can help you understand what you need to do to progress your career and company."
27. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock.
"This book talks about work-related insights derived from the author’s time at Google. No matter what your opinion is about Google, there are lessons in this book that are good to know, especially at Binance as we also release product after product at a fast pace."
No matter if you prefer to read books in hardcover or e-book, or even listen to audiobooks, which is something that CZ is fond of regularly doing. Dive deep into the list and gain new inspiration and knowledge to improve your life and performance. Also, watch this space for new books in the future. As we said earlier, we are a team of avid readers.