Hi! I'm Justin Emond
I lead a team of amazing people that build beautiful digital things at Third and Grove. On the worst day being TAG's CEO is the best job I have ever had. I have a LinkedIn page and many years ago I wrote a book.
I believe in working hard, taking pride in what you do, and trying to be less shitty at your job every day. I believe you are what you read. I believe in the United States. I love eating food, drinking craft beer, playing video games, and reading books.
Here is my current reading list (Sept 2019 to March 2020):
- Nine Pints
- Mellon: An American Life
- The Fall of the Ottomans
- Call Sign Chaos
- Dreyer’s English
- The Panic of 1819
- The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business
- Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution
- The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future
- Creativity, Inc
- Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
- How Not to Be Wrong
- The Grid
- Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
Below is an annotated list of everything I have read since 2017. My favorites from this list are The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor, Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, A Bright Shining Lie, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. A quick business fable style book about the importance of team work for organizations looking to execute. Good, pragmatic stuff.
A Vital Question, by Nick Lane. A fascinating theory on the evolutionary force that created complex cellular life from simple bacterial cells, with consequences for animals like us. Great read.
Megamistakes: Forecasting and the Myth of Rapid Technological Change by Steven Schnaars. A delightful, quick out-of-print read about how bad people are at predicting technology trends. Written almost 30 years ago but so very relevant to the chatter about jobs going away today. Convinced me that my years-long belief that most American jobs were on the verge of disappearing was complete folly. I suspect jobs in 2040 will look just like today.
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. A classic published in 1954. Hilarious and insightful about how easy it is to manipulate insights from data.
The Predators' Ball: The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the Junk Bond Raiders by Connie Bruck. I will read just about anything about the Wall Street excess in the 1980s, and this book does not disappoint. Really great inside account of what started the leveraged buyout era we still live in.
The Bonanza Kings: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Fortune in the American West by Gregory Crouch. A terrific account of the people that made money from the Comstock Lode. Focuses on John Mackay, the richest American you've never heard of.
The Lessons of History by Will Durant. Super fast read written by a Pulizer Prize winning duo behind massive history tomes (that I have not read) on the patterns they see from history.
It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson. Another interesting and fast read from the Basecamp kids. However, like all of their books and writing I fear that much of their advice is simply unrealistic as it is based on their unique position (which they don't even seem to understand is so unique): Owning a recurring revenue business with absolutely outrageous margins. I'm convinced if they ever published a profit and loss statement most people would write off all of their advice.
A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan. An extraordinary account of the Vietnam War. The breadth and yet personal depth of this book is a triumph.
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure by Thomas E. Ricks. A sad and compelling analysis of the second US war in Iraq. The profound folly of the second Bush administration is hard to debate after reading this one. Many parallels with the Vietnam War, so reading this one right before A Bright Shining Lie was useful.
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik. This reads like a love letter by an autistic person to materials science. Great science read.
Who Is Michael Ovitz? by Michael Ovitz. I personally think Ovitz is one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs of the 20th century and I don't think he gets his due. His memoir is terrific.
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. I love a big idea book that takes a unique view on a big issue. This one does not disappoint.
The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power by Daniel Yergin. A comprehensive history of petroleum from discovery of oil to the time of publication (1990). Another book that changed my strong opinion that "oil was evil" to a much more (I hope) nuanced and accurate one. We live in the age of carbon, which reminds me I need to read a book about the carbon bubble.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. A beautiful and sad book about cancer. What struck me is even after a century of medical research we still don't really understand the fundamental chemistry and biology of how cancer works.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt. This is one of my all time favorite books. Incredibly well-written and well-argued theory as to what got us into and out of the dark ages, straight into our own Declaration of Independence. Good to read with How The Scots Invented the Modern World and Everything In It.
The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind, by Michael Gazzaniga. A great science read on how the latest theories of how a brain works and creates that extraordinary consciousness experience we all enjoy.
Army of None, by Paul Scharre. This is the only book on this list I skipped reading some of. Some interesting ideas around warfare and automation, but, if what he writes is accurate I have grave concerns that our military leadership lacks a fundamental understanding of the microprocessor. When it comes to war silicon is the new gasoline.
Do Open: How a Simple Email Newsletter Can Transform Your Business, by David Hieatt. A really great, fast read on how to make email work. Also a sobering read as it forces you to accept how hard it is to make email work for your business. If anyone in your organization suggests creating an email newsletter to drive leads throw this book at their head (but, like, nicely).
EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, by Justin Bariso. EQ is something I struggle with personally, so this was a helpful guide for me on how to think about what actually makes people act the way they do.
Washington: A life, by Ron Chernow. This might be the best biography I have ever read, both because of how well-written it is (Chernow is super talented) and because of how startling it was to find out that Washington wasn't a great figure in the traditional sense but rather it was almost as if he was designed to be exactly what we needed at the founding of our great republic.
Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou. The engrossing account by the Wall Street Journal reporter that took down a Silicon Valley superstar. So good.
Where are the Customers' Yachts? Or, A Good Hard Look at Wall Street, by Fred Schwed. A hilarious account of the perils of professional money management.
3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Hip-Hop's Multibillion-Dollar Rise, by Zack O'Malley Greenburg. A fascinating look at the business of hip hop. I didn't expect Diddy to be the most impressive business person of the three.
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard. The memoir of the founder of Patagonia. Made me a devotee of the brand.
Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer, by James Chposky. An out-of-print fascinating history of the first successful personal computer, or, how IBM created and lost a huge market. I think anyone in the tech industry would really enjoy this book.
Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World's Most Successful Companies, by Charles Koch. Say what you will about the politics of the Koch brothers (some is fair, some isn't), but Charles Koch's management of Koch Industries is one of the greatest success stories in the history of American capitalism.
Principles, by Ray Dalio. After reading this book I can't decide if Ray has been successful because of or in spite of his lunatic approach to transparency in business. Still, some terrific wisdom in here. And I suspect he is a really good systems thinker when it comes to macro-economic issues.
The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, by Walter Scheidel. A wonderful and depressing read on wealth inequality, one that changed my perspective on the topic considerably.
A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. The author is by all accounts a fanboy of JFK, so you have to read this with that in mind, but boy this is a big, beautiful inside look at the Kennedy administration.
Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy, by Stian Westlake, Jonathan Haskel. I love big idea books and this is one of of those. They make a compelling argument that the fundamental nature of the US economy has, for the first time in over 150 years, changed.
Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty, by Patrick Lencioni. Another quick business fable style book about consulting. A super interesting read if you work in the services business.
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard. Makes an argument for what made Rome, Rome. Not what I expected or was taught in school and pretty damn fascinating. One of my all time favorite books.
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. The rise of search engines, and Google especially, has given us something we have never had: A source of truth about what people actually believe. A very timely read.
Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy, by Douglas Irwin. I read this comprehensive history of US tariffs because I wanted to understand what they were and what was going to happen with Trump's. Very enjoyable read.
Liar's Poker: Rising through the Wreckage on Wall Street, by Michael Lewis. Another amazing look at greed and excess in 1980s Wall Street. Yes, please.
Limping on Water: My 40-year adventure with one of America's outstanding communications companies, by Philip Beuth. Capital Cities is the greatest company you have never heard of, formerly run by the duo Warren Buffet called probably the best managers of the twentieth century. An insiders account by an early and long time employee.
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough, John Helyar. A deep look at one of the earliest and largest leveraged buyouts ever. Engrossing.
The Ascent of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Force that Explains Everything, by Marcus Chown. An enjoyable physics book for the masses, really the history and future of gravity research.
Personal History, by Katharine Graham. The Pulitzer prize winning autobiography of the owner and publisher of The Washington Post is startling for the author's vulnerability in the account of her life and the major US events she participated in, like Watergate. Simply extraordinary.
Hess: The Last Oil Baron, by Tina Davis, Jessica Resnick-Ault. I did not find this book well-written.
The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, by William N. Thorndike. A look at leaders in business that drive real value for shareholders, the old-fashioned way.
Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency, by James A. Miller. This book is really an edited transcript of interviews of the people involved in the creation and dominance of the greatest talent agency in American history. I'm not sure I would read another book of this writing style, but it was a fascinating look at this impressive organization.
I Love Capitalism! An American Story, by Kenneth Langone. Capitalism is the greatest force of moral good in the history of our species. Don't believe me? Well, I have a reading list for you and this book is on it.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling. I like (though they don't) to remind my friends and family in conversation that if we had a parade every day for a decade it still would not be enough to celebrate the unprecedented elevation of literally billions of people from poverty to middle income that the West has achieved in the last seventy years. Don't believe me? Read this book and you just might.
The People's Tycoon, by Steven Watts. A beautiful biography of Henry Ford and the birth of American consumerism. Henry Ford was not the man you thought he was.
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, by Peter L. Bernstein. A badly written account of the history of probability, which is a fascinating topic on its own but unintentionally funny when you read lots of books on Wall Street excess.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. Not so much a history as an argument for what the unique trait that makes us human really is. If Harari was a stronger writer and had a better editor I'm convinced this would have won the Pulitzer. Required reading.
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management, by Roger Lowenstein. Oh man, if reading books about finance has taught me one thing it's that people are neurologically wired to believe future outcomes are predictable. Great book.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight. The history of the Nike as told by it's founder. Such a great read for anyone interested in business.
The Guns of August, by Barbara W. Tuchman. An incredible read about the folly that lead to the outbreak of World War I. A well-deserved Pulitzer winner. Reading this allegedly helped Kennedy deal with the Cuban missile crisis, whose deft handling (in doubt after Bay of Pigs) every American benefits from.
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T. J. Stiles. Vanderbilt may have been the most fascinating son of a bitch of the nineteenth century. Also a great history of transportation, the dominant sector in that era.
Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel, by Tom Wainwright. The result of using economics to understand the global drug trade. Multidisciplinary for the win.
The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World, by Pedro Domingos. I wanted to understand machine learning better so I read this book. A great introduction and deep dive into this newly popular realm of computer science.
Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism, by Bhu Srinivasan. An enjoyable comprehensive history of American business.
Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future , by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson. A light introduction to the major trends driving in technology right now.
Make Your Own Neural Network: A Gentle Journey Through the Mathematics of Neural Networks, and Making Your Own Using the Python Computer Language, by Tariq Rashid. Another book I read to understand machine learning. Gets a little heavy into the math for non-practitioners, but still good.
Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information, by Robert Wright. I don't know man, maybe I'm not old enough? This book was about three smart people who went a little off book in their old age. I did not enjoy it.
Benjamin Franklin, by Carl Van Doren. A must-read about one of our important Founding Fathers.
Judgment in managerial decision making, by Max H. Bazerman. A touch dry, but interesting stuff about managing people in organizations.
Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy - and How to Make Them Work for You, by Geoffrey G Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary. This book really helped me grasp platform businesses, which is useful in today's technological scene.
Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, by James Wallace, Jim Erickson. The story about a hugely talented, petulant geek that helped create the personal computer revolution. Terrific read.
Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger, by Peter Bevelin. An attempt to distill the right way to think about things based on one of America's most wise elders: Charlie Munger.
Outliers: The Story of Success , by Malcolm Gladwell. Love him or hate him Gladwell writes some thought-provoking stuff.
Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin. The science of why we are all stupid is useful to know.
Master of the Game: Steve Ross and the Creation of Time Warner, by Connie Bruck. A book about how Steve Ross turned a family funeral home and Manhattan-based mob run parking lot company into the largest media empire in the world. If I could have a cocktail with any CEO, Ross would probably be it.
Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, by Garrett Hardin. You know I really can't figure out if this guy is on to something or he's just another Malthus. Made me think though.
In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, by Steven Levy. Enjoyable read into the origin of Google. Also a really funny bit about diapers.
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., by Ron Chernow. Another Chernow gem. A must-read if you are interested in the history of the nineteenth century.
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. Another book in the category of cracked my head open like an egg. A great book for an amateur (like me) to understand evolution.
The Industries of the Future, by Alec Ross. A timely, sweeping analysis what the major growth industries of the next fifty years are. His former position in the Clinton State Department gives him a useful global perspective.
Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, by Matt Ridley. Delightful survey of the genes that make us who we are.
The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond. There are always interesting ideas to be found in a Diamond book, and this one doesn't disappoint.
Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond. God damn this is a fucking great book. Just read it.
Andrew Carnegie, by Joseph Frazier Wall. Carnegie was a titan of the twentieth century, and his life story is a fascinating rags to riches tale of hard work and heaps of luck.
Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Identify and Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Business, by Andy Grove. An early and long-time CEO of Intel and one hell of a leader. This book recalls how he pulled off a rare feat for a successful, established company: a second act.
High Output Management, by Andy Grove. A field guide to modern management. Excellent.
Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert Cialdini. The first book you need to read on the hard-wired folly of the human brain.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by William Ury, Roger Fisher. An important, alternative idea on how to approach negotiations.
Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader, by Frank Partnoy. Another great read about another no-so-great crisis on Wall Street.
Models of My Life, by Herbert A. Simon. Somewhat long but interesting autobiography of an early, important thinker on artificial intelligence and economics.
A Matter of Degrees: What Temperature Reveals about the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe, by Gino Claudio Segrè. I love a good, narrow science book and this one does not disappoint. Temperature is a lot more fascinating than I expected.
Ice Age, by John Gribbin, Mary Gribbin. Super fast but detailed read on the history of the science of ice ages, with the single most fascinating epilogue I have ever read in my entire life.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World, by Arthur L. Herman. So good! A big idea book if there ever was one.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin. His unfinished biography. Not a good biography of the man, but some good insight into him.
Deep Simplicity: Chaos, Complexity and the Emergence of Life, by John Gribbin. Another terrific science book with wider implications.
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor, by David Landes. Of all the books I have ever read this one changed me more than any other. Should be required reading in public school.
The Warren Buffett Portfolio: Mastering the Power of the Focus Investment Strategy, by Robert G. Hagstrom. How the Oracle of Omaha thinks about investing.
The Greatest Trade Ever, by Gregory Zuckerman. Another inside look at a Wall Street crisis. Super engaging and hard to put down.
Business Adventures, by John Brooks. Bill Gates says this is his favorite business book, and it is a great one. There is always much to learn from other people's folly. I suspect the greats learn from their own like no other.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. Classic folk wisdom is wisdom for a reason. A foundational read on building wealth and building a business. As relevant today as it was a hundred years ago when it was written.