Reading With... Syd McGee

Syd McGee is co-owner of Studio McGee and co-author, with Shea McGee, of Make Life Beautiful, which will be published by Harper Horizon on October 27, 2020.

What books are on your nightstand now?
What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz and Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb

Who are your top five favorite authors?
Steven Pressfield, Nassim Taleb, Brené Brown, Ben Horowitz, Seth Godin

What is your favorite thing about reading?
The level of detail that is typically unmatched in a movie. This is what ignited my passion for reading in my late 20s and 30s.

Are you an evangelist for a specific book?
Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool and The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz are two books that have continually shaped my thoughts about the businesses Shea and I run together.

Growing up, did you have a book you hid from your parents?
No, I did not enjoy reading when I was younger. I was more into doing dangerous things and hoping to survive to tell my own tales.

Tell us one book that changed your life.
Too many! When we were just starting our company, I was very unsure that I had what it would take to make it successful. I was looking for guidance in books from those who had the experience to guide me. Here are the handful of books that had a huge impact on me.

The Dip by Seth Godin. The takeaway: things are hardest before the get easier. You have put in all this hard work just stay with it long enough to see that payoff.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Takeaway: there are a lot of great digital tools and apps that can make it possible to do a lot with very little.

Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian. Takeaway: there are no more gate keepers. You have direct access to the market and the platforms to build or create whatever you want.

What's your favorite line from a book?
I have three from Ben Horowitz' The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers:

"Hard things are hard because there are no easy answers or recipes. They are hard because your emotions are at odds with your logic. They are hard because you don't know the answer and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness."

"Take care of the people, the products, and the profits--in that order."

"If you are going to eat shit, don't nibble."

Favorite book you read in high school?
The Surfer's Journal

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you could have lunch with one author (living or dead), who would that be?
Ben Horowitz or Gary Vaynerchuk

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