What they’re reading now

Real estate pros share picks for books on startups, William Zeckendorf and the history of autism

Jun.June 01, 2016 11:00 AM

June-booksElliot Vermes
CEO, ResiModel

What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?

I recently read a great book called “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz, a Silicon Valley luminary who co-founded the venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz. It’s basically a management book for startups.

What spurred you to read that book? Would you recommend it to others?

This book was recommended to me by one of our venture capital investors. It’s an essential read for anyone running a startup.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you?

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” addresses the various management challenges specific to startups, especially the challenges that relate to managing people. Some of Horowitz’s most salient advice focuses on qualities to look for when recruiting to make sure that the candidate’s experience is relevant to one’s needs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at someone’s resume and being impressed by their background. But the experience that has value for startup employees is not the same as that required for roles with larger companies. With ResiModel in growth mode, Horowitz’s hiring advice has been extremely valuable to me.

Robert Futterman
Chairman & CEO, RKF

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading “Zeckendorf: The Autobiography of William Zeckendorf.”

What spurred you to read that book? Would you recommend it to others?

Without question I highly recommend it. Zeckendorf is an absolute must-read for people in the real estate investment business. I’m fascinated by history, and, of course, being in the real estate industry myself, with major deals and clients in New York, Zeckendorf’s book particularly resonates with me. He describes how he developed the largest real estate empire in history — and how he lost it. Happily, his son and grandchildren are succeeding in developing the firm into a powerhouse again.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you?

Zeckendorf’s autobiography is a formidable example of what one can accomplish: building the most successful real estate empire — second to none — and sparking so much excitement for development. He writes that he spread himself too thin, an easy mistake and a reminder of the importance of planning for both good times and lean ones.

John Ferguson
Global co-chair, Goodwin Procter’s real estate private funds practice

What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?

“In a Different Key: The Story of Autism” by John Donovan and Caren Zucker.

What spurred you to read that book?

It was an obvious one for me. I am a parent of a child on the spectrum. Also, I am the leader of a team of lawyers at my firm who work pro bono for Autism Speaks, an organization that works to raise awareness, supports autism research and advocacy and provides educational resources. This relatively concise (670 pages!) history covers some of the science, the educational rights movement, society’s evolution in its awareness and acceptance of autism, and includes personal histories of many noteworthy milestones and individuals.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?

Wholeheartedly. In equal parts, this book made me marvel at the work and achievements to date and inspired and energized me. Against a backdrop of often fragmented and competing agendas, this book is at all times a human-interest story. This is perfect because at the center of all the progress, debates and work to be done are people.


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