There are so many great books that relate to the work we do here at Branch, it's almost impossible to keep up.
From developers looking to read about the latest in engineering, to our partnerships team reading about the future of the gig economy, it seems there's a book for everyone here at Branch HQ in Minneapolis.
There's so much to read. That's why we've decided to start the "Branch Library" which include some of the classic startup titles like Peter Thiel's, Zero To One and The Four-Hour Work-Week by Tim Ferriss.
We can learn a lot about books covering business, modern marketing, and startups but there's a ton of books being published right now about the future of work and how it's changing. Topics like automation, artificial intelligence, freelance economy, manufacturing, and robotics.
Reading books related to these topics is extremely helpful and informs our work. They give us snapshots of the consumers we're building products for, and provide ample creative energy about the latest techniques we can apply. Think of it like grad school -- we're always trying to read up and stay educated because the world we're in moves way too fast.
Here is a sampling of what we're reading right now, from a few of us here at Branch:
After a business trip to Southern Wisconsin, Atif picked up this best-selling portrait of a blue-collar, hard-working Midwestern industry town. Long known for Parker Pens and its GM plant that produced Chevrolets for 85 years, this book follows a cast of characters during a five-year stretch of the late 2000s (2008-13) when the illustrious plant produced its last vehicle. It's a timely tale that explores the shifting American labor and manufacturing industry, as well as a deeply, well-reported story of the continued dissipation of the Middle Class.
Taylor Pipes, Editor, Shiftonomics
Reading: Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks, and the Making of an Oil Frontier (Maya Rao, Publication Affairs Publishing, April 2018)
When Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Maya Rao moved to North Dakota in January of 2012, the state was in the midst of one of the biggest economic booms in history. It seemed that everyone was heading for the city of Williston, located right in the heart of the Bakken Oil Fields. What transpires is an unbelievable story of the “pioneers, outcasts, losers, tramps, dreamers, do-gooders, failures, drifters, deadbeats, felons, freaks, dodgers, bootleggers, scum, miscreants, missionaries, stumblebums, sneaks, bastards, loan sharks, hustlers, millionaires" who strive to make money and build a life. Rao herself, took a job as a truck stop cashier and rode with truckers to get many of the stories that comprise this fantastic book about the economic reality that explodes from such a frail, harsh, lonely and frequently lawless place. And, while Rao chroncicles many of the Bakken's earth-shattering highs and it's tumultous lows, the area has quietly emerged as a dominant source of oil extraction. In the shadow of the headline-stealing Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas, tests earlier this year show that the Bakken is ready to roar again. Even by modern fracking techniques that are required to extract oil by horizonital drilling and vertical fracking, a few years ago it took more than 80 days to complete the drilling process. Today, technology has ramped that up to 10 days.
A very relevant publication to be reading in the moment. One in three American workers is now a freelancer. This “gig economy”—one that provides neither the guarantee of steady hours nor benefits—emerged out of the digital era and has revolutionized the way we do business. High-profile tech start-ups such as Uber and Airbnb are constantly making headlines for the disruption they cause to the industries they overturn. Well beyond Wall Street and Main Street, it's a book that makes us think profoundly about what it means to have a job and what the future of employment looks like. Important stuff to keep in mind while we're building Branch Messenger.