15 books that earned the Yoco team’s stamp of approval

What to read

When you’re a busy business owner, the thought of making time to read a book may be the last thing on your mind. Even though it’s something many people enjoy and know they would benefit from, it still feels like a big commitment. What if the book you pick is boring and an utter waste of time? A good way to avoid picking the wrong book is to listen to the advice of other people like you.

To help you out we’ve asked the Yoco team what books they’ve read that they would recommend.

Books recommended by Yoco

Our diverse team put forward a selection of books, that will inspire, motivate, challenge your perceptions and give you a laugh or two.

Leaders Eat Last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t Book recommended by Yoco

Maya from our Growth team recommended this book by local writer (and her personal hero) Simon Sinek. If you’re looking to build a strong solid team where people trust each other, this is the book for you.

It is not the demands of the job that cause the most stress, but the degree of control workers feel they have throughout their day. – Simon Sinek

Out of Your MindBooks recommended by Yoco

Thabang from our product development team recommended Out of your Mind by Alan Watts. He enjoyed it because it helps him remember what life is all about.

If you stay in your mind all of the time, you are over rational. In other words, you are like a very rigid bridge which because it has no give; no craziness in it, is going to be blown down by the first hurricane. – Alan Watts

Founders at work: Stories of startups early days Books recommended by Yoco

Our Co-founder, Lungisa, and VP of Product, Andrew, recommended ‘Founders at work’ by Jessica Livingston. Andrew found it interesting to see how many great companies came extremely close to failing. Lungisa found it reassuring to learn that all founders started out as “noobs”.

I’d say determination is the single most important quality in a startup founder. If the founders I spoke with were superhuman in any way, it was in their perseverance.  – Jessica Livingston

Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time 

Because Lungisa never obeys the rules he managed to get 2 books onto the list. His second recommendation, Pour your heart into it, CEO Howard Schultz shares the principles and values that built the world’s largest coffee chain.

To be an enduring, great company, you have to build a mechanism for preventing or solving problems that will long outlast any one individual leader.


Rebecca from our Operations team said Shantaram made her fall in love with India. The incredible thing about this book is that the author Gregory Roberts based it on his own life as an ex-heroin addict and convicted bank robber who fled to India to hide.

There are no mistakes. Only new paths to explore. – Grefory David Roberts

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers 

In this book recommended by Nick, from the Product team, Ben Horowitz shares his experiences on running his own businesses. He offers the practical and honest sort of advice you definitely won’t learn in your business class.

The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. – Ben Horowitz

The Chimp Paradox

The Chimp Paradox was recommended by Shimaylan from our Sales team, because it gives insight into the way humans work, and why we can be so irrational at times. This understanding is critical to anyone looking to drive sales and build an effective and efficient team.

Anything in life is only as important as you want it to be.  – Steve Peters

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable 

Recommended by our Co-founder Carl Wazen, this book by the philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers a powerful new perspective on the world. Anyone involved in the modern day business environment can benefit from seeking more “Black Swans” and fewer averages.

When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate. – Nassim Taleb

Start with why Books recommended by Yoco

Liane from the Marketing team has not stopped raving about this book since she read it. The premise of the book is to start everything you do by asking yourself why you’re doing it instead of what or how. There’s an “A-Ha” moment on every page so make the time, switch off your phone and dive into Simon Sinek’s most loved book.

There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. – Seth Godin

Hector and the Search for Happiness

We’re lucky that Kirsten from our People team knows a thing or two about happiness. She recommended this book because she found it eye-opening to see all the different shapes and sizes that happiness comes in.

Knowing and feeling are two different things, and feeling is what counts. – Francois Lelord

Outliers: The story of Success 

Chris from Business Development and Steve from our Product team both listed Outliers by Malcom Gladwell as a book they would recommend. It’s a book that sheds a different light on what leads to success and offers practical advice.

Achievement is talent plus preparation – Malcom Gladwell

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future 

This book by Martin Ford was recommended by someone who would like to be referred to only as “G-Money”. The Rise of the Robots is an interesting and pretty scary book that takes an honest look at what the future job market could be and what skills will be required to survive in the future.

Imagine the uproar when Uber’s cars start arriving without drivers.  – Martin Ford

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future 

Paul from our Sales team is Elon Musk’s number one fan. Paul found a lot of value in learning how Elon Musk takes risks and just make things work. He also thought it was pretty awesome that the Iron man films are partially inspired by Elon Musk, the guy who plans to save our planet (but just in case he also plans on forming a colony on Mars).

Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not. – Elon Musk

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants 

‘David and Goliath’ is the one book I would recommend to any new entrepreneur or small business owner. Every day small businesses go up against large retailers or franchises. Yoco itself goes up against the large established banks. Yet often we find ways to prevail despite unfair odds. This book sheds light on why that happens and how you can get better at battling giants.

Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. – Malcom Gladwell

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose 

The final book on this list was recommended by our CEO, Katlego Maphai. The author, Tony Hsieh, is one of the most successful e-commerce entrepreneurs. He shares his beliefs for building a powerful internal culture.

For individuals, character is destiny. For organisations, culture is destiny. – Tony Hsieh

Do you have any books that have helped you in your life or business? Tweet us at @yoco_za


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