The 33-year-old millionaire founder of $3.75 billion Box thinks everyone needs to read these two books

Flickr/ TechCrunch Disrupt 2013Box CEO Aaron Levie is known as a funny guy, but his book choices are pretty serious.

BoxCEO Aaron Levie may have made his millions helping companies move their data to the cloud, but the 32-year-old founder still takes the time to sit down and read a book.

As the leader of a 1,960-person workforce with $US500 million in annual revenue, it’s up to Levie to set the tone at Box. So, even though Levie is known widely as the funniest CEO in enterprise tech, it’s no surprise that his books of choice are actually quite serious.

Speaking on stage at BoxWorks, Box’s annual user conference, Levie shared two books he believed that all of its attendees should read and absorb.

Here’s what he read:

[‘Software will get into finer and finer niches’: Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says the future belongs to startups that specialize]


“Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” by Patty McCord (2018)

Patty McCord

Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, gives her take on recruiting, motivating, and building great teams in “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility.”

McCord, who worked at Netflix from 1998 to 2012, stands against the old style of corporate HR, which she sees as a waste of time. Instead, she “advocates for radical honesty in the workplace, saying good-bye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs, and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans,” according to the book description.

Levie isn’t the only person in Silicon Valley to take notice. McCord has gotten a lot of buzz since the book came out in early 2018. Arianna Huffington and Laurene Powell Jobs both endorsed McCord’s book, as did Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Read our interview with Patty McCord here.


“The Great Game of Business” by Jack Stack (1992)

Spine and Label

“The Great Game of Business” first came to Levie’s attention because it was referenced by McCord in her book Powerful. It may have come out in 1992, but it continues to be influential today.

In the book, author and long-time entrepreneur Jack Stack touts the idea of “open-book management,” a style of office culture which loops everyone into the finances of the company so they know how things are going every step of the way. Stack’s model of transparency and engagement was inspired by workers on the factory floor at International Harvester, which was going “down the tubes,” according to the book summary.

But it’s found its way into the heart of Silicon Valley leaders as well. Stack, founder and CEO of SRC Holdings Corporation, even managed to create a whole franchise around the book, which includes coaches, classes and events built to teach the model.

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