The 33-year-old millionaire founder of $3.75 billion Box thinks everyone needs to read these 2 books

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

BoxCEO Aaron Levie may have made his millions helping companies move their data to the cloud, but the 33-year-old founder still takes the time to sit down and read a book.

It’s up to Levie, the leader of a 1,960-person workforce at a company that has $US500 million in annual revenue and is valued at $US3.75 billion, 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 in August, Box’s annual user conference, Levie shared two books he believes all the attendees should read and absorb.

Here’s what he suggested:

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


Patty McCord, the 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 human resources, which she sees as a waste of time. Instead, according to the book’s description on Amazon, she “advocates practicing radical honesty in the workplace, saying goodbye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs, and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans.”

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 Business Insider’s interview with Patty McCord here.

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


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

In the book, the longtime entrepreneur Jack Stack touts the idea of “open-book management,” a style of office culture that 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,” the book’s summary says.

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