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September 18, 2017

I launched The CEO Library – book recommendations from the people we look up to

About two months ago I was looking for some book to read from my Kindle collection. I was seeing titles like:

  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence
  • Letters to a Young Contrarian
  • Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity
  • Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
  • The Turnaround Strategies of Jim Harbaugh: How the University of Michigan Head Football Coach Changes the Culture to Immediately Increase Performance

I had no f#$ing idea how I got those books on my Kindle. I still don’t. No, let me correct myself on that: I know HOW they got on my Kindle, I don’t remember WHY, though. I was sure I read about them in some book or in some article, recommended by someone. Who, though? And why did I think it was interesting? I had no answer to this.

The idea of The CEO Library

Several days later I told one of my friends about this. He felt the same. Then another. The same story. Hmm, I thought, I could write some posts on my blog as I find these recommendations. But, if people look for this kind of thing, maybe I can transform reading and books, that were common in my life since I was 5 years old, into something more: a passion project.

So this is how The CEO Library started: a list of books recommendations from people with interesting things to say. People that had success in their chosen fields in some way and I think it’s worth learning from them: entrepreneurs, investors, C-level executives, senior people in companies. I wanted the site to be a database of all the books you find recommended online

Of course, once I started to actually think about the project, I understood that I couldn’t do it alone. Just a happy coincidence, about the same time Cristina, with whom I worked on another successful project 10 years earlier, started to be interested in a project about books. She approached me to ask my advice and when I told her about my idea, she said: “cool, let’s do it together”. And that’s how I became a co-founder of The CEO Library :)

Launching the MVP

It took us about a month and a half after that to structure the site, understand how the content should look and what we should have on the site and, of course, it took that long to get the first 400-500 books in the database. Scouring the web for interviews, lists and similar is not as easy as you think after the first 10-20 articles :)

Of course, it took me about two weeks to think about a name – what do you think about The Thrive Library? Or CEO plug? My cousin laughed an hour about the last one. Sex toys, anyone?

Also, the design. I knew from experience how long it takes to get a good design and I said to myself that in the week with the 15th of September I will launch the site no matter what. I needed feedback from users before getting any kind of definitive design in place, because, in my mind, it should follow the structure of the site. And I can’t know the structure of the site until I have some users, right?

Learnings from the first days of “alpha” launch

Finally, here’s the site: The CEO Library.

I initially wanted a small “alpha” launch, to see what people think of it, so I sent it to my 250 people email list to get some feedback. Frankly, I expected a little bit of feedback on the email and that would be it. I expected somebody to put it on Facebook or something and get 200 visitors for the next 2-3 days. That, I thought, would give me enough feedback on what visitors look for. Cristina also offered to tell her list, as well.

Well, since Wednesday to today we had about 2,000 unique visitors on the site, about 20-30 feedback emails sent to me or Cristina, multiple shares on Facebook. And some people actually subscribed to our weekly newsletter :)

The most important learnings I got: people really love talking about books (I should know, though, this is why we started the site) and the most interesting things for the visitors are the Collections and the Interviews. Which we’ll add more in the time to come.

I’m finishing this “official” launch by saying that I will add a monthly article about the project, with numbers, what we want to do next, how it worked and stuff like that. I love this kind of “business journal”. I’ve read the entire archive for the blog of a guy that built an app called Bingo Card Creator and I want to try something similar (maybe not as detailed as he did, though).

If you have feedback, please let us know. Go to Contact Us on the site and send an email. Any kind of feedback is appreciated (even if not acted upon).

Oh, one more thing: if you want somebody to be interviewed, someone that you know personally so that you can put us in contact with them, please let us know. Again, the Contact form on our website :)

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