5 Hour Rule

Famously, Ben Franklin dedicated one hour each weekday to deliberate learning, popularizing what is commonly known as “the five hour rule”.  He posited that the long term benefits of this constant knowledge seeking far outweighed the short term loss of “work productivity” in that one hour.  I’m a big believer that taking the time to think, read, write, listen or watch in a targeted (but unrestricted) manner is incredibly important.

Here is a list of sources that I have woven into my routine; this list will evolve over time and is not comprehensive; there is way too much out there, and to list it all wouldn’t be that useful.

If there is something particularly great that I’m missing, please let me know!


I generally try to set aside the first hour of my day to reading through a subset of these

Above the Crowd – Bill Gurley of Benchmark, often the voice of doom, gloom, and tech bubbles

Ben’s Blog – Ben Horowitz of a16z; he turned many of his posts into a book, which I highly recommend

Term Sheet – Dan Primack’s daily blast; good thing to read every morning

Benedict Evans’ Newsletter – Great weekly Sunday read of all things tech

Notation Capital’s Origins podcast – unique insight into the world of LPs

SaaStr– Jason Lemkin’s creation, encompassing all things SaaS

Tomasz Tunguz – the Redpoint Partner tirelessly pumps out excellent thoughts on SaaS

Both Sides of the Table – run by Mark Suster, entrepreneur turned VC at Upfront Ventures

First Round Review – FRC’s blogging platform

AVC – Fred Wilson’s blog; he treats it more as a diary and writes daily

Homebrew Blog – I have a huge amount of respect for Homebrew, an early stage venture fund run by Satya Patel and Hunter Walk; this is their blog.

Stratechery – Run by Ben Thompson, with excellent tech analysis

Recode – Breaking tech news, founded by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg

TechCrunch – Best way to stay up to date on what’s going on in tech

Gigaom – Founded by Om Malik, now owned by Knowingly Corp.


On the train, in the car, on a run, or just wandering around Chicago/SF, these fill a lot of my idle time

Recode Decode – one of my favorites, from Kara Swisher

SaaStr – SaaS focused, hosted by Harry Stebbings

The Twenty Minute VC – very popular and lots of episodes to sift through

a16z – consistently excellent stream of topics and guests

The Full Ratchet – hosted by Nick Moran (New Stack Ventures) with high quality content, super relevant to those interested in the Chicago ecosystem

Freakanomics Radio – Stephen Dubner (with a helping hand from Steve Levitt) expands on the popular books

Revisionist History – By Malcolm Gladwell; I find some episodes fascinating and some very forgettable, but overall worth a listen

The Pitch – Really good way for those trying to understand how pitches are delivered and evaluated at a high level

Traction – Great stuff from NextView out of NYC and Boston


I’m much less focused with books – you can see my Goodreads page for a rundown, though it’s rarely up to date and generally filled with history.  Here are some keepers: 

The Second Machine Age – Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee discuss the implications of the coming tech wave

Originals – Wharton professor Adam Grant discusses creativity and originality – absolute must read

The Innovators – Great read from Walter Isaacson on history of innovation

The Industries of the Future – Great global perspective on the evolution of technology by Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The Inevitable – Kevin Kelly on the framework in which technology will evolve in the coming decades

The Hard Thing about Hard Things – Ben Horowitz’s management book that doesn’t read like a management book

Venture Deals – Written by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson of Foundry.  If you want to understand how venture deals are structured, read this.  Then read it again.

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg’s big hit.  Everyone should probably read this.

Zero to One – Peter Thiel’s views on how to build a business

The Lean Startup – Agree or not, good to understand how Eric Ries thinks about building companies and developing products

A few others I’ve liked: Steve Jobs (Isaacson), The Everything Store (Stone), Hatching Twitter (Bilton), The Signal and The Noise (Silver)

Here is a good list of recommendations that I came across – lot of overlap with the above, and plenty more