Branson, Pink Floyd and Apollo 13: 10 books, movies and songs I love with Dave Dinesen
The CEO of CubicFarms gives his picks.
Dave Dinesen has promised that CubicFarms is on the cusp of an agricultural revolution. It’s becoming hard to argue with him.
His company’s two wings—its HydroGreen system that goes from seed to feed for cows in six days and its farming technology that uses 95 percent less water than field farming and lets farmers grow 365 days a year—are both, according to Dinesen, “doing fantastic.” The Langley operation is now around 170 employees and is currently working on installing its technology in Australia (its first non-North American outpost).
But Dinesen also prides personal time outside of work. He plays lead guitar in the band Kickdrive (which also includes his son and CubicFarms employee Jordan), so you can imagine his list of 10 books, movies and songs he loves is going to be of a certain type. Let’s see what he picked.
“On An Island” by David Gilmour
I play lead guitar, so I lean towards music and songs that are obviously a little heavier on the guitar. The song that I think is most perfect if you’re an electric guitar guy is this one by [Pink Floyd guitarist] Dave Gilmour.
Pretty much anything by John Mayer
Big fan of John Mayer, he’s heavy on the electric guitar. He hasn’t written and played a song I haven’t loved.
“Kid Charlemange” by Steely Dan
And “Don’t Take Me Alive” and “Peg,” also by Steely Dan. From a guitar-playing standpoint, I absolutely love it. You hear a lot of Steely Dan influence in Kickdrive.
Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
It’s Branson’s first autobiography about starting his Virgin empire and the battles he faced at every turn. He tells a story that, during a postal strike, he had to stop mailing records, so he went to a shoe store and asked them for no rent for three months because of the foot traffic the store would get. It was so successful that they never went back to the mail-order business again.
The thing I took away from that was that the worst thing that could happen to your business very well may be the best opportunity. You just don’t know it yet.
The E Myth by Michael Gerber
It’s a very short book about entrepreneurs. The story is about a lady who makes the best pies in the world. Her friends say, ‘your pies are so good, you should open a bakery.’ So she does. But when you open a store, now you have employees, you hire tradespeople, pay staff, advertise, etc. People come, they buy pies, she hires staff, some quit, and the store ends up getting somewhat successful. But it’s a small store and because there’s so much other stuff to do that’s not baking pies, she finds she only has between 3 and 4 a.m. to bake pies, the rest of it is running the business. Just because you’re good at this one thing doesn’t mean you’re good at everything else.
Winning by Jack Welch
A great management book. He built one of the largest and most successful industrial, technology, finance companies.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I think understanding that if you’ve done something long enough, you get why some people are successful and often it's not an accident. They’ve just been doing it long enough to know more than you.
The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnston
I think it’s a great thing that never goes out of style when coaching people.
It’s just always been inspiring from a courage perspective.
When they’re running out of oxygen, they literally have to put the square thing into the round object and dump the box of crap on the table. They have to find the solution in 15 minutes or the astronauts are going to die. I’ve used that analogy in business many, many times.