Adam Guild Reads 182 Books a Year, and He's Read This One 14 Times. Here's Why.
The 19-year-old serial entrepreneur calls this business book 'a masterpiece.'
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Adam Guild, founder and CEO of Placepull, a technology company revolutionizing local business marketing, starting with restaurants. It was condensed by The Oracles.
What was a defining moment early in your life?
Adam Guild: Starting at around 12 years old, I went through an extremely painful time. I was still coping with my parents’ divorce and was rejected from the school I wanted to go to. I was bullied relentlessly at my new school, had zero friends, and became more and more overweight.
I felt alone, helpless, and hopeless every day. But in retrospect, it was the most empowering time of my life. I focused on building businesses and developing myself. When I was 12, I launched a social network at my school because we weren’t allowed on Facebook. A year later, I started a company that facilitated multiplayer experiences for a game called Minecraft. That was the only area in my life where I felt like I was valued and making progress, the one part of my life that relieved my pain.
Entrepreneurship soon became an obsession. I promised myself I would do everything in my power to create the life that I wanted — and my whole life changed. I learned to accept pain for what it is: the best catalyst for progress.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Adam Guild: I am world class at understanding the feelings of others, communicating useful ideas effectively, and influencing others’ decision-making processes through deep empathy.
I never had natural social skills, which was a huge weakness and source of pain for me. As a result of my social awkwardness, I was often mocked and excluded. This pain sparked a deep desire to better understand others and communicate effectively.
I realized this was critical to my mission: improving the world and empowering others. I developed an obsession with psychology, the science of communication, and decision-making processes. I’ve read hundreds of books on these topics and studied them for thousands of hours. The more I learn, the more I realize how important this is.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Adam Guild: We have the privilege of empowering our customers to meet their goals and improve their lives. Every day, we get to help restaurant owners progress toward their dreams. We’ve had many customers around the U.S. over the past year, and we’ve never had anyone cancel our service. I’m very proud of that.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Adam Guild: “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. Their masterpiece gave me a better lens through which to view life, the economy, and business. It dispelled myths about the business world — like the idea that competition is good for business — and emphasized the importance of sales, patience, and other underrated aspects of building a business.
The book was so formative and beneficial, I’ve read it cover to cover 14 times and continue to reference its wisdom while building my business.
What was your biggest challenge starting in business? How did you overcome it?
Adam Guild: Striking the balance between being patient and operating with urgency. I’m often frustrated with the rate of progress in my business. It feels like we’re not growing and improving fast enough. I overcome that frustration by analyzing our progress every week or month, rather than judging how each day feels in the moment.
That sense of urgency accelerates the speed of our progress, so it’s a requirement for continuing at an optimal pace. At the same time, it’s good to step back and accept that it takes time to build valuable things. That builds perseverance in the face of challenges.
How do you define great leadership?
Adam Guild: Great leadership is the discipline of empowering and uniting a group of people to achieve worthwhile ideals. It requires making the best strategic decisions with the information available. There’s constantly a balance between persevering through challenges with your original strategy or adapting to achieve your goals.
Once great leaders make a decision, they effectively communicate its importance to the team, uniting them to implement it and empowering them throughout the process.
How do you evaluate a good business deal?
Adam Guild: I have a pragmatic and simple process. First, I list all the relevant information about the benefits and costs. Then I calculate the financial and strategic consequences of each.
Next, I create a simple Google Doc with two columns: pros and cons. I list each point and its expected outcome in one of the columns, anticipate the consequences of my decision, and highlight the side of the chart that makes the most sense strategically.
Finally, I write a clear “why” statement at the bottom for reference, including my decision and the rationale behind it.
What’s your daily routine for success?
Adam Guild: My daily routine starts the night before when I create an agenda of everything I must accomplish the next day. I only sleep when I accomplish what I set out to, so my waking hours and schedule often vary.
When I wake up, I ask myself empowering questions and stimulate my body with physiological and breathing processes. I thank God for another day, for the opportunities and blessings in my life, and for everyone I know and love. I have several other daily “must-dos”: I must exercise for an hour, meditate, and read because my goal is to read 182 books every year.
The rest of the day, I make progress toward my mission by working on my business and helping others I care for and admire. Then rinse and repeat, 365 days a year.
What are you working on right now?
Adam Guild: I lead Placepull, a marketing technology company that helps restaurant owners increase their revenue. We specialize in getting them new customers. Our team is united by a passion for empowering business owners to achieve their goals because we believe they are heroes in their local communities.
Once we achieve market saturation in the restaurant marketing industry, we plan to expand and help other local businesses with similar characteristics.
What do you want to be known for?
Adam Guild: Improving the quality of life of all living beings, reforming the education system to better empower people, and helping solve many of the inequities in our world.