Liam Martin, Co-founder & CMO of Time Doctor & Staff.com, Shares a Reading List for Creating Theoretical Framework in Business

Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor and staff.com. As someone who promotes remote working (like we do, at The CEO Library), these two platforms that Liam created are focusing on companies getting the best results from their employees, even if they’re working with people who live on the other side of the globe.

In the past, Liam opened a small tutoring company that ended up having 100 employees. He saw the difficulty in running a remote team and decided to do something about it. That’s when staff.com was created, leading to the launch of Time Doctor. They are both productivity tools meant to help companies monitor their employees remotely. As a business owner with a remote team, you can efficiently manage the schedule for each employee and the time frame it takes to complete each task. Time Doctor has 66 employees who live in 23 different countries. This is further proof that Liam knows how to run a remote business.

Liam will also be running the Running Remote conference, a two-day event held this June (23rd and 24th), in Ubud, Bali. As a speaker, Liam will talk about how to build and scale a remote team. The Running Remote conference will cover every part of building a remote team to help develop the future of work. Some of the conference’s speakers are Joel Gascoigne (Co-founder & CEO of Buffer), Sara Sutton Fell (Founder of FlexJobs & Remote.co) and even Andrea Loubier (CEO of Mailbird), whom we had the pleasure of interviewing last year! If you’re an entrepreneur who is running a remote team or you’re about to start one, this conference is a must-attend event.

In the interview below, Liam shares a series of books that could help just about anyone create a theoretical framework for their business, but also how he applied the Lean Startup methodology to his business. Happy reading!


What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business: Zero to One by Peter Thiel because the book perfectly encapsulates what makes a tech startup incredibly successful and I often find myself thinking of his thought process when looking at adding a feature or investing in a company.

Non Business: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, great sci-fi and very apt book when looking at our socio-political environment today.


Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

When I read Eric Ries’ Lean Startup I loved the concept of MVP and applied this to features in TimeDoctor. We would simply add a link to a feature in a dashboard without building it to see whether people wanted that feature. We would also take features away to see if anybody got angry about it being gone.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Max Weber Protestant Ethic, and Karl Marx’s Capital had a huge impact on me.

If you read Marx with a critical critique you can see that he’s laid out a fantastic framework on how capitalism works, I do disagree with his core premise (capitalism being bad) so I took it as a great way to understand how I could operate inside of a capitalist economy. Weber on the other hand shows you exactly how to get ahead in the world and was critical to me understanding how we reward value creators in western society.


What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Read the books in this order: Marx: Capital, Peter Thiel: Zero to One, Eric Ries: Lean Startup, Tim Ferriss: 4 Hour Work Week, Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

If you read the books in that order you’ll have the theoretical framework to get great in business, the application to make it happen, the opportunity to figure out how to get that first business up and running and the context to understand that it isn’t all that important in the first place.


I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I consume audiobooks now almost exclusively. It allows the information to get into my brain faster than reading. I probably grind through 1-2 books a month but I only add things to my queue that have been referred to me by 3 or more people.


How do you make time for reading?

I listen to audiobooks whenever I’m exercising or travelling which is probably 2-3 hours a day.


Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

Yes, I usually always have a notebook with me and I’ll pause the audiobook, jot something down and then keep going.


How do you choose what books to read next?

3 person referral rule makes it easy.


Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Generally I do weigh them by the amount of respect I have for them, but I still stick with the rule of 3. Unfortunately not, I wish I had somebody like that in my life!


What book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Homo Deus, the sequel to Sapiens, I want my mind blown again like it was in Sapiens.


Most people are looking for shortcuts and “latest hacks”, even though they’re aware that there is no overnight success. Do you have an example of a mistake you made while building your business?

If it’s too good to be true, it is. Don’t ever try quick fixes, too many to mention in my own mind and I’m always re-learning that lesson.


What productivity ‘techniques’ have you personally experimented with?

Honestly, TimeDoctor has been my very best productivity hack. I wouldn’t have been where I am today without a focused task list that measures what I’m doing each day.


What are the biggest challenges when it comes to hiring for a remote or distributed team? Any red flags to look out for?

Document all your processes, having them in place will save you a lot of time when you start hiring remote.



Links where you can follow Liam Martin or find out more about his projects:



All books mentioned by Liam Martin in this interview:

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