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My Book Reviews

Category: Entreperneurship
Published: 1997
Read: 1998
Reviewed: Sep 2009

This is a collection of interviews with the biggest technology visionaries in the business world, including: Bill Gates, Andy Grove (Intel), Steve Jobs (Apple), Steve Case (AOL), Bill Hewlitt (HP), Michael Dell, Steve Cook (Intuit), Ken Olsen (Digital), T.J. Rodgers (Cypress Semiconductor), Charles Wang (Computer Associates), Ed McCracken (Silicon Graphics), Trip Hawkins (Electronic Arts), Sandy Kurtzig (ASK), George Eubanks (Symantec), John Warnock & Charles Geschke (Adobe). Although the book profiles the biggest players in the technology industry, it is more of an entrepreneurship book than a general business book, and will appeal mainly to entrepreneurs and managers. It gives readers advice on how to grow a company from a small or medium company into a large company.

The book is laid out in Q & A format and each section reads like a long BusinessWeek interview. At first glance it might seem that there is no point in reading books like this since you can get the same kind of content from reading magazines but a few things jumped out at me. First, the answers are a lot more comprehensive than you see in magazines, which are squeezed for space. Second, the subjects tended to be lot more open and less paranoid about saying something controversial. They're not afraid to take shots at people (for example, Steve Jobs states outright that he thinks John Scully ruined Apple). And third, magazines tend to focus on short-term news that loses its value quickly, whereas the discussions here tend to be more macro-focused and principles-based. Here are some of the more interesting quotes:

  • Steve Jobs on managing: "People are package deals; You take the good with the confused."
  • T.J. Rodgers on long-term strategy: "The only safe harbor is competency."
  • T.J. Rodgers on why he doesn't get into politics: "Why would I want to be a wealth allocator with no value-added - or negative value added - when I can be a wealth creator?"
  • George Eubanks on innovation: "At some point incrementally better just doesn't work."
  • George Eubanks on different people's goals and skills: "Do you think Jerry Rice wishes he was quarterback?"
  • Steve Case: "Bright marketing just kills a bad product faster."
  • Scott Cook: "If you have a lousy idea, financing won't turn it into a good one."
  • Scott Cook: "[Customers] can't verbalize what they want, particularly when it comes to new stuff."
  • Charles Wang: "The time to rebuild foundations is when you don't have to. Otherwise you end up with a euphemism called re-engineering."
  • Andy Grove: "You can't treat your people like an expense item."
  • Ken Olsen, on being an active business person during retirement: "Sitting down and watching television or playing golf rates much lower on the list of accomplishments."

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