New York | Member Since 2012
I love Amazon. Seriously. Amazon has improved my life. As a parent of young children, I spend no time driving to stores for diapers, I can shop late at night, I can get things cheap.
Little did I know the "price of cheap." In order for Amazon to deliver the best prices, they've seemingly done almost everything on such a slim margin, you almost feel guilty as a customer for what is happening for their employees. From the Fulfillment Centers to the executive offices, everything is about being cheap and frugal to the point it's a bit disturbing how little I was aware of it : No air conditioning in a hot summer warehouse (although they would have an ambulance on hand for employees who suffer heat stroke) - Execs traveling in economy - sawhorse door desks - no free parking for employees - a boss that expects you to have no work/life balance - no unions... it goes on...
I do appreciate how Jeff Bezos behaves as an agent of the consumer, fighting for the benefit of the consumer, but all the cheap stories made me feel like asking Jeff to not fight so hard, to just lay off and get his employees some air conditioning. It's like you call the police to arrest a guy who's stolen your car, only to have the police come and proceed to bludgeon the burglar to within inches of his life in front of your eyes. That's how it felt at times.
This book does do a good job presenting the most successful .com retail company and charting the roots of its success, it serves as a role model for anybody seeking to understand the world of internet retailing through the lens of the biggest, baddest, internet retailer out there right now.
Here's the bottom line, I enjoy business books and memoirs to hear about people's struggle and wisdom and how they achieved their goals. As a result of these books, I'm inspired, and I approach my day with more confidence and feel-goodness.
This book doesn't deliver. You won't feel inspired, like you should "go out and and get 'em", you won't really learn anything new, and you'll be surprised there's a long section on how to play poker popping up in the middle about a book presumably about Zappos.
This book treads between the worlds of not supplying enough information or story when it is needed, and then going off topic on threads that really shouldn't be in the book in the first place. For example, when starting and selling his first business to Microsoft for 260+million, there could be more information on the business itself, how it ran, what it was like, but instead, it's over in less than a few minutes, and hey, he's a millionaire. Then a long rambling section on how to play poker??? Even if it's helpful, even if it's true, if I wanted to read a book on how Tony Hsieh plays poker, I would be looking for a book called Delivering Poker Chips by Tony Hsieh. In this book it just sticks out like narcissistic rambling.
Yes, that headline's a quote from an Apple advertisement, but yet somehow fit so well to describe the cast of characters gathered in pursuit of creating a 100 mpge car. The book is extensively researched, the characters so finely presented, the passion so tangibly presented, you feel as if you are listening to a movie. I almost wonder how the author was so fortunate to have ring side seats for so many teams all the way from concepts to victory, and he does a great job following up post-competition as well.
To put my opinion into perspective, I've been getting into design/engineering books lately, and I listened to the Steve Jobs bio, the Jony Ive bio, the story of the AK-47 and Glock, and books on Nikola Tesla.
If you've enjoyed any of those books, you must listen to this one - this is the best non-fiction book on engineering and design that I have read, in part because the story remains about design, and not business success, for the simple reason that most of the teams spend vast sums of money and time and perhaps have little financial gain.
The author's criticisms are fairly leveled at the X Prize Car competition itself, a competition which set out a difficult mission that ended up so demanding that at the end, only the crazy ones, the misfits and the rebels are the ones who remained. The prize asked for a 100 mpge car, and that's what they got, however it never was able to create an industry the way the first Space X Prize was able to generate corporate enthusiasm for space tourism. it does not seem there is much to show from the efforts of these people just yet. You'll feel that pain too, and yet still appreciate and respect their accomplishments.
(While Tesla seems to be doing well right now, they were early withdrawals from the competition, and their initial approach of luxury vehicles is not the approach the X Prize competition was designed to cultivate.)
This really is about dreamers. visionaries, because not all dreamers and visionaries will necessarily become financially successful or their full dream realized- and yet they'll still be out there, building their machines with passion that borders on religion.
You can't help but be inspired in some way, perhaps to become motivated to do things you've dreamt of doing but for some reason never had. And what is a better reason to get a book than that.
I didn't know this wasn't an authorized biography. I did note that it was short in length, but I was eager to learn more about the lead designer at Apple.
I got a long list of accomplishments and insight on what he did and what was done but bottom line is I still don't feel like I know what he's like as a human being. Even little facts - I would expect to be able to know things like, what was his starting salary at Apple? I did learn that he made something like 50 million once... but where did he start? What was his first meeting with Jobs like?
There are some good observations - particularly I enjoyed the sequence of manufacturing iphones/imacs, detailing from the aluminum billet, the laser drilling, painting, etc. There are about 2 parts where the manufacturing detail is laid out. Apple doesn't disclose it, but it seems Kahney got some sources and also intuited some of it out. Painting, thermal expansion, tooling, properties of plastic vs glass vs aluminum, all of these are things I hadn't thought about.
Very much missing are nice anecdotes, like the ones in Isaacson's "Steve Jobs," that could really give Ive a depth of character. If you read Isaacson's book, you might remember the bit about somebody seeing Steve in his Porsche shouting on the phone - "make it more ____ing BLUE!" or some other great tidbit that gave you insight into his character. Nothing there, and I missed it. For example, Ive and Rubenstein would yell at each other. What did they yell? did they curse? were they funny? No quotes. And then supposedly Rubenstein got fired by an ultimatum, "he goes or I goes," but that's delivered more as a hearsay rather than a direct quote.
Anyway, it's an unauthorized bio on a guy who's really private so it's a tough task to tackle... that's why that's my headline.
I wish my chemistry teachers would have made me read this book. I would have had more interest in chemistry instead of regarding it as a hard and dry science with no humanity.
I would love to find another book that will do what this did - take a scientific, informative subject, cover its history and developments and just make something that I struggled to understand in high school very interesting indeed. You won't learn about Avogadro (or whatever his name was) , or many other significant numbers that your teacher tried to beat into your head, but instead you'll learn about things like King Midas and spoons that melt in your tea, and fool's gold and isn't that already better than knowing how to identify chemical reactions? High school did a great job in making chemistry SUCK. This book, while it won't make you a chemist, might instead make you respect, admire, and appreciate it.
I'm waiting for the sequel, "the Disappearing SPORK!"
There are some good nuggets, some things you'll gain from this about the importance and respect towards safety, of being responsible and quick to respond, however there are also things that I'll probably remember even more because they seemed rather consistent - Branson seems to always think that to sell something, it just helps to get naked or have some other people get scantily clad. He may be right, he may be wrong, but it does get monotonous about the third time he mentions how getting attractive people to say and dress a particular way will sell. He may indeed be more of Brand-son most of the time, but it wasn't that bad of a listen. 3 stars.
My reaction, put simply is - I can't tell if the author is trying to justify the merits of being a motorcycle mechanic to us or to himself. It's as if he started off overly in defense of his career choice, as if bitter of the lack of respect he feels people may hold for him because he is a mechanic, rather than a think tank academic. By the end, he just sounds very full of himself and rather intolerable. and the worst part? I more or less agree with what he's saying.
Expected more inspiration, expected more insight. Some how this book didn't really move me nor inspire me to carpe diem. it rang more of a man's reflection on his great life.
I had just listened to "No Easy Day" a few months ago and was in the mood for some non-fiction Navy SEAL action story. Chris Kyle had just been in the news, sadly, because he was killed and I thought I'd like to hear his story. This book serves more as a semi-bio, semi-life as Navy SEAL story (it even has many passages written from his wife's perspective), but it sadly does not serve as an interesting war story (even on more descriptive missions, it seems he scarcely goes into much detail beyond what he sees inside his scope so each mission reads something like, "then I set up my rifle and right away I see 3 bad guys. I love killing bad guys." - while that's great, it doesn't tell you much about the people he's protecting, what they were doing, and whether or not the mission succeeded.
There's no epilogue on his murder, by the way.
so in short, if you expect another "no easy day" this is not the book for you. If you're thinking, I am a bad ass and I want to be a Navy SEAL, what's that like for life and family, then maybe you'll get something out of this book.
If you have enjoyed the other books before this one, I think you'll be disappointed. Too much time spent on tertiary character development, noticeably intentional absence of popular interesting characters - this book is FILLER. It seems its main purpose is to just establish the passing of time in the world. Frankly, it's fine that the author has such a broad view of the world he has created, but there's an art in telling a tale and populating a story with 10000 characters doesn't make it better. (Of course if these other 3rd level characters become important I'll probably regret this)
The narration is fine and talented.
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