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Publisher's Summary

The traits that make Sam Zell one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs also make him one of the most surprising, enigmatic, and entertaining mavericks in American business.

Self-made billionaire Sam Zell consistently sees what others don't. From finding a market for overpriced Playboy magazines among his junior high classmates, to buying real estate on the cheap after a market crash, to investing in often unglamorous industries with long-term value, Zell acts boldly on supply and demand trends to grab the first-mover advantage. And he can find opportunity virtually anywhere - from an arcane piece of legislation to a desert meeting in Abu Dhabi.

"If everyone is going left, look right," Zell often says. To him, conventional wisdom is nothing but a reference point. Year after year, deal after deal, he shuts out the noise of the crowd, gathers as much information as possible, then trusts his own instincts. He credits much of his independent thinking to his parents, who were Jewish refugees from World War II.

Talk to any two people and you might get wild swings in their descriptions of Zell. A media firestorm ensued when the Tribune Company went into bankruptcy a year after he agreed to steward the enterprise. At the same time, his razor-sharp instincts are legendary on Wall Street, and he has sponsored over a dozen IPOs. He's known as the Grave Dancer for his strategy of targeting troubled assets, yet he's created thousands of jobs. Within his own organization, he has an inordinate number of employees at every level who are fiercely loyal and have worked for him for decades.

Zell's got a big personality; he is often contrarian, blunt, and irreverent, and always curious and hardworking. This is the guy who started wearing jeans to work in the 1960s, when offices were a sea of gray suits. He's the guy who told The Wall Street Journal in 1985, "If it ain't fun, we don't do it." He rides motorcycles with his friends, the Zell's Angels, around the world and he keeps ducks on the deck outside his office.

As he writes: "I simply don't buy into many of the made-up rules of social convention. The bottom line is: If you're really good at what you do, you have the freedom to be who you really are."

Am I Being Too Subtle? - a reference to Zell's favorite way to underscore a point - takes listeners on a ride across his business terrain, sharing with honesty and humor stories of the times he got it right, when he didn't, and most important, what he learned in the process.

This is an indispensable guide for the next generation of disrupters, entrepreneurs, and investors.

©2017 Sam Zell (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story, but ....

If you could sum up Am I Being Too Subtle? in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating
Inspiring
Insightful

What was one of the most memorable moments of Am I Being Too Subtle??

The early chapters on Mr. Zell's parents, including their escape from Poland, are important and fascinating.

What didn’t you like about Sam Zell’s performance?

Mr. Zell has many fine qualities. A good, or even mediocre, speaking voice is not one of them. He should have chosen someone else - anyone else - to narrate the book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many fine moments. Hard to pick one.

Any additional comments?

I recommend you buy the book in other than audible form.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Differently Decent

The author has a bit of an unconventional approach to business and life that I really enjoyed. I got a lot of practical information out of this and thought it was useful and inspirational.

Wasn't a big fan of the author's voice at first, but you get used to it rather quickly. Excellent use of stories to illustrate points.

Cheers!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Favorite book of 2017 so far

Great story and performance by the author. Thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is full of valuable insights on dealmaking and business.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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good story, but

good story, but Sam's voice can be a little difficult to understand at times. hard to have someone else narrate though as he has such passion.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. Wish he wrote 2+

I loved this book. Wish he wrote two more about his life and experiences. We hear about the good and the bad. Tough decisions and their results. Great stuff. Got more stories in ya Sam?

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

too much bragging not enough content

Much like Trump's book the beginning and the end are fairly painful to listen to, and are mostly just bragging. The middle does have some great content and real information which is what I'm looking for. Also can authors please stop reading your own books. Especially if you have a voice like Zell!

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Great audio book

Sam Zell is great. This book is awesome as an audio book because his voice is so unique. Highly recommended.

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gravedancer

E xcellent story from extrodinary man.
I truly enjoyed the story, the main take away for me is: stay true to yourself, don' t take yourself too seriously and your word and reputation means everything.
A lot to learn and thank you Sam for sharing your story.

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Great wisdom from a great investor

So many wise observations from one of the most successful real estate investors. He keeps it simple and profound at the same time.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Biography Not a business book

It is not a pleasant book to listen to, due to the fact narrator was the author.
If someone loves biographies ( and somewhat business) will enjoy this book. But someone who is looking for business tips and pointers, like in books by Masterson, Tracy, Canfield, will be disappointed.
Few allegations about World War 2 are questionable.

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  • Hadar
  • 12-20-17

Outstanding Book

Sam story is fascinating and touching.
Full of life and business wisdom.
Very inspirational. Highly Recommend