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What It Takes

Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence
Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (406 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Blackstone chairman, CEO, and co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman, a long-awaited book that uses impactful episodes from Schwarzman's life to show listeners how to build, transform, and lead thriving organizations. Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, philanthropist, executive, or simply someone looking for ways to maximize your potential, the same lessons apply.

People know who Stephen Schwarzman is - at least they think they do. He’s the man who took $400,000 and co-founded Blackstone, the investment firm that manages over $500 billion (as of January 2019). He’s the CEO whose views are sought by heads of state. He’s the billionaire philanthropist who founded Schwarzman Scholars, this century’s version of the Rhodes Scholarship, in China. But behind these achievements is a man who has spent his life learning and reflecting on what it takes to achieve excellence, make an impact, and live a life of consequence.

Folding handkerchiefs in his father’s linen shop, Schwarzman dreamed of a larger life, filled with purpose and adventure. His grades and athleticism got him into Yale. After starting his career in finance with a short stint at a financial firm called DLJ, Schwarzman began working at Lehman Brothers where he ascended to run the mergers and acquisitions practice. He eventually partnered with his mentor and friend Pete Peterson to found Blackstone, vowing to create a new and different kind of financial institution.

Building Blackstone into the leading global financial institution it is today didn’t come easy. Schwarzman focused intensely on culture, hiring great talent, and establishing processes that allow the firm to systematically analyze and evaluate risk. Schwarzman’s simple mantra “don’t lose money” has helped Blackstone become a leading private equity and real estate investor, and manager of alternative assets for institutional investors globally. Both he and the firm are known for the rigor of their investment process, their innovative approach to deal making, the diversification of their business lines, and a conviction to be the best at everything they do.

Schwarzman is also an active philanthropist, having given away more than a billion dollars. In philanthropy, as in business, he is drawn to situations where his capital and energy can be applied to drive transformative solutions and change paradigms, notably in education. He uses the skills learned over a lifetime in finance to design, establish, and support impactful and innovative organizations and initiatives. His gifts have ranged from creating a new College of Computing at MIT for the study of artificial intelligence, to establishing a first-of-its-kind student and performing arts center at Yale, to enabling the renovation of the iconic New York Public Library, to founding the Schwarzman Scholars fellowship program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

©2019 Stephen A. Schwarzman (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding story and lessons in business and life

An incredible story about one of the worlds most successful businessman. Themes include thinking big, hiring “10s” out of 10 to form incredible teams, establishing trust while working with people from other countries or political parties, how to be resilient after suffering a setback. How to help other people with their problems, which in turn will have a positive effect on you. How to effectively build trust in business and in government. Finally, lessons in philanthropy. If you had the money, how can you give it away and make a giant difference in the world. Steve Schwarzman is a man of integrity.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • ----
  • Los Angeles, CA United States
  • 10-26-19

A very boring self congratulatory victory lap

A very boring read. No lessons, no plot, just outright boasting. I’m pretty sure it’s in my top 5 most boring reads ever. Hopefully I can return it.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyed the story

Enjoyed the story and business observations but seemed whitewashed and intended to portray the author in the best light.

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Engaging, Enlightening, Encouraging

I listened to this book and can honestly say I do not think I could have read a book. Having said this, I must say it was an exciting read. Mr. Schwarzman gave us his heart while giving us a huge does of "don't ever give up". He comes from the world of big finance. Many of the things he talked about in his business were over my head. What was not over my head was how tenacity can pull you through. His experience is trying one that epitomizes the phrase, no only means not now.

There is much hard work in his story. Hard work that pays off and not just for him but for countless numbers of others who benefited from his work

Listen to this book. Hear what Mr. Schwarzman is saying and apply it to your own life.

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Must read for biography lovers

Stephen has quite a story, great for any aspiring business person or entrepreneur.
Warmly recommend.

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Excellent!

Very well written book. It’s quite entertaining too. I leaned a lot about private equity, entrepreneurship and life.

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Impressive Life Journey

If you need inspiration for achieving big goals this is the book for you. It is full of advice and guidance on having success in life and business.

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Hard to find Insights

I am now listening this Audiobook 2nd time and I can clearly see the lessons Mr Schwartzman placed in his stories. Full of mentalities and professional tips.

1. Success comes by putting yourself in situations you have no right to be in... and learn from your stupidity! - Engage
2. IPO -->> Strong financial position, in advance -->> grasp the opportunity
3. Informations - detail - perfection
4. Share Responsibility
5. Reputation
6. Valuable Insights about China's culture ..tips/keys

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Split on this one.

The stories, connections, lessons, and inspiration in this book are legendary. However, a lot of it needs to be taken in context. For example $180 million gift when you’re worth 17 billion it’s like me giving $10,000, sort of not even a drop in the bucket, not taking anything away of course. Also, the author has fantastic insight in cycles and trends, but the contacts he started with sort of made an unfair advantage. The 25 lessons at the end of the book are well worth the price of admission. I do see where some of the reviews have said it might be a little self aggrandizing, however this was a fantastic read and I will likely read it again.

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Great book, poor narration

The book is fantastic. The "award winning" narrator mispronounces "Groton", "Babar", and "kluge"... and I'm only on chapter 8. The author should have read the whole thing... don't allow someone else to ruin your great work.