HOW I BUILT THIS : The Unexpected Paths To Success From The World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs (Copy)Guy Raz
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★★ NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ★★
★★ WALL STREET JOURNAL #1 BESTSELLING BUSINESS BOOK ★★
“This book is all about inspiration – told with blood, sweat, and tears. You’ll come away refreshed. And ready to hit the ground running.”
— Mark Cuban, entrepreneur,
How I Built This is a compilation of the best tips and lessons that Guy Raz learned from interviewing the founders of the greatest businesses in the world on his podcast of the same name and teaches how to start a company and keep it running strong. Based on the highly acclaimed NPR podcast, How I Built This with Guy Raz, this book offers priceless insights and inspiration from the world’s top entrepreneurs on how to start, launch, and build a successful venture. The book features interviews with a diverse range of entrepreneurs, including the founders of Airbnb, Spanx, and Patagonia, among others.
“How I Built This” is a journey along the circuitous road to entrepreneurial success. Based on the top business podcast on iTunes, with 200 million downloads to date, How I Built This chronicles the ascension of dozens of the world’s most inspiring entrepreneurs, examining their darkest moments as well as their greatest triumphs. It is a compilation of the best tips and lessons that Guy Raz learned from interviewing the founders of the greatest businesses in the world on his podcast of the same name and teaches how to start a company and keep it running strong.
You love to see heroes rise to victory in their stories. Whether it’s mythology or superhero movies, we’re constantly hearing these tales. It’s inspiring to see the hero think a little differently and utilize their ingenuity to triumph against a life-threatening challenge. And if you know of any of the stories behind successful businesses you’ll know that it’s the same elements that make these individuals’ experiences so interesting also.
There’s more to it than the need for cash, late nights hustling, and working from all sorts of places. Underneath it all there’s a story that can motivate anyone to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Underneath it all, there’s an idea that’s so wild that it might actually work. And entrepreneurs that are so crazy they might actually succeed. If this all sounds exciting to you then you’re going to love Guy Raz’s How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs. Based on his podcast of the same name, this book is going to show you what it takes to build a company from the ground up.
Great ideas often come from a simple spark: A soccer player on the New Zealand national team notices all the unused wool his country produces and figures out a way to turn them into shoes (Allbirds). A former Buddhist monk decides the very best way to spread his mindfulness teachings is by launching an app (Headspace). A sandwich cart vendor finds a way to reuse leftover pita bread and turns it into a multimillion-dollar business (Stacy’s Pita Chips).
Award-winning journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has interviewed more than 200 highly successful entrepreneurs to uncover amazing true stories like these. In How I Built This, he shares tips for every entrepreneur’s journey: from the early days of formulating your idea, to raising money and recruiting employees, to fending off competitors, to finally paying yourself a real salary.
During his interviews with successful entrepreneurs, Guy Raz realized that the entrepreneurial journey is much like a hero’s journey: there is a call to action in the form of an idea, the startup then goes through many trials and tests and finally arrives victorious at the destination.
Therefore, Raz organized his findings into specific steps to create a journey on how to become a successful entrepreneur.This is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of starting their own business or wondered how trailblazing entrepreneurs made their own dreams a reality. He delves into the world of entrepreneurship. This book presents a navigational guide to those looking to grow their ideas into a business, as told through the stories of individuals who have walked that road and can share their experiences from the perspective of the successful finish line.
An entrepreneur himself, Raz has taken his own experience in building his podcast of the same name as the book into one of the fastest-growing NPR radio programs in history. Raz presents his compilation of individuals’ narratives in a way that not only pulls the reader along, but also presents the stories in the necessary timeline that only someone who has been through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship can relate to. His book is one that you never knew you needed until you read it, and it opens your eyes to how successful ideas are carefully nurtured into full-fledged businesses.
As the icing on top of this collective wealth of experience and knowledge, Raz’s 20-plus years of experience sharing stories through his work with NPR sets this book apart from other informational books on how to build a business. It doesn’t instruct the reader on how to grow their ideas, but instead takes us all on a ride through the stories, struggles and successes of others who are themselves ordinary and everyday people with extraordinary determination to share their ideas.
Anyone who’s experienced the natural flow of life understands how often it cycles in three general stages: the call, the test and the destination. In this book, Raz takes this universal experience of the “hero’s journey,” as it’s known in literature, and skillfully weaves tales of entrepreneurship through this framework to share the growth of a business.
The wide range of diversity in the stories that Raz shares, all the way from hobbyists discovering that tinkering in their spare time could create a meaningful change in the world to sharing the journey of a monk who hung up his robes to pioneer one of the most influential mobile apps, demonstrates an awareness that the most groundbreaking businesses come from the most unexpected places.
Some of The Key Takeaways Learned :
● Be open to ideas :
Open to inspiration from all angles while identifying the next big idea before anyone else. Make the decision to embrace daring ideas and be willing to charge into a new market all from the front.
● Is it dangerous or just scary? :
The word ‘entrepreneurship’ comes from French, and is still fairly new in the world of business. Founders today identify themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’ in a way the generations who came before them struggle to understand. But fundamentally, they were doing the same thing. They were taking the detour, the big leap away from the grind of office job they didn’t want and toward something new on their own. Almost every entrepreneur talks about the initial uncertainty and the scariness of the unknown. But those uncertainties and fears melt away as they reflect on the even greater dangers of regret and squandered opportunity.
● Leave your safety zone…but do it safely :
Before you decide to burn the bridges, have a fallback plan even if it means sticking with your nine to five income. It’s the key to give another shot at something you want to do without giving broke. By taking a smart and safe approach, you’ll give yourself more time to try and more room to breathe, while simultaneously reducing the chances that mistakes can ruin your whole life.
● Do your research :
Do your homework to fill in the gaps in your understanding. Don’t make the mistake of skipping this step, just so things you set out to build eventually topple for the lack of a sturdy foundation. Research is your ultimate tool to build confidence and trust your vision when it comes time to decide exactly what kind of product you want to build. “It’s one any of us can commit to when we set out to create something new – when we decide to take our own leap off the cliff of entrepreneurship.”
● Your co-founder :
Gates and Allen went to high school together. Wozniak lived across the street from Job’s only friend at the Cupertino, California, high school Jobs attended. Charlie Munger worked in Warren Buffet’s grandfather’s store. There are countless partnerships at the center of the founding of great brands. Starting a business is lonely, especially with full of ups and downs. It can be too hard to stomach if you’re on the roller coaster by yourself. Even if you could do all the work yourself, you need someone different to brainstorm with, challenge your assumptions and cheer you up when things go awry. “Partnerships don’t just help your idea survive the fickleness of customers, ruthlessness of competitors and the security of investors. They help you survive and become a real business.”
● Get your story straight :
Knowing your story and being able to articulate to the world why you exist should be on top of your mind as an entrepreneur. Articulate not because it helps you sell more or build a brand or make money. Articulate because it helps you do all those things.
● Funding the business, with other peoples’ money :
Raising early money from your friends and families can be difficult. But you can make it easier by learning how to tell a story. Make your idea razor-sharp before you present the story. Get to know your community better that if you do it right, you don’t find a customer base, you also find a home.
● Iterate, iterate, iterate :
Stay long enough in the initial stage of prototype without staying too long or even forever. Move into the second phase of customer feedback and put your best foot forward. If possible, share a version of your idea with the world and invite criticism. This is the real recipe for success in the iterative process of product building, and one every entrepreneur must get it right if they want their conceptual ideas to come to life.
● Go in through the side door :
Taking the third door can be amazing and sometimes necessary. But it can also pose a threat and get you a lot of trouble. The third door is a double-edged sword. Do everything you can to find the best and smartest way into the market that you’re most likely to have success. Just make sure when you’re inside, don’t let complacency stop you from turning your business into a reality.
● Building buzz :
If you take that leap off the cliff while attempting to build your own plane on the way down, you deserve the headlines. But as the builder of that plane, it’s your job to make sure people can hear the buzz from the engine of your planes. It’s usually not easy to generate buzz and get attention for the product you’re bringing to the market. That’s why you’re going to need help from all forms of network and media to make it happen. And it’s doable especially when you learn to engineer word of mouth among your existing ideal customers.
● Engineering word of mouth :
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they’ll want to come back and see you do it again, and they’ll want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” – Walt Disney
Every successful founder counts world of mouth among the principal reasons for their success. Each of them made something great, really special that they became the signal that broke out of their competition and reached farther than they could have ever imagined.
● Protect what you’ve built :
One surefire way to know you’ve built something great is when your competitors start either complying or suing you or somethings both. As a founder, it’s your primary responsibility to keep out on the balcony and look down on the dance floor to know what needs to be protected and how to best protect it.
● When catastrophe strikes :
Whether it’s a multi-million-dollar conglomerate that has been around for decades or a scrappy start-up that is just gaining traction, the only reliable way through a catastrophe is through quick, decisive, transparent actions that puts people first and public perception second.
● The art of the pivot :
It takes immense amount of emotional maturity no matter how old you’re to recognize the business you’re leading is more important than your idea on which the business was originally built. And it takes even more humility to accept that the idea itself isn’t what you thought it was, or that it has evolved with time.
● It can’t be all about money :
Knowing where you’ve been and where you’re going is the essence of deeper purpose that keeps you doing what you’re doing. It’s easy to fall prey to money on your way up to the summit of entrepreneurship. But just like a mission-guided monk, having a larger and meaningful mission is your ultimate weapon against the endless pursuit of material possessions and social status.
● Build a culture, not a cult :
Knowing and communicating your value gets your employees on the same page with you. They also get you on the same page with your customers and more importantly your bigger purpose. Without your guiding values and purpose, you’ll end up making inconsistent decisions throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
“There’s nothing more consistent than a set of clear values written down on the page for everyone to see. Just ask Reed Hastings – or, better yet, ask his 7,000 employees.”
● Think small to get big :
The stories of Levi Strauss, Eli Janney, Chet Pipkin and even Herb Kelleher of South West Airlines are testaments to the profitability of a small niche that can like a vein of gold appear only an inch wide but run a mile deep.
● Manage partnership tensions :
Thinking like a parent and a partner is a skill every aspiring founder should cultivate in preparation for the challenges coming to their way. You need to pour as much of your heart, energy and money into building your business as much as you do to starting a family. If you’re ready for some sacrifices and do whatever it takes to protect your family, why would you not do the same for your business? All great entrepreneurs have gone through periods of profound difficulty with each other. So many of them recall how those challenging periods enlightened and empowered them to stay in the game and climb even further.
● Be kind :
Whatever your choices as a founder, a robust set of ethics should sit at the foundation. Beyond the foundation, there’re only two things necessary to build a caring and sustainable culture. One, things you do advance your mission and align your values. Two, you do them from the beginning, precisely because values generally are so hard to change.
Anyone who picks up this book as the guide to entrepreneurial success should be warned; throughout the narratives shared, it becomes abundantly clear that there is no recipe for the perfect business. Raz fails to give us yet another bland rule-oriented structure for how to build the perfect business that only works for a very select, very similar group of individuals. Instead, he frequently emphasizes that failure and the subsequent learning from it are a crucial part of almost every successful journey. The way to grow an idea is to be adaptable, flexible and different.
In such a time of chaos, turbulence and uncertainty, as this past year has been, there has never been a time more fitting for a book like this to be published. It’s often when the large stone we know as the comfortable and “good enough” structure of life gets flipped, that all the little critters of ideas are suddenly hurled out into the world. Some will immediately retreat to the comfort of the normal, but for those that suddenly realize that they have something scalable to share, the pages of this book should be dog-eared and worn.
Overall, “How I Built This” is an inspiring and informative book that provides valuable insights into the world of entrepreneurship. The book is accessible to both aspiring entrepreneurs and general readers who are interested in learning about the stories behind successful startup. For anyone who hopes to find a book on how to discover the new perfect business idea, this book will not be of interest. But for those seeking that inspirational boost from the wealth of knowledge held by generations of entrepreneurial spirit that gave birth to some of the most successful businesses of our time, “How I Built This” is the perfect read.
KIRKUS REVIEW :
The book version of the popular NPR podcast.
As Raz explains it, his titular radio show, which features in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs from across the business landscape, is less a how-to-succeed-in-business program than a storytelling hour. Lectures have their place, but a good story will keep listeners tuned in. Featuring his probing yet welcoming narrative voice, Raz presents stories that serve as solid lessons in entrepreneurship.
While the syntheses of the lessons are useful, it is the learning curve—the story-by-story building of business acumen—that imparts the most wisdom. The comments from the entrepreneurs are consistently candid and practical. For example, begin with a concrete, unique idea that lies “at the intersection of personal passion and problem solving.”
From dozens of on-the-ground stories, Raz gathers countless business pearls: Don’t quit your day job; do your homework; find a co-founder since humans thrive when we work together; prioritize the funding of the business, whether through bootstrapping or other people’s money, such as a relative’s or venture capitalist’s.
The narrative then moves on to business-building—all the tests that you will have to confront and overcome with a new business—and Raz introduces new characters and continues to follow entrepreneurs we have met in the earlier chapters, thus enabling readers to grasp the path to their success.
In the concluding part of the book, the author tackles what he feels most profoundly about: passion and decency. Kindness, generosity, and respect are critical to a long-lasting business (plus a shared purpose and values); without passion—“it’s about finding and fulfilling a deeper purpose”—look forward to a lifetime of disgruntlement. Among the businesses included in the book: Dell Computer Corporation, Boston Beer Company, FUBU, Method cleaning products, Chicken Salad Chick, Allbirds, Stacy’s Pita Chips, and Carol’s Daughters.
Years of business wisdom distilled into an entertaining and useful narrative.
About the Author:
GUY RAZ—author of the New York Times bestseller How I Built This and coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller The How and Wow of the Human Body and Two Whats?! and a Wow! Think & Tinker Playbook—has been called “one of the most popular podcasters in history” by the New York Times. He is the co-creator and cohost of Wow in the World and Two Whats?! and a Wow! and is the host and creator of NPR’s How I Built This podcast and Wisdom from the Top on Luminary. Previously, Guy cocreated and hosted NPR’s TED Radio Hour and The Rewind on Spotify. He’s been on the radio for more than two decades and has served as a foreign and war correspondent and as a host of All Things Considered. Guy is the father of two boys and lives in the Bay Area where he can often be seen riding his bike in red pants.
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