Before I begin with my book summary, I’d like to start with a disclaimer. Rather than just watching this summary, I would highly recommend reading the book discussed to fully benefit from it. Unlike most of the other books I’ve reviewed, the greatness of this book comes from ‘how’ it’s written, not just ‘what’ it is written about. Some of the attention to language and detail is remarkable. Rather than a traditional autobiography, each chapter is a short story about a period of Nabokov’s early life, beautifully written and collectively described as a masterpiece by the literary world.
Malcolm Little was born on 19th May 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother was born in Grenada in the West Indies and his father was a Baptist minister whose preaching caused the family problems with the Klu Klux Klan. Malcolm was one of 8 children. He also had two step-sisters and a step-brother.
As a young child, two white men burnt down their family home. His father built a new four room house himself. His father then died when he was six. The family began to struggle to put food on the table without a father figure and he began to steal food.
Winston Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace on 30th November 1874. His father was an English politician, however despite eventually having the same job, Churchill got most of his prominent characteristics from his mother, as his father was at first too busy and then struck with illness, passing away when Churchill was 20. Churchill and his American mother were both full of energy, ambition and courage, with a passion for adventure.
Sam Walton built a business which now has over 11,000 stores in more than 28 countries. How did he build the world’s largest company in terms of revenue, in the world?
Founded over 50 years ago, Sam had many personal traits that helped Walmart grow from a single store to the largest retail outfit there is.
Jerry Weintraub was an actor, producer, promoter and agent: a true self-made philanthropist. His book “When I stop talking, you’ll know I’m dead” documents several entertaining stories from his life. There are insights into his friendship with politicians such as George Bush and Jimmy Carter and anecdotes with world famous actors on the sets of some of the blockbuster films he produced such as The Karate Kid and the Oceans 11 trilogy. He’s done his fair share of work with musicians as well: from building and promoting John Denver’s career to staging Frank Sinatra’s comeback.
Edward Bernays persuaded women to smoke. He convinced the public that bacon and eggs were the true all-American breakfast. He also facilitated the successful overthrow of a democratically elected Guatemalan president. How did one man achieve these remarkable accomplishments? The methods used to accomplish these astonishing events are explained in his book, ‘Propaganda’.
I’ve heard many people in the past say to me that they have thought of a mind-blowingly great idea that will make them rich. Some of the ideas have indeed been great, some of them not so much. However, there has not been much of a correlation between the greatness of the idea and how rich they have become. Most of them have not converted that idea into affluence. As Felix Dennis says in his book “Ideas won’t make you rich on their own”. The eventual goal is vastly more important than any idea. It’s how ideas are implemented that counts.
Bill Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for several years. Elon Musk has founded several large companies including PayPal which was sold for $1.5 billion. Warren Buffett is the most successful investor of the 20th century. What do these and many other successful entrepreneurs have in common? Well, here is a clue.
When he was first starting Microsoft, Bill Gates started his day from four o’clock in the morning, worked more than 16 hours a day, and often stayed in his office all night.
When I was younger I worked with a colleague who was extremely good at what he did. Despite receiving lots of praise for the high standard of work he would consistently produce, it seemed he never quite realised just how talented he was. A position in the company became available which would have been a promotion for my colleague and it was widely expected that he would get the job. In fact, I overheard people talking about future plans within the company as if this person was already in the new role.