Three Coolest Business History Books You've Got To Read
I have always had a great fascination for the things that seem to define our lives in the Western world - those great style and cultural icons of our times. And nothing seems to typify this, in a truly frivolous sense of course, more than Coca Cola.
This is detailed, meticulously researched and absolutely FASCINATING study of the history of Coke - not just who first made it and how it was first presented to a thirsty public (and no, it doesn't give you the formula), but how it has grown to become something that looms large in everyone's life, even if you're not a fan. More people drink Coca Cola in the world than coffee, but at this point I must confess that I don't drink Coke myself.
I am one of those weird persons who had barely heard about Southwest before reading this book: all I'd heard about them were good things, yet I had neither flown them nor read much about them. My Organizational Behavior class turned out to be the place to learn about them, and I have to say the book helped me see how a company with values that are strongly tied to having fun at work, having respect for its employees, and so many more things that demonstrate human nature at its very best, can thrive even in the face of the hardest times, when most of the major carriers are undergoing severe restructuring (bankruptcy) or layoffs.
In today's economy, where the airline industry has been one of the most impacted after 9/11, Southwest now has a market capitalization larger than that of all the major carriers put together and, as of today, continues to be profitable, as it has been since 1973. Quite a feat, I think you'll agree, and how they do it is something you can learn by reading this very nice book. Just make sure you grab a bag of peanuts to go with it! ;)
"The Google Story" is a book with a very wide appeal. Written by a journalist (David Vise), it is pretty much structured as a tale that can be enjoyed as much by the technically inclined as it can be loved by the ones focused on the business side of things. As much as you could argue that it's rather one-sided, I have yet to meet people who hate Google, in the way many people hate Microsoft. I am no one to say there's nothing to dislike about them (as a matter of fact, the book gives you plenty to read about this matter), but part of the point the book intends to get across is that they are very particular in terms of the way they positioned themselves from day one (notice I didn't say unique).
Under the mantra "Don't Be Evil", the story of Google is one that is intimately tied to the personalities and life visions of founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. And as much as their success and meteoric rise of their stock may bother some, when you read the book you understand why they have gotten so far. Quite simply, it shows how they layed one brick upon another, focusing on developing an extraordinary product that addressed real needs of users, rather than burning expensive advertising dollars to create a buzz around empty promises (quite the norm at the time of the Internet boom, during which they started their company).
A must for entrepreneurs at heart. One tale after another that geeks will enjoy. I give it five stars without a doubt. You will find yourself devouring it in no time, after you pick it up.
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