Business Stories by CEOs: What Makes Bosses Tick?
Another year, another bunch of CEOs either fired or exposed as wildly overpaid (or once every blue moon, actually very effective). So who are they, how did they get to where they are and what kind of pressures riddle those who run the most major corporations? These revealing business memoirs tell the titans' stories.
Richer than God
John Paul Getty could speak six languages, was a world-class art collector, was married several times … oh and at one point he was the richest man in the world. His autobiography, finished at his death, reveals much: including that he was a self-confessed penny pincher.
Going All In
Before "Moneyball" there was poker--"Liar’s Poker." The memoir that made Michael Lewis a household name--Tom Wolfe called it "the funniest book on Wall Street I've ever read"--describes Lewis' four years at Solomon Brothers, including the crash of 1987, from which it seems we have learned precisely nothing.
Like a Virgin?
You know why Virgin is called Virgin? Because Richard Branson knew that’s what he was when he started his business. You have to love a man whose motto is, sort of, “Oh screw it, let’s do it.” Music business, airlines, balloons that reach Pluto … he’s done it all, though he might say he hasn’t even begun. Oh, and his autobiography? It’s called “Losing My Virginity.” Case closed.
Talking of mad men and women … It wasn’t enough that Charlotte Beers ran one worldwide ad agency (Tatham-Laird & Kudner), so she went and ran another (Ogilvy & Mather). She was also undersecretary of state under Colin Powell. Her inspirational memoir will make women up their confidence quotient when faced with taking on the old boys in business.
Sell, sell, sell
Jerry Weintraub--in a few years, his name will be shorthand for "making stuff happen" (if it isn't already). His CV is way too long to recount. Some highlights: He toured with Elvis Presley; he produced "Nashville," and then decades later, he was behind the "Oceans 11," movie franchise. His tombstone: how about one of his favorite quotes: "Pretend you don’t hear the word 'no.'"
Jacksons for the Shoeless
If you’re ready to be inspired by the good that business can do, look no further than the story of Blake Mycoskie. Founder of TOMS, the shoe company that donates one pair for every one sold, Mycoskie is that rare CEO: he wants to change the world just as much as he wants to boost his bottom line. Who says you can’t have your shoe and wear it?
Howard Schultz was the man who put a Starbucks on pretty much every street corner; then years later, after a hiatus and a business lull, helped turn it back into a powerhouse of grinding and foam. Both his books are surprisingly open accounts of how he made Americans love their chai lattes.