On the Job

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett say read this book

Looking for the secret to success? Delivering the secret to success is the promise of most every business book that’s ever been published. Of course, only a small handful of business books sell more than a few thousand copies each year, and even fewer stand the test of time. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Jim Collin’s Good to Great, and Simon Sinek’s Start with Why have sold many millions of copies—and helped many millions of people improve both themselves and their businesses.

But, according to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—two of the most successful businessmen of our time—there is one more book to add to your collection: Business Adventures by finance journalist John Brooks. Gates and Buffett explain that this book is the must read that enlightened them in their own approaches to doing business.

What is it about this obscure and relatively unknown book that has inspired two of the most successful people of our time?

In this book, the author tells 12 “classic tales” of American business and finance, narrating some of the greatest and worst moments in the history of American capitalism. In each case, Brooks delivers a deep analysis of the business’s actions—what they did well, what they could have improved on, and what mistakes they made in navigating the obstacles they encountered.

Among the book’s highlights are the Texas Gulf Sulfur case, the market crash in 1962, and the legendary rise and fall of the Xerox empire in the 1960s.

In the Xerox case, Brooks makes the point that, even though the business rose to great heights, it ultimately failed as it was overtaken by competitors due to its lack of innovation. According to Brooks, Xerox slipped up by not allowing the technological advancements to change its workflow and products, finally collapsing under the weight of companies that did.

As we all know, Gates prides himself enormously on the innovation of his company, and being able to dynamically change with the times. Perhaps at least some amount of Microsoft’s phenomenal success is the result of Gates’s fear of becoming the next Xerox.

If you want to succeed in business, consider taking the recommendation of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to heart, and pick up a copy of Business Adventure. These two business giants say it led them to great success in the past—and there’s no reason it can’t work for the rest of us in the future.

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