With Zoom, Fortune magazine extends one of its most successful franchises, 40 Under 40, to bring you original insight on the best-kept secrets of top entrepreneurs, business leaders, and rising tech stars. Discover how Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh built a uniquely attractive corporate culture, how Under Armour founder Kevin Plank took on Nike, and what Marissa Mayer told herself before leaping from a safe post at Google to the high-risk top job at Yahoo. Zoom features the fascinating profiles of these and other young innovators and provides readers with tips to fast-track their own career success. Additional contributors include: Omar Akhtar; Katie Benner; Ryan Bradley; Erika Fry; Miguel Helft; Michal Lev-Ram; Pattie Sellers; Anne VanderMey; and Kurt Wagner.
Zoom offers an extended look at Fortune Magazine's "40 under 40" feature series. The book opens with a foreword by Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of Netscape who now sits on the boards of several major companies such as Facebook, Ebay. He is also an investor behind Twitter and Airbnb.
Daniel Roberts compiles success stories of some of the biggest names from business and entertainment industries, and incorporates pointers readers can use themselves. Some stories highlighted:
* Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour athletic gear, is friends with Pete Wentz, frontman for the band Fall Out Boy. When UA was still a smaller company, Wentz would often blog about his love of the clothing, which got word out on the street and helped grow his friend's business. Later on, Jaime Foxx was seen wearing a UA jockstrap for some of his scenes in the football film Any Given Sunday. In another story, John Janick developed a friendship with Wentz, went on to become president of Interscope Records and signed Fall Out Boy. Once again, Wentz fell into blogging about the two of them and it helped grow not only the band's popularity but also the label's.
Robert's lesson here: Don't be afraid to network! Build street teams, encourage word of mouth endorsements, look for ways to get free advertising when you're just starting out. This is actually kind of ironic, because nearly everyone that Roberts interviewed for this book actually recommended to STOP networking, instead citing education as most important to their success. Several also named "mom" as their mentor. :-) But then that actually ties back to another of Roberts' key points -- don't assume everything's already been done. Research!
That is one issue I had with this book though, Roberts' tips, the way he words them, can come off confusing, almost contradictory, at times. For instance, he encourages readers to always stay humble, patient, and resilient, but also says that it's important to have a confidence almost to the point of cockiness about your product.
* When Target was developing their in-store cleaning product line, Method, the company prided themselves on keeping things weird and fun. Method headquarters offers a game room with ping pong and bean bag toss tournaments, the opportunity for employees to make up their own fun job title (ie. admin asst. changed to "Zookeeper", consumer response manager now "Chatty Cathy"), and spin the wheel door prizes as work incentives. Method put time and energy into developing eco-friendly products in cute packaging and went on to break $100 million in sales in 2012.
Robert's lesson here: Keep your sense of humor about you and your business. Yes, take your work seriously but not TOO seriously. He points back the story of Under Armour and notes that Nike jokingly is not spoken of in UA headquarters, but when interviewed, Kevin Plank admits their competition is needed to keep things interesting. As Plank put it, "Luke Skywalker was a lot cooler because of Darth Vader."
Other stories covered: how Kevin Systrom developed Instagram and how some of the technology was later bought up by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg; the professional path of Evan "Ev" Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Blogger; how Dolf Van Den Brink rose from a management trainee at Heineken to becoming their US CEO within 11 years. Roberts also looks at the saying "no such thing as bad publicity", using the story of Lebron James and his move from Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami Heat as an example. In the summer of 2010, ESPN aired a special on his team move titled "The Decision" following him as he decided whether to stay with Cleveland or move to Miami. After it aired, GQ Magazine deemed the show an "accidental mockumentary", Cleveland Cavalier fans burned jerseys in the streets and a flood of Lebron James hate Youtube videos quickly followed. But that fall, James still went on to make Fortune's 40 under 40 list.
My favorite section was the bit featuring the rise of South African multimillionaire Elon Musk and how he wants his space exploration company, SpaceX, to be the first to colonize Mars within the next 20 years. Many have dismissed his goals and ideas as absurd, but isn't that how so many eventually successful invention stories tend to go? I like where Roberts ends this portion of the book: "Will his ideas save the world? Maybe not, but the real risk might be not trying at all."
"I'm not satisfied unless I'm doing a little bit more than I actually have time for."
~ Seth McFarlane, creator of animated series Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show and the sci-fi series The Orville
At the very end of the book, there is a supplemental section where readers can look through the questionnaire Roberts posed to the book's contributors, in their own words revealing who their personal mentors are as well as hobbies, pet peeves (Instagram founder Kevin Systrom cites "lattes served in bowls" as his biggest peeve ... more irony! lol), time management tips and causes close to their hearts.
Brian Deese's responses were my favorite.
There's also a "Where Are They Now?" kind of follow up to 2012 (this book was published in 2013).
All in all, a surprisingly FUN read with a largely light-hearted tone to the topic of working toward success. The backstories of the big names and how they got where they are now are cool and inspiring. You'll be surprised how quick you "zoom" through this one.
Alright, I'll just see myself out now.