Kressel Housman's Reviews > Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind

Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone
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it was amazing
bookshelves: business, internet-age, career-development, non-fiction, memoir

Biz Stone is one of the founders of Twitter, and though parts of his account of its origin story contradict the account in Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal, he has such an engaging writing style and admirable message, I couldn’t help but conclude that whatever really happened, he did his best to stay above the fray. He comes across as a really likable guy.

More than just an origin story, the book is Biz Stone’s philosophy of life and business, a combination memoir and self-help book. On its face, some of his advice might seem cliché, but because he backs it up with personal examples, you can see practical ways of applying it to your own life. For example, he says, “Create your own opportunities.” Well, everyone says that, but most of us wait around for an unexpected tip to come out of nowhere. I’ve had a few show up in my life, so I’m always waiting for the next one, but Biz has a point: they don’t show up all that often. Aside from that, rarely are they tailor-made to your interests. Biz is a big believer in “following your passion.”

Here’s an example of an opportunity he created for himself. A child of divorce, money was always tight in his family, so in his college years, he had a part-time job packing boxes in a book publishing firm. He knew the firm was looking at designs for a new book cover, so one day when nobody was around, he turned on one of the computers, designed a cover, and added it to the pile of designs under consideration. When his was chosen, he was offered a full-time job, so he took it. Others might not be so bold as to quit college, but he felt the reason he was going to college was to qualify for a job like that, and now he’d landed it three years before graduation.

That brings me to the subject of taking risks. Biz is a big advocate of risk-taking, too, saying the usual, “If you want the big pay off, you have to take big risks.” The difference is: he actually explains how to do it intelligently. He gave the example of learning to do a back flip. When he was taught how to do it, he was shown the point in the execution where accidents are most likely to happen. So instead of just “envisioning yourself succeeding,” Biz suggests you also envision yourself failing. Embrace the worst-case scenario. If you’re willing to live with falling on your back, you’re ready to take the risk.

Personally, I’m not willing to risk much. But what I like is that Biz broke down the process for me. Face your fear: can you handle it or not? He’s got a similar approach to work. Does your job excite you? Is it challenging and creative? If not, and you’re not willing to live with the consequences of quitting either, then find something to do within your company to enjoy your job more. That advice has made me a more cheerful worker in these past few days.

So all in all, an excellent book. It’s light in tone, but it packs some big and important ideas from someone who’s really living them.
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Reading Progress

April 8, 2014 – Shelved
April 8, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
January 19, 2015 – Started Reading
January 20, 2015 – Shelved as: business
January 20, 2015 – Shelved as: internet-age
January 20, 2015 – Shelved as: career-development
January 20, 2015 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 20, 2015 – Shelved as: memoir
January 20, 2015 – Finished Reading

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