The power of an inspiring story

I was never much of a book reader when I was younger.  Even when I was required to read books for English class, I would read every other chapter or every third chapter; just enough so that I would have the minimum information I needed in order to write my paper on it.  I just didn’t get much value out of reading books.  I didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t feel like an efficient way to learn because books contained so much emotion and fluff.  At the time I would much rather read magazine or newspaper articles because they got right to the point and told me what I needed to know and not much else.  That type of reading was perfect.

Then about five years ago, Pat was introduced to self-help books by his sales coach.  This in-turn lead me to self-help books.  And I found them to be very interesting.  Suddenly I was reading books that gave me what only magazine and newspaper articles could give me in the past – very specific information without the fluff.  If you look at the home page of my blog, you will see that I have read many of these types of books over the past five years.  About one every couple of months.  I know this still doesn’t classify me as an avid reader, but it is much more than zero books per year, which is what I was reading six years ago.

With each of the books I have read, there was some specific piece of knowledge that I wanted to gain by reading it.  With Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I wanted to learn how to manage money.  With Now Discover Your Strengths and First Break All The Rules, I wanted to learn how to identify what a person is good at and harness and build upon those strengths.  And with The Universe in a Nutshell (a science book not a self-help book) I wanted to learn about relativity, string theory and just generally be wowed by the physics of our world.

Right now I am reading The Search.  This is one of the few books that I have picked up where I didn’t want to learn something specific.  I feel that I already know the facts behind how Google was started and how they became the company that they are today.  I watched it happen.  Every move Google makes gets published in an article somewhere, and I tend to read those articles.  This book isn’t trying to teach me something, like most of the other books that I read.  Instead, I am reading this book for the story.

The story of Google is interesting to me, as it is to most entrepreneurs.  Two smart technology guys met in college 11 years ago, and through their PhD research invented something great.  They created a business from their great invention, broke all sorts of conventional business rules, and without even having a plan for how to make money from their invention just seven years ago have since figured out how to build arguably the most powerful company ever created.

I am reading this book for the story of Larry and Sergey.  Who are these guys?  What was going through their minds during each phase of creating Google?  How did outside pressures not corrupt them and make them change direction?

Every time I read just a few chapters from the book my mind starts racing.  All sorts of ideas start bouncing around.  The story inspires me to start thinking about things that otherwise might not have occurred to me.  For instance… I need to start thinking bigger about X.  Could we tackle problem Y at Webmail in a similar way to how Larry and Sergey tacked problem Z at Google?  What if we completely changed direction on A and did B instead?

With this book, I want to read all the fluff behind the facts.  It is like exercise for my brain.

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