What a fascinating book by Scott Galloway, an NYU professor, and serial entrepreneur.
THE FOUR: THE HIDDEN DNA OF AMAZON, APPLE, FACEBOOK, AND GOOGLE
by Scott Galloway
He talks about Amazon’s ruthless focus on the consumer
These are some of the quotes that stood out to me that basically summarizes many of the main takeaways from the book about how easy it is to become a billionaire in today’s age.
“American is the land of second chances, and even if Jeff Bezos is predictably globalist, the culture at Amazon is distinctly red, white, and blue. Most uber-wealthy people have one thing in common: failure. They’ve experienced it, usually in spades, as the path to wealth is fraught with risks, and often those risks end up being… well risky. A society that encourages you to get up after being beaned in the head, dust off your pants, step back into the batter’s box, and swing harder next time is the secret sauce for printing billionaires. The correlation is clear. American has the most lenient bankruptcy laws, attracts risk takers, and as you might guess, has most of them. 29 of the 50 wealthiest people on the planet live in the US, 2/3 of unicorns( private companies with $1billion plus valuations are in headquartered here.”
“The wealthiest man of the 21st century is mastering the science of zero-wage robots selling you stuff.”
“Apple has 18.3 percent of the smartphones shipped globally, but 92 percent of the industry’s profits.”
Steve job – “Dying removes the icon from the inevitable judgment of everyday existence, including aging, and elevates persona to legend.”
He makes the same argument about Elvis. He was saying if Elvis did not die early he would not be as popular as he is today. No one likes a washed up old dude that is reliving his old glory days.
He was saying that the best thing that ever happened to Apple is the fact that Steve Job died making him “Jesus status”.
“Apple with a cash pile greater than the GDP of Denmark.”
The meaning of is life is “the depth and meaningfulness of a person’s relationships is the strongest indicator of the level of happiness.” This is based on a Harvard Longitudinal study that extremely well cited.
Happiness is love.” Love is a function of intimacy and the depth and number of interactions we have with people. At its best,
He says there are 3 ways to make a profit. Connecting to consumer’s 1.head (Walmart- low prices more selection), 2. heart(Facebook), and 3. pure sex appeal (Tesla, Louis Vuitton, or basically any luxury brand).
“This is how these algorithms reinforce polarization in our society. We may think of ourselves as rational creatures, but deep in our brain is the impulse for survival, and it divides the world into us vs. them. Anger and outrage are easily spiked.”
“A handful of companies address their customers’ brains, appeal to our rational selves, and manage to win. Take Walmart: millions of consumers size up their options and shop there. As a value proposition, “more for less”.
Scott makes the argument that retail and shopping is actually as addictive as heroin.
Some criticize about Starbucks for being success as simply “delivering caffeine to addicts.” But caffeine is Nicorette compared to the heroin of shopping.
“Facebook is all about emotion. Human beings are social creatures; we aren’t built to be alone.” That is why Facebook is one of the most valuable companies in the world.
“These are the common traits with all of the big 4 companies in 2017 that is running the world: product differentiation, visionary capital, global reach, likability, vertical integration, AI, accelerant, and geography.”
He talks about the great brand age of the eighties and nineties, when the key to building shareholder value was to take an average product—shoe, beer, soap—and build aspirational, intangible associations around it. “(P&G, Kelloggs, Unilever, and General Mills). Knowing that if your talents is branding you should work for a CPG company)
The single most indicator of how to start and become a millionaire is “Its greater contribution comes from removing obstacles and time killers from our daily lives.”
Entrepreneurs all have these 3 traits: Excellence, grit, and empathy are timeless attributes of successful people in every field. He mentions that is common against the decades and even centuries.
Advice for young folks to excel in business. “Young people who have a strong sense of their own identity, remain poised under stress, and learn and apply what they’ve learned, do better than peers who are more easily flustered, get hung up on petty issues, and let their emotions drive their responses.”
A study on what makes his undergraduate (NYU Stern) the ones that end up being extremely successful from the rest of the pack. They “demonstrate self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. One interesting result of the increasing importance of emotional maturity.”
He says what is so unique about today’s age is that “Ideas can be turned into reality at unprecedented speed.”
He also talks about why is it wise to go to college.
He calls it a caste system: it’s called college. (Top Ivys, MIT, Standford and basically talks about how schools brag about how hard it is to get into their school is basically like saying we have the best food shelter that doesn’t let anyone in.)
“Some people are better at words, some at images. Invest aggressively in your strength(s) and spend modest effort to get your weaknesses to average so they don’t hold you back.” (Great advice by the way).
“Follow your talent. Determine what you are good at (early), and commit to becoming great at it.”
“If you leave, keep in mind people remember more about how you leave than what you did while there. No matter the situation, be gracious.” (Tips for when leaving a company.)
“Most successful people have the time to reflect on important questions, including “Why am I here and what mark do I want to leave?” The answer usually involves helping others. You need to ask for help if you plan on being successful.”
“Sure, your plucky start-up might find its lane and make you rich, but it probably won’t. This denial is key to our economy.”
“It’s key to have a technologist as part of, or near, the founding team. (Microsoft, Apple). There are three tests or questions: Are you comfortable with public failure? Do you like to sell? Do you lack the skills to work at a big firm?”
How to succeed in the corporate world. “You have to play nice with others, suffer injustices and bullshit at every turn, and be politically savvy—get noticed by key stakeholders doing good work and garner executive-level sponsorship.”
How to know you are not cut out for corporate but will succeed starting your own company. “you don’t play well with others, have an inability to trust your fate to others, and are almost clinically obsessed with your vision for a new product or service, you may be an entrepreneur.”
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think you guys all will too. It was refreshing read with so many funny stories and really makes you think about how powerful the big 4 really are in the world.