BUSINESS ADVENTURES, a 1960′s book by JOHN BROOKS, is the favorite book about business of BILL GATES (and WARREN BUFFETT’s) so BILL GATES declares in his wonderful article about it in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Saturday’s REVIEW section.Alas, the book, a collection of 1960′s NEW YORKER  articles about business,  is out of print.

One such article is entitled XEROX, XEROX,XEROX,XEROX written about that company when its top of the line copier weighed 650 pounds, cost $22,500.,required a full time operator and came with a fire extinguisher because it tended to overheat.A lot has changed since then, Gates says, and asks how a book could have anything to say about business today.” The particulars have changed,the fundamentals have not. BROOKS’ deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then”.

JOHN BROOKS grew up in NEW JERSEY, went to PRINCETON, where he roomed with the future secretary of state GEORGE SHULTZ. He served in WWII and dreamed of becoming a novelist. He published a handful of books and died in 1993. Brooks wrote long articles that framed an issue,explored it in depth, introduced a few compelling characters and saw how it went for them.One, THE IMPACTED PHILOSOPHERS. is about price fixing at GENERAL ELECTRIC; another THE FATE OF THE EDSEL= it didn’t help that they were delivered with oil leaks,sticking hoods, trunks that would not open, and buttons that could not be budged with a hammer. It was somebody in the company”s doing that the host hired for a fashion  show for the reporters’ wives was a female impersonator.Pretty tawdry stuff for 1957!

Scads of other stories in the book including one about PIGGLY WIGGLY that Bill Gates recounts.In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch.You still need the right people t0 lead and implement those plans. JOHN BROOKS’ work is really about human nature which is why it has stood the test of time.


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