Monday, April 07, 2014

Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone

At the Public Library Association program Top 5 of the Nonfiction 5, David Wright identified one of the trends in self help books as "genre-blending" in which he included memoirs that serve as self help books. In the exhibit hall of the conference, I found a free advanced uncorrected proof of just such a book, Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter. The "Co-founder of Twitter" tag is prominent on the cover; he is credited with being the person to decided on the 140 character limit. In this book, while Stone describes his up-and-down life to the present (trending upward), he tells us how we too can succeed in life and business.

I enjoyed the memoir part of Things a Little Bird Told Me, as Stone tells a good tale about his rising from well-placed poverty to becoming an interesting and influential person. His father left his family when Biz was really young, and his mother relied on food stamps and government cheese to feed her kids, but luckily they lived in Wellesley, Massachusetts where Biz attended good schools and won scholarships. Stone humorously recounts his numerous scrapes with authority figures, such as assistant principals, and tells how he dumped college to take a job from which he would learn more than at college. Throughout, he encourages most students to stay in school, but he also encourages readers to take risks.

The self help part is more problematic. He includes much sound and well-phrased advice, but he makes entrepreneurship seem too easy. He does tell about 18-hour work days and time spent away from family, but it still sounds easy. Changing directions and taking risks are at the heart of his version of success. From his upbringing, he learned skills to survive on next to nothing and still be certain of eventual success. I may be wrong, but I doubt many can pull off a Biz Stone-like rise to prominence.

I enjoyed the insider stories about Google and Twitter, especially his telling of his encounter with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Because Things a Little Bird Told Me is cheerful and quick to read, I expect it to be a popular.

Stone, Biz. Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind. Grand Central Publishing, April 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781455528714.

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