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Neither a geek nor a whiz kid, Ashbrook was an award-winning writer for the The Boston Globe, where he had worked for 15 years. Shortly after winning a coveted one-year sabbatical in Harvard's Neiman Fellowship program, Ashbrook began talking Net dreams with an old college friend, Rolly Rouse. Their vision was to launch a Web site that would present home-design information and images and enable users to create online idea portfolios and buy quality products for their dream homes. Ashbrook soon quit his job and plunged into the project full time, endlessly revising business plans, tapping anyone and everyone for advice, courting venture capitalists, hoarding free credit cards for backup "security", and forever trying to convince a sane and worried wife that he wasn't zooming headlong over a cliff. As a case study of HomePortfolio.com, it's a story of manic speed and energy. As the story of one man's midlife adventure, it's a tale of trepidation, fear, ambition, love, and wonderment.
Ashbrook writes with eloquence. His descriptions are imaginative, juicy, and always dead-on. For example, Harvard Business School "was a gleaming, vitamin-enriched, brick and marble and white-trimmed monument to economic steroids," and its old buildings "always looked next-to-new, like rich, pampered matrons on full-dose nip-and-tuck regimens of estrogen and plastic surgery." And he remembers the Myers-Briggs personality test "smelled a little like horoscopes for eggheads to me, with its big gumbo of letters and pat descriptions." Occasionally, Ashbrook's tendency to spice up his descriptions gets a bit much as he throws in too many metaphors; it's as if his brain is on hyperlink overdrive. Overall, though, his graceful prose flows with alacrity, and the pace is infectious. Forget the quiet comfort of your favorite reading chair; you'll be stomping down the sidelines, hoarsely shouting, "Yes, yes, you're almost there, go, one more push!" For that's what this is, a breathless tale of giving birth, an exhausting, exhilarating play-by-play of sweaty labor and life-changing success. Beware... it'll give you the itch. --S. Ketchum
Yes, the same Tom Ashbrook who's been hosting "On Point" for years, one of my favorite podcasts for the morning walk, and where I've learned to admire his experience,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Steve Kohn
I have worked in the Boston software startup space my entire career. So, when I read that Tom Ashbrook -- who I know as host of the NPR program On Point -- had written a book... Read morePublished on December 8, 2008 by Eric Richard
I worked for Tom at Homeportfolio.com. Everyday was filled with passion and gutsy intensity. Thanks for the memories and the education--and sharing your side of things with us from... Read morePublished on June 3, 2005 by Robert Merrill
In an article which appeared in FSB magazine, Ashbrook explains "There is a game I call startup solitaire. It doesn't have a rule book. It just comes to you, late at night. Read morePublished on November 4, 2000 by Robert Morris
If you are going to read one book on internet startups read "Burn Rate". This book was interesting in its own way - focusing more on the impact to one's family of doing... Read morePublished on July 17, 2000 by Ronald Brown
Tom Ashbrook has written the book that my partner and I have talked about--a hard look at the reality of living the entreprenuerial dream (or sometimes nightmare). Read morePublished on July 10, 2000 by Gregory N. Jackson
Excellent account of leaping from job security to job risk for the rewards of founding and growing your own company. This is not a "how-to do it" book. Read morePublished on July 7, 2000 by R. Rosenwasser
I wasn't expecting the kind of book this was. I thought it would be more like "The e-Boys," but it was a totally personal memoire, with sometimes too much information... Read morePublished on July 4, 2000 by Linda LeBoutillier
I bought the book to learn about starting an e-business..what I got was hand wringing over loss of so-called job security..booooringPublished on June 27, 2000