Customer Reviews: The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs
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on January 2, 2013
Great because it grabs these spectacular entrepreneurs and asks them the right questions...not about the particular weeds and problems of the moment (like initial funding) but specifically what made them successful. The answers are, sometimes, non-obvious, empirically validated and actionable.

The book also kindled in (most) of its participants a high level of candor and personal introspection. Usually these types of entrepreneur profiles are eclectically superficial, just one level deeper than a Frequent Flyer magazine hagiographic bio puff piece. There is some real insight here...and the diversity of the group (from heavy industrial to ZipCar) and the entrepreneur's personalities come through so clearly.

Some of my favorites are Catherina Fake, Chris Dixon, Jeff Dachis, Mark Echo, Lisa Gansky, Robin Chase and Elon Musk. Here's a quote from Tesla/SpaceX's Elon Musk on Unions, it gives you a flavor for the freshness and candor in the book:

I once asked the factory technicians on the floor what
they saw as the best value of unions. They said that if their boss was a
jerk, they had no recourse, but the union gave them a recourse. So I
made the rule, "There will be no jerks here." If one of your managers
persists in being a jerk, fire him. It helps morale, and it's a great way
to minimize people's tendency toward being jerks.
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on March 3, 2013
As an entrepreneur with a start-up working with traditional companies, I would say this book is even more valuable to top management in older companies. Listening to the massive insights, grasping the flexibility and the management styles of so many talented modern executives is literally crash course in reinventing your work self for the 21st century. The voices and diversity come through clearly. There's no one right way to do anything. It's an inspiring and fun read, and I love how it was organized.
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on January 28, 2013
Best-selling author, David Kidder, has come out with a new book, The Startup Playbook, which has interviews with many of today's most successful entrepreneurs, from Caterina Fake (Flickr) to Elon Musk (Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors). While you get their own personal stories in great detail, its also the story of the modern American economy. There aren't too many manufacturing companies, except those started by Elon Musk. They, for the most part are Internet entrepreneurs.

It was interesting to read Steve Case's story. He is perhaps the most well known of all of the entrepreneurs that Kidder interviewed, but you forget what a visionary he actually was. AOL was launched back in 1985 when only three percent of the American people had Internet access. I'm sure only slightly more knew the Internet existed at that time. Personal computers and laptops were only just catching on.

You can draw some interesting lessons from the group (as Kidder does), but things like first mover advantage still mean a lot and other obvious things like perseverance and hard work play critical roles as well.

The past two decades have truly been an incredible time for entrepreneurs. It will be interesting to see if the next two are as fruitful, particularly if the new Maker Revolution takes off, which promises to change not just how we connect with each other and gather information, but how we work and manufacture things.
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on February 19, 2013
The Startup Playbook is a terrific read for anyone who has ever launched or run an organization, and likewise anyone who has ever thought about doing either. The book's highly approachable structure is vintage David Kidder (a friend, in full disclosure) - motivated by an ambitious vision for the world while anchored in the practicalities of action. He has collated an all-star cast of perspectives, ranging from some of today's hottest non-profit entrepreneurs to many of the biggest names in new generation business leadership. The insights touch on much more than how to start a business - they speak to universal issues like how to inspire people, how to persist through criticism, how to manage a growing organization, and how to think most constructively about failure. More than anything, they talk about how to define and execute a personal vision. A handful of the entrepreneurs profiled are personal friends, yet the book still taught me something new about each of their stories and insights. I've marked up a bunch of passages, and anticipate that I will keep picking this book up periodically, just to re-read a section or two for some distilled advice and inspiration.
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on April 9, 2014
While I initially had low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this book. The author did a great job with the interviews and captured a ton of great advice. I'm giving it 4 stars because it seems like many of the bios were rushed -- there were numerous bios that were confusing and didn't properly summarize the person's experience.
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on April 19, 2013
If you are trying to bring a project to life, this book is the quick energy lift you need. A chapter at a time is the best way to read this collection. Ideas formed through experience ring true to me. With luck you will find an approach that fits your way of doing things.
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on July 16, 2015
For the beginner entrepreneur, it is a useful tool as to wear to begin and they should go about thinking of the problems they are trying to solve. But for anyone who has been around the entrepreneurial block, even a little bit, most of the tactics and strategies outlined in the book are already very self apparent.

But I wasn't expecting that much from an actionable standpoint because almost all of these type of books are meant to be more inspirational, directional and motivational in nature. While he brings up several examples of companies that followed solved a problem to be had, he didn't really dive into any of their stories which for me, is the main reason I still buy these types of books. Books like Zero to One or even Mark Cuban's How to Win at the Sport of Business provide a) some entertainment/motivational value and/or b) provide thought provoking questions that creates paradigm shifts as to the way one thinks about issues and problems faced by many entrepreneurs.

Again, if you're new to the game the information is solid and will definitely help you catch up to speed as to where you need to go and how to frame the problems you're trying to solve but if you have read a lot when it comes to entrepreneurship and startups, I would probably save your money and find something more along the lines of Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
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on January 3, 2013
I wish I had this book three years ago when I set sail on my own startup. Author David Kidder, a respected serial entrepreneur in his own right, talked to the best minds in the business. From those conversations he picked out the golden nuggets that make or break one's entrepreneurial journey.

This is not a journalist's yarn or academic's outsider hypothesis. It's validated learning from 'one of their own', boiled down to its essence -- a must for the innovator's business bookshelf. I expect to refer to it for years to come.
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on February 11, 2013
Reading The Startup Playbook is like being mentored by some of the smartest entrepreneurs around. You can think of it as a companion volume to "Founders at Work", getting to hear the actual stories behind the companies, supplemented by more concrete "do this, not that" advice. There's so much great content in here, I think it's better to pace yourself, only read one story a day.

One great detail -- it's not just the big 10 entrepreneurs that always get featured in Fortune Magazine, Peter Thiel and Zuckerberg. The builders profiled in this book are more down to earth, with more practical and achievable businesses than those lofty enterprises. It's the perfect companion to your morning cup of coffee, and a reminder that being an entrepreneur is one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs in the world.
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on March 9, 2013
The author interviewed great entrepreneurs with lot's of helpful insights. I like the way each interview is structured. Makes it easy to go directly to the parts of the book/interview you care about the most. Good read.
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