- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (November 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591841399
- ISBN-13: 978-1591841395
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American
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From Publishers Weekly
In this highly readable but deliberately paced biography, Harvard professor and historian Tedlow (Giants of Enterprise) makes a case for Andy Grove (b. 1936) taking a place alongside Benjamin Franklin as a quintessential American businessman and citizen. Indeed, Grove rose from being a penniless Hungarian refugee to an engineer hired as Intel's third employee, eventually heading the corporation—"one of the most profitable companies in all of business history." Tedlow builds the book around a year-by-year, blow-by-blow account of Intel's ups and downs, punctuated by Grove's contemporaneous musings, drawn from his private notebooks. Following the company over the rocky patches in its trajectory from semiconductors to microprocessors, Tedlow situates Intel among its industry partners and competitors. Sometimes, there's too much context: the author conveys a good deal about Hungary's modern political history and scrutinizes every available scrap of information about his subject's childhood. There are also 20 pages on the 1994 Pentium "floating point flaw" debacle and 15 pages on Grove's battle with prostate cancer. But as a biography of Intel as well as a primer on Grove's writings and management philosophy, the book is truly illuminating. In offering a closeup portrait of this prickly but gifted executive, Tedlow helps us understand why Grove's tenure as Intel's CEO "was so spectacularly successful." (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Tedlow, a business historian and academic, presents the story of Andy Grove, a penniless Hungarian immigrant who became an icon of twentieth-century corporate America. Grove joined Intel in 1968 at its founding, and while he was CEO from 1987 to 1998, "market capitalization increased from $4.3 billion to $197.6 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 42% and a total increase of almost 4,500%." Grove led the company with Intel's 386 microprocessor, which became the industry standard. Tedlow describes Grove, Time magazine's 1997 man of the year, as an extraordinary manager, author, and significant player in the fights against prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease. With unique access to Grove and Intel's internal resources and documents, Tedlow claims objectivity, telling the truth as he sees it in this laudatory narrative, although he also confirms his close ties to the subject. In comparing Grove to Benjamin Franklin (among other notables), Tedlow tells us that the two share the traits of "care and skill at image management." Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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* Resisting popular views and trends when taking major risks
* Never accepting things at face value; instead, relying on thorough and objective investigations
* Sacrificing popularity to arrive at the truth
* Foreseeing and preparing for inevitable change without resting on your laurels
* Seeking the counsel of wise and knowledgeable individuals
This book marked my first exploration of Andy Grove's life. And any initial doubts about finishing this lengthy biography quickly dissipated during the first several chapters. In those opening pages, vivid accounts are presented of Andy surviving three life-threatening foes: The Nazi and Russian invasions of his childhood Hungary, and Scarlet Fever. From thereon, Andy's story only gets more fascinating, making it increasingly difficult to put the book down (despite reducing my nighttime sleep).
In addition to providing an absorbing and pulsating biography, Prof. Tedlow affords readers a bare-knuckled close-up of Andy's hard-wired methods for facing challenges head-on: A refusal to accept things at face value without exhaustive investigation, foreseeing and moving with the swiftness of inevitable change -- and conveying bruising honesty towards employees, his superiors -- and towards himself.
If the true character of an individual is measured not solely by their victories (e.g., Andy keeping Intel as a CISC-based, rather than a RISC-based company) but also by their rebounds from setbacks and defeats, this book provides a prime example by recounting a crisis concerning Intel's Pentium chip.
In response to accusations that the Pentium was flawed in handling complex math calculations, Andy and his managers initially downplayed the significance of what they considered a minute problem. This response turned into a public relations disaster that cost Intel millions of dollars to rectify.
While later regretting how the Pentium issue was treated, Andy owes up to the mistake and admits that Intel needed to respond as a "consumer" company rather than as a technology company. This conclusion was justified by the efforts Intel had hitherto been making to ensure its name would be known to end-users via the "Intel Inside" stickers affixed to millions of personal computers.
There are many other stories packed into this book of how Andy overrode emotions to take a methodical investigative approach in addressing severe problems. This is starkly illustrated by his refusal to accept surgery as the best approach towards treating his prostate cancer, notwithstanding the recommendations of trusted physicians and surgeons.
More than anything, Tedlow has whetted my appetite to learn more about Andy's leadership practices. Acting on his references, I'll soon be reading two of Andy's thought leadership books: 1. Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company and 2. High Output Management.
In fact, you will eventually die even if you read this book.
"Andy Grove, The Life and Times of an American" is quite a departure from "Giants of Enterprise" which followed the empire building of seven business innovators. In "Giants of Enterprise" the innovators are all dead and buried, while Andy Grove is still very much alive and continuing to accomplish amazing feats. To a certain extent, this book is a follow-up to "Giants of Enterprise" where one chapter was devoted to Robert Noyce of Intel fame and the culture of Silicon Valley.
From a historical perspective the first half of this book is extremely interesting since it explains why Andy Grove became such a focused and driven personality. Richard Tedlow goes to great length explaining how Andy was born in Hungary and survived both the Nazi occupation and subsequent invasion by the Russian forces in World War II.
Andy was very lucky to escape Hungary during the Revolution while forced to leave his parent behind in Budapest. Eventually he was able to arrive in New York City and begin his American education and life. It is little wonder that Andy Grove never returned to Hungary especially after he was able to get his parents to migrate to the United States and live with his family in California.
Andy Grove is an American success story. He came to the United States
and learned that there were no limits on achievement if you are willing to work hard, be determined and persevere under difficult circumstances.
In the second half of the book Richard Tedlow becomes more of a journalist as he decribes the years that Andy helped take Intel from a small, memory chip manufacturer into the world of microprocessors.
Andy Grove was paranoid about the thought of failure and was motivated every day to make sure that Intel would survive as technology continued to evolve at a rapid pace. For anyone in the computer industry, this is a must read. Richard Tedlow held no bars in his description of some of the other leaders in the world of Silicon Valley and the close relationship between the founders of various high tech companies on the West Coast.
As a general read, Andy Grove is also an inspiration for his survival instincts and ability to overcome personal sickness. As a young boy he was afflicted by illness and managed to overcome this handicap. Later in life he became ill with prostrate cancer and his research on a potential cure serves as a "Wake Up Call" to all men over 50 years of age to get a routine check-up. Early detection is crucial to survival over this cancer. Today, Andy Grove and his foundation are leading the fight to cure Parkinson Disease.
I recommend Andy Grove as the best business history book on the market this year.
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