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Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind Hardcover – April 1, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Twitter cofounder Stone dropped out of college to design book jackets, just one of the quirky turns of fate that set him on a nonlinear path to social-media entrepreneurship. He recounts having enough chutzpah to call himself a genius when he suffered lack of confidence and direction, enough audacity to ask for a job at Google on the strength of his experience as a blogger when he lacked a college degree, never mind a PhD in computer science. He and Evan Williams, who joined Google after selling Blogger, later left the relative safety of Google to start several ventures, most of which failed, before developing Twitter. While chronicling his setbacks and successes, Stone offers solid advice and inspiration: opportunity can be manufactured, creativity is a renewable resource, embrace constraints, failures can be assets, asking questions is free, empathy is essential to success. Readers will enjoy the tales of the ups and downs of Silicon Valley among major players, from Google to Apple to Facebook, as well as the insightful advice that can be applied to any career or enterprise. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"Things A Little Bird Told Me is a moving, funny and illuminating life story, and Biz pours himself into the telling, bringing a unique gift of perspective to anyone dreaming of taking risks, changing their lives and changing the world." --Arianna Huffington

"In THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME, Biz gives away all his secrets to success. I advised him against it. If you're not inspired and informed by this book, then you haven't read it." --Stephen Colbert

"Biz Stone's anything-but-ordinary journey both surprises and inspires. Things A Little Bird Told Me is a peek into a unique mind that, I'm happy to add, entertains us as well." --Ron Howard

"As someone who has personally experienced Biz's generosity and genius, I'm thrilled that readers of Things a Little Bird Told Me can now draw inspiration from his values and vision. A must-read for anyone who wants to tap their creative potential." --Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org

"Most tales of startup success revolve around a lone genius out-maneuvering the competition. But the story Biz Stone tells is a riveting-and often hilarious-break from that tradition: a story of collaboration, sharing, and the power of networks."--Steven Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455528714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455528714
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gabriella West on April 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
(I received a digital review copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.)

"Things a Little Bird Told Me" is not your average business book. I see it more as a creative memoir of Biz's life and times. He was one of the four original co-founders of Twitter (Evan, Jack, and Noah were the others). Biz starts by taking us through his somewhat surreal initial hiring at Google (helped by Evan, who became a close friend), then his jumping ship to Evan's new startup Odeo, and then the birth of Twitter, which began as a two-week hackathon project by Jack and Biz, believe it or not!

There are so many great stories in the book. Biz seems like an unusual character, a self-deprecating "chancer" who bounces quickly from failure to success and is not ashamed to open up about his missteps. He comes off as sunny and warm and willing to look like a fool at times. The story of Ev and Biz driving down to Palo Alto to see Mark Zuckerberg is an awkward classic. (What must Zuckerberg have heard about these guys to have treated them like such morons? One wonders.)

Biz, to me, seems like he has ADHD. He proudly tells the tale of his "No Homework Policy" in high school, for example, where he simply gave up doing it because it took him too long. (The mind boggles. Who could get away with that? Well, someone who doesn't play by the rules and doesn't see the point of structure.) Biz's openness is very nice, but there is a shadow behind this book and that shadow is Nick Bilton's very much darker account of the founding of Twitter, with its quasi-Shakesperean theme of friendships betrayed.

I will admit that I haven't read Bilton's book yet, but I really want to after reading Biz's side of the story.
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Format: Hardcover
Things a Little Bird Told Me is an autobiographical account by Biz Stone of his life, focusing on his professional career. Stone is best known as one of the founders of Twitter. He indicates that he began his work career as a graphic artist after dropping out of college. He became acquainted with Evan Williams over the Internet and Williams, who was then working at Google, convinced him to work there as well. After a brief stint at Google he left with Williams when the latter buys Odeo which includes Twitter and the site grows exponentially. But he leaves after his friend Evan is fired as CEO and now has started a new company called “Jelly” which in a mobile app that allows people to ask questions and get answers from real people.

Throughout the book Stone drops small gems of personal wisdom such as the idea that constraint inspires creativity (Twitter is limited to 140 words), be willing to take risks to succeed, be optimistic and trust your instincts, know what you want and believe in your ability to get it. Also he advises that you do not follow rules and conventions blindly as he clearly did not. Stone comes across as egotistical and self-serving, referring to himself as a “genius” and always coming off as the good guy who tries to make everyone happy. At the end he talks about how good people are and that he wants to help people. Twitter he says put people first and technology second, whereas Google does the reverse.

Some of his stories about himself are poignant such as how as a small boy he overcame his fear of the dark by intentionally going into a room with the lights off to see if any monsters would attack him. When none did he says he lost his fear of the dark. The message is “to seek knowledge even in the face of fear.
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Format: Hardcover
THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME by Biz Stone has done two things for me: left me inspired, and convinced me that Mr. Stone is a nice, cool, and interesting guy. In fact, reading this book reminded me of Chris Hadfield’s AN ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH. Through determination, mental projection, and a bit of luck, amazing things can happen. Or, so we are lead to believe.

This book goes through the life of Biz Stone from the time he was living in his mom’s basement with his girlfriend, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and on to the time where Twitter is valued at fifteen billion dollars. Much of what Stone writes is vastly quotable as he relates his optimistic vision of himself and those around him. For instance, Stone says that “failures become our assets” and relates to how Twitter’s down time and the display of the “Fail Whale” actually helped Twitter grow stronger.

Stone endeavors to show how he is relatable to the Everyday Joe. He describes how his family lives modestly; how he programmed the company of Twitter to have a moral compass; and, how he can relate almost any life occurrence to an episode of Star Trek. From what we read here, he is inspiring and funny.

This book is filled with interesting stories, such as: the joke offer to sell Twitter to Mark Zuckerberg for five-hundred million dollars; the major event SXSW 2007 turned out to be; the Moldova unrest; and the plane landing in the Hudson River. Of particular interest is how Twitter got involved in the Presidential Elections with Obama and how Stone was steadfast in his resolve to remain unbiased, especially when NSA’s PRISM was seeking user data.

Some of Stone’s advice may seem excessively daring or foolhardy.
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