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An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur Paperback – February 1, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Some lives unfold so extraordinarily that it is tempting to ponder the stark imbalance of talent and drive with which some people are born. This is certainly the case with William Hiroyuki Saito, one of the world’s foremost experts on data security, whose life story makes for both a captivating autobiography and a business self-help text of considerable value." -- South China Morning Post

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By the age of 10, William Saito was designing financial programs for Merrill Lynch. By the time he was in college, he was running his own business, creating software for corporate giants like NEC, Toshiba, and Sony. Soon afterwards, he was selling his work to Bill Gates. In An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur, the child-prodigy-turned-star-businessman tells his story for the first time, providing business owners and budding entrepreneurs with an invaluable insight into a remarkable story of hard work and success.

From volunteering to set up an automated filing system for his local library to helping the Japanese government respond to the 2011 tsunami, an unwavering commitment to putting his technical savvy at the disposal of those who need it most has defined Saito's career. As a result, he has become a preeminent authority on homeland security, as well as a friend to young start-ups around the globe. He has been a judge for Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year" award as well as a winner of this prestigious prize.

Saito knows exactly what makes a company a winner, and he can identify the little things that prevent promising new ventures from ever making it big. In An Unprogrammed Life, he takes a lifetime of wisdom public. Ending each chapter with actionable "takeaway" advice, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to succeed as an entrepreneur.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118077032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118077030
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,189,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
William H Saito's first effort documents an extraordinary life and his lessons learned along the way. Saito relates his entrepreneurial story in an easygoing and self-effacing style (much like the man himself) and provides excellent advice built on solid experience. He openly shares his guidance in this book and pushes the reader to think differently in facing obstacles.

He starts his business journey at an early age in Los Angeles and builds his US software company while still pursuing his education. Company owners will appreciate his successes and failures, and many will be surprised to learn that they've used many of his programs/products on a daily basis. Having achieved success in the United States, Saito returns to Japan and immerses himself in understanding how Japanese companies and government work (or don't work).

One of Saito's underlying themes is the importance of volunteering and assisting those in need. His response to Japan's triple earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster shows how one man can affect change based simply on compassion, common sense and business savvy.

Despite his success, Saito relentlessly continues to expand his experiences in business and public service arenas while selflessly teaching and inspiring a new generation.

This is not your standard successful entrepreneur vanity book; this is a story of passion, commitment and hard work. I recommend An Unprogrammed Life to anyone seeking inspiration, start-up advice or just a fine read. Those who care to learn more are also advised to read his essay in McKinsey's Reimagining Japan: The Quest for a Future That Works.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
William Saito was interested in taking things apart since he was a small child. Eventually he learned to put things back together. And eventually he learned how to build and then program computers.

The best part of this book chronicles Saito's childhood. He breezed through math on his own. He was sent to a private high school, Damien, where he joined the debate team (gaining lifelong benefits) and learned to appreciate English literature.

Bored with high school, Saito wandered over to a community college, where he discovered he could take courses even as a young teen. Along the way he met his friend Tas, who was to become his lifelong partner. Before taking off for college, he spend a year studying culinary arts.

Saito has a gift for shaping his world. In high school, he used his required service hours to set up databases for worthy nonprofits. In college, he programed the phones in his dorm so kids who were living off-campus wouldn't miss calls from parents. He did a pre-med course of study and actually completed medical school, at the behest of his Japanese parents, although he never practiced.

Saito's values are summed up on page 39, when he describes how he skipped his senior year of high school to graduate early. Originally he was told, "It can't be done." He writes, "Sure enough, I didn't get what I wanted. I *created* what I wanted. Big difference. I set up an accelerated program ...I was able to skip my entire senior year at Damien and graduate at 16. Not only was I the first student ever to do so ... but I believe I am still the only student who has ever done so."

The last part of the book deals with Saito's experiences in business. This section is somewhat drier - it's a series of business deals and experiences - but still interesting.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's interesting reading about the experiences of a serial entrepreneur (especially as someone with a similar mindset) and found many of the stories very revealing in showing what motivated the author throughout his life. Clearly quite a brilliant individual, his antics at 10 years old shaped his behavior and thought process (his 'algorithm').

The book is generally well-written though I found the narrative more gripping at the beginning than towards the end. As others have mentioned there are occasionally infuriating lack of specifics and generalities that can be frustrating for the reader. Still, this minor gripe aside, it's still a fascinating read about the sort of person you just don't come across very frequently.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
By the age of 10, William Saito was doing work that some of us hope to be doing by the time we are "adults" and in the real world (programming algorithms for the financial sector) and it seems that he found his own, personal "algorithm" for success and just kept making it work for himself.

In "An Unprogrammed Life" he shares his insights and experiences about personal success, community, hard work, setting goals, technology, etc.

This is a great, well-written book that will appeal to anyone who is interested in what it means to be fulfilled and successful in this day in age- no matter what your age or station in life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A number of insightful personal anecdotes mixed with coherent business advice. Good read on unorthodox tactics, resilience, and persistence. Maybe most interesting to me was the balance between humbleness and ambition in the author's approach to his career.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
William Hiroyuki Saito's life illustrates both the good and the bad side of having parents who decide, more or less at birth, the course of their child's life. William Hiroyuki was going to be a physician (his wishes in the matter were pretty much irrelevant, as was his great interest and talent in the field of computer programming, and his lack of interest in medicine). So he went thru medical school and got his M.D., and has become a very wealthy programmer and business executive (earned wealth, not inherited) and has never practiced medicine. So I don't understand how he can consider his "An Unprogrammed Life." It seems to me it was if anything overprogrammed, albeit he was not completely bound by the parental programming. The bad side is that he wasted so much time obtaining the parentally-required M.D. and kept another prospective M.D. from being admitted to medical school; the good side is that he acquired the motivation and the knowledge to solve challenging problems, producing solutions that met real needs.

His parents were not equipped to tutor him in medicine, but they could help him in mathematics, and did they ever! While in the lower grades, he became proficient in advanced high school math. When he was in high school, he wanted out. He thought he ought to be able to graduate after three years, but was told it couldn't be done. No one had ever done it. No one ever could. He did it.

Saito's autobiography particularly resonates with me because it reads much like the story of the man I wish in so many ways I could have been. Many of the things he did read like amplified, glorified versions of things I did or tried to do (and he did much better).
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