- File Size: 114329 KB
- Print Length: 385 pages
- Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (September 17, 2019)
- Publication Date: September 17, 2019
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07SBX56MC
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,671 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence Kindle Edition
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“What It Takes is a must-read book, filled with the experiences of one of the great business success stories of the last 30 years—Blackstone. In this book, Steve Schwarzman chronicles his and Blackstone’s journey to the top of global business. The book is filled with fresh insights and personal experiences that everyone—from students to CEOs—will relate to and learn from.” —Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric
“The real story of what it takes from a man who could turn dreams into realities.” —Ray Dalio, founder, Co-CIO and Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates
“What It Takes is a must-read, inspirational account of how Stephen A. Schwarzman built Blackstone into one of the world’s top global asset management companies and leveraged his resources, know-how, and vision to spearhead bold philanthropic programs and provide trusted advice to a generation of political leaders around the globe.” —Janet Yellen, Former Chair of the Federal Reserve
“A series of thoughtful reflections derived from the author’s extraordinary life, which has already left its mark on the worlds of finance, politics, and education and made each the better for it. In this brief and insightful volume, Schwarzman has identified several key qualities required for excellence in any field, including a tireless sense of curiosity, a tolerance for risk, and an eye for the humble detail.” —Henry A. Kissinger, Former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor
“Stephen Schwarzman has lived the American dream: a self-made icon in his field, turned philanthropist, who has long worked with creativity and vision to deepen relationships between individuals and countries. Steve shares the full measure of his personal journey with us in What It Takes - part memoir, part playbook for success in any field. Humble, candid, funny and real, Steve offers wisdom and the gift of much needed common sense chapter by chapter and experience by experience. A great read!” —John Kerry, Former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator for Massachusetts
“From his start as an entrepreneur working in his family’s linen store in 1950s Philadelphia, Steve Schwarzman has made towering contributions to finance, relations between the U.S. and China, and computing, including a seminal investment in AI research that will help establish the age of intelligence. Steve always takes the long view and then helps move us in the direction that will pay the greatest dividends. This book reveals how he has achieved the rarest kind of leverage in multiple fields.” —Eric Schmidt, Former CEO and Executive Chairman of Google
“Steve’s life lessons challenge me to think bigger and move even faster. His insights apply to both our work and personal lives, and his leadership has always embodied the principle of doing what is right, even when it is hard. Steve challenges us all to be better leaders, better citizens, better people.” —Mary Barra, Chairwoman and CEO of General Motors
"In his new book, Steve relives his vast and varied experience at the center of a (thick) slice of US and global financial history. In the process he sets out a number of timeless lessons for business and life. This story literally has what it takes: the anecdotes, the insights and, most of all, the values to guide the next generation of entrepreneurs." —Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England
"Steve Schwarzman, whom I consider a rare global business statesman, has a unique ability to connect with others and has developed a very strong network of global leaders and institutions to help advance big ideas. His business and philanthropic efforts will have long-lasting impact around the world. What It Takes tells the story of lessons he has learned at every stage of life which offers great advice for anyone from the C-suite to the classroom looking to leave their mark." —Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
"Excellence is in short supply these days, but you’ll find it on every page of Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman’s autobiography, What It Takes. Anyone who is interested in Wall Street—at its best—will not be able to put this page turner down!" —James Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author
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I got about half way in and did not learn a single thing. Time is too valuable to read something that is not interesting and not educational.
In full disclosure, this review is written with a direct and personal perspective, as I have known Steve through work at Blackstone, informing how I think about the book. It is genuine – written in the same voice as Steve’s weekly talks at Blackstone’s Monday morning meetings, except the book describes many of the most interesting episodes in his life, rather than just the last seven days.
Steve’s book captures what made Blackstone succeed. When I joined the firm, I was struck by how we were a market leader in private equity, real estate, hedge fund capital, and restructuring, even though the various businesses were separately run. What did they have in common that made them succeed? I learned over the years that it was Steve’s focus on hiring 9s and 10s, a culture of integrity and performance, and providing a meritocratic environment free of politics. “What it takes” covers all of these topics in detail - for example providing detailed advice on how to interview to find the best employees.
The book is structured as a series of anecdotes. This makes the book a much easier read than a traditional biography would have been. In addition, each chapter has a lesson, in total it amounts to 25 rules for success, each of which is brought to life by a corresponding experience in Steve’s life. One of them is to go for very ambitious goals, not small ones. “Worthy fantasies”, as Steve calls them. Steve’s recent projects, including the MIT AI institute, Oxford’s new humanities center, or Schwarzman Scholars each are examples of the theme of setting extremely ambitious goals, and going for it with everything you have.
I highly recommend “What it takes” to anyone curious about Steve’s life or interested in learning about the ideas and lessons that made him succeed.
Top international reviews
But that is where the praise stops. The book itself is very poorly produced and shows almost zero creativity in the production process. The words may be top ten but the production is bottom ten. Steve Schwarzman should be very disappointed with what Simon & Schuster have wrapped his words up in.
Specific criticisms: The first chapter is a jumbled mess. The photos are terrible, mostly blurred. poorly curated and certainly Photoshop is an unknown process to the picture editor (if there was one). The covers (UK and US) are totally uninspiring.
The acknowledgments shower praise on the team Schwarzman assembled to produce his biography but in reality they have let him down badly.
But definitely buy and read it because it is otherwise a great book.
It's also a great read for those who want to achieve their goals in every other area of work.
I mentor university students interested in the investment sector. This is going to be mandatory reading for them.
Since reading, I've set much bigger goals for the assets under management I want to manage.
Schwarzman gives each section and chapter a heading in the lesson in what it takes. But actually what really drove his success is not listed in a summary at the end of the book. He has worked 18 hours a day for years and sleeps 5 hours a night. To me, this is what it takes to have a heart attack but it is what it took for Schwarzman to become a wealthy and well known figure.
This book is a great insight into a how private equity investors think and operate. He goes through the many deals he has done in many industries. We are talked through his early life and career, leading to the creation of Blackstone (and anglophone construction of his name and his business partner). He covers how they too got into the business of high leveraged buyouts (LBOs). The company goes public, he makes a packet but the stress doesn’t end there. The financial crisis comes and they just about survive despite the intense pressure of a Chinese investors.
The final part of the book shines a light on his philanthropic endeavours, notably the construction of a new building for American students in China. There is a lot to be admired about Stephen Schwartzman. He is hard worker and succeeded in the finance industry without necessarily having a strong background in finance. He lays some of his greatest failures out in a book where he personally could have done better. He has an appreciation of finer things such as old-world architecture and craft and tangible assets. He displays that Blackstone were not the asset stripping PE company of others overall.
I don’t buy all of the chat that company was evangelical while spinning great profits and cutting jobs. I am suspect of some of the company he keeps. I don’t plan on working 18 hours a day and sleeping 5 hours a night. I didn’t get a lot of applicable lessons out of the book. But it’s a really interesting story, an easy read and a great insight into investment banking.
The author does, however, spend a disproportionate amount of time promoting his own philanthropic endeavours and political activity in a very self indulgent way.
Overall a solid four out of five
I love the way this book highlighted both the difficulties and successes he had. It is very practical and not some esoteric unimaginable stories.
This book has increased my resolve to be successful with determination and diligence.
Whenever I listen to the news and hear about the US-Chinese trade talks, I imagine what role and thoughts you were having in shaping the biggest trade policies of our generation.
I have recommended this book to several friends and I have added this man to the list of my role models!
I look forward to the day I will receive a response from Mr Schwarzman.
Great book to read in one week despite huge demand for my time with work.
This book is a synopsis of “The King of Capital” read that for a much better account of the entire book plus 150% more. I’m nearly certain he took that book and changed every sentence from “Steve did x” to “ I did x”.
Stephen's easy approach to stroytelling along with common sense tips on what is required to be truely successful, in an increasingly complex and competitive environment, make this book a must read for anyone interested in making their own mark in the world.