How I Built This Book Summary - How I Built This Book explained in key points
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How I Built This summary

Guy Raz

The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs

4.3 (216 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

How I Built This by Guy Raz is a business memoir featuring interviews with successful entrepreneurs. It highlights their challenges, successes, and insights that led to the creation of some of the world's most innovative companies.

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    How I Built This
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    Some opportunities are simply too great to pass up. But look before you leap.

    In the world of entrepreneurship, you often hear that success isn’t about the idea – it’s about the execution. That’s true. But it’s not the whole truth.

    Without a good idea, you can have all the funding and work ethic in the world – but you won’t get anywhere. But where do good ideas come from? Can you look for one, or do you have to wait for the proverbial light bulb over your head to come on? The answer, according to restaurateur and chef José Andrés, is both: Ideas happen, he says, “when you are actively moving and searching.” 

    So what’s the trick to knowing whether an idea is good enough? If you think it’s worth upending your whole life to pursue, it’s probably a good one. 

    The key message here is: Some opportunities are simply too great to pass up. But look before you leap.

    In 1984, life was going great for Jim Koch. He was a big-shot management consultant, on track to becoming the kind of rich that means your kids will never have to worry about money. But he was unhappy in his work, and he had a nagging feeling that there was a gap in the market for European-style craft beer – which happened to be his family’s longtime business. 

    Jim’s family was horrified at the thought of him leaving his job. But for Jim, the choice was clear. Leaving may have been scary – but the prospect of bitterness in his old age if he missed his chance was dangerous. 

    Luckily for Jim, regret isn’t an issue for him today. He founded the Boston Beer Company, which in 2019 pulled in $1.3 billion in revenue.

    Those numbers are enough to make anyone want to take the leap of faith and follow a passion. Go ahead! But don’t jump without a parachute. 

    For Daymond John, founder of hip-hop apparel company FUBU, the parachute was a job waiting tables at a Red Lobster in Queens, New York. Despite the brand’s popularity, Daymond knew he was never far from insolvency. The job, however unglamorous, kept the wolves from the door – and ultimately made it possible for FUBU to move to the next level. 

    In 1995, six years after its founding, FUBU got a multimillion-dollar round of financing, after Daymond’s mother took out a classified ad in the New York Times. That ad cost $2000, the equivalent of a month’s pay at Red Lobster. But with the investment safely in the bank, Daymond could finally devote himself full-time to his dream.

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    What is How I Built This about?

    How I Built This (2020) is a journey along the circuitous road to entrepreneurial success. Based on the top business podcast on iTunes, with 200 million downloads to date, How I Built This chronicles the ascension of dozens of the world’s most inspiring entrepreneurs, examining their darkest moments as well as their greatest triumphs. 

    How I Built This Review

    How I Built This (2021) by Guy Raz is a captivating exploration of the journeys and insights behind some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and innovators. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Featuring inspiring stories from a diverse range of entrepreneurs, it offers valuable lessons on resilience, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit.
    • Raz's book provides behind-the-scenes accounts of how these individuals built their companies, including the failures and challenges they faced along the way.
    • With its relatable and conversational tone, the book makes the world of entrepreneurship accessible and engaging, ensuring that readers won't be able to put it down.

    Who should read How I Built This?

    • Start-up employees with big ideas of their own 
    • People who want to leave their jobs but are too scared
    • Anyone interested in entrepreneurship


    About the Author

    Journalist Guy Raz is the host of How I Built This, a National Public Radio program on which he interviews successful entrepreneurs about their paths to success. He is also the creator or cocreator of four other programs; collectively, his shows are heard by 19 million people per month.

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    How I Built This FAQs 

    What is the main message of How I Built This?

    The main message of How I Built This is the inspiring stories behind successful entrepreneurs and how they built their businesses.

    How long does it take to read How I Built This?

    The reading time for How I Built This varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How I Built This a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How I Built This is a compelling read that offers insights into the journeys of successful entrepreneurs. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in business and entrepreneurship.

    Who is the author of How I Built This?

    The author of How I Built This is Guy Raz.

    What to read after How I Built This?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How I Built This, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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