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[学科前沿] 比尔•盖茨最喜欢的商业书籍 (Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book)   [分享]

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wwqqer 在职认证  发表于 2014-9-6 21:06:49 |显示全部楼层
Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book


Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street
The Go-Go Years: The Drama and Crashing Finale of Wall Street's Bullish 60s
【书评140306】《聪明的投资者》   本杰明·格雷厄姆

Not long after I first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, I asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. He didn't miss a beat: 'It's 'Business Adventures,' by John Brooks,' he said. 'I'll send you my copy.' I was intrigued: I had never heard of 'Business Adventures' or John Brooks.

1991年我初次见到沃伦•巴菲特(Warren Buffett)之后不久,我请他推荐他最喜欢的商业书籍。他毫不迟疑地回答到:约翰•布鲁克斯(John Brooks)所着的《商业冒险》(Business Adventures)。他说,他将把他的那本书借给我。我很是好奇:我之前从来没有听说过这本书,也没有听说过约翰•布鲁克斯。

Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me -- and more than four decades after it was first published -- 'Business Adventures' remains the best business book I've ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer. (And Warren, if you're reading this, I still have your copy.)


A skeptic might wonder how this out-of-print collection of New Yorker articles from the 1960s could have anything to say about business today. After all, in 1966, when Brooks profiled Xerox, the company's top-of-the-line copier weighed 650 pounds, cost $27,500, required a full-time operator and came with a fire extinguisher because of its tendency to overheat. A lot has changed since then.

这本书收录了20世纪60年代布鲁克斯在《纽约客》(New Yorker)杂志上发表的一些文章,已不再版,有些人可能会怀疑它对当今的商业社会能有什么借鉴意义。毕竟,在1966年,布鲁克斯笔下的施乐公司(Xerox Co.),其最先进的复印机重达650磅(约合295千克),成本高达27,500美元,需要一位专职操作员,而且因为容易过热还需要配备一个灭火器。与那时相比,世界已经发生了翻天覆地的变化。

It's certainly true that many of the particulars of business have changed. But the fundamentals have not. Brooks's deeper insights about business are just as relevant today as they were back then. In terms of its longevity, 'Business Adventures' stands alongside Benjamin Graham's 'The Intelligent Investor,' the 1949 book that Warren says is the best book on investing that he has ever read.

毋庸置疑,很多商业细节已经发生了变化,但是基本原则始终如一。无论过去还是现在,布鲁克斯对商业的深邃洞察力同样适用。就存世时间而言,《商业冒险》与1949年出版的格雷厄姆(Benjamin Graham)所着《聪明的投资者》(The Intelligent Investor)相当。巴菲特说,《聪明的投资者》是他读过的最佳投资类书籍。

Brooks grew up in New Jersey during the Depression, attended Princeton University (where he roomed with future Secretary of State George Shultz) and, after serving in World War II, turned to journalism with dreams of becoming a novelist. In addition to his magazine work, he published a handful of books, only some of which are still in print. He died in 1993.

布鲁克斯在经济大萧条时期的新泽西州长大,后来就读普林斯顿大学,他的室友包括后来就任国务卿的舒尔茨(George Shultz)。第二次世界大战中他在军队服役,之后进入新闻业,梦想成为一名小说家。除杂志社的工作外,他还出版了一些书籍,但仅有一小部分依然再版。布鲁克斯于1993年去世。

As the journalist Michael Lewis wrote in his foreword to Brooks's book 'The Go-Go Years,' even when Brooks got things wrong, 'at least he got them wrong in an interesting way.' Unlike a lot of today's business writers, Brooks didn't boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. (How many times have you read that some company is taking off because they give their employees free lunch?) You won't find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters and show how things went for them.

记者刘易斯(Michael Lewis)在布鲁克斯所着《沸腾的岁月》(The Go-Go Years)一书的前言中写道:即便是犯错,布鲁克斯至少也会以一种有趣的方式犯错。与当今众多商业作家不同,布鲁克斯并不是介绍入门方法或是简单解释成功秘诀。(大家应该经常读到,一些企业的成功源于向员工提供了免费午餐。)在布鲁克斯的文章中你看不到列举式的结构,他会围绕一个主题撰写一篇长文,进行深入探究,引入一些著名人物,并展示他们的做法。

In one called 'The Impacted Philosophers,' he uses a case of price-fixing at General Electric to explore miscommunication -- sometimes intentional miscommunication -- up and down the corporate ladder. It was, he writes, 'a breakdown in intramural communication so drastic as to make the building of the Tower of Babel seem a triumph of organizational rapport.'

书中有一篇文章叫做“顽固的哲学家”(The Impacted Philosophers)。文章通过美国通用电气公司(General Electric)操纵价格的商业案例,探索了企业内部沟通不畅产生的误解问题(某些情况下是故意为之)。他写道:通用电气的内部沟通严重崩溃,看起来构建巴别塔(Tower of Babel)才是使企业内部融洽的关键。

In 'The Fate of the Edsel,' he refutes the popular explanations for why Ford's flagship car was such a historic flop. It wasn't because the car was overly poll-tested; it was because Ford's executives only pretended to be acting on what the polls said. 'Although the Edsel was supposed to be advertised, and otherwise promoted, strictly on the basis of preferences expressed in polls, some old-fashioned snake-oil selling methods, intuitive rather than scientific, crept in.' It certainly didn't help that the first Edsels 'were delivered with oil leaks, sticking hoods, trunks that wouldn't open and push buttons that . . . couldn't be budged with a hammer.'

在“福特Edsel的命运”(The Fate of the Edsel)一文中,布鲁克斯反驳了外界对为何这款福特(Ford)旗舰汽车功亏一篑的普遍解释。文章写道,Edsel失败的原因并不是它过分追求民意调查结果,福特高层只是假装按照民意结果行事。虽然Edsel的推广方式本该完全以调查中反映的消费者倾向为依据,但福特在不知不觉中采用了老套的推销手段,有点像卖蛇油的,他们凭直觉办事,而不是以科学的方式进行推广。第一批交付的Edsel汽车存在漏油、引擎盖无法打开等问题,这无疑让情况变得更糟。

One of Brooks's most instructive stories is 'Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox.' (The headline alone belongs in the Journalism Hall of Fame.) The example of Xerox is one that everyone in the tech industry should study. Starting in the early '70s, Xerox funded a huge amount of R&D that wasn't directly related to copiers, including research that led to Ethernet networks and the first graphical user interface (the look you know today as Windows or OS X).

本书中最有启发性的故事之一是“施乐施乐施乐施乐”(Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox)。施乐的案例值得科技业所有人研究。从上世纪70年代开始,施乐庞大的研发费用并没有全部直接投入到打印机业务中,而是投入到了以太网(Ethernet)以及第一款图形用户界面(就是如今Windows或OS X系统界面的始祖)的研发方面。

But because Xerox executives didn't think these ideas fit their core business, they chose not to turn them into marketable products. Others stepped in and went to market with products based on the research that Xerox had done. Both Apple and Microsoft, for example, drew on Xerox's work on graphical user interfaces.


I know I'm not alone in seeing this decision as a mistake on Xerox's part. I was certainly determined to avoid it at Microsoft. I pushed hard to make sure that we kept thinking big about the opportunities created by our research in areas like computer vision and speech recognition. Many other journalists have written about Xerox, but Brooks's article tells an important part of the company's early story. He shows how it was built on original, outside-the-box thinking, which makes it all the more surprising that as Xerox matured, it would miss out on unconventional ideas developed by its own researchers. (To download a free e-book of 'Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox,' go to GatesNotes.com.)


Brooks was also a masterful storyteller. He could craft a page-turner like 'The Last Great Corner,' about the man who founded the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain and his attempt to foil investors intent on shorting his company's stock. I couldn't wait to see how things turned out for him. (Here's a spoiler: not well.) Other times you can almost hear Brooks chuckling as he tells some absurd story. There's a passage in 'The Fate of the Edsel' in which a PR man for Ford organizes a fashion show for the wives of newspaper reporters. The host of the fashion show turns out to be a female impersonator, which might seem edgy today but would have been scandalous for a major U.S. corporation in 1957. Brooks notes that the reporters' wives 'were able to give their husbands an extra paragraph or two for their stories.'

布鲁克斯很会讲故事。《绝地反击》(The Last Great Corner)就是他笔下一篇颇为精彩的文章,讲述了连锁超市Piggly Wiggly创始人如何击败公司股票作空者的故事,我当时简直等不及想知道最后的结局。还有些滑稽的故事生动到你似乎可以透过文字听到布鲁克斯的笑声。《福特Edsel的命运》(The Fate of the Edsel)一文有一段讲到,福特公司(Ford)的一位公关人员为报刊记者的太太们组织了一场时装秀,而这场秀的主持人却是个女演员。虽然这在今天看来似乎只是有点儿非主流而已,但在1957年对于一个美国大型企业来说这却是有失体面的做法。布鲁克斯写道,这些记者太太们完全可以提供素材,让自己的先生就此大做文章。

Brooks's work is a great reminder that the rules for running a strong business and creating value haven't changed. For one thing, there's an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn't matter if you have a perfect product, production plan and marketing pitch; you'll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.


That is a lesson you learn quickly in business, and I've been reminded of it at every step of my career, first at Microsoft and now at the foundation. Which people are you going to back? Do their roles fit their abilities? Do they have both the IQ and EQ to succeed? Warren is famous for this approach at Berkshire Hathaway, where he buys great businesses run by wonderful managers and then gets out of the way.

这是人们在企业经营过程中很快会领悟的道理,不论是最初的微软还是现在的基金会,我都在自己职业生涯的每个阶段时刻提醒自己这一点。你支持哪些人?他们的能力和职位相匹配吗?他们是否具有成功所需的智商和情商?巴菲特以其在Berkshire Hathaway的用人之道而闻名,他在收购优质资产之后将其交由出色的经理人打理,而自己则退居幕后。

'Business Adventures' is as much about the strengths and weaknesses of leaders in challenging circumstances as it is about the particulars of one business or another. In that sense, it is still relevant not despite its age but because of it. John Brooks's work is really about human nature, which is why it has stood the test of time.




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