Even though the book is more than 40 years old and it’s a bit rough around the edges, it’s more than just your average paperback. This book is a Business Bible, and it’s beloved by two of the richest men in the world.
Recently, Bill Gates told the world that his favorite book is Business Adventures. The book contains a series of essays written by the journalist John Brooks, and covers some of the biggest turning points at the largest companies in the world, including General Electric and Xerox.
Gates mentioned to the Wall Street Journal that Warren Buffett had loaned him a copy of the book over 20 years ago and he still hasn’t returned it. He describes it as “the best business book I’ve ever read” because of its fundamental lessons and nuanced descriptions.
“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,” said Gates.
What do you think a book written over 40 years ago could possibly teach one of the richest software moguls in the world?
According to Gates, the book is all about the fundamentals. He says that the basic rules have remained the same, even though business particulars will change with time.
“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,” said Gates.
It’s not only billionaires that appreciate Brooks’ writing.
Seth Stevenson from Slate mentioned that the book transforms “potentially eye glazing topics (e.g., price-fixing scandals in the industrial electronics market) into rollicking narratives and includes richly drawn characters as well as lessons that still apply today.”