Book Review | Things a Little Bird Told Me

Title: Things a Little Bird Told Me – Confessions of the Creative Mind
Author: Biz Stone
Year: 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing / Hachette Book Group
Pages: 222
Topics Covered: Leadership, Social Media, Tech

Things a Little Bird Told Me is the amazing story of a man who took risks, created opportunities and willed his very own success. Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, memoirs his life journey thus far and when you read it, not only will you be inspired but you can’t help but be a fan. This is a rags to riches story but what’s different about it is that the protagonist isn’t necessarily chasing the riches, rather he is seeking to challenge himself, do what he loves and help the world. His mission to change the world and connect people has not only given birth to one of the greatest social media platforms in Twitter but now in his new venture, a modern search engine in Jelly.

What I Learned

This book has many lessons throughout it as Biz recounts stories of his past. The following are four that really resonated with me.

Opportunity is Manufactured – What’s so great about Biz is that he has never waited for anyone to give him an opportunity. He has gone out and made his own opportunities whether it be starting a lacrosse team in high-school to going from box mover to book designer at Little Brown and Company. In order to be successful, you must create your own destiny. Biz manufactured his own opportunities which allowed him to connect with the right people and be in the right places. But the manufacturing process was not easy. Its components consisted of things like great financial risk and personal uncertainty. – Instead of waiting for someone to open the door for you, go out and make your own door.

Creativity is Infinite – One of the greatest strengths Biz possessed throughout his life was his ability to fuel and express his creativity. Creativity is so embedded within his DNA that it has pushed him to take risks in his life when he felt bored and uninspired. Creativity caused him to drop out of school and be a book designer for Little Brown and Company; it pushed him to quit Google and leave millions in stock options to join a new start-up in Odeo, and it inspired him to help create Twitter and now Jelly. – The pursuit to express your own creativity will steer you down the right path.

Emotional Investment is Key – Biz provides a great piece of wisdom when he writes, “If you don’t love what you’re building, if you’re not an avid user yourself, then you will most likely fail even if you’re doing everything else right.” Biz learned this first hand when he left Google to work with his friend Ev at his new start-up Odeo, a company striving to change the world through podcasting. After this venture was essentially killed when Apple introduced their own podcasting  service, Biz recounted an idea Ev had to implement a two week ‘hackathon’ where all employees of Odeo would have two weeks to work on a project they actually cared about and would want to work on. This hackathon was the genesis of Twitter. – Allowing someone the opportunity to work on something that motivates them, allows them to produce their best work.

Embrace Your Constraints – It’s hard to believe that one should embrace their constraints in their life like physical, economic or self-imposed but Biz states that they are provocative, challenging and wake you up. They make you more creative and make you better. Biz had a lot of constraints in his life but it never deterred him or held him back. – Your weaknesses only make you stronger and the barriers within your life are there to teach you and for you to conquer.

Why You Should Read This Book

You should read Things a Little Bird Told Me if you wish to be inspired and read the story of a successful entrepreneur who defeated all odds to make his own success the way he defined it. As you go through it, you will not only read the biography of a man but have him bestow his key lessons that you can apply in your own life and career.

Favourite Quotes

“If you make the opportunity, you’ll be first in position to take advantage of it.” – pg. 11

“In order to succeed spectacular, you must be ready to fail spectacularly. In other words, you must be willing to die to achieve your goals. Figuratively, of course.” – pg. 82

“Trust your instincts, know what you want, and believe in your ability to achieve it.” – pg. 154

Final Thoughts

Things a Little Bird Told Me was such a joy to read. It is 222 pages of joy, wisdom and inspiration. If you love Twitter, you will love to see its creation via the perspective of one of its founders. You will not be disappointed with this book and you will learn and be better after finishing it. Besides being a successful entrepreneur, I believe what Biz is most striving to be is a good citizen of this world. He loves helping people and wants others to do the same. His mantra can be summed up by his belief that “global empathy is the triumph of humanity.”

 

Full-Disclosure: A copy of this book was graciously provided to me by the Hachette Book Group Canada. They have not paid me for this post and everything I have written are my true feelings and opinions about it.

4 comments

  1. Great read, you have a talent in highlighting these books! Biz Stone (cool name btw) def understands what is needed to create a user friendly environment that the mass market could appreciate. It is one thing to create a product or service for a small group of people (fairly easy), but to fill a gap in the over saturated social media world brings the wow factor.
    thanks Jon

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Shawn!

      Reply
  2. I too really enjoyed “Things A Little Bird Told Me”. Biz Stone is a very refreshing and original person. My favorite quote from the book, “If it’s going to reach the potential you dream it will, your true calling needs all your attention. Willingness to take risks is the path to success.” His chapter on constrains also was very insightful.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the comment. I love hearing people’s stories. How they started and the journey to their success. Another book I love like that is Onward by Howard Schultz. If you haven’t read that one, check it out. It’s a must read.

      Reply

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