Top critical review
Probably best for young adults
17 April 2019
The book, physically, is very nicely bound and produced. It's print is lovely, black and red ink, and is organised into three parts. It's essentially a huge bullet-pointed document with one or two paragraphs under each sub-point. There are black and red ribbons to mark pages, which I've always liked in books.
It's an unusual book. I find myself swinging between enjoying Ray's wisdom and feeling like I need to take it all with a huge pinch of salt because of the massive amount of survivorship, hindsight and outcome bias in play.
The book is also a contradiction, since it is largely about open-minded and different points of view and yet its entirely Ray's unchallenged points of view. I'm a software engineer and I remember once reading a programming principles book where maybe five programmers all chimed in with their own opinions and challenges on the assertions in the book, which was really cool.
Maybe another billionaire will say there's a case for close-mindedness, focus and shutting out opinion that will lead to analysis paralysis. Maybe there are books by leading psychologists that have devoted years to a topic that would be better to read, such as Thinking Fast and Slow. For older or more voracious or aspirational business, management or "self improvement" book readers, much of Ray's thinking will simply rhyme with what you may already believe.
It's probably wishful thinking to expect by reading a huge list of advice you'll magically be reprogrammed and have established a set of good thought patterns, esp. if you're trying to improve in isolation; you're not surrounded by people mirroring and modelling good practice. Though I rarely found myself disagreeing with anything Ray writes. There's a lot in the book to take in and I don't know how much will stick.
The biggest thing for me, and I say this as a "fan" of Ray, is that I struggle with the reviews of his company on Glassdoor and the _reality_ of people working under his principles vs. other companies that highly-successful while having much higher ratings and are anecdotally nicer places to work, such as Salesforce.
When other companies can achieve so much and foster happy, purposeful, creative and fulfilled people by taking a different approach, you have to ask whether his principles have really led to better lives, better outcomes for his employees or whether Ray conflates how well he's done with achieving his life goals with how well everyone else is doing?