Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

In Founders at Work, Jessica Livingston interviews 32 of the most successful and noteworthy entrepreneurs/start-up members in the last few decades. Interviewees ranged from Paul Buchheit of Google to James Hong of Hot or Not. All told their stores of life at a start-up, explaining the close calls, handing the VC money and the everyday stress in the fast pace world.

When analyzing the interviews, it’s difficult to pinpoint some common reason of their success. All of them encountered different situations and handled them well. A couple central themes that some, but not all, of the founders advocated were to use caution when taking VC money and persistence brings luck. Most of the companies had multiple founders. Connections help.

My favorite interview was Steve Wozniak of Apple. He elucidated the culture of the late 70s and early 80s by elaborating about all the hardware hacking he and others did for fun. His passion shown throw the details of his answers, and you really got a sense that he was enthralled with his work. Some of the problems he solved, such as creating color with such under powered machines, showed his great ingenuity. He was so fanatic that he made me more interested in my everyday work.

Overall, this book was a nice quick read for those interested in the lives of the not-so-typical founders of the era. It won’t keep you on the edge of your seat and some interviews became rather routine. But the best thing that happened to me after reading this book is feeling more confident about my life’s goals. These people were brilliant, but actual people non the less, and what they did was possible for everyone who has the heart.

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