THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME by Biz Stone has done two things for me: left me inspired, and convinced me that Mr. Stone is a nice, cool, and interesting guy. In fact, reading this book reminded me of Chris Hadfield’s AN ASTRONAUT’S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH. Through determination, mental projection, and a bit of luck, amazing things can happen. Or, so we are lead to believe.
This book goes through the life of Biz Stone from the time he was living in his mom’s basement with his girlfriend, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and on to the time where Twitter is valued at fifteen billion dollars. Much of what Stone writes is vastly quotable as he relates his optimistic vision of himself and those around him. For instance, Stone says that “failures become our assets” and relates to how Twitter’s down time and the display of the “Fail Whale” actually helped Twitter grow stronger.
Stone endeavors to show how he is relatable to the Everyday Joe. He describes how his family lives modestly; how he programmed the company of Twitter to have a moral compass; and, how he can relate almost any life occurrence to an episode of Star Trek. From what we read here, he is inspiring and funny.
This book is filled with interesting stories, such as: the joke offer to sell Twitter to Mark Zuckerberg for five-hundred million dollars; the major event SXSW 2007 turned out to be; the Moldova unrest; and the plane landing in the Hudson River. Of particular interest is how Twitter got involved in the Presidential Elections with Obama and how Stone was steadfast in his resolve to remain unbiased, especially when NSA’s PRISM was seeking user data.
Some of Stone’s advice may seem excessively daring or foolhardy. He shows that high risk does have the potential of high reward, but the reader doesn’t get a glimpse into other peoples' lives that weren’t so lucky. Malcom Gladwell relates this same type of hard-work and success in his book OUTLIERS with the examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Being at the right place at the right time has its benefits, too. (As an aside, Stone mentions Gladwell directly in this book as a point of contention.) Still, Stone gives some concession in his closing remarks, encouraging readers to perhaps alter their course versus jumping into the chasm blindly.
The bottom line: this is an exciting book. Stone is readable, quotable, and fun. He has his quirks, but that’s what gives this book its life.
Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with an electronic copy of this book for review.