Saturday, July 21, 2007

C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success

New York Times: By Harriet Rubin

“My wife calls me the Imelda Marcos of books,” Mr. Moritz said in an interview. “As soon as a book enters our home it is guaranteed a permanent place in our lives. Because I have never been able to part with even one, they have gradually accumulated like sediment.”

Serious leaders who are serious readers build personal libraries dedicated to how to think, not how to compete. ...Perhaps that is why — more than their sex lives or bank accounts — chief executives keep their libraries private. ...If there is a C.E.O. canon, its rule is this: “Don’t follow your mentors, follow your mentors’ mentors...”

C.E.O. libraries typically lack a Dewey Decimal or even org-chart order. “My books are organized by topic and interest but in a manner that would make a librarian weep,” Mr. Moritz said. Is there something “Da Vinci Code”-like about mixing books up in an otherwise ordered life?...

It took Dee Hock, father of the credit card and founder of Visa, a thousand books to find The One. Mr. Hock walked away from business life in 1984 and looked back only from his library’s walls. He built a dream 2,000-square-foot wing for his books in a pink stucco mansion atop a hill in Pescadero, Calif. He sat among the great philosophers and the novelists of Western life like Steinbeck and Stegner and dreamed up a word for what Visa is: “chaordic” — complex systems that blend order and chaos.

In his library, Mr. Hock found the book that contained the thoughts of all of them. Visitors can see opened on his library table for daily consulting, Omar Khayyam’s “Rubáiyát,” the Persian poem that warns of the dangers of greatness and the instability of fortune.

I'm not sure the headline writer got this article right.

I do wonder how W files his book.

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