I categorize How I Built This as an inspirational book authored for aspiring entrepreneurs, instead of an entrepreneurial book of any other category.
The book latches on the “formula” used by some of the world’s most renowned entrepreneurs to set their businesses off the ground. Each chapter and section is split into the chronological order of business principles starting from what made them want to build their businesses, challenges they faced, how they conquered them, and their breakthroughs to be million-dollar companies.
I read the book twice, the first one to understand and enjoy, the second one to take down notes in preparation for my exam. I couldn’t imagine reading it only once and taking down notes, mainly because the storytelling of the book can be confusing as it jumps from one story to another throughout and back again at different points in the narrative. It makes sense as the book follows the steps it took for a business to fly so it follows through the story in the same manner, however, that made the stories less impactful. There were also instances that the names of the business owners were used to showcase examples of the principles instead of the more known company names, which made recalling and associating their business to the principles much more difficult. I also live in Asia, I didn’t grow up to know and get familiar with these companies at the back of my head so that was also a personal challenge.
One of the takeaways I also need to mention is that all these inspiring people, albeit had to face challenges of their own, had safety nets and a place of privilege to fall back on. Not to discredit the needle they had to go through, but it’s easier to fight for your dreams if you have a trust fund, people who can pitch in or loan you thousands of dollars, or families that can manage to take you in when you lose stable employment after you decided you wanted to quit and go all-in for your business plans. I think those can be more inspiring.
The HIBT podcast was also mentioned a couple of times throughout, so I did a quick check only to find out that the book is basically a written format of some of those podcasts. Although the latter was easier to digest because each episode features the chronological history of one business at a time— and it’s also free.
I did enjoy perusing the book at both times I read it, but if you’ve read several of business books or have a business of your own, this basically follows the same context. If you are looking to be inspired, then this book might be for you. But if you are looking for actionable steps that will help you give life to your ideas, then there are many greater books out there.