“Fadell has distilled his wisdom in this book, providing wildly useful mentorship in a delightfully readable set of stories.”
Author & Biographer of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein & Leonardo DaVinci
“This is the most fun—and the most fascinating—memoir of curiosity and invention that I’ve ever read.”
Host of the Revisionist History podcast. Author of Outliers & Talking to Strangers
“Insightful. Funny. Instructive. Unvarnished. A book brimming with energy and enthusiasm to coach you through every stage of your career.”
Ex. VP Marketing at General Magic & Member of the original Macintosh team
“Priceless advice for any young person who wants to build something great or change the world for the better.”
Founding Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
“Tony Fadell distills his epic career into refreshingly candid, often contrarian advice that you can put into practice right away.”
Author of THINK AGAIN & Host of the TED podcast WorkLife
“Tony’s insights, instincts and wisdom are essential reading and a precious gift for any inventor hungry to change the world.”
award winning designer & founder Heatherwick Studio
For every career crisis, every fork in the road, you need someone to talk to. Someone who’s been there before, who knows exactly how wobbly and conflicted you feel, who can give it to you straight.
Tony Fadell learned all these lessons the hard way. He spent the first 10 years of his career in Silicon Valley failing spectacularly, and the next 20 building some of the most impactful devices in history – the iPod, iPhone, and Nest Learning Thermostat. He has enough stories and advice about leadership, design, startups, mentorship, decision making, devastating screwups, and unbelievable success to fill an encyclopedia.
So that’s what this book is.
An advice encyclopedia.
A mentor in a box.
But Tony doesn’t follow the standard Silicon Valley credo that in order to build something amazing, you have to reinvent everything, throw out the old, start from scratch. His advice is unorthodox because it’s old school. Because it acknowledges that products evolve from humans, and human nature doesn’t change.
You don’t need to reinvent how you lead and manage – just what you make.
And Tony’s ready to help everyone make things worth making.
This is Dina Lovinsky. She helped Tony write this book.
She also helped him build Nest. For almost six years, Dina defined the Nest voice, writing websites and packaging, ads and videos, app copy and blog posts and instruction manuals. Together, Tony and Dina and an incredible team built a brand they were deeply proud of.
A few years later, Tony began filling a spreadsheet with ideas for a book. Just scraps of advice, tips, lessons, stories that he’d recounted hundreds of times to people trying to build difficult things. As he reached row 115, he found out through the grapevine that Dina was free.
There was nobody else he could imagine doing this with. The stars aligned. It was time to write a book.
Building a book.
This book took around two years to complete, start to finish.
That includes the time it took to figure out what it could be, write a proposal, get a publisher, and then for Dina to have a baby and the entire planet to shut down with COVID-19.
After that, all it took was endless hours of calls to debate how to structure the book, how to organize it – the intros, the chapters, the sections – and what to put in. How much story? How much advice? How to balance the two? And then the back and forth and back again in the doc – tweaking, revising, discovering new things Tony wanted to say or new ways that Dina could say it. Every chapter got rewritten at least three times. One chapter – Assholes – faced at least seven or eight rewrites. It’s hard to polish an Asshole to a diamond, but they got there eventually.
The manuscript ballooned to 500 pages, 600 pages. You couldn’t open it on your phone anymore. You could barely open it on your computer. They reached the limit of Google Docs, a thing they had not realized existed.
And then it was time to cut. Hack and slash 200 pages out of it. And to show it to other human beings for the first time. To wait, wondering, hoping, worrying. And then to decide what advice to take, which feedback to ignore.
It felt literally endless. And then, suddenly, it ended. And they had made something worth making.