CEO libraries reveal they don’t read business books

Very interesting article in the NY Times about book collections of some celebrity CEOs. A couple of interesting quotes:

“Until recently when Steven P. Jobs of Apple sold his collection, he reportedly had an “inexhaustible interest” in the books of William Blake — the mad visionary 18th-century mystic poet and artist.”

It’s not at all surprising that Jobs would be a Blake fan, but why would he “sell his collection.” I can understand selling Pixar to Disney, but a book collection? Did he sell it on eBay? This is something Fake Steve Jobs needs to explain.

Here’s another quote that raises a question:

“In his library, (Dee) Hock (founder of Visa), found the book that contained the thoughts of all (great philosophers and novelists distilled into one book): Omar Khayyam’s “Rubáiyát,” the Persian poem that warns of the dangers of greatness and the instability of fortune.

The question it raises is this. What will CEOs who read that article most likely buy and read: Blake or Khayyam?

  • Hudge

    In oblique response to your question about Blake vs. Khayyam, I cite two of my favorite phrases from Blake: “Enough! Or too much!” And, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” Of course, Blake did decry the condition of chimney sweeps…which might give some CEOs a momentary pause to find out if they have any chimney stocks in their portfolios, or maybe to see if they are getting all the environmental credits they are entitled to.

    OTOH, Sir Richard Burton translated the Rubaiyat, and if the introduction talks much about HIS life, the CEOs would be drawn to that. And the work contains that immortal ditty:
    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

    So it isn’t all about the dangers of greatness – in fact, a lot of it says go for the gusto before the beer goes flat.

    Still, my vote would go to Blake, for the daring of his vision.