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1,000 Dollars & an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire

1,000 Dollars & an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire

Written by Sam Wyly

Narrated by Phil Gigante


1,000 Dollars & an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire

Written by Sam Wyly

Narrated by Phil Gigante

ratings:
3.5/5 (14 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Released:
Sep 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781423366546
Format:
Audiobook

Description

"My work is to create companies and build them," writes Sam Wyly in this candid, engrossing memoir, which reveals how he established and expanded companies on the leading edge of advancements in technology, energy, retail, and investments over the last forty-five years. Wyly shares the process, relationships, struggles, and strategies that have made him one of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the world.

From the hardships his parents faced trying to hold on to the family cotton farm during the Depression to the coaching he received on the high school football field, this self-made billionaire describes how his early years in Louisiana prepared him for what lay ahead. His sales experience with IBM and Honeywell in Dallas in the early 1960s gave him the idea to start the first "computer utility." Risking $1,000 of his savings, he founded University Computing in 1963 and took it public two years later, becoming a millionaire at the age of thirty.

Part autobiography and part inspirational business guide, this audio is full of refreshing insights about what it takes to create, grow, and build successful companies.

Released:
Sep 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781423366546
Format:
Audiobook

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What people think about 1,000 Dollars & an Idea

3.3
14 ratings / 13 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    As others have pointed out, Wyly was more lucky than clever. As someone who hopes to one day be an entrepreneur, I didn't feel there was enough substance in the book for me to follow.
  • (3/5)
    I liked reading this book, but I found it to be formulaic and repetitive. However, I respect the drive and vision of Sam Wyly as presented in the book, especially his foresight in technology. I think his story could be presented in a better way, but I am uncertain about how this could be done. If one were looking to define an average or middle of the pack level of expectations for an entreprenurial success story, this book would likely fit the bill.
  • (3/5)
    I had some expectations before reading this book, but I'm not really sure what to walk away with. It's always nice to hear someone rags-to-riches story, but there were times I thought Wyly was more lucky then clever. As someone who hopes to one day be an entrepreneur, I didn't feel there was enough substance in the book for me to follow.
  • (5/5)
    Sam Wyly's book is a joy to read. Each chapter is a short story unto itself. At first I attributed my interest to the familiar places since he is a native Louisianian, but I found each of his many stories relevant and familiar. It it was a novel one could call it "a real page turner." The only disappointment I felt was how seeing so many of the same things Wyly did, my results were so far different from his.
  • (5/5)
    This is everything I look for in a great autobiographical (or even biographical) work.1,000 Dollars and an Idea flows well from beginning to end (almost too well; I couldn't put it down). Wyly is a billionaire, but by no means does his book come across as "elitist." His "humble beginnings" were primitive by any American's standards, yet he didn't gloss over them or excessively flaunt them.As an entrepreneur myself (as well as being involved in raising and managing capital), it's my opinion that every entrepreneur should read this book. (As should anyone with dreams of becoming a multi-millionaire.) The book isn't written as a "how-to-" book for billionaires, but nearly every chapter contains an idea, tip, or guide to improve one's business- and personal-life. There was only one aspect of the book that was distasteful: rather than being informative, in 2 areas he resorted to raw advertising. First, I didn't mind reading that he follows "Christian Science" (I do not) but the prominence he gave it (and to its founder) was annoyingly distracting. The second was the entire last chapter (The Good Earth). I won't go into a point-for-point refutation here, I'd just recommend you do your own research. Having done extensive work for environmental businesses, I do have more than rudimentary knowledge of the need for environmental responsibility and can relate to the fact not enough is being done. While Wyly's description of the problems we face does raise some important issues that need to be dealt with, his overall "call for action" seems based less on reality and more on "Henny Penny," which was rather disappointing.The epilogue returns to the style of writing I enjoyed, and my overall impression of the book is: 1,000 Dollars and an Idea is one of the few books I will be rereading at least yearly.
  • (3/5)
    My early reaction was that this book seemed too "folksy," but then it quickly captured my attention because the down-to-earth phrasing is Wyly's genuine self. This peer to Ross Perot, Michael Milken, and other noteworthy players in the business world is more admirable because of his humility. I took away a rare combination of insights crossing the areas of character, personal success, business, and leadership.
  • (3/5)
    More of a memoir, and less of a book about capital, than I had hoped for, but it seems well-written (well-ghost-written?) and edited, and does seem to capture the energy and style of its entrepreneurial subject/author.
  • (4/5)
    I had not heard of Sam Wyly before I was chosen to receive this book from the LibraryThing EarlyReviewer program. It is a business memoir that sums up his life from growing dirt-poor to becoming a billionaire. The chronology does jump around a bit so attention has to be paid to avoid confusion.Sam was involved in one of the lawsuits that eventually broke up the monopoly that was the old AT&T. He has been involved in many diverse areas of commerce some of which he entered by choice and others that were more or less dropped into his lap from previous deals that didn't work out. Everything he touched was not successful and he points out some of the lessons involved in failure. The style of the book is written in a folksy down to Earth manner which I assume is the kind of person he would be if one met him in real life. The book is not a technical how-to manual for entrepreneurs, it is a memoir. There are some general advice and helpful tips to be gleaned but not specific business models or plans. The author is involved in renewable energy ventures at present and mentions a book on that subject is forthcoming. He lives in Texas which is one of the states, because of regulation laws, where wind power especially has taken off. One of the factors Wyly mentions that has had a helping hand in his business acumen is his lifelong habit of reading. That was refreshing to hear in an era where reading seems to be on the decline. His book is a fairly quick read that highlights some of the events in his life but does not go deep into specifics related to business. Overall, it paints a picture of an interesting business life led over the past fifty years.
  • (2/5)
    I had never heard of Sam Wyly before so I had no preconceived notions about him or his history. From the book's title and description I hoped to learn practical techniques for entrepreneurs. If this is what you're looking for, I'd look elsewhere.There are pearls of wisdom found throughout the book where he explains skills he learned while dealing with people or managing a company. The story of him playing on his high school football team as a 155lb nose guard was a great illustration of the power of pushing yourself and setting goals. He referred back to that several times when in later years he was fighting against IBM, AT&T's monopoly or other Goliath vs. David conditions.He recounts a roughly chronological trip through his career. He starts off in the early days at IBM and Honewell, then goes into great detail about the companies he started, bought or invested in, such as University Computing Center, Bonzanza, Sterling Software and Michaels.Much of the information he provides in the book makes him appear clairvoyant. With impeccable timing he managed to sell two companies for $4 billion each when in the same month the stock market tanked by 80%. While impressive, the descriptions of his feats lack insights into how he managed to do them, other than unsatisfying statements like, "I read a lot." I would imagine there are hundreds of people who read far more than he does that aren't nearly as timely. There must be something else he's not telling us. Perhaps he really doesn't know what it is. Perhaps he really is clairvoyant.The organization of the book was hard to follow. It started off chronologically, but it didn't stay that way. It was unclear to me when he was dealing with one company or another. A timeline would have been helpful to understand when everything took place.His grand tales of success were fun to hear about but left me with little to no understanding of how he achieved what he did. In the end, the book left me wanting.
  • (2/5)
    1000 Dollars and an Idea is part self help for the entrepreneur, part software industry history and part memoir, by corporation builder (and buyer... and seller...) Sam Wyly. 1000 Dollars mostly tells the stories of the companies that Wyly has built, acquired, sold, or beat. This includes the likes of IBM, who he first worked for out of college, UCC, his first computer company, Sterling Software, the software empire built up by aquiring other software companies, as well as AT&T whom he helped take on, which ultimately led to the end of their monopoly.At best, 1000 Dollars is a disjointed hodge podge of tales from the power broker board rooms that overlap too much and just barely follow a chronological order. In all, the majority ends up coming across as a Sam Wyly "Scots-Irish" superiority complex. His use of "Scots-Irish" (his wording, not mine) to justify everything from how this immigrant background produced more American presidents, to reasoning that this heritage is what gave him and his cohorts such great work ethics, becomes tired early in the book and continues, add tedium.There are some valuable fragments of information to be taken from these pages about what it means to be an entrepreneur, pitfalls, practices that can lead to success; unfortunately, it is so difficult to sort them from the chafe of Wyly's boastfullness. I admit, Wyly tries many times to say that he is not especially gifted, that he just does his research and has experienced many downs with his successes, but it comes off as contrived.Much of this autobiography deals with Wyly's buying and selling companies and interests, and he doesn't explain any of the concepts for the non-investor. I am an engineer, and consider myself to be somewhat well-read, and I haven't forgotten everything I learned in economics yet; but most of his accounts with corporation building end up sounding like "magic" and "slieght of hand" accounting. Buying on margin, taking over larger companies with the stock from his lesser valued companies, other people backing him, but not putting up any capital, I mean, where does the money come from in these deals? How does he buy a company he can't afford, with money loaned, and then somehow pay it back with interest from offering another stock sale of the same company? He doesn't offer any explanations to the how, and I think this hurts his story the most, limiting his audience to serious investors who might also like to learn about what he did as an entrepreneur.1000 Dollars provides an interesting account of the "birth" of the software business, with a few (less than 10) good insights about being an entrepreneur yourself; unfortunately it is surrounded by too much name dropping and self-appreciative story telling to be truely insightful.
  • (3/5)
    This is a quick enjoyable read - for the most part.

    I found the biographical elements of Wyly's from poverty to multi-millions to be fascinating reading.

    However, the sections where he goes into great detail regarding business deals made my eyes glaze over.

    Lessons learned - pursue your passions, work hard - very hard, and hook up with rising stars.
  • (3/5)
    1,000 Dollars & an IdeaBy Sam WylyHardcover: 250 pps.Publisher: NewMarket PressISBN: 978-1-55704-803-5Sam Wyly has penned an interesting autobiographical tale of his rise to fortune and fame. Possessed of a competitive spirit from his youth in depression-era Delta-region Louisiana, he worked to get a position at IBM in its heyday, which he worked to parlay into manifold other businesses, business relationships and business opportunities resulting in his great wealth.This is no personal story, however. Other than some brief glimpses at childhood hardships, the strong work ethic instilled by his parents, and some early friends and relations, there's not much about Sam Wyly, the man – husband to at least two wives we hear of in the book, and some children. His points about his faith and ethics are hard won (though acknowledged, and he is humble in his description of his philanthropical endeavors) in the view of a reader with other priorities, and without response to his support of George W. Bush's energy policies and tax evasion and SEC investigations.His closing chapters have to do with the future of business and this planet, particularly his concerns for green energy and foreign oil dependence. Perhaps if he can lead business and the markets in this area as he has in others, the U.S. might actually make some progress.
  • (3/5)
    I have two problems with this book (which is the kind of introduction that makes you think this is going to be an unfavorable review. Well, this won’t necessarily be unfavorable, but it won’t be raving either.)First, there are enough clichés in this book to choke a horse. Random quotes from the first chapter (which starts “Business is a lot like football.”) “For me, it’s [setting a goal and then going after it] as natural as waking up in the morning.” “Many people yearn for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” “Little victories add up.” “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” “…the best teacher of all is failure.” Clichés exist (just like buzzwords) because at one time there was truth in them. Used sparingly, they can be fine. But this book is replete with them, and it detracts from the message that is being shared. And that leads us to the second point.This book can’t decide what it wants to be. At first, it seems like the breezy discussions of a guy talking about his life. (In fact, I’m assuming that’s where the clichés come from.) But then it tries to tell the story in the context of history – from the breakup of Ma Bell to the assassination of John Kennedy – seemingly trying to draw some message from that. And then it tries to have a moral (most telling in the final chapter about the greening of business.) Any one of these might have made a really good book. Bits and pieces of each result in a hodge-podge of stories that just never satisfy. I think Wyly just wanted to put his life down in a book, and probably wanted to do something positive with that story. So, there are interesting bits. In fact, I picked up a few idea, a few thoughts, things to take back to the office. But, because no one theme dominates, the result is unsatisfying.