It’s a funny thing to admit but I owe a lot of my present situation to Twitter. I found a job on Twitter, which led to a change in career, involving Twitter. I’ve won flights to India, Iceland and Madrid via Twitter and have tweeted my way around the world several times. I even found my boyfriend on Twitter (something I would never admit to in public at the time but that seems like a fairly normal occurrence now.) Needless to say, reading the latest book I got my hands on to review was a pretty surreal experience.
Biz Stone’s book Things A Little Bird Told Me tells the story of how he came to co-create Twitter. For those of us whose lives are entwined with the site looking back at the world when it didn’t exist has a fairly dizzying effect. Remember when we consumed news from a paper and watched X Factor without discussing it with the world? Hashtag was not a word one said out loud and ‘engaging’ with strangers on the Internet was considered weird. The mind boggles right?
Things A Little Bird Told Me covers Biz’s past as a poor designer in publishing to his rich philosophical present, the narrative reads like an entrepreneur’s dream. Biz shares the business lessons he learned, both the hard and serendipitous way, but it was the chapters on Twitter’s birth into the world that really made me tingle. Social media geeks like myself will literally get a buzz reading about the site’s formative years – when ‘twittering’ was just an idea in someone’s head. Following the site’s growth is fascinating too; the way users shaped the site (yep, we’re the ones to blame for hashtags), the frustration of the ‘Fail Whale’ and the early days of tweetups.
Biz’s book also reveals details about the company’s history that are not commonly known. The cast features all the greats of social networking; even Mark Zuckerburg makes an appearance. I enjoyed playing join the dots as the same group of entrepreneurs form or develop the tools I’ve come to use as part of my everyday work; Blogger, Google, Feedburner and Medium all get a mention.
I learnt a lot from the book too. I read the first few chapters with a Kindle on my right knee and a notebook on my left and made notes to myself based on Biz’s advice:
“The core of entrepreneurship is being the person who makes something happen for yourself.” (Pg11)
Biz chooses to work on projects in which he has an emotional investment. He says you need to love what you do and be passionate about a project in order for it to succeed. I couldn’t agree more. Biz is also a passionate philanthropist and dedicates numerous chapters of the book to his thoughts on the subject. At first I found these sections a little heavy, a bit prescriptive, and then I let the advice sink in and have subsequently acted on it. It turns out these were words I needed to hear. (Thank you Sir.)
In Biz’s own words, “This book is more than a rags-to-riches tale. It’s a story about making something out of nothing, about merging your abilities with your ambitions, and about what you learn when you look at the world through a lens of infinite possibility.” I’m just glad that by following these principals Biz helped co-create a site that allows me (and many others) to do the very same.
Biz Stone’s ‘Things a Little Bird Told Me’ launches in the UK on Thursday 24th April. You can buy the book from Amazon via the link below.