December 15, 2006

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American

By: Jack @ 8:43 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American by Richard Tedlow, Portfolio Press, 550 Pages, $29.95 Hardcover. November 2006, ISBN 1591841399
Andy Grove was the first employee hired by Moore and Noyce when they started Intel. He, along with Gates and Jobs, has been one of the front men in computers. Also a prolific writer, Grove has penned a world class textbook and over forty technical articles, a memoir that was called a "major literary achievement" and two best selling books on business in '86 and '93. It seems Grove has the midas touch, even indirectly, becuase this book, a biography of Grove by Richard Tedlow, is one of the best biographies I have ever read.
A great biography is made up of three critical ingredients. First, the subject must be an interesting person with an interesting life. Check. But if the writer can't convey the story in an engaging manner, well, an interesting life only goes so far. Tedlow's book, Giants of Enterprise was one of my best books of 2001. Great writer? Check. And a great biography must be well-documented. There are 100 pages of notes, bibliography and index here.
This paragraph, I believe, is a perfect reflection of success in all the above categories:
Noyce and Moore did not have to find the first of the "good employees" they hired. He found them. That, of course, was Andy. Just as Noyce could not have been Noyce without Moore, Moore could not have been Moore without Grove. No one could have known this in July of 1968, but Grove was both able and willing to make the transition from technologist alone to technologist and business manager. Moreover, he became not only a manager, but a strategist second to none. He became as good at business as he was at technology. What would have happened to Intel without Andy? In all probability the company would have failed.
Andy Grove is an amazing man who continues to shape our world, and Tedlow's well- written account of his life is a terrific read from start to finish.