I admit it – I read this book cover to cover. While I realize that we don’t generally have time for that (and I don’t usually), I made time for this book this week. I found myself gripped each night and felt like I couldn’t put it down. I can’t tell if it was the audacity of Galloway’s writing, or the allegories of each company (I totally see how Google has replaced God!), I felt equal parts intrigued by these companies and mildly ashamed by my own personal dependence on them.
First and foremost, Galloway pulled no punches in this book, which isn’t surprising when you look at his work. He’s a professor of Marketing in the NYU Stern School of Business, where he’s been since 2002. He also regularly blogs at profgalloway.com and you can even join his email list, lovingly entitled “No Mercy/No Malice” No only is he a professor and prolific blogger, he has been involved in the founding of three companies, during one of which he developed the “Digital IQ Index” which assess and ranks over 700 brands across different spheres of influence. Oddly enough, for a man who uses a plethora of (albeit well-played) curse words, one of the things he’s most famous for is his “Algebra of Happiness” video. In this youtube, he goes through his own personal philosophy of what creates happiness. While he is a proclaimed atheist, he recognizes the finite nature of life and he says it focuses him more on the things that matter – relationships.
While there’s plenty of polarizing opinions on Galloway himself, most reviews articulate that this book is a refreshing read. It’s a no-nonsense call to arms for the folks who were already skeptical of “The Four”, as he calls them, but it also is an easy and entertaining read for those who aren’t as familiar with the major critiques each company bears. While he was clearly open about his opinions, Galloway is also quite candid with his own failures. I appreciated the admission of his failure on the Board at the New York Times, as well as his many admissions of personal and professional failures on the way to success.
To be honest, I’m not totally sure why I fell so hard for this book. This book connects in no way to my research, and I even struggled with what to write this week. I guess I just feel like it was an entertaining read. I ended up reading large chunks of it aloud to my husband. It created much conversation (this is very much my husband’s world) around how we utilize technology, how we parent with technology, and our own general sense of happiness with technology. Galloway encouraged me to slow down, learn to be deeply engaged by a book again, connected me with my spouse, and made me re-evaluate my browser tabs. All with a lovely curse word here and there.
 Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (Portfolio/Penguin: New York, NY), 147.