I think you have to watch some of Scott Galloway’s videos in order to really enjoy his book. It helps you hear his voice and understand the tone and tempo of his writing. Galloway, a serial entrepreneur and NYU Stern School of Business professor also runs his own “business intelligence (fancy term for research) firm that has grown to 140 people in seven years.” It is called L2.
His popular Winners & LosersYouTube video series are watched by millionsof viewers around the world. One is called The Algebra of Happinessand is worth 10 minutes of your time. It is listed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMW6xgPgY4s
Scott Galloway can be caustic and direct, but he presents material that is meticulously researched (by his L2 associates) and comes across as authentic and honest.
In The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, Professor Galloway expounds on the themes and insights that he has been teaching, talking about and researching for years. The main purpose of the book is to show how these top 4 global companies dominate their respective markets, and how they progressively creep into other arenas as well.
This is not the doting hagiography of a tech fan. Nor is it a Luddite’s lament about the future of the world. Galloway seeks to explain how these Four companies operate, to critique their overreach, but also to help readers figure out how to maneuver and live within the world as it is and as it is becoming.
One reviewer points out that, “the author isn’t afraid to question the actions of our tech deities, some of which have become increasingly questionable (if still legal).” Galloway levels direct criticism at the business practices of these Four companies, at tenured university professors, and at mediocrity in general.
Indeed, Scott Galloway is not a neutral player as he writes this book. He almost basks in the ways that the Four have affected him personally. His first company essentially tried to imitate Apple. It was “a brand strategy firm… helping consumer brands mimic Apple.” Another of his companies was “slowly bled to death by Amazon.”
This book is not an exhaustive history of how these companies started, developed and gained their position. Instead, it is full of analysis as well as future-casting about the affect that these Four companies will have in the future.
He writes, “the real reasons Amazon is kicking the collective asses of its competition—and its likely ascent to a trillion dollars in value—are different. Similar to the other Four, Amazon’s rise rests on its appeal to our instincts.”
He means that we should not bet against human nature, and that each of these Four essentially plays to our own basic instincts. Whether it is to be acquisitive, knowledgeable, popular, cool, or cutting-edge.
One of Galloway’s instincts, as a business person and professor of business, is toward helping people succeed, and make money in the business world. He writes, “I hope the reader gains insight and a competitive edge in an economy where it’s never been easier to be a billionaire, but it’s never been harder to be a millionaire.”
For those readers who are not motivated by the “almighty dollar”, or by success by the world’s standards, there is still much to commend this book. In chapter 10, he walks through advice and strategies for people who want to develop themselves in order to succeed in the marketplace. It is striking how similar much of this material is to other recent books such as A Failure of Nerveand The Leadership Mystique.
He writes, “Excellence, grit, and empathy are timeless attributes of successful people in every field..” And then goes on to say, “Nothing is more important than emotional maturity—especially for people in their twenties, in whom this quality can vary widely.”
In another echo that is heard across the genre of business/leadership books, Galloway references Daniel Goleman, “who popularized the term emotional intelligence, found measurable business results at global companies led by individuals who demonstrate self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.”
It is these later chapters where he is writing for an audience of college students or people trying to make wise decisions for their lives that I resonated with most. The focus on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills is the cross-over character building that leaders in the church and non-profit world also seek.
Phil Simon, review of The Four: The Hidden Dna of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, by Scott Galloway, Huffington Post, October 16, 2017, Book Reviews, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/book-review-the-four-by-scott-galloway_us_59e4d07ee4b02e99c583587d.