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From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley: A Story of Hard Work, Serendipity, and Questing

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To succeed in business and in life, you must be focused and committed. But it also takes serendipity and a certain amount of alchemy. Stephen Gillett went from part-time technology specialist at an Office Depot to one of the youngest CIOs of a Fortune 500 company by keeping himself fully present and open to all possibilities. In From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley, he shares To succeed in business and in life, you must be focused and committed. But it also takes serendipity and a certain amount of alchemy. Stephen Gillett went from part-time technology specialist at an Office Depot to one of the youngest CIOs of a Fortune 500 company by keeping himself fully present and open to all possibilities. In From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley, he shares his remarkable journey and the valuable lessons he learned while working with Bill Gates, Starbucks' Howard Schultz, and a host of other influential innovators. Serendipity is more than being in the right place at the right time. It's about being flexible enough to allow unexpected things to enter and transform your life. Stephen's inspiring personal story of extraordinary achievement will light the path for others who are willing to keep their minds open, stay true to their values, and embrace their own contradictions.


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To succeed in business and in life, you must be focused and committed. But it also takes serendipity and a certain amount of alchemy. Stephen Gillett went from part-time technology specialist at an Office Depot to one of the youngest CIOs of a Fortune 500 company by keeping himself fully present and open to all possibilities. In From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley, he shares To succeed in business and in life, you must be focused and committed. But it also takes serendipity and a certain amount of alchemy. Stephen Gillett went from part-time technology specialist at an Office Depot to one of the youngest CIOs of a Fortune 500 company by keeping himself fully present and open to all possibilities. In From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley, he shares his remarkable journey and the valuable lessons he learned while working with Bill Gates, Starbucks' Howard Schultz, and a host of other influential innovators. Serendipity is more than being in the right place at the right time. It's about being flexible enough to allow unexpected things to enter and transform your life. Stephen's inspiring personal story of extraordinary achievement will light the path for others who are willing to keep their minds open, stay true to their values, and embrace their own contradictions.

45 review for From Simi Valley to Silicon Valley: A Story of Hard Work, Serendipity, and Questing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book shows that by being passionate about what you do (focused & intense), trusting your judgement, and living by a strong set of values, you can experience tremendous success in business and and in life. It's a great reminder about the lessons you've likely heard before (e.g. "How you treat people always matters," "always remember that those who love you the most are most deserving of the best version of you," etc.), with anecdotes and evidence of how following that advice pays off. For St This book shows that by being passionate about what you do (focused & intense), trusting your judgement, and living by a strong set of values, you can experience tremendous success in business and and in life. It's a great reminder about the lessons you've likely heard before (e.g. "How you treat people always matters," "always remember that those who love you the most are most deserving of the best version of you," etc.), with anecdotes and evidence of how following that advice pays off. For Stephen it paid off in pretty fantastic ways, and your mileage may vary (that's the Serendipity part), but the lessons ring true and make for a good blueprint for a happy and rewarding career. My copy is heavily marked up and I'll certainly revisit it at critical career moments. P.S. As a gamer, I appreciated the positive spin on what can be learned from video games. I remember making similar arguments to my parents when WoW came out. I advocated that I'd learn communication, teamwork, leadership, budgeting, and more from my interactions in this online world, and to some degree I think that was right. ==== NOTES ==== Introduction Importance of confidence and following your instincts (re: standing up for presentation in a meeting where that isn't the norm). "How you treat people always matters." Importance of intensity & focus. Importance of being thoughtful (gifting sneakers to newlyweds, having a story/intention behind the gift) "Always remember that those who love you the most are the most deserving of the best version of you." Ch 1 Don't take the liberty and the USA for granted. Immigrants choose to be Americans, have more pride and know what it's like to not have certain liberties. Value of having exposure to entrepreneurship & small business ownership from a young age. Ch 2 Importance of frugality, having a good sense of value vs. "useless" experiences How can we better prepare more college students to take advantage of the opportunity of those four years? "That collection of [poor] decisions would, at some point, turn into limiting factors." Why did Stephen not escalate the situation with his professor, where there was blatant bias? How to prevent this situations in education? "You need to do what you believe in. You need to focus on causes that you feel are just." Strong understanding of intrinsic value of work/effort/focus from a young age. Had a responsibility free childhood until ~13, then worked. Strong service mindset. Customer service and servant leadership. Ch 3 "Eager to fix all of their problems" Importance of character above everything. Importance of culture (learnings from position at WineShopper) "All decisions should be driven by an understanding of what you're trying to accomplish and creating equity in these key decisions by the very people who will be living with the consequences of the decisions you make." Importance of culture (again - this time at 12) Need to believe in the company to accept a job Executives "are just people making the best decisions they can based on the information they have access to and knowledge they bring to the table" It's okay to push back on CEO's ideas Ch 4 During MBA program, importance of being able to directly apply what you're learning Ch 5 Prescient critique of SF, but easier to say in hindsight Importance of making people feel special, especially during recruiting (white glove, showing up and being persistent) Insight to know Bill Gates has seen the best PowerPoints, better to be original and stand out here. Importance of trusting your gut, being memorable. Importance of having in-depth conversations as a leader (Gates' style). Want to be sure the leadership/team is truly invested in the idea of doing good in the world. Lead with bigger-picture ideas, lead with purpose (Start With Why) Importance of being candid with leadership (similar to push-back on CEO) Howard Schultz's ability to make you feel like the center of the world. Importance of intensity and focus, even when listening. Give full attention. Ch 6 First understand issues and pain points. Value of 1st-hand experience (working at local Starbucks as exec) "Do good for your people and do good for the world" Importance of fresh thoughts, diverse perspectives, cross-polination Make it real to influence (demo room at Starbucks) Get credibility though quick wins "Always focus on your most loyal customers" "Always work to exceed the expectations of our people" Make customers' and people's lives better Importance of being humble Ch 7 Importance of passion Founder-led being a good signal (potentially) Importance of working somewhere you will have an impact and be recognized, be *needed* Ch 8 "Have the conviction and vision to move toward what you want to create" Ch 9 "Status and money did not really matter." Family, relationships, travel all really mattered

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pj

    Loved the entire book as it kept me very engaged. Following Stephen's journey was exciting, as it showed me what a hard worker, with such determination and passion could achieve. The fact that he worked his way up from the bottom and he stuck to his morales and beliefs, despite being in a world full of folks that might now have those same values, was astonishing. Bravo and well done! We need more folks like Stephen Gillett in our world today~

  3. 5 out of 5

    Helena

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew E Trout

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kendrick

  7. 5 out of 5

    Devin Martin

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt Jefferson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve Biko

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  11. 5 out of 5

    greenbug7usyahoo.com

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  13. 4 out of 5

    TroLeo

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Dambrot

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nat Finn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  20. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  21. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Margo

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steff

  26. 4 out of 5

    Traci

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bill Schlott

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cristy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex Helm

  31. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  32. 5 out of 5

    Karyn Palmer

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sunnymay

  34. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lady Goodman

  36. 5 out of 5

    Hil

  37. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  38. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  39. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  40. 4 out of 5

    Christina Stockard

  41. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Roberson

  42. 4 out of 5

    Isley Forrester

  43. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  44. 5 out of 5

    Judi

  45. 5 out of 5

    Alena Anderson

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