From my bookshelf- The Four by Scott Galloway
If you find yourself drawn into conversation with self or others about the next iPhone on the shelf, the Amazon box that needs to be returned, the selfie your girlfriend took while at lake Tahoe, and searching on google what is the best position to get pregnant, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.
I am not a corporate person. I am an MBA and swam the corporate before jumping out of it, gasping for breath and meaningful life. I use to be 6 years ago, but the business minds( Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook) still intrigue me, as I look awestruck at their whale of ambition and scale of success, the vision they have and the confusion they have spread. It is no child's play, to say the least. I cannot write anything that does justice to their persona, mind, and their business. I can at most write what they have come to mean for an ordinary person with an ordinary life like mine.
I am not exactly tech-savvy in the truest meaning of the word. I use technology to enable me and not to define my life.
I am not casual about money.
I quite like the social media platform but have been uncomfortable with our not-so-responsible social media etiquette. But, I am no one to judge.
I am a Major in Psychology, and now a certified Positive Psychology Coach and a teacher who teaches creative writing to school students (many of whom bring their home assignments straight copied from Google!)
And this is not a book review.
I read for the love of reading and picked up this book for the love-hate relationship I have with these four corporate behemoths. They came, saw, and conquered. If it was just about my next-door neighbor, I would have been wondering. When they came knocking at my door, raiding my house, plundering my family life, I am concerned.
A year back, I wrote an article about how my life has been Amazoned, Facebooked, and Applefied. I had forgotten Googlefied. I picked up the latest edition of this book- 17th November 2017 to delve deeper into my already confused relationship status with the BIG FOUR. From where? Hahhaha! AMAZON.
So, what does this book talk about? It is about the four intruders (solely my word choice), their inception, their strengths, challenges, opportunities and how they continue to grow bigger by reducing us( the common man) smaller, to a slave-like creature at the hand of the big autocratic king. There is no looking back for them and a strong likelihood of them being there for a long time to come.
The book delves not only into the dynamics of the big four but also the larger question about how our lives are now shaped because of their fiefdom.
There is a bit of history for each giant, which Scott touches upon. Unless you are interested in historical analysis, the bit that Scott gives out is good enough.
These giants are relentless and unstoppable, but the bigger question is how an ordinary middle-class life faces the brunt, side effects, or the beauty of this relentless pursuit. My first reaction while I read was to revise my Amazon wish list. Phew!
Meanwhile, at a social brunch the other day, I eavesdropped on a conversation where a mid-aged woman was vociferating how Alexa- The Amazon product is snatching the tiny bit of exercise which she, her husband, and her children did by walking up to pick up the remote control and come back to their seat. Was this needed? Was a need created, and we lapped up because we chose not to think? Most importantly, how can one buy a product and then complain about it too? What kind of mindless 'wish listing' are we in? I am no one to judge.
Some surprising facts/details about the founders and CEO's of these giants and left me astounded. Really? Some operational realities of these giants are scary and left me biting my nails in anxiety. Why? I know I am sleeping with the enemy. This enemy dangled a carrot and then made me his slave. Now, I have no exit.
Some would say that the book takes a pessimistic view of the role played by the Big Four. To me, it looks like a realistic appraisal.
I had few questions fluttering at the back of my mind once I was done reading the book.
If all the jobs (routine, mundane, assembly lines, repetitive) will be replaced by robots, where will people go? Is everyone expected to play 'strategic' at work? How much creativity and strategy can one have? Robots are great; people, their lives, and livelihood is greater. Not everyone wants to have a robot living their life while they sit, munch on junk, and watch Netflix.
There is a worrying bee buzzing in the parenting circle of iGen(i Generation), courtesy Apple and their iPhones. iGen children (the children, teens, and young adults born in the mid-1990s and later) are different, cosmically different from their millennial predecessors. Their connectivity- boon or bane- is a scary reality every parent is reeling under and voicing it in hushed conversations, raised brows, and biting lips. I am sure there are parental controls in every product you offer but was ignorance really bliss back then?
Google is now a noun and a verb and an adjective too. With every search, I make Google smarter and myself exposed. Facebook has added more friends to my life than I could do in real life. It also brought the brutal narcissism inherent in all and tapped it beautifully while securing its place in our life for years to come.
They added convenience to life in all aspects, however an excess of everything is bad- I had heard from my grandfather two decades back when my life as a 10-year-old hung on to the Maggie noodle straps.
I have come to realize after reading this book that if you want to just hang to the beauty part and stay away from the beast aspect of these FOUR, you need to exercise some robust, titanium will power, ingenious parenting skill, Abraham Maslow's self-actualization scheme to bear the onslaught of these, not one but four Goliaths.
Few sentences which I loved Scott for----
“Don’t follow your passion, follow your talent.”
"Luxury is irrational, which makes it the best business in the world. "
“The world needs more engaging parents and not a better smartphone.” This is my most pleasant, wished-for, esteemed sentence from this book.
Scott has been dexterous in carving out the 5th players who can pitch in while preserving our lives and souls. Who are they? Click on Amazon , buy it and read it for yourself.
Oh...not Amazon? Check out Barnes and Noble store in your neighborhood.
Image courtesy-Amazon and Pixabay