At the suggestion of my friend, David Yoffie, I reread Andy Grove’s book, Only the Paranoid Survive, written in 1996 and I am glad I did. David, who is a professor at Harvard’s business school, served on the Intel Board of directors for almost 29 years leaving in May of 2018. David visits Israel several times a year, and we often have a meal together. Last week we went for a long walk and a great lunch. I took the opportunity to discuss the development of my book with him as he has written several successful books himself. He and I often talk about Intel as you might expect and we especially discuss Andy Grove who had a profound effect on both of our careers.
I have a bit of “history” with Only the Paranoid Survive. Harriet Rubin, the head of the Currency Imprint at the publisher, Doubleday and I were in a long term relationship when Harriet approached Andy with the idea of writing a business book. As Andy says in the preface of the book, “I had no intention of writing a book on this subject until Harriet Rubin, from Double day, sought me out and convinced me that I should do so.” Around this time, Harriet would join me for the Sun Valley Allen & Co conference. Andy attended as well so I would guess that this helped Harriet, who published some of the most impactful business books of the 90s, develop her pitch to Andy. I did not discuss the book much with Harriet during the time Andy was writing it. I felt a bit awkward about the situation although Andy did not seem to mind. One of the people that had been working on my team, Rob Siegel, spent about six months, I think, helping Andy with research on the book.
After the book was published, Andy gave me a copy of the book on which he wrote, “I have dedicated chapter 7 to you”. The title of Chapter is “Let Chaos Reign.” It says a bit about how Andy viewed me.
In re-reading the book, I was struck with the strategic insight that Andy showed. It is even more impactful when you think of his journey as a Jew from Nazi dominated, and then Russian dominated Hungry, to the USA and later from chemical engineer to the CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world, Intel.
This book is full of insight and wisdom. I plan to build upon many of the things that Andy describes. Rereading the book also made me wish that I was able to have a better relationship with Andy. I could have learned more from him and frankly, he could have learned more from me. I have grown to think that Andy had more respect for my abilities and thinking that I believed at that time. Someone very close to Andy recently told me “He loved you. Said you always needed a wild duck like Avram. A nonlinear thinker that stirred up the others. He felt your presence was quite critical and when you left there really was never anyone like you. I always try to have an “Avram” on my team. Always. They disrupt and create. Don’t confuse that he didn’t always listen with how he felt”.
I invite you to read Only the Paranoid Survive.