It Pays To Read

by | Jul 21, 2007

We think of successful CEOs as people with exceptional technical skills, and while they may in fact embody this type of knowledge, their curious minds can be more closely linked to their capital achievements.

Author Harriet Rubin paid a visit to the personal libraries of some of America’s business titans for her article in The New York Times. Here she is with Michael Moritz in San Francisco:

Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist who built a personal $1.5 billion fortune discovering the likes of Google, YouTube, Yahoo and PayPal, and taking them public, may seem preternaturally in tune with new media. But it is the imprint of old media — books by the thousands sprawling through his Bay Area house — that occupies his mind.

“My wife calls me the Imelda Marcos of books,” Mr. Moritz said in an interview. “As soon as a book enters our home it is guaranteed a permanent place in our lives. Because I have never been able to part with even one, they have gradually accumulated like sediment.”

Rubin notes that Steve Jobs has an “inexhaustible interest” in the books of William Blake — the mad visionary 18th-century mystic poet and artist. How revealing is that?

“Don’t follow your mentors, follow your mentors’ mentors,” suggests David Leach, chief executive of the American Medical Association’s accreditation division. Mr. Leach has stocked his cabin in the woods of North Carolina with the collected works of Aristotle.