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American record producer, Quincy Jones shares 12 strategies and insights that have helped him navigate the roller coaster of life and creativity. Quincy’s career spans 70 years in the entertainment industry with 80 Grammy Award nominations and 28 Grammy Awards won.

Quincy’s former teacher in Paris, Nadia Boulanger used to tell him: “Quincy, there are only twelve notes. Until God gives us thirteen, I want you to know what everybody did with those twelve.” Bach, Beethoven, Bo Diddley, everybody . . . it’s the same twelve notes. Isn’t it amazing? That’s all we have, and it’s up to each of us to create our own unique sound through a combination of rhythm, harmony, and melody.”

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In 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, Quincy breaks down his principles, approach to life, and philosophies, along with standout stories from his journey in twelve chapters called “notes”.

The 12 Notes are:

Recycle your pain, if you can see it you can be it, go to know, establish your guideposts, always be prepared for a great opportunity, sharpen your left brain, avoid paralysis from analysis, understand the power of being underestimated, do what’s never been done before, value relationships, and most important, recognize the beauty and inherent value of life.

Here are some great quotable quotes from 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity by Quincy Jones 

Henry Ford is one of the most influential entrepreneur of the 20th century. He founded the Ford Motor Company that revolutionized transportation through the introduction of the Model T which was the first affordable automobile that middle-class Americans could travel in. The Model T was named in the 1999 Car of the Century competition as the most influential car of the 20th century.

Henry Ford developed the assembly line technique of mass production, reduced working hours and the five-day work work, and he changed the transportation industry through his eponymous company. His autobiography: My Life And Work is a great book about how he built the Ford Motor Company, his business and life philosophies, his approach to philanthropy and success.

In his memoir, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty, Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of The Estée Lauder Companies Leonard Lauder shares the business and life lessons he learned as well as the adventures he had while helping transform the business his mother founded in 1946 in the family kitchen into the beloved brand and ultimately into the iconic global prestige beauty company it is today.

As the “Chief Teaching Officer,” of the The Estée Lauder Companies, Leonard reflects on his childhood, growing up during the Great Depression, the vibrant decades of the post-World War II boom, and his work growing the company into the beauty powerhouse it is today. He pays loving tribute to his mother Estée Lauder, its eponymous founder, and to the employees of the company both past and present, while sharing inside stories about the company, including tales of cutthroat rivalry with Charles Revson of Revlon and others. The book offers keen insights on honing ambition, leveraging success, learning from mistakes, and growing an international company in an age of economic turbulence, uncertainty, and fierce competition.

In his 2020 memoir: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell From Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever, American Fashion designer Steve Madden writes about the origin story of Steve Madden, his battle with alcoholism, drug addiction, parenting, family trauma, dealing with grief, going to prison and bouncing back. He started the brand with $1,100 and as of March 2022, the Steve Madden brand has a market cap of $3.13 Billion.

Sometimes taking a step back enabled you to see the path that could move you forwards in the future.

Reebok was founded by Joe and his late brother Jeff in 1958, following the footstep of their family heritage of shoemaking. Their grandfather had established J. W. Foster & Sons in 1895, the company pioneered spiked running shoes for runners and athletes in the early 20th century. Joe writes about the origin story of Reebok, the lessons learned, the successes, failures, losses, grief and the price of greatness.

Shoemaker: The Untold Story of the British Family Firm that Became a Global Brand by Joe Foster, is a great biographical account of how they built one of the most recognizable athletics footwear brand in the world. The book contains lots of great lessons, anecdotes, insights, strategies and tactics for building a great business brand.

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Here are some great quotable quotes from Shoemaker by Joe Foster:

Lululemon is a leadership development company disguised as an apparel brand.

In The Story of Lululemon: Little Black Stretchy Pants, Canadian Entrepreneur Chip Wilson describe the origin story of founding yoga-inspired athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica Inc in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Fromhumble beginnings, Lululemon redefined how generation of people trained, exercised and lived.  Little Black Stretchy Pants is a story of goal setting, self-belief, personal re-invention and the roller coaster of building a global brand.

Lululemon was a social experiment to determine if putting people development above profits would yield extraordinary profits. The experiment proved successful.

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The book is full of insights, lessons learned, mistakes made, and many quotable quotes. Here are some great quotes from: The Story of Lululemon: Little Black Stretchy Pants by Chip Wilson

 Lululemon was inspired largely by university graduates drawn to this unique, athletic, semi-hippie-like part of the city. I didn’t have enough money or product to rent a regular store location, so I found a space behind an inconspicuous door and up a drab-looking flight of stairs, instead of an inviting street-level storefront.

Oprah Winfrey referred to Will Smith’s autobiography as “The best memoir I’ve ever read”. In Will, American actor Will Smith takes the reader on a journey about his life, growing up in West Philadelphia, his parental influences, his rapping and acting career. Smith was very vulnerable about his failures (divorce, tax issues), successes (box office chart breaking records and movies).

What you have come to understand as “Will Smith,” the alien-annihilating MC, the bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction—a carefully crafted and honed character—designed to protect myself. To hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.

Invention: A Life is a great book about invention, risk taking, entrepreneurial initiative, guts, perseverance, resilience and a never give up attitude. James Dyson’s story is very fascinating, thought provoking with lots of ups and downs, false turns and many failures.

“It is a story told through a life of creating and developing things, as well as expressing a call to arms for young people to become engineers, creating solutions to our current and future problems.”

The book is a journey of an entrepreneur, the ups and downs, the value of having a supportive partner or spouse (Deidre), the importance of have a mentor (Jeremy Fry) that longs to want you to succeed, a dedicate financial institution or bank manager that is ready to take the plunge with you. His story how far determination, willpower, dedication, persistence and perseverance can take someone with a commitment to succeed.

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Dyson made 5,127 prototypes of his Cyclonic and Bagless Vacuum Cleaner before he got to a model he could set about licensing.

Quotable Quotes from James Dyson’s – Invention: A Life Autobiography

The cowards never started and the weak died along the way—that leaves us.

At 24, Phil Knight had a crazy idea based on a paper he wrote while enrolled as a student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In the paper, he asked the following question: “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?”. After a trip around the world, he decided to setup Blue Ribbon Sports (later Nike) with the goal of importing high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. With that humble beginning, Nike is today the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and with revenue of $44.5 billion in its fiscal year 2021 (ending May 31, 2021). 1

“Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?”

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975. In his memoir Idea Man, Allen writes about the personal computer revolution, the origin story of Microsoft, his relationship with Bill Gates, dealing with cancer, his successes, failures and lessons learned in the process of building multiple businesses.

They started Microsoft in 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. In April 2019, Microsoft reached the trillion-dollar market capitalization, becoming the third U.S. public company to be valued at over $1 trillion after Apple and Amazon. As of February 2022, Microsoft is the second most valuable company in the world with market capitalization of $2.2 trillion and employs 182,000+ individuals.

Walter Isaacson’s Biography on the late founder of Apple is a great book based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues.

The Steve Jobs biography contains lots of insights, lessons learned from building the world’s most valuable company, the roller coaster life of an entrepreneur, quotable quotes on building a company that is built to last. Apple creates insanely great products based on Steve Job’s vision and obsession on simplicity.

Simplicity that is the ultimate of sophistication 

One of the most exciting habits that I formed during the covid-19 pandemic lockdown is meditation. I start the day by meditating with the Calm Mental Health App which has daily guided meditations (Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt, Daily Trip with Jeff Warren, and Daily Jay with Jay Shetty), Morning Wake-Up stretch with  Christian Slomka, curated sleep tracks, and other great contents. It has been a great experience as meditating helps in paying attention to your breathing, staying focused and grounded.

Meditation is a practice in which an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, and stable state. 1

Here are 30 great quotes on meditation:

Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. 1

The hardest part of starting anything worthwhile is the start. When you start, the universe conspire to make your dreams come true. You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. We all have greatness in us and we need to initiate, start, execute and do to become great. Unseen forces conspires to help you get what you want but you have to consistently show up day in day out.