Bold, Brash & Brilliant: A Book Proposal
A book about the pursuit of perfection by three men, Charlie Chaplin, Gene Kelly and Steve Jobs. What commonalities and factors in their lives drove them to become obsessive control freaks in the quest to create a perfect product whether it be a movie, dance number or consumer electronic product.
Chaplin, Kelly and Jobs were taskmasters in their work, ignoring virtually all outside influences in their desire to bring to life a perfect product in their chosen specialty. Chaplin obsessed about his movies to the point where he would require up to 300 takes for one 30 second scene to get every last nuance of emotion and synchronization of his movements and those of his cast. Gene Kelly would work himself and his co dancers relentlessly until a scene was what he envisioned and the steps were in perfect harmony with the music and each other. Steve Jobs would ask of his workers to create the best work of their lives over and over again as he bragged that they worked 90 hours a week and loved it. I have read and studied over 200 books, journals and watched interviews for Steve Jobs and all of the 140 movies of both Chaplin and Kelly to extract the genesis of their desire for perfection.
This book will provide interesting and useful information with sometimes humorous anecdotes for people from all walks of life about the pursuit of perfection. This work is not intended simply for those people interested in the three principles, but more about relating common themes and examples of their work ethic, beliefs and how other factors led to their success. Through detailed research and evidence to more light-hearted moments about their lives and work, this book will explain how they became world famous, reaching the pinnacle of their craft.
Short non-technical description
Why are some men driven to the point of lunacy to produce a perfect product? It's all about the details and having the complete creative control necessary to get things done to their liking. Here is one example of that drive and attention to detail:
Steve Jobs called a Google engineer on a Sunday afternoon to complain about the color of an icon. According to the engineer, Vic Gundotra, the conversation was as follows;
"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve. "I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"iii
This book is full of interesting and useful information about a handful of pioneering and exquisitely successful, world-famous men. Their individual stories are part of our American culture and the American dream. Tales of rags to riches, hard work, timing and incredible perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles are detailed.
Table of contents
Chapter 1 Beginnings; Early Influences
Chapter 2 Hard Work Pays Off
Chapter 3 Timing is Everything
Chapter 4 Rapid Rise to the Top
Chapter 5 Handling Fame & Fortune
Chapter 7 I’m on Top, Now What?
Chapter 8 Building an All Star Team
Chapter 10 The Next Big Thing
Chapter 13 Effects on Those Closest
Chapter 1 will deal with the early formative years of each person to include basic upbringing, seminal events, key friendships, lessons learned and the things, people and places that were the great influences in their later years and that all-consuming pursuit of perfection.
Chapter 2 will detail the years of sweat equity for each person. Chaplin worked for 13 years on the stage in various forms before being discovered. Gene Kelly was a dance instructor/performer for 10 years before his break came. Jobs meandered through life, unsure of what he wanted and searching before finding the outlet for his passion to be realized.
Chapter 4 With the door swung open and the world at their feet, what gave them the idea that they could forge a new path, a paradigm shift or to even consider that they could take total creative control of their craft when so many others failed to convert this first success to a lifelong vision. The little things will be examined that continued the build-up of ideas and desires to build a better mousetrap, that perfect mousetrap. The key things, people and events that happened or were melded to build an empire.
Chapter 3 will give the reader the thrill of the "big break" and show how each transitioned to the big time. It's amazing how being in the right place and time can make all the difference in a person's life. Chaplin in,1913, was chosen for his 2nd American tour in place of his brother, Sydney, to prevent the brother from being scouted by the movies. Gene just happened to be a perfect match for the new Broadway Musical "Pal Joey" in 1940 for Rodgers and Hart. Mike Markkula, a venture capitalist, drove to a garage start up to see about a new idea for a desktop PC and met an amazing young man, Steve Jobs, in November of 1976.
Chapter 5 looks at how the newfound fame and fortune affected each person. The key here is that neither fame nor fortune took control and quite the opposite actually occurred whereby they used that newfound fame and fortune to gain total control of their craft. Once they had the success, they pushed harder for perfection and really didn't care about the money other than that it was a tool to be wielded in the quest to have complete creative control. Where some men lose site of the goal when they are suddenly thrust into the spotlight or attain wealth, neither Chaplin, Kelly nor Jobs let it change their focus.
Chapter 6 looks at each man's life after they made it to the top and how they handled the media. Chaplin became world famous before there was a "media" and was shocked at his success and popularity when he first traveled by train from L.A. to New York, being mobbed at every stop. Gene Kelly was popular with women, but not so much with men and worked to show the masculine side of dance in the post-war environment of the 1940s and 50s. Jobs had a love/hate relationship with the media and used it effectively to push his products with extravagant dog and pony shows, but also with smoke and mirrors. How did each man use their fame to its best advantage in their for excellence?
Chapter 7 is more about being king of the hill and trying to stay there without being a flash-in-the-pan. Each man did struggle with producing a second act. Chaplin slowed down his frenetic pace, Kelly worked on technique and taking more control by directing and Jobs got fired from Apple and had to start again with NeXT computer and Pixar.
Chapter 8 answers the question, "How does one build a world class team?" It also deals with the non-negotiables, methods, practices, character traits, obsessions, etc. that would attract and then keep a team of "A Players," who would take to heart the same drive and determination as their visionary leaders. Some key people stand out for each person and they devoted their lives to the same goals and passions as if they were their own. Good teams take time to build and old friendships sometimes suffered. What held these teams together and what broke them apart?
Chapter 9 is all about loyalty to and from the leader to these team members and how it all ties together in achieving the desired goal of never taking the eye off the prize. The key to this chapter is that regardless of loyalty, those that could not produce were cast aside. The ability by the team members to produce excellence and their continued cult-like belief in their leader fostered the loyalty back and forth. Some key people fell by the wayside through these times.
Chapter 10 chronicles the time when each man was in his prime with numerous successes and how they continued to produce the highest levels of perfection year after year. This is more of a follow up to Chapter seven's "I'm on Top, Now What?" theme. The second act fulfilled, how does anyone stay at the top for so long and, surprisingly, astound the world again and again with that perfect movie, iconic scene or revolutionary product. A revolution can't last forever or can it?
Chapter 11 As much as Chaplin, Kelly and Jobs seemingly did not care about money, wealth did change them in non-stereotypical ways. In the case of Chaplin, he poured his money into his own studio and benefited greatly from the freedom that being an independent producer provided. He was the highest paid man on earth for a time. Kelly, being part of the studio system, did not get rich, but lived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and, for a time, his home was the big ticket place to see and be seen by the cream of the crop of Hollywood. He was the lead star of the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM. Steve Jobs was able to buy whatever he wanted, but only indulged in a few luxuries. He lived a simple life as a billionaire. Being a Buddhist, his passion remained his work and his vision. All three simply wanted to continue to produce quality at any cost. Money did allow that.
Chapter 12 deals with work ethic, inexhaustible energy, pushing oneself as hard or harder than anyone else, expecting the best work of someone's life, working 90 hours a week and loving it. If being successful requires something more than just an incredible idea or vision, this chapter continues an exploration of the hard work of the early days outlined in Chapter two. Those lessons that you don't succeed at anything unless you and your team are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to see a vision to fruition.
Chapter 13 explains and chronicles some of the personal costs of extreme success and the all consuming pursuit of perfection. Who got lost, ignored, left behind and frankly, treated like crap along the way in achieving each man's vision? In spite of everything each man ended up with a loving family, but it happened later in life than was typical. The early years of hard work, long hours and obsessive control left little time for anything but work.
Chapter 14 moves into the eventual slowdown that occurs with age and declining health, loss of audience and fading popularity, Even though each man was active in the mind and wanted to go on, do great things and continue the quest for perfection of the next big thing, their age and/or illness finally wrestled away that which had been theirs for so long, that control they sought and perfected.
Bibliography: Chaplin, Kelly, Jobs
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Reviewed and analysed all 87 of Charlie Chaplin's movies
Reviewed and analysed all 43 of Gene Kelly's movies and many interviews
Reviewed every interview of note with Steve Jobs and numerous documentaries
The book will be around 85,000 words or about 325 to 350 pages (including notes and bibliography), I need help with illustrations. I own the copyright to BoldBrashandBrilliant.com www.boldbrashandbrilliant.com and I have a duplicate blog on Google, Blog with nearly 10,000 visitors. I expect the book to be completed by 1 Sept 2015.
I need help with illustration/photographic copyrights as I would like to include some pictures, although this is not a purely biographical book as are most of the competition.
This book is an information text of a biographical nature, but also a study of people, management styles and obsession to the point of being a control freak. I can easily see the book being the basis of a documentary about the pursuit of perfection and how these three men went after their dream.
Because Chaplin, Kelly and Jobs are world famous, the international market would be perhaps stronger than the US market. Chaplin was the first world famous person of the modern age. Due to the nature of silent movies, his humour translated into all cultures across the globe. Gene Kelly was also known worldwide during his heyday. In the 1960s, while doing an African mission for the State Department, he was surprised that people in the most remote parts of the continent knew who he was and were familiar with his pictures. Of course, who doesn't know Steve Jobs? With Apple being the most valued company and the most valuable brand on the planet, our lives have all been changed by this amazing man, his vision and his products.
While there have been 600 books written about Chaplin, over a dozen books about Gene Kelly and dozens of books about Steve Jobs, most of these were biographical in nature with chronological formats that go over most of the same birth to death material as the others. Numerous in-depth studies in journals have been written about Chaplin's humor, cinematic skills and excruciatingly detailed studies of each movie or scene, but very few have actually chronicled what it was that made him a perfectionist and his work habits. Gene Kelly's biographies have been just that and not much more. He has also been studied by film school students and dance experts in numerous theses and dissertations, but again, little mention of his work habits and control issues have been discussed. Books about Steve Jobs deal more with personality quirks and his management style, but no book about what it was that formed his fanatical obsessive nature has been authored.
Author and Contributor Information
Phone number is 702-332-1527
I've been a teacher, distribution center manager for a fortune 20 company, Air Force Captain (veteran of the Gulf War), and avid reader of biographies. I have two Masters Degrees, two dogs, one wife and four step children in college. One of my step children is a Google Intern.