Summary of Am I Being Too Subtle?

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8 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


Real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell earned his nickname, “Grave Dancer,” from an article he wrote in 1976 about resurrecting distressed real estate properties and starting over. His autobiography details how this son of immigrants became an investor and entrepreneur famous for his success in commercial real estate. Zell got involved in real estate during college, managing a student apartment complex despite having no experience. His investments grew, and he expanded into other industries. He also covers some business advice and history, including his professional and personal setbacks, such as his failure to turn around the Tribune Company and the death of his friend and business partner, Bob Lurie. getAbstract recommends Zell’s colorful account to readers who enjoy sagas from inside the halls of business.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell built his empire,
  • How Zell utilized real estate investment trusts (REITs) and “net operating loss carry-forwards” (NOLs) to increase his fortune, and
  • How Zell acquired the Tribune Company.

About the Author

Entrepreneur and investor Sam Zell founded Equity Group Investments in 1968 and remains its chairman.



Emigrating to the United States

Sam Zell is the son of Polish Jews who escaped the Holocaust and emigrated to the United States. His devout, highly educated parents lived in Sosnowiec, Poland, near the German border. His father, Bernard Zielonka, sold grain throughout Eastern Europe. Anti-Semitism was on the rise in Poland by 1937. To finance the family’s escape, Zell’s mother Rochelle sewed jewelry into their clothes.

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    Daniel Oneufer 3 months ago
    So, where is the straight talk? This digest is completely a biography.
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    Tyler Meinecke 3 months ago
    Interesting story of Zell... I didn't find much here in terms of offering the reader advice or insight into being 'less subtle' in language and in behavior, however.