The Business Section

Some months back, I was talking to a business consultant I know. This guy provides advice to retail businesses for a living, wanted to publish a book about the future of retailing, and asked me some of those "how do I find a publisher?" type questions. After giving him some basic answers, I must have digressed onto what I might personally find interesting about his book. He set me straight about this by saying, "You should understand that I actually have no personal drive or desire to write a book -- I just think a published book would be a useful tool for promoting my business."

This was kind of an aha! moment for me. "Actually I guess most business books are like that," I mused.

My retailing expert friend had also gotten as far as inventing a new buzzword, by fusing a marketing term with an Eastern religious concept -- the resulting neologism was quite catchy,

(The faint-hearted should skip this next paragraph: I went on to make the mistake of asking what the future held for bookstores. My friend's answer was that Borders should merge with Barnes and Noble, because two bookstores are one too many, besides which, "they shouldn't sell so many books. It's confusing to customers." To comfort those writers who ignored my warning about skipping this paragraph, and are now inclined to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, here is a quick gulp of information about experts generally being wrong. Sorry if that didn't do the trick.)

Business books I personally like include Charles Ferguson's High Stakes, No Prisoners, and Lewis Pinault's Consulting Demons. People who write these kind of books tend to have done well in the business world, and since moved on to another field like academia or landscape gardening -- hence they have nothing to lose by being frank. These books tell a story. But mostly the business section is full of bullet-pointed lists of things Jeff Bezos did, which you should therefore do too. (E.g. maximize market share and don't be concerned about profitability. On the basis of a single case study, this was determined to be a universally valid strategy for early-stage businesses...) Or contradictory pieces of inspiration. (E.g. be sure to fit in, because people who don't fit in never get anywhere... be sure not to fit in, because people who don't fit in never get noticed...)

2 thoughts on “The Business Section”

  1. The only worthwhile business book I’ve read is “The Four Hour Workweek.” I’m trying to read “Good to Great” right now, but it hasn’t gripped me yet. For the most part, business books tend to restate obvious concepts in novel ways (which is pretty much what “The 4HWW” does). So, they’re good for inspiration when one’s in need of a boost or a new perspective on an old problem…

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