It’s true; the most dangerous move in business is the failure to make a move. If you do nothing you won’t progress and may fail; if you move you still may fail but at least you’ve tried – within reason therefore, it is good to “think big, act bigger”.
The author is an acclaimed industry veteran who has the scares to prove it, and here he seeks to inspire and get people thinking and doing things. At least if you try, you’ll never wonder what could have happened if you had just dared to try. This is one of the better “business inspiration and motivation” type books and boy is there a lot of them on the market. All books of this type can be very personal affairs – you need to establish a personal connection with the author’s words and have faith – yet some seem to be less credible, more superfluous and harder to gel with than others. Even with the expected alpha-male bombastic, egocentric positivity that comes with this book, it did seem to be more genuine, heart-felt and actual than many others.
The usual aims and goals are offered up; there’s nothing overly untoward or special here. The author’s experiences and successes are mixed in liberally around the advice and counsel on offer. A lot of humour and the author’s character shone through. Maybe part of the attraction for this reviewer is the perceived less strait-laced, possibly irreverent approach taken by the author. How many books would, after all, overtly state that you may “…achieve the next big thing by being a little pig-headed and irrational”? It grew on you. In fact the relative unconventional, direct approach taken tipped this over from being a reasonable three-star book to a great four-star one and potentially the sky is the limit.
Some of the author’s stories might confuse the reader, letting them question the point of adding them, such as the author being hired to give a speech and then being told he would be fined (his fee reduced) for every utterance of 21 words. All because a bit of grown-up language (a list was not given, but the inference was that the list did not have racist or sexist terms, so it probably had things like the “B” and “F” word. Clearly you wouldn’t or shouldn’t drop the F word on a live CNBC broadcast, but in a closed audience of adults in a high-intensity, passionate speech it might not be entirely unjustified. Clearly you wouldn’t open the speech with “Hello, I’m f…g glad to be here today. What a f…g nightmare the airport was, the b…ds lost my case and gave me s..t when I complained”.
The author tells the story: “This company, an otherwise terrific software business, couldn't deal with it. They were willing to pay my speaking fee but wanted to fine me $500 for each time I used one of the words on the list, up to a total fine of $7,500. I counted on my fingers (math is not my strong suit) how many bad words that gave me: 15. Then I looked at the list. There were words on there I would never think of using. It would be very difficult for me to work them all in, but I love a challenge. I accepted the deal with every intention of using up all $7,500. Forget for a moment that the company never discussed any of this with me before sending over these stipulations. (Want me to tone it down? Just ask me. Don't bring in the lawyers first.) What I couldn't figure out was why this company wanted me to speak in the first place if this is what they expected. I am an open book. No one hires a dog like me and wonders why he doesn't meow. I am not effective or for everyone, and I know it, but as a result, no one ever complains that they got something they were not expecting. Why would they want me to change who I was on a fundamental level?” Makes sense? Be yourself, be genuine and don’t be something you are not.
If you take the time to read this book you will find a lot of things that you may secretly agree with, yet it might not be “acceptable” to highlight and amplify them. After all, everyone uncritically loves TED talks or what? Franchise trendy food stores are just doing a great job? A consistent, uniform product must be superior?
You can warm to the author and his style. Even relatively mundane issues about interacting with an assistant can seem one thing but be another when you focus on the detail and consider why a certain course of action was taken. All over, for example, a simple question about a colour or monochrome print out. Be different? The author wrote: “You know, I've been called pig-headed a number of times, and I've never taken offence, because I find pigs smart and delicious. But until this book, I never looked up the actual definition of pig-headed, which according to Merriam-Webster means ‘refusing to do what other people want or to change your opinion or the way you do something: very stubborn.’ Synonyms for pig-headed include everything from ‘headstrong’ to ‘opinionated’ to ‘wilful.’ I'm good with being those things when necessary, especially when considering the opposites of pig-headed: ‘acquiescent, compliant, pliable, relenting, and yielding’.”
If you let it, this book will give generously a mix of humour, insight, tragedy, shock and a mass of actionable information. It might not lead you by the nose to be a squillionaire, but it can help transform you in ways you had not considered where necessary, as well as the usual “boring business attributes” that are a given “good to improve if you can”.
Think Big Act Bigger, written by Jeffrey Hayzlett with Jim Eber and published by Entrepreneur Press. ISBN 9781599185743. YYYY