Musings on Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Sunday, September 12, 2004
The Economist magazine figures that there are some 3,000 business titles published each year in the United States . Most are remarkably poor:
The formula seems to be: keep the sentences short, the wisdom homespun and the typography aggressive; offer lots of anecdotes, relevant or not; and put an animal in the title...
Most titles have a shelf life measured in mere months and sell fewer than 1,000 copies. But, as Fast Company noted recently, there isn't even much to distinguish business "classics" . "Consulting Debunking Unit" columnist Martin Kihn reviewed In Search of Excellence, Built to Last, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and concluded "that these books...are actually the same book."
Back in June 2000, the late Dana Meadows missed an opportunity to make big bucks on the speaker tour when she failed to follow-through on an imagined title featured in her column, The Global Citizen: The Catbox Guide to Business Success, or the Seven Behaviors of Highly Successful Felines, or All You Really Need to Know about Multinational Corporations, You Can Learn from Your Cat.
- Keep your coat immaculate. Looks are far more important than behavior.
- When you foul something, cover it over carefully, so no one knows who did it.
- When you hunt down a small business, toy with it a while, kill it, yowl proudly and deposit the corpse in a visible place.
- Know how to purr ingratiatingly. Know how to scratch strategically. Know how to freak out and unleash rapidly moving claws in all directions at once. Know when and when not to do each of these things.
- Obey every rule punctiliously as long as anyone is watching.
- Never forget that other creatures feed you, shelter you, and clean up after you because you are intrinsically superior to them.
Some would argue that business is not something you can learn from a book. On the other hand, history suggests that books have been useful learning instruments across a wide range of human endeavors that are as complex as business. That said, reading is no substitute for thinking, and books are only as useful as their content.
The Economist recommends Shakespeare.
 "How 51 Gorillas Can Make You Seriously Rich," The Economist, August 19th 2004.
 "In Search of Dwarfs," Fast Company, October 2004.