The intent behind this irreverent and entertaining autobiography/management advice book couldn’t be clearer, argues author Felix Dennis, the publisher of the (in)famous “lad” mag Maxim and numerous other magazines. “Bugger the glib insights,” he writes. “What the world needs is an anti-self-help book. A book that tells people how hard it is to be a great manager or great anything. About how hard it is to get rich.” And he succeeds in doing that by pointing out how a successful entrepreneur (the only career path Dennis believes will lead to true wealth) needs to sacrifice relationships and just about everything else in a single-minded focus on success. “You need to be a predator” (although, he suggests, a courteous one.) But once you get past that, and the numerous semi-serious asides — “if it flies, floats or fornicates, always rent it” — you find some surprisingly workable rules of thumb that don’t involve merely hunting and killing one’s commercial prey. Among them: A compulsion for becoming rich is necessary for you to increase the odds of it happening (“Desire is insufficient”), but ideas alone are also not enough (“Concentrate on great execution”). Own what you create, he cautions, and “Hold on to every percentage point you can.” And as a manager, be counterintuitive and hire people smarter than you. Finally, don’t stay with any enterprise too long: “Sell before you need to, or when bored.” These sorts of truisms inch Dennis dangerously close to a traditional business/self-help book. But, perhaps that should not be surprising. Despite all his bluster he believes “almost anyone of reasonable intelligence can become rich, given sufficient motivation and application.” But that, he implies, is harder than most people would like to believe.
About the Writer
Coauthor of the bestseller Customers for Life and author of more than a dozen other books, Paul B. Brown is a former reporter and editor for BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Inc. His reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Book Page .