Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today's Entrepreneur

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alper, the founder of Noah's Bagels (recently sold to Einstein Bros. for $100 million), offers uplifting business wisdom from his own rocky path to success. After an early nervous breakdown and a failed business (selling Israeli products to born-again Christians), he found his way to traditional Judaism and started a small bagel shop in Berkeley, founded and run on the Biblical injunction to "lech lecha"-to embrace one's journey while contributing to the community through volunteerism and "tzedakah"-justice. Alper writes with fervor about the necessity of ethical business dealing and the power of integrating life experience and spirituality into one's path as an entrepreneur, and-especially in these trying economic times-honing the ability to innovate, adapt, and evolve. This earnest book shines with Alper's conviction, business savvy and decency; while he acknowledges the joys of a financial success, he ends with his eyes on the prize: "What's important is providing for your family, conducting yourself with integrity and living a life of meaning."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Alper (founder, Noah's Bagels), with journalist Fields-Meyer, offers a quick-reading business memoir with both personal and spiritual advice on how to be a "business mensch" (an "honorable, decent person"). He suggests having a little chutzpah, treating both employees and customers right, and taking time off when necessary. Fans of entrepreneurial guides with some personal philosopy (e.g., Michael Gates Gill's How Starbucks Saved My Life) might enjoy this one as well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780984072248
  • Publisher: Wolfeboro Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Pages: 167
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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  • Posted October 12, 2009


    Full Disclosure: I'm a disgruntled former employee of Noah's Bagels ... who after two years of satisfying employment was fired [at 60 years of age] over an alleged 15 minute time card discrepancy.

    Noah's memoir is a justifiably self satisfied account of his remarkable accomplishment: the building of an astoundingly profitable business in just seven years.

    I was proud to work in his enterprise, it was honest essential work: delivering daily bread. I loved his bagels, notwithstanding his admission that they were not [as advertised] authentically "New York Style" ... i.e., they were steamed rather than boiled. His retail outlets were fun places to shop: faux New York subway station style counter shops. Clean theme park iconic approximations of the omnipresent bagel shops organic to New York City.

    The chapter Noah omitted was his masterful record as a Union Buster. It's puzzling why he neglected to share his brilliant union busting tricks and strategies with today's entrepreneurs. Promotion promises were offered or implied in exchange for a failed Union election. Numerous mandatory pre-election "training sessions" were held ... from which known pro-union employees were barred. Films and lectures at these sessions likened Unions to the Mafia. Huge parties were thrown on the day of the election which included lavish feasts, Mariachi Strolling Bands, TV giveaways, etc.

    In an attempt to befriend me [and turn my head] prior to the Union election, Noah accompanied me on my delivery route one day. He knew I was a Union enthusiast, and in his attempt to portray himself as a Mensch, he told me that a dear relative of his fought in Spain with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. This relative was outspokenly pro-union. Unions were good, he asserted, but were not necessary at this Mensch administered company.

    An early morning mandatory meeting was called on the day of the election. Noah and his family members told employees that they were considered members of his extended family. He tearfully implored us not to ruin the cozy business he had created by voting for Collective Bargaining. He warned that a positive vote might well result in lowered wages.

    He did not share his fear that the establishment of a Union would complicate and possibly spoil the pending hundred million dollar sale of his business to Einstein Bros., a company headquartered in Colorado.
    Luckily, the establishment of a Union failed by one vote: Noah's exit strategy succeeded and the sweet sale to Einstein followed shortly thereafter. Prior to the sale, reasons were found to fire all known pro-union employees.

    Noah repeatedly and unashamedly calls himself a Mensch, an upright, honorable and decent person. Despite his considerable accomplishments, this unseemly self promotion is a bit embarrassing. His memoir eschews self examination; he apparently has no real regrets.

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