How They Blew It: The CEOs and Entrepreneurs Behind Some of the World's Most Catastrophic Business Failures

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How They Blew It is about people who did something remarkable: they all built huge business empires worth millions, if not billions.  Then they all did something unbelievable: they managed to lose it.

How They Blew It tells the story of 16 business leaders who went from paramount success to abject failure, resulting in the collapse of some of the world's most famous and supposedly successful businesses.  Full of surprising details and mind-blowing sums of money, ...

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How They Blew It: The CEOs and Entrepreneurs Behind Some of the World's Most Catastrophic Business Failures

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How They Blew It is about people who did something remarkable: they all built huge business empires worth millions, if not billions.  Then they all did something unbelievable: they managed to lose it.

How They Blew It tells the story of 16 business leaders who went from paramount success to abject failure, resulting in the collapse of some of the world's most famous and supposedly successful businesses.  Full of surprising details and mind-blowing sums of money, it looks at the characteristics of these leaders and the fine line between hero and zero.

This book isn't a turgid or forensic examination of the rights and wrongs of each case; rather, it seeks to get into the minds of the people behind the business disasters and ask, “Why on earth did they do that?”  It pin-points pitfalls and highlights destructive personality traits, helping readers avoid making similar mistakes.  From mega US corporate catastrophes, such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, WorldCom and Enron, to UK, European, Russian and Chinese business disasters, this book looks at the people, the passion and ego at the heart of entrepreneurship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jamie Oliver has a wonderful turn of phrase and that rare ability to bring business to life." - Richard Tyler, The Daily Telegraph

"Oliver and Goodwin take us on an enthralling journey to the dark side of business achievement." - Matthew Rock, Managing Editor of Real Business

"...people are fascinated by other people's troubles...It is precisely this fascination that makes reading How They Blew It by Jamie Oliver and Tony Goodwin so alluring.  But this book is more than mere voyeurism in that Oliver and Goodwin use these vignettes as instruction for other entrepreneurs in how to avoid disaster. ...a readable, well-referenced enticement to those who are in business or who are contemplating a business venture." -ForeWord Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780749460655
  • Publisher: Kogan Page, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has over 15 years experience as a freelance journalist writing about business topics and entrepreneurs.  Currently he writes for the Financial Times.  Tony Goodwin runs the international recruitment business Antal and is one of the UK’s most successful business service entrepreneurs.


Jamie Oliver was part of a culinary evolution -- one including Emeril Lagasse and Nigella Lawson -- away from the intimidation factor of predecessors such as Julia Child or even Martha Stewart and toward simply prepared but sophisticated food. His show The Naked Chef, and now Jamie Oliver’s London (seen Stateside on the Food Network), presented the English chef’s approach to “pukka” life, with an emphasis on ingredients and ease over technique and equipment. Like a kitchen dervish, Oliver seemingly slapped together gourmet meals for on-camera occasions ranging from a christening to a football-watching session -- all of it narrated in a dialect so British that the Food Channel site features a glossary of his oft-used terms (“pukka” being excellent, or first-rate).

Oliver’s informal tone makes cooking seem an act of will rather than skill, and his books present a vibe similar to his show. He prescribes techniques and ingredients almost offhandedly, mentioning his own preferences in such a way that leaves you free to discover alternatives but likelier to follow the master. In a cereal recipe from The Naked Chef Takes Off, Oliver writes, “At this point feel free to improvise, adding any other preferred dried nuts like raisins, sultanas or figs -- but personally I think my combination works pretty well. This will keep for a good couple of months very happily in your airtight container, but you'll have eaten it by then, I guarantee.”

Often, dishes in Oliver’s books consist of a few list-free paragraphs that seem more like concepts than recipes at first; but if you read, you’ll see that everything you need to know is right there. Measurements for Oliver often consist of “some,” “a handful,” “a squeeze.” Instructions often include directives such as “bash up,” “whizz up,” “scrunch,” and “smear.” With text like this, it’s easy to see how Oliver has gotten scores of novices -- particularly men -- into the kitchen.

It wasn’t surprising that Oliver became a media darling so quickly. His ebullience, photogenic looks, and youth made him the sort who could appeal to everyone from grandmas to regular blokes. His culinary skills, however, could not be questioned. Having started at age eight by helping in the kitchen of his parents’ pub/restaurant in Essex, he later attended Westminster Catering College and gained experience at kitchens in France and at London’s Neal Street Restaurant and the River Café. His presence in a documentary about the café led to several T.V. offers after it was shown, and The Naked Chef was born.

Cooks around the world couldn’t get enough of Jamie Oliver -- but by 2001, many in Britain had had their fill. Wrote one Guardian columnist, “Jamie Oliver is -- like the Lord himself -- all around us. He is available and on sale in every format, real and virtual. …It is getting hard to spend a day without seeing his face or hearing his voice.” Sensitive to the criticism, Oliver reportedly told the Observer, "I'm quite boring, I've been with the same girl for nine years, I work hard, everything I do is positive, so I couldn't see any reason why the press would aggro me. But then it did." The nay-saying seems to have died down a bit, as it’s become clear that the appetite for all things Oliver has not yet been sated.

Those who are looking for a certain amount of culinary consistency in a cookbook author might do well to look elsewhere. Oliver has often mentioned that he is continually sampling cultures and evolving his cooking style, still being in his 20s and all. His next book, Jamie’s Kitchen, he writes on his Web site, “is completely different to Naked Chef stuff.” This is good news, though, for cooks who aren’t afraid to experiment a bit. Oliver helps ease the bumps in the ride.

Good To Know

Oliver is opening a nonprofit restaurant in London that will also employ underprivileged kids in the kitchen, an endeavor he hopes to capture in a new T.V. show.

He has played the drums in a band called Scarlet Division since he was 13, and released a CD in the U.K. called Cookin’, which was a compilation of his favorite tunes to cook by.

Married to ex-model Juliette “Jools” Norton since 2000, Oliver had daughter Poppy Honey in March 2002 and has a second child on the way.

Oliver’s association with the grocery chain Sainsbury’s caused some headaches for the chef. The spots, which also featured Oliver cooking on his BBC-produced show, did not agree with the network’s code of ethics. One in particular, which featured Oliver speaking Cantonese and practicing Kung Fu, drew protests from some viewers who considered it racist. His deal with the BBC eventually soured over conflict with his Sainsbury’s commitment, and Oliver set up his own company, Fresh Productions, to handle his projects.

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    1. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 27, 1975
    2. Place of Birth:
      Essex, England

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Introduction 1

1 Chosen? Bernie Ebbers Ebbers, Bernie 13

2 Deadly Intent Christopher Foster Foster, Christopher 24

3 Stitch Up Mikhail Khodorkovsky Khodorkovsky, Mikhail 34

4 Rock Star J?n ?sgeir J?hannesson J?hannesson, J?n ?sgeir 45

5 All That Glitters Reuben Singh Singh, Reuben 56

6 More Than He Could Chew Tim Power Power, Tim 66

7 King Kong Dick Fuld Fuld, Dick 77

8 The Art of Money Peter Klimt Klimt, Peter 88

9 One Step Too Far Adolf Merckle Merckle, Adolf 99

10 Exile Boris Berezovsky Berezovsky, Boris 109

11 Power Politics Zhou Zhengyi Zhou, Zhengyi 119

12 Paying the Penalty Mark Goldberg Goldberg, Mark 128

13 Friends in High Places Ken Lay Lay, Ken 139

14 How to Blow a Billion Kevin Leech Leech, Kevin 152

15 A Bridge Too Far James Cayne Cayne, James 165

16 Credit Crunched Robert Tchenguiz Tchenguiz, Robert 176

Conclusion Robert Tchenguiz Tchenguiz, Robert 189

Index Robert Tchenguiz Tchenguiz, Robert 206

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Broad reports on 17 entrepreneurs who blew up their businesses

    In recent years, serial entrepreneurs and celebrity CEOs have become rock stars, not just of the corporate world but also of society at large. People love to learn about big business mavens, what they do, where they live, what they drive, where they party and who their spouses are. Even more darkly compelling are the bad boy wheelers and dealers who have dramatically blown up their firms through financial chicanery (almost exclusively a male activity; thus, few bad girls of business exist). In this timely yet disturbing book, journalist Jamie Oliver and recruitment expert Tony Goodwin present a rogues' gallery of entrepreneurs and CEOs who have disgraced themselves and destroyed their companies, often trashing the savings of multitudes of innocent bystanders. Some of these guys didn't blow it, exactly, in that they went home plenty rich - but their firms still suffered on their watch. The authors lightly, charmingly depict the lives of these corporate desperados, offering lessons other leaders can draw from their stories. While morbidly fascinating and a bit sensational, the book sometimes loses its edge as it catalogs deals negotiated, firms bought, bad strategies enacted and millions lost. Nonetheless, getAbstract quite enjoys this voyeur's look at how these big shots imploded and how to avoid making the same mistakes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013


    Pads in ad set down a wad of catmint down. She digs deep holes all around andcovers them over with ivy ad braken. She bput the catmint in the biggest hole.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    Med den


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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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