The Rebel Rules: Daring To Be Yourself In Business

The Rebel Rules: Daring To Be Yourself In Business

by Chip Conley
     
 

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When he was 26, Chip Conley broke the two cardinal rules of starting a business: he invested in an industry about which he knew nothing and he ignored the mantra "location, location, location." He bought a notorious "pay-by-the-hour" motel in a seedy San Francisco neighborhood.
A dozen years later, Chip is the "boy wonder" of the American travel industry,

Overview

When he was 26, Chip Conley broke the two cardinal rules of starting a business: he invested in an industry about which he knew nothing and he ignored the mantra "location, location, location." He bought a notorious "pay-by-the-hour" motel in a seedy San Francisco neighborhood.
A dozen years later, Chip is the "boy wonder" of the American travel industry, famous for his entrepreneurial genius, creativity, and sense of fun.
In The Rebel Rules, Conley shares his success secrets. He focuses on the primary traits — vision, passion, instinct, and agility — that characterize today's fast company leaders. His guidebook doubles as a toolbox for anyone — whether a virgin entrepreneur or a corporate manager — who wants to walk in step with today's business innovators.
The Rebel Rules will show you how to:

  • Tap into your natural talents and focus on what you can control
  • Build a fanatical customer base and create great buzz
  • Engage employees and encourage them to break the rules
  • Kick butt in business and still have a life

With exercises and activities that will develop these and other business skills, The Rebel Rules will transform the way you approach your career.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Faith Popcorn Chip Conley beautifully explains the importance of the new breed of entre/intra-preneur. The Rebel Rules gives us each the opportunity to explore and put into action the rebel within us.

Seth Godin author of Permission Marketing The Rebel Rules is more than just an inspirational handbook for the new generation of leaders — it's essential reading for anyone who really wants to make a difference. The future belongs to the rebels who can take the principles in this book and run with them.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684865164
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
01/03/2001
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: The New Rules of Business

With unsettling speed, two powerful forces are

converging: a new generation of leaders is coming to

power in the business world, and a group of "fast

companies" is rewriting the rules of doing business

around the world. The result: a revolution as far-reaching

as the Industrial Revolution 100 years ago.

-- Fast Company magazine

A generation ago, rebels staged sit-ins and set their bras aflame. Today rebels create start-ups and light their companies on fire. We live in a time of rapid change. Today's business leaders do not try to anticipate the future. They create it. The ones who build the right model become billionaires.

A changing world demands daring, break-all-the-rules leaders. The Industrial Revolution took nearly a half-century to mature and was based upon increasing "muscle power" by forty- or fiftyfold. Today's digital revolution is happening virtually overnight and in magnitudes of a millionfold. The effect of this change is pervasive. We're all touched by it.

Maybe that's why rebel entrepreneurs have become the world's business folk heroes: they are a barometer to our brighter future. Personified by pop icons like Richard Branson, today's business success stories are high-profile rebels, authentic and courageous initiators of change. Their companies are a direct extension of who they are. Ironically, these nonconformists provide us comfort and hope: be yourself and you'll be a success. Never before has the business world experienced such a universal quest for originality and such a disdain for the status quo. As BOBOS in Paradise author David Brooks writes, "It's Lucent Technologies that adopted the slogan 'Born to Be Wild.' It's Burger King that tells America, 'Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules.'"

REBELS RULE WITH COURAGE AND AUTHENTICITY

The day I began writing this book, I found under my computer monitor an old postcard of James Dean, a forty-year-old poster child for disaffection, apathy, and danger. James Dean: the "rebel without a cause."

For me, though, the business rebel succeeds because of an obsession with a cause. While many shaggy new business leaders of this digital era may look like a James Dean character or sport a disaffected-youth image, their impatience and determination are fueled by a contrarian concept or cause -- often a simple desire to beat the big guys.

While the money being made on stock options are the gravy, what inspires these rebels isn't usually money. It's the need to prove themselves, the sense of mission in their product or concept, the desire to experiment, and their love of the work itself. Today's Internet generation has learned that there is no better place to make an impact than in the business world.

Professor Frank Farley at Temple University calls these rebels the "Type-T Personality," those thrill-seekers who are willing to take risks to test their limits. They're drawn to challenges, paradoxes, and new ideas. They break rules, resist authority, and can't stand calm. They're some of our best-known entrepreneurs -- and some of our most feared sociopaths. How can you tell the difference?

The litmus test for rebels is whether they are courageous and authentic, whether they stand their ground against the voice of conventional wisdom. Like Bob Pittman, president of America Online, who helped create MTV at a time when everyone said, "Music is meant to be heard, not seen." Or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who while barely of legal drinking age founded the modern version of the personal computer after the experts at Xerox said there wasn't a market for such a contraption. Like Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, rebels wear their values on their sleeves and use their companies as a vehicle for change.

Rebels stage revolutions, internally and externally. The greatest rebels are those who have completely changed their industry. They don't stop at challenging the status quo, they break the mold. Sam Walton did this in retail. Jeff Bezos did this with e-commerce. Martha Stewart's done it with brand identity.

The successful rebels are those who can capture the minds and spirits of their organization and leverage that "intellectual capital" into a sustainable force to be reckoned with. Rebel companies can't just be judged by their balance sheets. Today's new math requires that intangible assets, such as capacity for learning, networking prowess, and brand reputation be virtually as relevant as the warehouses and equipment. Competition today is about how much innovation an organization creates, not about how many factories it builds.

The old-school behemoth companies that have fallen asleep at the wheel (I call them "Rip van Rockefellers") enter the new millennium with RIP chiseled on their corporate forehead. Why didn't Maxwell House create Starbucks (as my friend Seth Godin ponders)? Or why did it take so long for Merrill Lynch and other traditional brokerage companies to jump on the online trading bandwagon (yet Charles Schwab was able to make the leap quite early)? Success handcuffs yesterday's champions as they tinker with yesterday's successful business model. Newcomers have an advantage in today's rebellious marketplace as they're willing to scrap the old model for something improved.

What makes this particular time unique is the confluence of factors that have thrust rebels into the limelight. The corporate reengineering and downsizing of the early 1990s forced middle managers to rethink their concept of job security. The net result: For every job wiped out at a major company in the mid-1990s, 1.5 jobs sprang up in its place, mostly in small firms. By 1995, only 10 percent of all American jobs existed in Fortune 500 companies, a group that accounted for 20 percent of all jobs thirty years earlier. And with the proliferation of personal computers and the emergence of the Internet, anyone with an extra bedroom can create their world headquarters at home. For the first time, the playing field had been leveled for David and Goliath.

I learned my own Rebel Rumba when I started my company at twenty-six. I broke the two cardinal rules for starting a business: pick something you know and think location, location, location. I had no experience in the hospitality industry, and my first two key decisions were picking an unpronounceable name (Joie de Vivre) and purchasing a bankrupt "no-tell motel" in the wrong part of town. My friends called me "Mr. Bad Ass-ets."

Joie de Vivre Hospitality has grown into one of the largest hospitality companies on the West Coast, with twenty-five businesses under its umbrella and annual sales exceeding $50 million. Fortunately, our mission ("creating opportunities to celebrate the joy of life") helped us find the enthusiasm to overcome many of the classic obstacles a young rebel entrepreneur encounters.

Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker, winemaker, hotelier, and rebel through and through, said, "Everything I love has in one way or another become a business for me." This was a guiding inspiration for me as I grew a company that challenged the status quo. I followed my heart creating projects that hadn't been done before -- hospitality businesses that would attract a guy like me as a customer. While my goal wasn't intentionally to shake up a stodgy industry, the result of my company's creative endeavors was to force my elder hotelier peers into a little professional soul-searching.

Joie de Vivre is a classic rebel company, an "incubator for entrepreneurs." My greatest challenge has been translating my passion for calculated risk-taking to the employees who operate our hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, restaurants, bars, and day spas. The common thread throughout is creating products and an atmosphere that foster joie de vivre.

Virgin has taken a similar eclectic approach globally -- with airlines, colas, record stores, and even bridal shops -- all with that quirky and fun sensibility that defines the brand. Fortunately, Joie de Vivre's odd business strategy has succeeded, as we were recently named San Francisco's "Emerging Growth Company of the Year" -- no mean feat in a community brimming with prosperous Internet start-ups that could just have easily won the award.

The Rebel Rules is your wake-up call -- a personal handbook to help transform you into a groundbreaking leader in whatever you do and to give you another way to look at the traditional business model -- whether you're a young hipster in a start-up or a middle-aged manager in a multinational conglomerate. Those of us who continue to use the old rule book are going to be left behind. Though the world may seem increasingly out of control, The Rebel Rules focuses on what you can control: your own habits and aptitudes.

My purpose is to help you capitalize on your own natural talents by showing how other rebels have flourished using theirs. There is no right kind of rebel. Ross Perot has little in common with Master P other than the fact that they've both revolutionized their industries. It isn't enough to dare to be different. You need to dare to be yourself. Hopefully, The Rebel Rules will provide you the philosophy, attitude, and strategies you need to find your own path.

The entrepreneur starting a business will learn valuable lessons and hear straight talk from people who've learned from the school of hard knocks. The corporate manager will learn how America's largest companies have realized you have to "think small to grow big" and how they're dramatically altering their rules to encourage rebellious behavior because otherwise they'll be "Amazoned" or "eToyed" to death (challenged by an Internet start-up such as occurred to Barnes & Noble and Toys "R" Us).

The rebel working for a nonprofit or in the government will see why the principles in this book apply universally to anyone who wants to create a humane and empowered workplace. Today nearly every organization is becoming more rebellious, helping their people recycle themselves as entrepreneurs.

Being a rebel is like sipping from the fountain of youth -- you're infused with irrepressible enthusiasm and boundless energy for your mission. Ideally, your chosen work is a natural extension of you. One of the best compliments I ever received was when someone told me they could see my "messy, unique fingerprints all over the product." Work should be like grown-up fingerpainting. The Rebel Rules will help turn your fingerpainting into a successful, unique business model. Your legacy isn't just the company you've built. It's the business model you've created and taught your people.

Copyright © 2001 by Chip Conley

What People are saying about this

Seth Godin
Chip Conley has tapped into the essential, almost magical elements that separate the true leaders form the rest of us—more than just an inspirational handbook for the new generation of leader, it's essential reading for anyone who really wants to make a difference. The future belongs to the rebels who can take the principles in this book and run with them.
—(Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing)
Jay Conrad Levinson
Chip Conley releases the shackles within each one of us in his superb The Rebel Rules, which is enlightening and fascinating. The book bristles with real-life examples as well as with wisdom that is essential in a new millennium. The man is a thinker. The man is a visionary. The man is a motivator. And the man is a whale of a good writer.
—(Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the Guerrilla Marketing series of books)
Faith Popcorn
Chip Conley beautifully explains the importance of the new breed of entre/intra-preneur. The Rebel Rules gives us each the opportunity to explore and put into action the rebel within us.
—(Faith Popcorn)

Meet the Author

Veteran CEO Chip Conley has created more boutique hotels than anyone in the world. Founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he grew into America’s second largest boutique hotel company, he speaks around the world on how to find meaning at the intersection of business and psychology. The author of several books, including Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, he was named the Most Innovative CEO in the San Francisco Bay Area, which he calls home. For more information, visit EmotionalEquations.com and ChipConley.com.

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