Books on business advice, from people who’ve-been-there-and-done-it, has a long publishing history with subjects ranging from Strategy to Sustainability and Entrepreneurship to E-commerce to name but a few. This multi billion pound/dollar industry continues to grow with each new publication hailing some ‘new-take’ or revealing ‘what they don’t teach you at...’ or simply ‘how stuff works’ to draw readers in. Titles are getting increasingly creative too asking us to: Awaken the Giant Within, How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and, a personal favourite, You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life! This all shows that the industry is alive and well, is extremely competitive and is constantly looking at new angles to draw the reader in.
I started thinking more about this when I came across another book about to be released next month by Kiss bassist and business person Gene Simmons called: Me, Inc. Build an Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win in Life and Business. Since deciding to manage themselves as a band early on, and whether you like them or not, they have remained in the public consciousness over the last 40 years. This was executed through a mixture of franchising (basketball teams, restaurants), branding and products such as Kiss branded coffins, rubber ducks and tie-ins; with a recent example being with Hello Kitty. Whatever your views on this (and the focus shifting away from the actual music) it does show a business acumen not seen in other bands who were also immensely popular at the time who most (outside the genre) would not know of today i.e. Boston (More Than a Feeling).
This rather unusual, yet interesting, source of business advice got me thinking about other unusual takes on the advice model and where inspiration, however bizarre, might emanate from.
I had heard about Shakespeare being used as a management tool with The Baird being hailed, by some, as a business guru with quotes such as ‘go wisely and slowly...those who rush, stumble and fall’ (Romeo and Juliet) and ‘strong reasons make strong actions’ (King John) to illustrate their point. Other seemingly odd couplings include: business and karma, where individuals and teams aim for a ‘business conscious’ where their impact, both negative and positive, is felt; Jesus led business communities operating on the principles found in the bible and interestingly, and I’d like to see a 5 year business plan that includes this, astrology and business.
I had a look on the Speakers Corner book shelf for more inspiration, which is a collection of all the books received from speakers over the years, and a few jumped out:
Kevin Dutton’s Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion is a book that focuses on those in the market of persuasion like, you know, politicians, advertisers, sales people, serial killers and psychopaths, and how we too can learn this ‘psychological secret weapon’ in our personal and professional lives. Gulp!
Following nicely on from this is Prof Damian Hughes’ book: How to Think Like Sir Alex Ferguson which takes the reader (assuming they’re not a Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle .... fan) through the ex manager’s famed Psychological (Keegan’s: I would love it...response) and Leadership (flying boot/hairdryer) techniques.
And Ian Thomas’, who thankfully gets close so we don’t have to, The Power of The Pride: How lessons from a pride of lions can teach you to create powerful business teams. Having studied lions for over 30 years he links two very disparate areas successfully (approx 100k copies sold) while remaining in one piece.
It seems then the boardroom is losing its copyright on business inspiration. What the above examples show is that in this incredibly competitive market people – the inspirees – are looking for fresh, exciting angles from the genre and there’s some weird and wonderful business people out there happy to oblige.