SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book Review: You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth About Starting and Growing Your Business by Barry Moltz

I often say how much I love unique blogs. Well, the same goes for books. Most entrepreneurial books paint pretty pictures of the fantasy land of running a business, which we all know is far from the truth. When I was handed a copy of You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth About Starting and Growing Your Business by Barry Moltz, I could tell that it wasn't going to be one of those “typical” rah-rah books.

In the past when I've done book reviews, I've written long, drawn out posts about the book. I realize the most people will never take the time to read those rambling posts, so I condensed my rambling to the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Extremely captivating – there have been only a handful of books in my life that I truly couldn't put down, and this was one of them. The sections are only about 500-1000 words each so the pace is fast, and Moltz makes his points without drawing them out, unlike many business books. He touches on nearly everything that you'd expect a book like this to discuss – the ups and downs of running a business, the impact on family life, working with partners, networking, finding customers, and more.

  • True to the bone – Moltz didn't spare anything when it comes to telling his tale. Much like I hope I do on this blog, Moltz tells you the good and the bad, the ups and the downs. He doesn't cover it up and present entrepreneurship as this perfect thing. He presents the business world as the wholly imperfect world that it is. He talks about his successes at IBM and his successes in the entrepreneurial world, but also equally about when he was fired from a startup. Humility and transparency are two things that I admire in anyone.

  • People focus – Moltz devotes a large portion of the book to networking. Not the cheesy exchange of business cards at a fake corporate function that most of us have come to associate networking with, but the process of building mutually beneficial long-term relationships with fellow business owners and customers. Relationships have been the foundation of business for hundreds of years and will continue to be for the indefinite future. Technology only gives us more improved ways of cultivating such associations, not an excuse not to develop them.

  • Contribution to society – If I could, I would work 100 hours a week, spend 40 hours volunteering, hang out with my friends a few times a week, spend plenty of time with my family, work out almost every day, play a lot of basketball, play about two hours a day of Madden, and still have time to sleep 8 hours. Obviously I can't, and neither can you. One of the things that really hit me when reading this book is that entrepreneurship is your contribution to society. You can't do everything, and you shouldn't try to. Do what you do and do it well and it will better the society we live in. As an entrepreneur you can create companies and products that serve the greater good of society, you can create jobs for your community, you can give back by associating with local charities, and about a million other things. You don't have to feel guilty because you don't do everything for the world.

Cons
  • A slightly pessimistic tilt – I got the feeling that Moltz didn't talk enough about the great parts of being an entrepreneur. As someone who already has thrown myself to the wolves, I nodded my head at what he said most of the time because I already know what I got myself into. But I don't think I'd recommend this to a first time entrepreneur. I am extremely happy and satisfied that I chose the path that I did, and I have no regrets, but if I read Mr. Moltz's book three years ago I would have been scared shitless about being an entrepreneur and I would have continued my path as an engineer. To me, there's something wrong if the book will turn off a perfectly good entrepreneur. Many of the comments by entrepreneurship experts on Moltz's site reflect this feeling also and probably say it much better than I could.

  • Focus a bit too much on the dot-com's – this isn't really Moltz's fault, but the book does focus a bit too much on business in the 90's and the dot-com bubble burst. While an interesting topic, it really isn't that applicable to young entrepreneurs like myself who were in grade school while all of this was going on. The world is different now and I would have liked a bit more forward thinking about the state of entrepreneurship in the coming 5-10 years, and less about a world that I will never experience (and quite frankly consisted of insanely irrational behavior that is so atypical that I have trouble learning much from it).

Overall, I thought the book was great and I would recommend it to anyone has recently ventured into entrepreneurship. Moltz's brutal honesty results in a rare tale of what it's really like to run a business.

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