Back in 2006 when I reviewed Barry Moltz’s first book, You Need to Be a Little Crazy: The Truth About Starting and Growing Your Busines, I said the following:
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.
It certainly was one of the more unique books I’ve encountered when it comes to business and entrepreneurship, which is probably why I’ve revisited it several times since that review. When I learned that he had a new book coming out, I was excited to get my hands on an early copy to read and review. Unfortunately I was backed up by a few books and it took me longer to get to it than I wanted to. Once I did however, it definitely didn’t disappoint.
The easiest way to explain what bounce! is all about is from the description on his website: “Conventional business wisdom tells us that there is always something to learn from failure. Not true—sometimes it just stinks! Failure that offers no real learning value becomes a big jolt to the basic business belief system. Both success and failure are simply outcomes in the lifecycle of business where repetition is inevitable and overall process matters far more than any single event or outcome.”
The book is an in depth overview of what Moltz calls the “Ten Building Bands for True Business Confidence”. There were a few that really struck a chord as important for first time business owners. If you haven’t figured it out already, you’re going to fail…a lot. You can either go into an emotional rollercoaster each time something doesn’t go right (in which case you’ll probably drive yourself insane) or you can deal with it using Moltz’s “bands” as the foundation for dealing with failure.
- “In failure, give up the shame. Grieve failures and wallow if you need to, but let go rather than absorb shame, and deflect shame coming at you from others. Find new words to define a poor outcome”. The first time you fail at something, you’ll get a lot of “I told you so’s” from people. Maybe they won’t say it directly, but you’ll get that feeling from people. Who cares. Call it a learning experience and move on. YOU aren’t a failure because something you did failed.
- “Failure Gives a Choice. It provides an escape hatch to find a different choice.” Totally overlooked, but huge in my book. Use failure to pursue new and (hopefully) better opportunities rather than hanging on too long and making yourself miserable. Long time readers of this blog have seen me do this on several occassions.
- “More effective risk taking. Improve your decision making by examining the risks. Take only the risks that you want, and avoide the ones that could prove fatal”. Another overlooked one in my book. Sure, I’ve taken a lot of risks, but in every instance I’ve been able to accept the possibility of failure and the situation that failure would leave me in. If you aren’t comfortable with where you’ll be after failing, don’t jump…or better yet, find a way to take a more calculated and less risky jump. Perfect example: you want to start a fitness company. You could either bankrupt yourself trying to open a gym or start with personal training services, an online store, and a blog. Both can make you money, but only the former can leave you broke. The web has made it possible to almost eliminate all upfront risk with a venture. You can almost always prove your business model for less than $1k prior to investing more.
- “Process trumps outcome. We are too focused on the binary outcome: success or failure. Business is all about cycles, and we need to focus on the process more than the outcome for better decision making that will improve our chance of success.” There are a few different ways I interepret this, but this chapter really got me thinking about why I really am a business owner. At the end of the day, the money is to help me live, not to make me happy. Our company stock is nice, but I don’t do it for that either. You could take that away from me and I’d still love the process. I love the experience of being a business owner. It’s fun, fufilling, and rewarding. I think that helps me make better decisions because I don’t worry about how “rich” I am. No decision is really fatal as long as I can continue to have the awesome experience of running a company.
- “A measurement system of our own. Money doesn’t buy happiness. With what, besides money, will you measure your success.” Doing something I love, making a positive impact on the world, and doing it with people I love is more important to me than being rich. If being rich is a by product of that, so be it. If not, I’ll be happy as long as I can pay the bills.
- “Value action. Stop reading this book and see what comes next.” Love this one. Reading is important, but action is more important. Make sure you’re portioning your time accordingly.
Like his previous book, what makes this book great is that it makes you think. It’s not a pain-free read. And what I mean by that is that you’ll find yourself deep in thought while reading it. I’d imagine if you read this prior to starting a business, you’d be seriously asking yourself if the entrepreneurial lifestyle is something you truly want to do. I spent about half of the book nodding my head and thinking “that’s exactly what it’s like but I’ve never seen it verbalized in quite this way” and the other half wondering why running a business hasn’t destroyed my health and personal life like it does to many of the people profiled.
The best answer that I can come up with is that this book made me realize that I naturally deal with failure very well. We’ve already been through so much. We’ve grown our revenue to a point where I don’t think many small businesses ever get. So I don’t think I can really say that it’s because I haven’t been a business owner long enough or haven’t dealt with enough failure or haven’t had a large enough company. When I really thought about it I sort of realized that I make decisions quickly, learn from failure if there’s something to learn from it, then move on. Sometimes there’s really nothing to learn – failure was due to total shit luck or variables that were impossible to account for. I tend to shrug my shoulders and move on. I’ve never lost a night’s worth of sleep over a failure. As a team, we tend to have a meeting, come up with a plan, and move on. Failure generally doesn’t linger because we’re already too busy pushing towards something new. I never really thought about it until now, but this is probably the reason that I’m still running a business and didn’t flame out after a few months of leaving my job.
Oh – I also don’t want to forget to personally thank Mr. Moltz. He and I have exchanged several emails regarding the book. I’ve read and reviewed quite a few books, and it’s rare to have anyone beyond a publicist contact you. In addition to being easy to contact, he’s also been very patient with me. This book and this review took longer than they should have due to my busier than normal schedule lately. Oh, and he also autographed the inside cover and wrote me a short personal message. I’m sure he does it for everyone, but it still makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside nonetheless.
The book flows great, cites solid resources, uses a ton of great real-life examples, and contains a lot of material that’s very motivating. But don’t read it for that reason – read it because it really makes you think. Books like bounce! and authors like Moltz are few and far between.