Book Reviews

Book Review: “Sound business advice that is elegantly interwoven with excellent story-based narrative”

“It is almost wrong to call this a business book; to call it shuch is to sell it short.” A review from the Sales Ecosystem blog

This book review appeared on the Sales Ecosystem blog:

It is almost wrong to call this a ‘business book,’ to call it such is to sell it short.

Michael Feuer is the author of this new book that is published by Wiley.

Michael founded and grew Office Max in 1988 and grew the business in a highly competitive environment before selling the business in 2003. Office Max grew to have over 50,000 employees and stores in all States except Vermont and operations in China, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico.

Michael’s entrepreneurial odyssey is described in this book as almost a case study and the book is a learning experience that every business person, entrepreneur and those aspiring to be such, will find incredibly useful and practical. If you are getting tired of the same old material being peddled in the relentless flood of business books, you will find The Benevolent Dictator a welcome and useful investment for your time and money.

The Benevolent Dictator delivers sound business advice that is elegantly interwoven with excellent story based narrative to illustrate Michael’s opinions and business philosophies. I found the story about the founding of Office Works intriguing for its stark contradictions to so many widely held assumptions about s founding a capital intensive business like retail. In an era when so many people are fixated on a kid in a dorm room with a laptop, The Benevolent Dictator describes the founding of a real brick and mortar business.

Michael does not skimp on being transparent with his personal strategies and tactics. There is a story about Michael’s planned acquisition of Biz Mart by Office Max. The tactics employed by Michael to gain information about the Biz Mart business makes for very interesting reading. His decision to abandon the acquisition when outbid by another company should be mandatory reading for its illustration of discipline and adherence to values.

There are so many great lessons in this book. Instead of having a boring list of subject headers with explanatory text chapter by chapter, The Benevolent Dictator delivers a more interesting and impactful learning experience as a true story. These are some of the areas that have made me really consider my work in my business:

  • Raising capital and leveraging ‘other people’s money.’
  • Managing yourself, your ideas, and your effectiveness.
  • Planning and setting goals.
  • Managing people effectively to support performance.
  • Creating competitive advantage.

I read this book on a five hour flight from Brisbane to Perth. As I read I took notes and thankfully the cramped conditions in the 737 were out of mind. I wish I had another book of this quality for the trip home, maybe I will read it again.