Still getting through the stack of library books I borrowed — I’m about through reading If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers.
In Chapter Four, Bowers concedes that he is attempting the near impossible with this book:
With the help of some nationally recognized experts on the topic, I am dissecting into a observable parts something that in reality can’t be stripped apart: the human personality.
I feel like because the goal of the book was so ambitous, Bowers went overboard with his examples. Where five good stories would do, Bowers provides twenty — leaving the reader feeling dizzy and overwhelmed. The book would be more successful if it focused on fewer entrepreneurs and/or was half as long as it is.
Here’s a list of the interesting people featured in just the first chapter:
- J. Robert Hillier, Hiller Architecture & Obit magazine
- Greg Herro, LifeGem & Anything’s Possible
- Farnam Jahanian, Arbor Networks
- Peter Amico, Airtrax, Martin Divisions Steel Products, American Consolidated Steel Foundations, Centurion Securities Services, & Titan Detective Services
- Frank Landsberger, CRT Capital
- Mark Hughes, Buzzmarketing
- Josh Kopelman, Half.com
- Sig Anderman, American Home Mortgage
- Gary Doan, Intradyn, Transition Networks, & Neo Networks
- Umang Gupta, Gupta Technologies
- Timothy Mahoney, vFinance.com
- John Heagney, Heagney Public Relations
- Charlie Horn, Promirus Group & Affordable Medical Solutions and HealthTrans
- Michael Huddy, Barrier International
- Herbert Jian, US Import & Export Company
- Cameron Johnson, SurfingPrizes.com, CertificateSwap.com, beaniebabywholesale.com, cheersandtears.com, myezmail.com, zablo.com, & trueloot.com
- Alex Lidow, International Rectifier
- James Poss, Seahorse Power Company
- Karl Eller, Eller Media
- Paul Brown, Metropolitan Pathology Laboratory Inc (MetPath) & HearUSA
- Joe Macchia, Macchia General Agency & Early American Insurance Company
- Kevin Plank, Under Armour Performance Apparel
- Luke Visconti, Diversity.com & DiversityInc Magazine
- Liz Ryan, WorldWIT
- Richard Wellman, International Airline Support Group
- Myke Templeton, Owensboro Christian Church
That’s 26 people featured in fewer than 40 pages!
Some of the other folks mentioned:
- Pete Newman, Gotham Software, Inc.
- Kerry Sulkowics, Boswell Grups LLC
- Lara & Lisa Helene Meiland, Lara Helene Bridal Atelier
- Martin G Klein, Electro Energy
- Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio, Revolution: The Journal of Nurse Empowerment, CPR Associates, Oh-la-la Caterers, & Education Enterprises
- David Weistein, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center
- Ross Levin, Accredited Investors, Inc.
- Peter Gyenes, Ascential Software Corporation
- Joan Schweighardy, GreyCove Press
- Craig Aronoff, Family Business Consulting Group
- Kirtland Poss, VisEn Medical
- Nadine Thompson, Warm Spirit Inc
- Jeff & Richard Sloan, StartupNation
- Dot Smith, Pepper Patch
- Scott Cook, Intuit
- Jack Stack, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation
The sheer number of anecdotes doesn’t add weight to Bowers arguments; instead it makes his eight traits seem like arbitrary and that he’s filling pages with stories so you won’t figure it out!
Still, the eight traits appear to be a useful measure if you are considering going into business for yourself. And even if the nine to five lifestyle suits you best, you’ll enjoy these inspirational entrepreneurial stories — just as long as you can keep the names straight.
Here are some of the passages I have enjoyed the most:
From Chapter Three, Nurture vs. Nature:
So which is it that makes for a successful entrepreneur? Genes or family? Nature or nurture?
Not surprisingly, the experts take a nuanced position on the matter. They remind me a bit of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s comment about economists: He wished he could find one with only one arm, because all the others he had met were forever saying, “On the one hand this, on the other hand that.”
From Chapter Four, Turning on a Dime:
Vonfrolio wasn’t averse to making exaggerated claims to get deals done. When she came home from nursing duty one night exhausted and decided to start a business, she wrote letters to E. F Hutton and Merrill Lynch, advertising herself as a CPR instructor and sprinkling her prose with made-up statistics about death rates from heart attacks in high-pressure industries.
A few weeks later Merrill Lynch called, and Vonfrolio asked her roommate, “Do you know anybody named Merrill Lynch?” It sounded familiar, but she couldn’t picture the face. Then she remembered the letters. She arranged to teach a class two weeks later. The next day, E. F. Hutton phoned. This time, she was ready with the crisp announcement, “CPR Associated.” When E. F. Hutton requested classes for 500 people right away, she said she was booked solid for several weeks but could set up an appointment after that.
Then the scrambling began. Vonfrolio took a two-day course to obtain certification to teach CPR. Refused a business loan by a male bank manager, she returned a few days later and talked a female manager into approving a $10,000 personal loan by saying she had just lost 150 pounds and needed $10,000 to buy a new wardrobe. She bought mannequins and other equipment, hired ten instructors, and got her business up and running with time to spare.
From Chapter Five, Tenacity:
Brown’s training schedule demonstrates an elevated form of doggedness. To succeed, he says, you have to have patience, persistence, and perseverance. “Patience is discovering that you don’t have the key to your house and so you wait for your wife to arrive. Persistence is circling the house and checking all the doors and windows to see if you can get in through one of them. Perseverance is removing the hinges from the door.
“That is the bulldog mentality,” he says. “The entrepreneur has to have all three of those qualities.”
And from Chapter Six, Delusions of Grandeur:
If you are thinking about starting a coffee shop or Christmas tree farm because you think it might be a rewarding way to make a living, you might have a great future as a business owner, but you aren’t an entrepreneur. If you are planning to open a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, you may end up selling millions of doughnuts, but you aren’t really an entrepreneur. If you are hoping to amass a stable of a dozen Applebee’s restaurants, you might make some serious money, but that will not make you an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs have grand ambitions.
Looking forward to more!