New: Book Report: On a Roll

This is a book about business, yet it's a good book. It's Howard Jonas' autobiography. He starts out operating a hot-dog pushcart. He moves on to distributing those tourism brochures you see in hotel lobbies. He starts doing a variety of mail-order business. He becomes a telecom mogul. Whoa--that's a leap.

Along the way, you learn about his principles. This is good; he has some principles that I disagree with, but he states them well. It's good to have articulate people to disagree with--they're the ones you're most likely to learn from.

long the way, you see places where he's had to compromise his principles--those are pretty educational, too. And that reminds you that these principles are, uhm, tempered by experience and stuff.

There's a temptation to make a joke about "how the sausage is made", but he doesn't talk about how hot dogs are made. He does give some hints about how to make some superior onions for hot dogs, though.

For example, early on he talks about how he took on a manager to help run a small business. He spotted someone running a deli and thought that someone who could manage a deli could manage just about anything. (I'm oversimplifying, but you get the idea.) I threw a nerd hissyfit. I'm soooo tired of the MBA attitude that someone who can manage something can manage anything. But But Jonas then goes on to point out that this management-skill-transferability... he points out that it doesn't transfer so well for technical teams. Which would explain a few things. It would explain why my past experience on technical teams dealing with managers... uhm, managers best suited to running delicatessens... it would explain why that experience has been poor. But the idea that the transferability works well outside technical fields--that would also explain why the MBAs keep suggesting that it would work well.

It's a good book. It has some good jokes, too. Check it out.

Labels: , ,

Posted 2009-03-31