The book I am currently learning from is the latest business autobiography from Michael Dell the founder of Dell Computers. The book is titled Play Nice But Win and was published in October 2021. Michael Dell is one of those understated yet successful technology entrepreneurs who has managed to weather the storm of running a technology company with a decreasing market share. Dell started out as a direct-to-customer personal computer company and with the advent of tablets and other mobile devices, many forecasted the demise of company. While the company is less prominent, it survived and is still thriving.
In this book Micheal tells us a bit about his own personal story by giving some insights into his childhood and family (not much) and also how he started Dell. He then goes on to write about what he did to make sure that Dell as a company did not die, which involved taking the company private from being a public company and taking it public again.
Over the next couple of weeks as I read the book, I will share with you some of the insights I am getting from it and below is my first lesson.
THAT’S A LOT OF CASH!
Michael was 17 when he decided to buy a brand-new BMW 320i for over $15,000. So, his parents followed him to the car dealer for back-up. After agreeing on the car to buy, the dealer looked towards Michael’s parents to pay but they didn’t. It was Michael who paid with a $15,000 plus cashier’s cheque and the rest with a lot of cash. His parents had not contributed a single penny to the car. Yet Michael had paid for it without any credit card or loan debt. How does a 17-year-old pay for a car that expensive. Where did he get all that money from? To answer that question, let’s meet Michael. Continue reading →
I have read a couple of business biographies and this is one of the most enjoyable ones. Written by the founders of the healthy food company, Innocent, it is all about the business,how it started, grew and what it stands for. And no, you won’t learn about their mum, dad, how much sport they played or their dog called Andy. More to the point this book is all about Innocent as a business and perhaps you will learn one or two lessons about starting a business. If I were to recommend books about learning to start a business, this one would definitely make the list. The book itself is an easy one to read because it is very attractive and easy on the eyes, littered with very interesting images and pictures. Also it’s not a bulky book with just 201 pages. It is structured into ten chapters, each one focusing on a key aspect of the company. I checked Amazon uk for views about the book. After 25 reviews it had a 4.5 rating, not bad. Some criticism aimed at the book is it does not contain enough details about the operations of the business. Others also felt the book was just a marketing spin. But all that in no way takes away from the quality of the book.
Jo Malone: My Story, by Jo Malone in my own estimation is one of the best business related biographies you can read because it is unbelievably honest. Jo Malone is a British fragrance entrepreneur who has succeeded in building two successful brands. Her first business Jo Malone of London which produces perfumes and other fragrance related products was sold to Estee Lauder. Her current business which is her second is called Jo Loves. If you read London’s free Evening Standard newspaper then you will come across Jo’s business column in the Monday issue. Jo is not your typical entrepreneur, but her story teaches us that if you have a skill that you can sell to people, with hard work, focus and the right partnerships you can build a world class a business. Continue reading →
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is part biography and business memoir as it discusses aspects of Tony’s life and his business ventures especially those that have to do with Zappos, the online shoe company which Tony is a part of, which was later purchased by Amazon. The book starts out outlining parts of Tony’s early life especially his education and his business exploits when he was young. After leaving university Tony would start a business called LinkExchange which was bought by Microsoft making him a lot of money. With the money Tony set up an investment fund which was how he came across Zappos, an online shoe company he invested in and later joined as CEO. Zappos was a risky bet for Tony, as he put almost every penny he owned into the company, including selling his personal possessions to fund the company. It was a company almost destined to fail, but Tony stuck with it, helping to build up the value of the company which would later be purchased for over a billion dollars by Amazon. Continue reading →
How does a person with no banking experience or qualifications go about setting up his own bank? That’s partly what this book is about. Dave Fishwick, the author explains his attempt to take on the banks by creating a much smaller, but better bank. This is a book I had seen on the bookshelves and thought, oh no, not another one of them self promo books, but I’m glad I decided to read it because it was very enlighthening. Written in straight forward language, Dave goes a long way in explaining the banking system and how it has failed in layman terms. He also writes about his view of business which I found refreshing. Continue reading →