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I read the biz books so you don’t have to
I’m going to save you so much time over the next few months. I read a large, eccentric mix of business and motivational books over the break. Every few weeks I’ll let you know what you can learn from each, and whether you should bother reading them yourself.
Which book will make you more money?
*Clickbait voice* the results might surprise you.
Last week we touched on tireless sales grifter Grant Cardone and his book The 10x Rule. I focused on the positives: his good point that success takes a lot of effort, a fact you knew already.
He is also full of tips that might work in leveraged Florida condo sales but will turn you into an absolute fucking pest.
Example: his competitors post a couple of times a day on their socials. Better 10x that! So he and his team posted 8, 10, or 12 times a day to swamp everyone in his nonstop hustle porn.
“Everyone was saying how much they hated me but their hate just increased my mentions. Who were they talking about? ME! Take that haters!”
A generation of Cardone fans adopts that mindset, and social streams become a swampland of click-chasing wannabes in their cars, broadcasting random neural firings straight to LinkedIn video.
You don’t get clients this way, not even Amway ones, just clicks from other car-vid guys. Yet Cardone has 1100% confidence (gotta 10x everything) that following his path will deliver you a shipping-container full of cash.
(That picture comes from a story How To Raise Successful Children that includes the quote, “… as parents, Elena and I took a series of short courses by L. Ron Hubbard that helped give us the vital information we needed …).
Stay ahead of the pack
I’ll finish with two random quotes from the book that go to the heart of Cardone-ness.
“My children are friends with the most powerful people on this planet.”
Sure they are, Grant, even though they were aged two and zero when the book came out. And:
“Stay ahead of the pack. When I’m driving down the interstate I speed, I break the law. I don’t want to be driving with other people. I want to be way out ahead, no wrecks out there.”
Just to highlight that he is, as our American friends might say, an asshole.
Should you read The 10x Rule?
No. Unless you’re in time-share tidal real estate, bounty hunting or cash converting. You’re better than that.
Ask a historian what will really happen
Let’s move on to a more genteel time and place: the 1950s British civil service. You know it because it’s become a catchphrase that still thrives today: Parkinson’s Law, by naval historian C. Northcote Parkinson.
Historians deserve more respect in the business world. Conferences are infested with keynote futurists, who get good money for showing videos of pizza delivery drones and making wild, unprovable predictions about tech.
I think if you use a futurist, you should have a historian as the next speaker, who reconciles historic predictions vs what actually happened. Because human nature doesn’t change.
Parkinson understood human nature, and that’s why his law is as true and valuable now as when he wrote it in a satirical essay in 1955.
“Work expands to fit the time available for its completion.”
It’s as inescapable as any mathematical law. Most people know how it applies to how much work you can personally do in a day. But it also applies to the expanding number of people it takes to do a given amount of work.
I’ve written a lot about the sneaking middle-management expansion companies get as they grow. Desks filled with people who look busy, have plausible job descriptions, and devour your profits.
Parkinson explains how it works, from years of meetings inside the British Admiralty and similar desk empires:
1. An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals
2. Officials make work for each other
His Law Of Triviality describes how people in meetings focus on small things that are easy to understand, so a board will give equal discussion time to a $1000 investment and a $10 million one.
I first read the book as an eleven-year-old. There was a global shortage of entertainment at the time. And Osbert Lancaster’s brilliant cartoons made it stand out on the parental bookshelf.
Re-reading it now, I can’t imagine I understood most of it. And yet the subconscious message must have stuck.
The margins of our business are proof that it pays to snuff out internal empire-building. C. Northcote Parkinson has objectively made us a large amount of money, by not wasting it on HR departments and so on.
Sorry Grant Cardone, but Parkinson delivers better commercial returns.
Should you read Parkinson’s Law?
You should consider it. It’s a short book. The writing has a certain technical-manual density, but that’s part of the joke, plus people could read longer paragraphs then.
For me, the book was a childhood revelation that writing could be funny, but also true and useful practical advice.
He covers some esoteric turf. There’s an entire chapter on how people spiral leftward at diplomatic cocktail parties, like particle flow physics for ambassadors, viceroys and other colonial brass.
As an event professional I can confirm he’s right, though it’s not essential knowledge for business owners.
If you work in government or a giant company, read it and marvel at how many of the problems he describes remain eternal.
It’s a good reminder to read some older material, like our old mate Dale Carnegie, to remind yourself that if a book is still on sale decades on, there’s probably a reason for that.
Does it work? A practical test
Getting a blog story out each week is pretty time-consuming. Thinking up a topic is the hardest part, that’s floating around in my head from Wednesday to Sunday. I try to make that call on Sunday, and jot down some notes.
Writing it takes a full Monday. Maybe five hours for the words, another two or three to find pictures, set it up in WordPress and record the spoken version.
This week, Clusterfuck Monday descended, with a big mixed bag of unpleasantries to deal with.
An appropriate time for the Parkinson experiment: try to write the whole story in an hour and no more.
I failed at that, but clocked it in at 75 minutes. Savings! Could you tell the difference? Drop me a comment on the usual socials* and don’t spare my feelings.
* Linkedin is best, or use Twitter . Or FB if you really must. Sorry I’ve had to deactivate comments on this site, I get about 50 Russian spambot comments a day and I don’t have the time to sift through them any more.
I was on Studio 10 last week talking about why 2022 is a good time to start a business and why school leavers should chill out about picking the perfect career. Irish co-host Tristan had issues with Ian’s disrespect for potatoes. Watch it here.
If you’re not a blog regular, why not buy my book? It’s still the #1 business book by Customer Review rating on Booktopia, check it out.
Also I write a story each Tuesday, drop your email here to get it in your inbox.
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