(Book Review) “Success Made Simple” by Eric Wesner

"Success Made Simply" by Erik WesnerWhoop, it is time for only my second book review and yes, it is another business book. You will start to notice that I don’t read fiction. I am all business!

This week’s business book is “Success Made Simple” by Erik Wesner.

It is a fantastically thorough look at how the Amish do business. “Amish business practices don’t have a place in our modern society” is something you might be thinking but don’t be put off just because mainstream media has passed them off as simple folk. They know how to do business and do it well – Amish businesses have a 95% success rate.

Don’t get me wrong, you won’t read stories about successful Amish mobile phone makers, even Amish business people are very traditional but you will glean a heck of a lot of tried and tested business advice.

The Amish are people of faith which is another reason I was attracted to this book. I am a believer to. This book sheds some light on running a successful business based on Biblical principles.

Erik Wesner is an expert on the Amish, he has lived and worked with them for years. He is also a records-breaking salesman so he has the credentials to write this book.

To the books structure… In the beginning it starts by detailing how Amish businesses are founded. Topics such as developing a vision and education are covered. It then moves on to topics which are more of a concern for established businesses – hiring, firing and how to handle growth.

What sets this book apart from other books is the people we learn about throughout – successful Amish business owners. Business people who are down to earth, patient, honest – good all round people. We can learn an awful lot from them, an awful lot of just plain good advice which is usually lost in today’s world.

All of what is contained within the book has been researched through interviews with successful Amish folk. This isn’t an airy fairy “you should do this book” but a “we have lived by the advice we are giving in these pages, so it might work for you to”.

I spent around 6 days reading this book which is 206 (useful) pages in length. There is an average of 365 words per page so reading isn’t too heavy. In addition at the end of each chapter, all of the principles explained throughout a chapter are neatly and concisely summed up in a few bullet points. Is the book scannable? Check!

This book is a fantastic book and I found myself underlining snippets everywhere. It is filled with practical, real-world knowledge. The advice within is proven. It is a fantastic account of how the Amish do business and really helps us to see how we can apply their principles in our businesses and our everyday lives. The Amish aren’t backward, they are just traditional in their approach to life.

Erik has done a wonderful job.

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(Book Review) “Why not?” By Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres

"Why not?" by Barry Nalebuff and Ian AyresThe internet has turned me into a skimmer and as it has done that, my ability to focus has slowly gone down hill as well. To reverse this trend, I have started a new reading regime – 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night. I am getting through books quite quickly now so I thought “by heck, why don’t I do reviews on them so others will know if they are worth reading or not”. This is my first attempt at a book review.

The first book I have stormed through is “Why Not?”
by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres.

This book provides a toolkit of methods for solving problems using everyday ingenuity. The book wants to turn us all into super problem solvers.

First, a run down of the books structure…

  • Broken up into 4 main sections – a preamble and then 3 sections on the different types of problem solving techniques: “Problems in Search of Solutions”, “Solutions in Search of Problems” and “Problem Solving with Purpose”
  • Within the last 3 main sections, techniques for solving problems are discussed in each chapter such as “What Would Croesus Do?” and “Would flipping it work?”
  • One problem-solving technique per chapter
  • There are a few problems to solve in chapter 7, “Principled Problem Solving”
  • The number of case studies and examples increases the further you get into the book

I underline things which I think are important in a book so generally, if I have underlined lots of stuff in a book it is good and if I haven’t underlined much, it is bad. I didn’t underline too much in this book but that doesn’t mean it was a bad book. You see, “Why not?” is filled with a tonne of case studies throughout and I don’t, for the most part, underline bits of case studies. So although I haven’t underlined a tonne of this book, I still think it is a great book.

Why? Well, why not? Because it really gets the reader involved. The authors have made a real attempt to not only teach but to get you to do. This can be seen blatantly in the last chapter – “It is your job now to go forth, share these ideas…”. They have even built an accompanying website where you can share your ideas and get feedback from other people. Their desire to get you to go out and make a difference probably comes from their background. Both authors are Yale professors, so this book comes with plenty of academical clout as well.

Don’t be put off by that though, the content is really accesible and everything is explained thoroughly throughout.

I enjoyed the book from cover to cover. It isn’t too long at 214 pages and an average of 403 words per page. I got through it in about a week of reading it for 40 minutes per day. And anyways, it is scannable. There are lots of headings and box outs throughout to help you find the information you want – you don’t have to read the whole thing.

This is a great book from two highly respected lecturers and authors. It doesn’t just teach, it gets you involved in attempting to solve some of their sample problems. It isn’t too word heavy and is scannable. Great book.

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