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You can never be too busy to read about business, right? The books in this month's inaugural "Books" column detail one man's success, one man's vision of the future, and what your workers are thinking right now. What more could you ask for?
If you've come across a great book that's motivated, inspired or taught you ways to grow your business better, let us know. We'll pass it on to other readers looking for solutions-or mere inspiration. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start Small, Finish Big (Warner Books, $25.95)
Few have started smaller or finished bigger than Fred DeLuca. The co-founder and president of the Subway International sandwich chain opened his first shop in 1965 in Connecticut to earn tuition money for college. The 19-year-old had only $1,000, lent by his partner, Pete Buck.
To go from $1,000 to 15,000 global units, you'd think DeLuca must have had uncanny business expertise from the start. Instead, Start Small, Finish Big: Fifteen Key Lessons to Start-and Run-Your Own Successful Business by Fred DeLuca with John P. Hayes chronicles a saga of ignorance and bad judgment. Among other facts, DeLuca reveals he'd never made a sub until his first customer walked in.
But DeLuca made up for ignorance with a willingness to work hard and keep learning. Here, he distills 15 of his hard-won lessons (example: "Never run out of money-borrow before you have to."), each clearly presented and illustrated with anecdotes from DeLuca's career and the careers of other entrepreneurs. DeLuca's first book deserves to be as successful as his first sandwich.
Money From Thin Air (Times Books, $25)
The term "visionary" might have been invented for Craig McCaw. As described by The Seattle Times reporter O. Casey Corr, McCaw has the perfect blend of reclusiveness, eccentricity and ability to spot opportunities before anyone else. Even more important, he's aggressive enough to build organizations able to effectively exploit those opportunities while others are still wondering what to do.
McCaw followed his unique vision into cable television, turning one nearly bankrupt system left to him by his mercurial entrepreneur father into a regional cable powerhouse. He's done it with cellular telephones, too, beating swarms of rivals to create the network he sold to AT&T for $12.6 billion. Recently, McCaw has focused on satellite-borne communications, promising nothing less than a space-based Internet.
Will the futuristic space-based communications network McCaw envisions become reality? McCaw was interviewed briefly for Money from Thin Air: The Story of Craig McCaw, the Visionary Who Invented the Cell Phone Industry, and His Next Billion-Dollar Idea by O. Casey Corr and, as befits a true visionary, his pronouncements were often so cryptic as to defy analysis. But, based on his track record, don't bet against him.
My Job, My Self (Routledge, $27.95)
Like most entrepreneurs, you probably think about your work every single day-and into the night. But you've never thought about it like Al Gini in his book My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual, who cogitates at length over every aspect of work, from why and where we work to what we work at. He also looks outward, quoting philosophers and business owners alike on the subject.
Entrepreneurs won't like everything they read here-while generally even-handed, Gini's sympathies seem to lie more with workers than with managers and business owners. But, among other things, you'll gain insight into why you overwork, learn about what employees consider to be "good jobs" and read sobering statistics on employee violence directed against employers.
By the end of the book, you'll wonder why you ever thought about work the way you used to.