Renaissance Entrepreneur

With a little reading, you could be wise as a prophet, innovative as a rebel and too clever for spies.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the February 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Sometimes business success is won by being different, sometimes it's won by seeing farther and more clearly than anyone else, and sometimes, every now and then, it's simply stolen. These books delineate those three routes to success clearly and convincingly.

The Rebel Rules


The Rebel Rules This is a hands-on guidebook for fostering unconventional thinking about entrepreneurship in the mode of Richard Branson (who wrote the preface), Anita Roddick and Michael Dell. Author Chip Conley, founder of a hotel company based in San Francisco, first won fame by dropping his trousers to display his fancy underwear while delivering a speech at a travel industry convention. Rebel credentials established, he took his company to $50 million in annual sales.

Despite his anarchistic image, Conley's rebel rules, which state that entrepreneurs need vision, instinct, passion and agility, are not particularly revolutionary. But his advice is still pragmatic and well-presented, with numerous anecdotes from the history of his own company, Joie de Vivre, as well as short profiles of rebels ranging from GE's Jack Welch to Dee Hock, founder of Visa.

One thing Conley does that is definitely rebellious-at least for business authors-is acknowledge that the practices he recommends have risks. He warns specifically against too-fast growth, ill-advised alliances, going public and thinking you've made it. That's one rebellion that ought to attract adherents.

The Rebel Rules is available at

It Takes A Prophet To make A Profit

(Simon & Schuster)

It Takes A Prophet To make A Profit In this book, marketing expert C. Britt Beemer and veteran business writer Robert L. Shook explore 15 major shifts in U.S. society that could influence businesses' future prospects. Beemer contributes the survey-based research on which the trends are based, while Shook weaves it into an easy-to-digest dose of prophecy.

Some of the trends include the loss of discretionary time, the popularity of telecommuting, the increasing demand for brand-name products and, of course, the proliferation of the Internet. The pair also describes why the trends are important and provides ways for companies to respond. For instance, in a chapter on Americans' reluctance to pay full price, they note 85 percent of consumers today shop for goods on sale, up from 62.5 percent one decade ago. Then they suggest that businesses offer advice and develop relationships with customers to overcome the sale-shopping trend.

It Takes A Prophet To make A Profit is available at


(Perseus Publishing)

Spooked Twenty-five billion dollars is a sum large enough to capture anybody's interest. Toss in some exotic locales, wizardly technology and a few unusual names, and you've got the makings of a decent spy novel. Or, in this case, an engrossing nonfiction journey on the dark side of business information. Authors Adam Penenberg, a business journalist, and Marc Barry, an intellectual property consultant and founder of C3I Analytics in New York City, say $25 billion is what U.S. companies lose every year to corporate spies stealing intellectual property. They then describe how these crooks accomplish the thefts, from within and without.

Along the way, Penenberg and Barry offer advice on protecting those secrets. The most important? Be careful who you whisper them to. The central case, apparently an example of simple subornation, concerns a Taiwanese label manufacturer's theft of trade secrets from U.S. rival Avery Dennison. The manufacturer, Four Pillars Enterprises of Taiwan, bribed an Avery scientist to hand over mounds of adhesives research. But the authors demonstrate there's more than one way to swipe a secret: impersonation, burglary, computer hacking, electronic eavesdropping and just good old rummaging through the garbage. Is the friendly person who quizzed you extensively at that trade show last week an ex-CIA operative working for a rival? After reading this book, you may wonder.

Spooked is available at

What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading?
Think and Grow Rich (Wilshire Book Co.) by Napoleon Hill

"I've read this book several times, and I've referred to it so much that my copy is beat up and underlined. It reminds me to persist. A lot of times I may feel like giving up, but chapters in this book keep me going. Think and Grow Rich reminds me that temporary defeat is just that: temporary!"

-Kimberly Williams, founder and owner of, Chicago

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