The only thing that bothers me about this book at all is that it shouldn’t be so unusual that a book combines business with life, suggesting that we ought not to pull those two forces apart.

Amazon.com: Life EntrepreneursISBN: 0787988626
ISBN-13: 9780787988623

One of the co-authors, Christopher Gergen, gave me this book after I visited his class at Duke in January. I read it on the plane back home, still in January, and I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since.

It’s full of real stories about real people who developed businesses around who they were as people. Seems obvious to me, and we take it for granted; but it rarely happens. We develop the business idea, then the business plan, then, if things go well, the business. It starts like this:

Under the hot Virginia sun, we discussed how our penchant for creating new ventures might fit into the context of our lives. Would we apply the entrepreneurial mind-set of opportunity recognition, vision creation, innovation and initiative to create a better life? Could we creatively design a life aligned with our values? Could we lead our lives in such a way that our work, life and purpose would be not only balanced but integrated?

So they talked to people they knew. People who had done things they admired. People who had managed to do things that seemed like the integration they were talking about. And from that, they pulled together their stories and, from there, looked for how those stories might relate to the rest of us. As lessons and frameworks.

As the book develops, the authors end up with what feels like a series of related steps to recommend. It’s interesting, to me at least, how these sound predictable when we read them one by one in a simple list (discover core identity, awaken to opportunity, envision your future and so on) but in context, as the the authors pull them out of and put them back into real stories of real people, the book works very well.

It’s an easy read, not because the subject matter is easy, but because stories, and lessons from stories, work very well.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.