Becoming an entrepreneur has done a lot more than pay the bills over the years, it’s saved my life.” That’s the first line of a wonderful little book by Inc. columnist Timothy Askew, The Poetry of Small Business: An Accidental Entrepreneur’s Search for Meaning.
As I make my way into entrepreneurism, I find myself hungry for content that addresses matters of the soul. I can quickly get lost in a sea of material covering tools and finances and formulas. These are important and necessary, but their rightful place is secondary. What must be primary for the sake of sanity let alone wholeness is a grounded sense of self and calling.
The Poetry of Small Business is a refreshing break from all the picayune minutia, the niggling details of business. It’s an immersion into meaning, and it offers a more philosophical approach to business.
Highlights include Askew’s:
- Exquisitely articulated emphasis on the connection between healthy self and successful business. “I’m a successful entrepreneur,” Askew writes, “to the extent my life has become whole, free, honest, and healthy.”
- Argument for a broad liberal arts education which sets us up to be better storytellers. “The battleground in business has shifted from engineering, which everybody can do, to storytelling, for which many fewer people have real talent.”
- Praise of eccentricity in employees. “When Jeff Bezos hired a search firm to staff his aborning and disruptive company, Amazon, he was reportedly asked what he was looking for in an employee. Supposedly, he responded, ‘Give me your wackos.’ Amen, Brother Jeff. Me too.”
- Vocabulary. I defy you to show me another business book that uses such words as treacly, chimera, concatenation, venality, legerdemain, recondite, inchoate, martinet, contumely, piquant, petard, apogee, and ersatz. But don’t let these words scare you off. This book is accessible from start to finish. It’s just that it makes you think, which is liberating.
- Underscoring business as a way to contribute to people’s lives. “The core foundation of sales is providing value.”
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much else I could say, but hopefully by now you’re convinced you need to pick up a copy for yourself. If so, you can pick up a copy here.