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Entrepreneurship for Weirdos

A good, practical introductory business book that's not quite as freaky as it thinks it is.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth - Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

Chris Brogan

Wiley, 2014

It's not often that a business book sounds a bit like it could actually be a B-movie or lost section of an apocalyptic prophecy.

But despite its brilliant title and unusual bat(?)-festooned jacket, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is a disappointment in some ways.

Perhaps the packaging just sets expectations too high - you expect a catalogue of bizarre corporate escapades and somewhat amoral advice, but instead just get a rather sensible business and careers manual, though one that's written in an engaging hipster dude style ("On [my list] of people to meet are Sir Richard Branson, William Gibson, and Scarlett Johansson (hey, why not?). Who's on yours?") that's pretty unusual for a business book.

The biggest inconsistency between what's on the book's covers and between them is that author Chris Brogan, an entrepreneur, business writer and consultant, doesn't ever really come up with a really satisfactory definition of who his "freaks" actually are.

He uses plenty of examples of slightly out-there ways to make money - painting trainers to resemble My Little Pony characters, playing the ukulele and talking about women's rights - but "freak" turns out to be pretty much anyone working in and around business who likes to think of themselves as an individual.

However, that does mean the book provides plenty of good advice that most people could use, much of it the kind that we all sort of know already but probably need to be reminded about now and then, like the importance of planning your time and focusing on what's most important.

There are also some more unusual tips, like "ask for crappy projects" and "don't watch the news" (waste of time, says Brogan - "if Godzilla is knocking down my house, I'll hear about it"), and it's all helpfully summarised in headings, so the advice is easy to follow and return to.

The book is primarily aimed at those interested in entrepreneurship, but much of it would be applicable to current or future corporate employees, who are even catered for in a specific chapter - "Are You An Employeepreneur?"

There are also plenty of tips that could be used in student life too, whether you're a wannabe business owner or simply have several projects on the go and want to get things done.

The best bit

Brogan introduces some great concepts, like monchu, apparently an Okinawan word meaning "the family you choose", which he uses to represent a mindset where "you care more about some people than as merely customers or part of a network".

The worst bit

Like many writers of business self-help books, Brogan has a tendency to go overly quasi-philosophical in places, leading to a few bizarre headings, like "And Yet, Own the "Bad" Words, Too".

Summary

A good, practical introductory business book, with guidance for life in general as well, that's easy and fun to read, but not quite as freaky as it thinks it is.

The Gateway rating

4/5

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