A Book Review: Me, Inc.

me, inc.

If feel good, niceties and political correctness are important to you, then read no further. Gene Simmons’ book Me, Inc. (yes, that Gene Simmons of KISS) will offend your delicate sensibilities.  If instead you are interested in a “tell it like it is, it ain’t all necessarily nice, but here’s what you need to know book,” then read on.

This is the most recent of a total of eleven books that Gene has published and the only one that I have read.  You don’t just automatically think of Gene Simmons as your go to guy for business acumen.  That is a mistake on our part as Gene, an immigrant and non-IVY league graduate, has a lot to share with us and does break the mold of most business writers.

The first half of the book is all about Gene and his enterprises.  Yes it is entitled Me, Inc. for a reason.  Yet that is also your reason.  You are a business, an enterprise, a brand, and the sooner you view yourself as such the sooner you will move toward your goals.  Gene shares a lot of practical advice around trademarking, legal and financial teams and the types of advisors you need to ensure your success.  He understands his Strengths and when to utilize the Strengths of others.

The second half of the book brings Gene’s insight into what you need to know in order to build your brand as an entrepreneur.  Don’t marry until later in life, don’t have kids, and if you are female, the deck is truly stacked against you.  I love the fact that he shoots straight from his perspective.  I don’t have to have the same beliefs, but I can certainly consider the value of a differing view point.  The importance of this is that it helps me appreciate that anyone I meet is likely to have a different view of life than I do.  We often choose books, our friends and colleagues based on how closely their views reflect ours.  Venture out of the comfort zone!

Now that I have said all of this I found myself agreeing with far more of Gene’s advice and insight than one might expect.  Perhaps that is because it reflects more of the truth than we would like to acknowledge.  Gene shares his surprise and delight at discovering all the free resources at his local library, making the point that is our own responsibility to educate ourselves.  He also shares how Junior Achievement taught him more about life and finances than anything he would have learned in school.

Gene talks about the fact that he is an entrepreneur yet is unqualified for anything that he has undertaken, until he did it.  Not everything he attempted succeeded – he shares his failures as well as his success.

The single most important message in the book is “it is up to you”.  You will find this repeated over and over again, sprinkled throughout the pages and the stories.  It was the one truth I highlighted over and over again.  The passage below speaks to it:

“So what does all of this mean?  It means YOU will have to figure it out for yourself.

That’s what entrepreneur really means.

YOU make up your own rules.  And YOU have to educate yourself and learn whatever you need to learn to have the tools to go out there and be the business warrior and champion that’s inside you, yearning to get out.”  A few paragraphs later, “The only thing holding you back from succeeding in America may be YOU.”

Thank you for the lessons Gene!

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