3 out of 4 stars
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Driven is an autobiography covering one man's journey from an ordinary salesman to a successful entrepreneur. It gives an in-depth look at the time invested from when he first buys in as part partner till when he sells out as majority shareholder eighteen years later and finally it reflects on his thoughts on retirement. From his problems with funding, difficulties with both employees and partners to tackling the fallout of the recession, we follow the highs and lows of his journey. His memoirs also describe his varied flirtations with infidelity and the causal or resultant problems in his marriage.
Detailed through the book are the author's lessons and discoveries about business, people and himself. He shows through his writing the changes in his emotions and mindset as he becomes increasingly successful. The discovery that most resonated with me is the statement; 'In the end, business is people.'
Of great importance to the story are the management strategies employed which reflect both the author’s style and his personality. Experiments were often carried to test out different systems. One such system was the setup of an incentive policy. Such systems have always existed, but in a revolutionary move; the profit was split 50-50 between the company. A negative policy was also put in place to counteract against drops in quality. This system of incentives was extended to apply to management and administrative staff with excellent results.
I found Driven to be intriguing but pedantic to read. The perspective the author gives us of his trials and successes made for stimulating reading. I liked the details and corroborating facts which gave a sense of reality to the book. Still, occasionally those same facts and verbose material made it difficult to keep my attention from wandering.
The editing of the book is excellent. I particularly liked the format of the telling which used a timeline of one year to another. This made for easy reading, allowing me to drop the book at the end of one year and pick it up to continue reading another year whenever I wished to. So while such material came across as pedantic, I still believe that the experience of reading the book would suffer without them.
I often wondered what the purpose of this autobiography was? Was it to inspire? There was too much reality injected into the contents causing it to fall short of this objective in my opinion. Or was it to advise? Certainly, this was more probable. Certain key events are ascribed to fortune though, making this argument somewhat doubtful. In the end, I decided it was simply to narrate a story. Perhaps this story would later inspire others, or it might provide cautionary advice, or it might open up new ways of looking at entrepreneurial problems in the minds of readers, but this book primarily tells a story.
I would recommend this book to aspiring-businessmen and entrepreneurs. Many of the lessons contained within such as accepting and taking control of failure, can be applied to every facet of life though. I found this book to be interesting but heavy reading and so I give it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
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