It is almost wrong to call this a ‘business book,’ to call it such is to sell it short.
Michael founded and grew OfficeMax in 1988 and grew the business in a highly competitive environment before selling the business in 2003. OfficeMax grew to have over 50,000 employees and stores in all States except Vermont and operations in China, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico.
Michael’s entrepreneurial odyssey is described in this book as almost a case study and the book is a learning experience that every business person, entrepreneur and those aspiring to be such, will find incredibly useful and practical. If you are getting tired of the same old material being peddled in the relentless flood of business books, you will find The Benevolent Dictator a welcome and useful investment for your time and money.
The Benevolent Dictator delivers sound business advice that is elegantly interwoven with excellent story based narrative to illustrate Michael’s opinions and business philosophies. I found the story about the
founding of Office Works intriguing for its stark contradictions to so many widely held assumptions about s founding a capital intensive business like retail. In an era when so many people are fixated on a kid in a dorm room with a laptop, The Benevolent Dictator describes the founding of a real brick and mortar business.
Michael does not skimp on being transparent with his personal strategies and tactics. There
is a story about Michael’s planned acquisition of Big Mart by OfficeMax. The tactics employed by Michael to gain
information about the Big Mart business makes for very interesting reading. His decision to abandon the acquisition when outbid by another company should be mandatory reading for its illustration of discipline and adherence to values.
There are so many great lessons in this book. Instead of having a boring list of subject headers with explanatory text chapter by chapter, The Benevolent Dictator delivers a more interesting and impactful learning experience as a true
story. These are some of the areas that have made me really consider my work in my business:
- Raising capital and leveraging
‘other people’s money.’
- Managing yourself, your
ideas, and your effectiveness.
- Planning and setting
- Managing people
effectively to support performance.
- Creating competitive
I read this book on a five hour flight from Brisbane to Perth. As I read I took notes and thankfully the cramped conditions in the 737 were out of mind. I wish I had another book of this quality for the trip home, maybe I will read it again.