Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Martha Rules

Every time Ken and I go on a road trip, I try to check out an audio book from the local public library so we can keep ourselves entertained while driving.

I love Martha Stewart. I bought a copy of The Martha Rules, her business advice book when it first came out, but I never had a chance to read it. So, I jumped at the chance to check out the audio version, read by Martha herself, when I saw it on the shelf. Ken was not interested in listening to it, but I ended up downloading it onto my iPod and listening to the whole thing over several sessions of cooking and doing dishes.

Martha Stewart is just an amazing person. She was a fashion model in her teens (she's still very beautiful). Eventually, she became a stock broker, then a real estate agent, a celebrity caterer, and now a multi-media mogul.

She wrote this book shortly after she came out of prison, and it was candid, heartfelt, and full of very useful, practical advice. I wished I had read (or listened to) this book before I started my own business (of course that was before she had written it). Martha never tried to justify the reason why she went to prison, but in my humble opinion, she was wrongly punished. There are economists (like the late Milton Friedman) who believe that there is nothing wrong with making a stock trade based on "insider" knowledge about a company. But never mind that. The book was not about any of this. Martha shares with us her guiding principles in running a business and gave many interesting anecdotal examples from her own life as well as business owners across a wide range of industries, from celebrity hair stylist Eva Scrivo to Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Martha seems to be a tough but fair boss who nurtures her employees. Her book was sprinkled generously and affectionately with names of former protegées who became independent business owners themselves.

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