Friday, July 24, 2009

In Pursuit of the Common Good

It was the original title that attracted me to this book: Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good. It just had the ring of devil-may-care do-goodery about it, the heart of the Butch Cassidy character in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." You know the guy--the scoundrel with a heart of gold. I'd be surprised if the book isn't required reading for some MBA program somewhere. If it isn't, it should be.

It's what being an entrepreneur was supposed to be before everybody was one. It's about the innovation that comes from not knowing the rules, knowing that you don't know the rules, and wanting to get shit done anyway. It's the story of how Paul Newman and A E Hotchner grew the Newman's Own charity empire out of homemade salad dressing.

It's also entertaining, at least until you get to the stage where each Hole in the Wall children's camp is described in loving detail--after a while the similarities in their tales drown out their miraculous individuality. It's a pity, but it's not enough to take the wind out of the book's sails--there's still plenty to inspire whatever tender-hearted miscreant is lurking under your healthy 21st-century cynicism.

Warning--may cause you to pick up an extra Newman's Own item at the store. Why look at that! A book that lives up to its title!

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