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Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time: 20 Inspiring Tales of Entrepreneurs Who Changed the Way We Live and Do Business
Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time: 20 Inspiring Tales of Entrepreneurs Who Changed the Way We Live and Do Business
by Forbes Magazine Staff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding choice of stories, 4 Feb 2013
I'm surprised Forbes (or author Daniel Gross) have never tried to repeat this book, because it's an outstanding business read. It contains 20 chapters of great (US) business and companies, and takes a very interesting angle to the selection, and each chapter contains a unique story of how individuals built a great business.

The full list of chapters includes: Robert Morris, Cyrus McCormick, J D Rockefeller, Walt Disney, John H Johnson (the first African-American to make the Forbes 400), Joseph Wilson (Xerox), Intel, William McGowan (MCI), and Bill Gates and Microsoft.

But my favourites are these:
Charles Merrill: In the early 20th century, Merrill turned the investment world on its head with the notion of selling stocks and bonds to middle-class retail customers.
David Sarnoff (RCA): with a detailed business plan to sell radios, Sarnoff sought out something for people to listen to on them. Starting with a Jack Dempsey fight, RCA built a radio broadcast network.
David Ogilvy: Became fluent in the scientific testing and measuring of public opinion by working for the Gallup organisation - his innovation was to bring the dispassionate science of popular opinion to bear on advertising.
Ray Kroc (McDonalds): Kroc built one of the most compelling brands of all time. But his decision to use real estate as a financial lever (as opposed to squeezing franchisees) made McDonald's a financial powerhouse.
American Express: it's transformation from an express company through traveller's cheques and the charge card.
Mary Kay Ash: Mary Kay built a new corporate culture based on the education, participation, and empowerment of women.
J P Morgan: Morgan demonstrated again and again that he could impose order on chaotic situations and change entire industries through sheer strength of character.
Henry Ford: Ford invented neither the automobile nor the assembly line, but recast each to transform the USA's way of life, democratising the automobile through producing the Model T ever more inexpensively.
Sam Walton: built a gigantic business by insisting on perfection, driving down costs and passing the savings on to customers.
Harley Davidson: This is specifically a story of the turnaround of Harley in the 80s - regaining its pre-eminence, cornering 59 percent of the market for heavy-weight motorcycles, outracing second-place Honda, which held 15 percent.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts: KKR's partners became near-billionaires by applying their initial insight: that debt enforces a unique kind of discipline on managers and owners. The KKR philosophy of using high-level debt to enhance value has since been adopted by the managers of hundreds of publicly held firms.

No Kindle version, but a great book you can dip in and out of.

The Star Principle: How it can make you rich
The Star Principle: How it can make you rich
Price: £4.72

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept and well-written, 31 Jan 2013
Richard Koch wrote probably the best book on the 80/20 (or "Pareto") Principle, and a number of follow-ups related to it.

In and around these books and a career in management consulting, he also made some big money applying his principles to investing in private equity, including hits with Filofax, Plymouth Gin, Great Little Trading Company and Betfair.

"The Star Principle" focuses on building or investing in businesses and the targeting of his clearly defined Star Businesses: a niche leader in a high growth market.

Here are the two key principles a Star Business requires:
It is bigger in the niche than any other firm by sales value - the thing that matters most is how customers in the niche vote with their money.

For a niche to be a separate market, it must have different customers, different products or services and a different way of doing business from the main market or other market niches.
Also, the ranking of competitors is different in a valid market niche.

The leadership in a smaller niche must be sustainable against actual or possible competition from the leader in the main market. And, of course, leadership in a niche is not valuable unless, sooner or later, the niche is very profitable and gushes out cash.

It must grow by at least 10% a year on average over the next five years (preferably for decades).

No rocket science maybe, but Koch rounds out the book to be much more than an idea with detail from his point of view of how you identify a star, when it stops becoming a star, danger signs, real-life examples (including his own) and a really thought-provoking section on how to creat your own (if you're creative, you'll love that part). The beauty of Koch's writing though is generally its simplicity.

A really great read that lines up well with Jim Slater's Zulu Principle, albeit from entirely different angles and for different reasons.

I recommend the book strongly, under £5, but if you'd like some teaser notes, drop me an email from the contact page.

The 80/20 Principle is a classic must-have too.

The Zulu Principle: Making extraordinary profits from ordinary shares (Harriman Modern Classics)
The Zulu Principle: Making extraordinary profits from ordinary shares (Harriman Modern Classics)
Price: £8.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Great concept and book for UK Investors, 31 Jan 2013
One of my favourite investment books with respect to the UK share market is Jim Slater's "The Zulu Principle".

While the book is reasonably wide-ranging, the Zulu Principle itself refers to one key niche: small, dynamic growth companies - small-cap stocks with market capitalisations ranging from £5m to £100m (adjust these numbers upwards for 20 years of inflation),

Slater's reasons: first, they are under-researched, so better bargains are available and second, on average they perform very much better than larger-cap stocks. In fact over the last fifty years (to publication in 1992) micro-cap stocks have outperformed the market by more than eight times.

While there are a number of rules around defining a growth share, Slater is specifically looking for a low "PEG" (Price Earnings Growth) ratio - something less than 1, and ideally 0.75 to 0.66.

"As part of my Zulu Principle focus I concentrate on growth shares.....`Elephants don't gallop'. I look for shares which are a relative bargain at the time of purchase. This is determined by comparing the prospective price-earnings ratio with the forecast growth rate. Ideally you want to ensure that the prospective price-earnings ratio is well below the growth rate."

The book goes into caveats and other things to consider and look out for, which include ensuring cash flow is in excess of earnings per share, director buying and selling, growth records back and forward, appropriate gearing, and positive relative strength.

Slater lays out, in all, five methods for selecting shares, and suggests you focus on one of them (the others are cyclicals/turnarounds, shells, value/asset investing and leading shares).

Buyers or followers of share activity and prices will know there are other key factors in share prices - buying activity, the market as a whole and market making transactions - but Slater's principle is about an individual finding an edge against professionals: professionals that can't or won't invest in or research shares of such a low market capitalisation (fund rules, research time vs benefit, available float).

That's his theme behind why it can work for you, and why you're much better off in the Internet age (where you can research these companies quickly and easily) to focus on these types of shares than where the big boys play. You need to do your own work. But here's a spot you can have an edge.

If you're looking for tools to go with this book and to give the answers to the research, Digital Look (free) and the Investors Chronicle website have the numerical and viewpoint details for shares of this size.

Great book.


Secret Habits of Successful Bastards
Secret Habits of Successful Bastards
Price: £2.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truer Words Have Never Been Written, 31 Jan 2013
One of the most important books written in financial, economic or management history since Adam Smith knocked out "Wealth of Nations" is Adrian Maile's "Secrets of Successful Bastards".

Other authors have attacked the subject inadvertently through autobiographies of Al Dunlap, Robert Maxwell, Kerry Packer, or Machiavelli, but never has such a vital text been produced that distilled the principles down to something the unsuccessful or unbastardised could apply and change their lives for ever.

And I'm not talking about the Made-for-TV, "I'm hard", buffoonery of the likes of Robinson, Ramsay, Jones, Sugar, Cowell and Trump (who, despite the silliness of their TV personas are all actual bastards) - I'm talking about a Sith-like philosophical shift.

Initially, the reader's thoughts are "this is a bit of a laugh, obviously I won't be doing this", until the ease of the path to the Bastard Side and the overwhelming benefits are laid out in front of you.

Feel the bastardness run through you as you take each tip in: avoid hard work, get lazier, never share anything, don't stress about anything, be abrupt, ignorant, irrationally inflexible. Criticise immediately, be pedantic, be explosive, never allow an appeal, evade tax. Soak that stuff in.

Maile is clear that there are just four habits you must exhibit to be successful.

1. Self-centred
2. Tough
3. Ruthless, and
4. Unpredictable

He details the logic behind each, and gives numerous specific examples.

He points out that your competitors in life will include a rare winner, but predominantly be Wimps (lightweight, boring failures), Whingers (miserable, depressed saboteurs), Wasters (time-wasting, high-maintenance nuisances) or Wankers (jumped-up, pompous idiots). And you know that's true.

Maile points out that all successful self-made, uniquely gifted or just plain lucky people are one sort of bastard or another at some time in their lives to make it, hold onto it and above all enjoy it.

Finally, for any readers who hit the end and worry about the consequences of his list of habits, he is kind enough to list them for you:

- I might become world-famous
- I might make some really useful and influential friends
- I might make a ridiculous amount of money
- I might open up exciting and new opportunity
- I might learn something valuable
- I could make people happy
- I might secure new income streams
- I might be able to quit and be my own boss
- I might gain something from the experience.

So, you know.... Pros and cons.

Really good book - take it (and this review) with a grain of salt... that's Maile's intention.

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