I was speaking at AIA Design DC this past week when I meet John Herman. After our brief conversation he handed me a copy of his latest book: Hermanisms: Axioms for Business & Life. Now most of you know that I am not the least bit cynical, but when someone gives you a free copy of their book it usually means that it is a really lousy book. So I stuffed it in my bag with the intent of scanning through it before sharing it with the recycling bin. Sitting in traffic on the way home I picked it up and started flipping through the pages only to find it difficult to put down. Two days later I finished the 285 page book and would easily describe it as one the best business books I have read in years!
The Failure Expert
John is a self described failure expert, and rightfully so. Many of the stories in his book come from the lessons he learned while he was the owner of a consulting firm that worked with over 1,000 failing businesses (think bankruptcy, not just having a bad year). His “Hermanisms” recount many of the stories and lessons that he learned while cleaning up the mess these firms were in, and provide a unique look at the causes and effects that the decisions we make have on our businesses.
Knowledge learned through stories
One thing I enjoyed about Hermanisms was the use of stories to make a point. John is clearly not just a great story teller, but someone that knows how to help you understand more about yourself and business through the telling of a story. The stories in his book are crisp and to the point, yet ring true to life as they make his points come alive through humor and as you see the pain others have gone through.
When it comes to business, I especially enjoyed Hermanism #60: “A great idea, talent, hard work, good timing, help from others, immense publicity, and luck are sometimes all you need to make it.” How often have you had a great idea only to realize that in order for it to succeed you needed so much more?
Enough said, let me encourage you to just buy the book (You can’t beat the used price at Amazon.com). Just be forewarned: you also might not be able to put it down.