Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur
Blaine McCormick, Editor
Entrepreneur Press, 2006.
This book is billed as "Franklin's autobiography adapted for modern business" on the front cover. It does, of course, like Franklin, live up to its billing and is a fascinating read in updated, modern language that illuminates the essence of Franklin and what he was about.
Blaine McCormick, in the introduction, extols Franklin's experience as an American model of excellence in business. He notes that bookstores are saturated with titles built on Sun Tzu's The Art of War and the works of Machiavelli. The market for such titles is those who are engaged in cutthroat business and seek a psychological angle for their own betterment. Yet McCormick believes that we do not need to look to old world Europe or the East for business advice: Americans can look to one of their own home-grown heroes.
It is in this vein that he presents the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The autobiography is written in updated, modern language, and each chapter contains two sidebars: one, an insight from McCormick showing how Franklin's writings pertain to modern business, and two, a "proverb" from one of Franklin's alter egos, "Poor" Richard Saunders. While Franklin's writing is very personable, and, in updated form, very enjoyable, the sidebars do much to contextualize the writing and leave the reader with something more to ponder.
Perhaps the genius of Franklin's autobiography is how his work stands in contrast to other writings that would encourage a person to be somewhat to deceptive in business, to hold their cards close to their chest and reveal nothing more about a transaction than is absolutely necessary. Franklin's pursuit of honesty and forthrightness in all his dealings, coupled with his famous thirteen-point checklist in pursuit of pure morality, is a refreshing antidote to much of what passes for modern business "acumen."
In short, for someone looking for a primer in good, solid business, this autobiography will answer the challenge and inspire the reader to success. But this book may find a wider and more agreeable audience outside of the business world: Because of his focus on morality and living as a good citizen, Franklin's book sounds a clarion call for responsibility in a world that isn't always easy to navigate.
Let this book be used in the service of Franklin's favourite virtue, good.
To request a review or to inquire about proofreading rates, please email Jeremy at jeremyhoover AT gmail.com.