‘The Power of Broke’ excites in parts, but, on the whole, it an average book. Written by Daymond John of the ‘Shark Tank’ fame, ‘The Power of Broke’ falls somewhere between interesting and repetitive. My disgruntlement may lie in the fact that I read ‘The Power of Broke’ while I was still in the afterglow of Ryan Blair’s awesome ‘Rock Bottom to Rock Star‘.
When your back is against the wall, when you are knee deep in sh**, you become twice as more inventive and it is in those times, you think of ingenious ways to dig yourself out of the hole. That’s the Power of Broke: to leverage your underdog position to overcome obstacles in your life. Daymond John owns FUBU, a $6 billion apparels company and while starting FUBU, Daymond had to rely on the power of broke to come up with novel ways to earn his bread.
‘The Power of Broke’ enlists the against-all-odds stories of 8 entrepreneurs. Not only did these 8 people overcome the cruel hand the fate had dealt them, but they also leveraged their condition of being broke as a springboard to success. The common thread running through these stories is that all these hard-chargers had ‘zero resources’ to begin with. With sheer will and determination, each one of these entrepreneurs turned headwinds into tailwinds. This book makes for a great resource for fence-sitters who pretend to bide their time while waiting for the perfect idea or perfect time to execute their move. Daymond John proves that ‘lack of resources’ is no hindrance, your perception of ‘lack of resources’ is.
Some of the accounts covered by Daymond John struck a definitive chord with me, while others were just ho-hum. That’s often the problem with this particular genre. It’s a mixed bag always. More on that later. The biggest obstacle facing an entrepreneur bootstrapped for funds is how to take that leap of faith. Most people give up because it seems a mountain too big to climb. Others take informed and calculated risks. Daymond John tries to establish the fact that a leap of faith based on gut instinct and belief in power of your product can discharge a host of opportunities. A chapter titled ‘Faith and Flour‘ proves precisely the point about taking a calculated leap of faith. Gigi Butler’s story stands out for two things: a) Gigi’s first love wasn’t the cupcakes business where she made the name for herself, her fix was to become a music superstar and b) Hers was literally a shoestring operation. How many of us can even think of kickstarting a business with $33?
Sometimes, you don’t need the whole word backing your idea. Entrepreneurs face rejections, one time too many, at the early stages of their startup and then, even when the dream has taken wings. Daymond shares the success story of one Christopher Gray whose dreams almost go shattered. Chris came to Shark Tank to seek funding for his venture and impressed the hell out of Daymond. However, the fellow judges on the show didn’t exactly get swept off their feet by Chris’ business idea. The entrepreneur in Daymond propelled him to trust his hunch as he decided to back Chris’ business even as the majority sided against it. He sums it up nicely, “My offer was as much a bet on Chris as it was an investment in his business.” Moral: Your conviction in your idea is all that matters. Sooner than later, you will find someone who sees it the same way as you do.
Passion juxtaposed with action is a must-have catalyst in every ever dreamer’s, every doer’s armoury. One such doer is Kevin Plank, the formidable CEO of uber-athletic brand ‘Under Armour’. When bigger brands were zeroing in on improving footwear for athletes, Kevin saw a bigger loophole and decided to do something about it. Being a full-time football athlete, he figured a lightweight, high-performance t-shirt that could soak all the sweat and regulate the body temperature would be much better than drenched-in-sweat, smelly t-shirts that often had to be peeled off athletes’ body. The outcome was the launch of a prototype that was lighter and performance-driven, and mind you, Kevin was no scientist. It was his inner drive to do something about the problem. Another inspirational account is that of Moziah Bridges, a precocious eleven-year-old kid who along with his single mother absolutely crushed the retail business. Passion is important.
See, my problem with this collection-of-short-success-stories book genre is that their authors often try to squeeze the whole timeline of the person into a few pages, take out all the hard edges and present a distilled-down, reductive package to the reader. How can you otherwise reduce Tim Ferriss‘ story into 8-10 pages? These short stories might inspire a not so discerning reader, but to the seasoned readers, they hold little arsenal. Again, I have no problem with the intention of Daymond John, it’s just that in my opinion he should have stuck to 2 or 3 accounts and laid them bare, warts and all. In the nutshell, ‘The Power of Broke’ is a mixed bag, a hallmark of such compendium-style books.