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Book Review | The Star Principle

Book review of The Star Principle. Richard Koch's sequel to the 80/20 principle fails to live up to the expectations

First things first. I had high expectations from Richard Koch’s ‘The Star Principle’ but the book caused me a lot of chagrin. As someone who has read and liked Koch’s ‘The 80/20 principle‘, I could easily fathom the book Koch intends to write with ‘The Star Principle’ is certainly not the one he ends up with.

‘The Star Principle’ starts off with a clear agenda – how to make you rich but sooner than later. But like a bad movie it loses direction fast and meanders into the ad hominem subject matter and case studies.

By the time you make your way to the 6th chapter, ‘The Star Principle’ metamorphoses into a pure marketing book and the author a self-professed red-blooded marketer – at least this is how he comes across.

I would have been a tad satisfied if the marketing wisdom shared by the author were original. Much to my annoyance, a good chunk of marketing advice in the book is an unabashed take-off from Jack Trout and Al Ries’ books.

I felt vindicated at the end of the 8th chapter wherein Koch himself acknowledges Al Ries and his daughter Laura being his favorite authors on marketing. His candid admission gives away a lot about his marketing wisdom.

He could have easily wrapped up the whole things in a nice, fine-tuned article. However, he decides to delve into BCG’s growth-share matrix and weaves 250 pages around it.

The core of the book centres around the ‘Star’ entity from BCG matrix. For the uninitiated, a star, according to BCG matrix is the largest player in a fast-growing niche; a niche growing at an annual clip of 10%. Throughout the book, Koch delivers sermons on the benefits of being associated with a star business either by working for one or by investing in one.

I actually heaved a huge sigh of relief as I finished this book. I am not saying it’s the worst book in the world nor am I the harshest critic of the author. MannatechMy disappointment with ‘The Star Principle’ emanates from the fact that Richard Koch is the same guy who wrote ‘The 80/20 principle’. Where reading The 80/20 principle had left me stirred, reading ‘The Star Principle’  only made me second-guess the substance of the author.

My verdict on ‘The Star Principle’ is mediocre and avoidable. Koch, I like your writing style; I had immensely enjoyed reading ‘The 80/20 principle’ and had recommended it to several of my friends, too. But I think you should never have written ‘The Star Principle’ in the first place.

Finally, some food for thought. In ‘The 80/20 Principle’, Richard Koch cited Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto’s work as instrumental to his success in life. In ‘The Star Principle’, he waxes lyrical about the alchemic aspects of the Star of BCG matrix and also attributes his financial to ‘The Star Principle’. What do you make of these two sweeping yet conflicting claims?


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and attribute much of my business wisdom and success to Richard Koch’s book. What are you talking about by insulting this great book? Richard is a self made centi-millionaire.

    1. Vishy, thank you for dropping by.

      If you have read my review, you’d know that I totally loved Richard Koch’s ‘The 80-20 Principle’. If I ever write a post about 10 must-read business strategy books, it will be there at the top!

      I did not like his ‘The Star Principle’ because it was a bad hybrid of marketing and strategy; a middle-of-the-road version of his original.

      It also lacked the originality and the brio of the 80-20 book. What I particularly disliked was the way he almost promoted the Trout-Ries marketing principles as his own and only towards the end, chose to acknowledge them.

      Hope that clears the air 🙂

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