Andrew Allentuck

Friday, December 15, 2000

The Little Book of Business Wisdom
By Peter Krass
John Wiley & Sons, 238 pages.

Do billionaires have anything interesting to say about how they made their fortunes?

Yes, and for readers who want to know how they think, this compendium of rules that underlie their careers is illuminating.

Editor Krass, a marketing executive turned collector of aphorisms, has assembled the recollections of sixty top business leaders from P.T. Barnum to Warren Buffett, Hewlett Packard boss Carly Fiorina, Henry Ford, winemaker Robert Mondavi, stockbroker Charles Schwab and General Electric kingpin Jack Welch. Virtually all are American, and every quote is dead serious. From Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates: "Use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs or change them into value-added jobs that use the skills of a knowledge worker." From ice cream kings Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield: "Have a progressive, non-partisan social agenda." From Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, "Swim upstream....ignore the conventional wisdom." And, the key phrase, "a town of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for very long." For a brief, scholarly collection of capsules of the thoughts of business leaders past and present, read The Little Book of Business Wisdom. But make no mistake - this is not a book of clever quotes or humour. If any of the leaders Mr. Krass quotes ever cracked a joke, you won't find it here.