Awakening The Entrepreneur Within by Michael Gerber
Book Review - 2 Stars
I am angry, disappointed and frustrated and it's lucky to get the Two Star rating I've given it.
After having had "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" especially imported from the United States because the publication date was delayed in the UK I have had to allow five or six weeks to pass before I felt ready to review the latest missive from Michael Gerber.
Cards On The Table
I am a massive fan of Michael Gerber and his ideas about small business development. I have given the "E Myth Revisited" book a five star review and "E Myth Mastery" would have received another five star rating if it hadn't been sabotaged by a sloppy, sentimental writing style.
My Dreaming Room With Michael Gerber
Back in October 2006 I attended a Dreaming Room with Michael Gerber to Awaken The Entrepreneur With me. I didn't know what to expect because this was quite early in Michael Gerber's development of his new concept and while it wasn't as structured a process as I was expecting, it was a fascinating experience.
In the Dreaming Room, Michael Gerber explained that he was working ON his business while working IN his business, gradually systematising the process to help entrepreneurs find the overwhelming passion to build great businesses.
The first full day was a struggle as Michael Gerber worked with a number of people about their Dream (all derived from the simple question "What do you want?") and there were a number of us who remained sceptical.
One brave person stepped forward at the start of the final day and the next two hours were incredible as we wrestled with the emotional/logical conflict which stops many of us starting a revolutionary business.
Unfortunately little of this content made the book.
What Is In Awakening The Entrepreneur Within
What we have is a man who has given his mature years to becoming rich and famous through the E Myth books and the business coaching company he founded, E Myth Worldwide and now seems lost in the wilderness.
You could see the signs in the "E Myth Mastery" book when Sarah typified many business owners who fixed their businesses by applying the E Myth systems but didn't kick on from there and create a great business. All About Pies stayed small scale.
Michael Gerber correctly in my view identified the cause. Too often the passion is missing. The entrepreneurs don't have a grand vision which transforms their customers lives. Instead the business is a means to an end and where the end is a comfortable life for the business owner.
Let's take a look at "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" in more detail
Part One: The Preparation
It starts with a painful conversation of a bewildered Michael Gerber seeking comfort from his mother "I don't know who I am anymore, or where I am going. I feel disconnected from my company and disconnected from myself." (page 4)
Michael Gerber then introduces us to the five realities of the entrepreneur:
- The entrepreneur is an inventor.
- Entrepreneurs don't buy opportunities they create them. So if you want to be a true entrepreneur, forget about the franchisee idea you were looking at and start with a blank piece of paper and create something unique.
- The success of the invention is measured by growth. The faster the business grows the better and the worst thing is to have a business idea linger on at a survival level
- Everyone can be an entrepreneur.
As readers we are then introduced to the four dimensions of the entrepreneurial personality:
- The dreamer
- The thinker
- The storyteller
- The leader
You may find it easier to think of this as:
- The what
- The how
- The why
- The when and if
Part Two The Dreamer and the Dream
The entrepreneur has a sudden epiphany and sees an opportunity for the first time, the entrepreneur within is awakened.
This is the tingling you can get when you realise just how exciting it could be to pursue an idea (or dream).
Management guru, Brian Tracy has said on average we all have several ideas that could make us millionaires each year.
Unfortunately this is where logic has a nasty habit of sticking its nose in and killing the idea stone dead before it's developed into a proper concept.
I wanted much more in the book about this issue and a method for bringing out the idea in a way that fends off the practical thinking and negativity. While the idea or dream is flimsy, the logical mind is saying "It will never work" and if you listen, you will never hear the "It just might work, let's take a closer look."
Where do the ideas for the opportunities come from?
Logically it is from seeing people's pain and frustration and thinking "Something must be done about this."
It may be followed up quickly by a flash of inspiration, "Why don't they ..." or you may accept it as a creative problem to solve for fun.
The end of Chapter 8 makes me mad.
Michael Gerber is moaning about the answers to his question "What do you want?" that he received from the Dreaming Room attendees because they were personal. In essence people said they wanted a perfect personal life and to be happy.
Michael Gerber is disappointed that the answers weren't about the customer and bringing enlightenment to the world but self centred thoughts about their own and their families well-being.
Betrayal Of the E Myth Revisited Takeaways
In just a few words Michael Gerber has destroyed his heritage and the biggest breakthrough he brought to small businesses.
If we go back to his "The E Myth Revisited" book and look at chapter 12, Your Primary Aim Michael Gerber that you, the entrepreneur are the focus and that the business should be built to give you the life you want.
So when Michael Gerber stands up early in the Dreaming Room and asks the Michael Gerber fans present ( a small group workshop with a world famous guru like Michael Gerber for two and half days is not a cheap experience so it will only attract fans), we all think this sounds familiar and expect the question to be the start of the journey which is familiar to us. I imagined it would go something like:
What do we want?
How will our business contribute to what we want?
What do we want to do for our customers and what do they need most? ....
But no, the Dreaming Room process didn't go like that at all.
It stopped at the "What do you want" when we've been programmed to separate our wants, needs and desires from our business so that the business can stand on its own.
Chapter 8 Gets Worse
But Michael Gerber didn't stop there.
In the last two paragraphs Michael Gerber managed to insult just about everybody who attended a Dreaming Room before he wrote the book.
We are stuck in a "narcissistic torpor." Tired of ourselves and tired of life.
"They we looking for something, even though many had stopped looking."
Looking for something yes, stopped looking no.
How can we have stopped looking when we had dug deep in our pockets to listen to the words of this small business oracle?
Remember the Dreaming Room is sold as a unique experience.
Only those who attended a previous Dreaming Room had much idea about what would happen so yes we were waiting to be guided.
The Dream Is New, The Dream Is Old
The Dreaming Room is the new idea, created by Michael Gerber to help awaken the entrepreneur within.
It is a surprise therefore to see these "new ideas" retro-fitted in "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" to the create of the forerunner of today's E Myth Worldwide.
Part Three The Thinker And The Vision
According to Michael Gerber, the thinker takes over from the dreamer and works out how it can be done.
So here we have Michael Gerber telling the story of how he moved on from the dream of "transforming small businesses worldwide"
This means fleshing out your vision and thinking about your business model.
Unfortunately Michael Gerber seems to have turned against small businesses being designed for the business owner.
It seems that unless you want to create a business so big and impressive it will transform the lives of many people, you just shouldn't bother.
Strong words which kill the image of Michael Gerber as the "lifestyle business guru."
Instead you seem to be condemned to a lifetime of servitude in unhappy employment, harbouring a desire to be your own boss but now you've been told that you shouldn't bother unless you can conceive an idea that will change the world.
What happened to the idea of spreading a little joy and happiness? Living a life you enjoy and having a small number of committed and delighted customers whose lives are enriched by your products or services?
Let's Sell The Dreaming Room Experience
The book drops further in my estimation as it becomes a blatant attempt to sell you on membership of a Dreaming Room and availing yourself of the turnkey business solutions created by Michael Gerber for every aspect of the business.
The irony is that in my Dreaming Room, an accountant explained his idea for providing a complete service for small businesses so that they could get every non-trade-specific service they could possibly need from the one source. The accountant was harshly treated and told that no small business would ever be willing to become so reliant on one supplier. Now Michael Gerber is promoting MyGrowthResources and we even have all the website addresses listed in the book.
Part Four The Storyteller and The Purpose
In this section we have a reflection back to the Michael Thomas Corporation (before it became E Myth Worldwide)
Part Five The Leader
At this stage the book loses its grip as it talks about the fictitious company "Who Is Manny Espinosa?", a business to teach young Latinos to be better members of the community and take up entry level positions in the restaurant, hospitality and construction industries.
As you read, you start believing that the company exists as Michael Gerber builds the importance of the idea (but it was talk back in October 2006 and still seems to be talk now).
We go through the recruitment of a chief operating officer, and the word by word interview and the development of the idea and then taking it to joint venture partners.
This is Michael Gerber writing his novel but I've said it before, his writing style isn't strong enough to carry it.
It also seems to me to be totally unrealistic as an example of "how to develop the idea and story."
It took me back to my teenage years when I was plucking up courage to ask a girl out and I'd repeatedly play the conversation in my mind.
I'd say this, then she's say that, then I'd say, she'd laugh ...
Unfortunately it invariably went wrong at the very first point and the whole plan was worthless.
The Manny Espinosa story goes on from page 155 to 240 so you can see how long winded an example it is.
The Golden Pyramid
Fortunately on page 243 we get back to business and ideas that you can use and it's called the Golden Pyramid Strategy.
The problem is that it looks remarkably like the E Myth Mastery program to me. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Conclusion about Awakening The Entrepreneur Within
"Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" makes me angry, frustrated and disappointed.
I expected a great book. "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" is lucky to walk away with a two star rating
I know from the evidence I saw at my Dreaming Room that Michael Gerber has much more to offer on the creation of the entrepreneurial dream and vision than is included in this book. I find this very frustrating.
I am angry that he has wasted this opportunity. I found parts of the book insulting to people who have attended Dreaming Rooms and I'm not normally super sensitive. I am also angry that the book is a blatant plug for selling Dreaming Rooms but I suspect that the book may put off more people than it entices.
Views on Amazon.com (affiliate link) are mixed. At the time of writing there are twelve reviews, six giving it five stars but many of those are short and unsubstantiated.
I Think You Should Buy Awakening The Entrepreneur Within
You didn't expect that did you?
Michael Gerber is to small business what The Beatles were to popular music.
You may not like it but his ideas (from the E Myth) are so important that I believe you need to have a view.
Buy it and read it but don't expect a Revolver or Abbey Road.
It's more Yellow Submarine than Let It Be (an attempt to get back to basics before Phil Spector got hold of it).
I don't believe "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within" will bring new converts to Michael Gerber and if you haven't read "The E Myth Revisited", then I urge you to start there. "The E Myth Revisited" is a must read for every small business owner or entrepreneur.
I think it will split the Michael Gerber fans, some may love it. I don't.
It's not a bad thing to be controversial and while I don't like the book, I do recommend that you take the opportunity to see Michael Gerber at the DreamStart conference in Leeds on 24 June 2008.
But enough of my rant about "Awakening The Entrepreneur Within", what do you think?