Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Necessary Guide for Living With the Dutch

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Living on a small Dutch Caribbean island (we hit 10 years of living on Bonaire in a couple of weeks) is quite an interesting experience, especially as we have a blend of two cultures here – a Caribbean influence as well as a Dutch one. For as long as I recall, Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival was recommended reading for anyone thinking of living here on Bonaire, but now thanks to dear Dutch friends (that’s you, Martin & Angela), we have found a new tome to help us understand the Dutch-ness of Bonaire.

The book is called The UnDutchables, and it’s a humorous dissection of Dutch culture as well as the drivers and motivators behind observable Dutch behavior.

While The UnDutchables has an obviously strong link to mother Holland and activities there, and is intended primarily for English speaking expats living in The Netherlands, I have found that many of the examples apply equally well in the Dutch Caribbean. We have Dutch friends on Bonaire, as well as on neighboring Curacao and Aruba, and boy, does this book nail some of their traits to a tee! And some of those behaviors have rubbed off on some of the Antilleans we know here too. If only we had had a copy of this book 10 years ago, we might have dealt with certain situations better!

The authors also have a web site – http://www.UnDutchables.com – to accompany the book. Ironically, the book is also available writtin in Dutch to help so-called “Cloggies” understand their fellow “Kikkerlanders”. The Dutch friends who gave us this book found much of the content to be dead-on accurate (and funny) as well, incidentally.

Highly recommended with a 9.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

I wonder if and when a similar book, written in Dutch, about Americans, will be produced to help the Dutch understand our frailties, foibles, and motivations?

Book Review: You Need To Be A Little Crazy

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

A few weeks ago, Barry Moltz dropped me a note asking if I would mind looking at his book You Need To Be A Little Crazy, which he has subtitled “The Truth About Starting and Growing Your Own Business”.

I presume Barry found me via the web and the Garage Entrepreneur columns I wrote some time back.

In any event, I agreed, and finally made it to the book in my reading pile.

Barry’s approach is certainly different from most other entrepreneurial texts. Whereas most books on the subject give you an action list of things that are surefire to work but rarely do in real life, You Need To Be A Little Crazy explains that failure is a natural, and expected part of being an entrepreneur, and that typically there’s not much you can do to prevent failure.

External events, like market conditions, world happenings, key client failures, and partners with different agendas, among others, impact one’s business in uncontrollable and unforeseeable ways.

Barry has filled his book with examples from his own personal experiences as an entrepreneur, along with snippets and anecdotes from other successful and failed entrepreneurs he has encountered along the way, organized into topical sections.

I found a lot of parallels in places between his tellings and my own entrepreneurial background, but there were small differences too (like never having gone bankrupt, for example).

One topic that Barry addresses as pivotal in entrepreneurialism is the concept of luck, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. While it is said that one makes his own luck, that only goes so far – things like being in the right place at the right time are too much a matter of happenstance to be able to be planned. However, there are other factors you can control when you run your own business, and Barry touches on those too, including the benefits that networking and maintaining contact with friends and past co-workers can provide.

You Need To Be A Little Crazy provides a healthy dose of reality, and is a great book to temper the feel-good but unrealistic advice most entrepreneurial books dole out.

I give You Need To Be A Little Crazy a 9.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.