Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Do you have the Knack?
November 14, 2008, 12:56 PM
Filed under: Books in General | Tags: ,

Norm Brodsky seems to have it, the knack for starting businesses that is. Brodsky has built eight companies, including a messenger business that made the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies for three straight years, and a records storage company that he later sold for $110 million.


Much of his early business wisdom was learned while following his father around selling products door-to-door. His father instilled in him business basics in the form of expressions that have stuck with him ever since. Expressions like “Always make a good sale with a good markup,” “Don’t take advantage of people,” “Don’t worry twice,” and “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” The lessons he learned from his father, along with his years of experience in starting businesses, has given Brodsky much success which he shares in his columns and blogs on the Inc. website.


Along with Bo Burlingham, Brodsky has collected this entrepreneurial business wisdom in a book called The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn How to Handle Whatever Comes Up. Burlingham is well known for his many successful business books, including Small Giants, and The Great Game of Business and A Stake in the Outcome which he wrote with Jack Stack.


The authors make it clear that there is no step-by-step way to start a business. Instead, you develop a knack for handling issues as they arise. What is this knack? Brodsky defines it as “a mentality that helps street-smart people solve problems and pursue opportunities as they arise.” And the good news is that they believe that this knack can be learned. The advice in this book provides the essentials for gaining that knack, and include such principles as: follow the numbers, keep focusing on your real goals, and don’t get so close to the problem that you lose all perspective.


This title is well worth the time for anyone thinking of starting a business or already in the middle of the task. Perhaps you can acquire the knack and save yourself some headaches.

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