Soundview Executive Book Summaries


How to Be a Benevolent Dictator

As has been shown with the recent rebellion in Libya and the fate of Moammar Gadhafi, dictators are not popular. In fact the very word “dictator” stirs up images of cruelty and oppression. So it’s a bit surprising when a business author writes a book suggesting that the only way to launch a successful company is to be a dictator.

But this is what Michael Feuer does with his book The Benevolent Dictator. Feuer of course qualifies his use of the term with these words: “… this designation is not always a pejorative when combined with the modifier “benevolent.”  In fact, the case could be made that being a benevolent dictator can make the difference when starting a business from scratch and with a scarcity of time and money.”

He explains further, “As business history has taught us, success comes from a combination of focus, determination, diligence, pure grit, a good dose of luck and a touch of chutzpah.  The successful entrepreneurs I’ve known possessed all of these qualities and one other characteristic that is seldom discussed – that of being an autocrat.”

Feuer’s point is that in a new business venture, tough decisions need to be made, risks need to be taken, and this requires someone who will bite the bullet and move forward. These kinds of tough decisions require a strong leader ready to take the risk, and also ready to put himself or herself at the head of the battle.

While we may not be comfortable with the idea of working for an autocrat, I think we can understand Feuer’s point that someone needs to take ultimate responsibility for the hard decisions. And what’s even more convincing are the many companies that he points to when making his case for start-ups having a strong leader.

If you would like to hear Feuer make his case for being a benevolent dictator, we invite you to join us on November 4th for our Soundview Live webinar with Michael Feuer and his co-author Dustin Klein. He’ll be ready to answer even the toughest questions about starting a new business.

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