Published by the National Geographic Society
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I'll admit I didn't want the book at first. I assumed it was a collection of feel-good stories, pithy quotes and cute line drawings and nothing very substantive.
I'm glad I read it!
Two Entrepreneurs, One StoryBert and John Jacobs founded the Life Is Good company by selling t-shirts from a beat-up van. It was before "angel investors" were all over Twitter, before eCommerce was available as a free plug-in for your Wordpress site. The company's start-up phase lasted years. The van was a mess.
In those hustling, hard-working years, they knew they had something...they just didn't know quite what.
"From the start, we saw the T-shirt as a great vehicle for communication. What you say on the outside says a lot about who you are on the inside. We just needed to figure out what we wanted to say." [p. 62]
They figured it out at a keg party.
It's About OptimismI won't spoil the how-the-Life-is-Good-company-found-its-niche story, but I will say that you should never underestimate the importance of having awesome friends and parties. The original slogan and drawing that became Life Is Good really was born in a "meeting" of the minds - AKA a late night with lots of friends and beer.
Also, while the company sells t-shirts, the value has more to do with the message on them than the cut, color and (super-soft) cotton they're made of.
Two Entrepreneurs, Many StoriesTo their credit, the Jacobs brothers share much but not so much that it's all about them. The book is well-crafted because it shares many related stories, all of which support the whole. And, I have to say some of my initial, pre-conceived notions about the book were accurate. It's packed with graphics, lists and cute pictures. But in a good way - they are not filler, but part of the story.
The Boston Connection
I've had little connection to city where I was born most of my life, but in the past five years or so I've worked regularly, creating and managing content for a marketing firm in Boston.
Managing content is usually a matter of planning and scheduling. Posts are created ahead of time to cover holidays and other special events. But when the world stops, the internet keeps going...and it becomes a place where people turn for news, escape, sanity, solace...whatever they need. So while I was horrified, worried about and hurting for people I worked "with" but only via email and phone lines, and feeling helpless (what could I do?!) i was also trying to help by sharing appropriate nuggets (do we really NEED a Facebook post today?) and more thoughtful blog posts as time went on. Reading about how Life is Good employees gathered together in the immediate aftermath would have been a little painful for anyone; for me, it hit a tad close to home. The good news, of course, is that because the company is built on optimism, the Life is Good team had a little extra resilience.
The follow-up, describing how the company responded with the Nothing is Stronger Than Love design (seen above, on the keyboard where I typed about the bombings) is a textbook example of good PR and good business.
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Who would enjoy this book?
It's a good business story; might make a good gift for a recent grad trying to find his or her way in the (corporate world); is easy to read (like on an airplane or beach vacation!) and would certainly be of interest to almost anyone in the Boston, MA area.
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Full disclosure: I bought the book because I need to upgrade my wardrobe. Most of my t-shirts come from my kids' sports teams and...well, let's just say some of them are ready to move on to the great rag-box in the garage. The book was advertised as part of a T-shirt & book promo package at the Life is Good website, and I'm happy with both my new shirt and the book. If you just want the book (it makes a nice gift!) you can save some $$$ and pick up the book, by itself, from Amazon.
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Read any good books lately? As always...guest reviewers are welcome! Get in touch in comments on this blog or leave a message on my Facebook Page, Dumb Things We Say to Dogs.