July 23rd, 2014


For a particular audience ...

There is frequently a “pig in a poke” aspect to a lot of my book acquisitions these days, either being dollar store discoveries or review copies. In neither case is there a lot of consideration up front, but at least at the dollar store I'm able to thumb through the book. In the case of the LibraryThing.com “Early Reviewers” program, we get a paragraph of promo copy to decide if we're interested enough in the title to “request” it … and frequently what's in the pitch isn't necessarily what's in the book.

This is one of those LTER books. J.V. Crum, III's Conscious Millionaire: Grow Your Business by Making a Difference certainly sounded interesting – a guy who was following a newage/Buddhist path that turned his family business around into a muli-million dollar operation, and then sold it to go on to other projects … and supposedly telling the reader how to do this too. Unfortunately, the book isn't so much a personal story as it is a pitch for his organization … while the basic levels (which are required to actually “use” the book) are free, one gets the impression that he's going to be in your pocket sooner or later.

Now, I have a SERIOUS aversion to any of these “success seminar” kind of things, having been dragged through various permutations of that sort of circus over the years, and I have never run into one that was as profitable for the attendees as it was for the presenters. Just sayin'. So, when the author heads off in that direction in this book, he pretty much lost me. I was interested in a book about growing (or developing – the book is lagely targeted to folks already running companies) businesses “by making a difference”, not an indoctrination session into whatever particular snake oil is waiting behind the curtain.

I also wanted to read the book not jump in and out of it to the ConsciousMillionaire.com site, but the book is structured to have you start all sorts of journals and workbooks. I was NOT interested in “taking his course” (at least not at first touch), and there was no practical way to get much out of this book unless you submit to those demands. And demands there are … all through the book there are “Coaching” sections with stuff like this:
Open your Conscious Millionaire Journal. Describe the value your business provides to each of the seven stakeholders. Also describe the value each stakeholder provides to your business.
I kept reacting angrily to these because A) I wasn't playing along with the Journal, B) I don't have a particular “business” to anchor this stuff on, and C) because of this, I'm not likely to have the stakeholders this section is talking about (which are 1 – Owner-Entrepreneur, 2 – Investors and Lenders, 3 – Team Members, 4 – Customers, 5 – Suppliers, 6 – Society and Community, and 7 – Environment).

There was also a lot of material that didn't seem to make much sense in the course of the book … he has an evolving pyramid with five levels: Conscious – Focus – Action – Result – Learning, with sub-divisions depending on the section (primarily in the “action” level) that kept appearing in each chapter, along with additional “Coaching” sections which, frankly, seemed like “wave a magic wand and have these swell things happen”. There is a lot of saying stuff like: “Select your top three to five business values. Communicate them to your team, customers, and suppliers.” … but nothing concrete for any particular scenario.

I will admit that maybe if one had slavishly started the book with all the step-by-step journaling and worksheet assignments (and had a business with which to work), one might have something to extract one's specifics from … but I did not “sign up” to take this guy's COURSE, just to read and review his BOOK.

There are some “nice” bits and pieces in Conscious Millionaire which, if embraced by assorted business owners, would make them much less like the classic MBA cutthroats and more considerate for their community and world … but, again, not much of this is concrete in the reading. It appears that the reason that this was in the LTER program was that it's a new paperback edition of a book whose hardcover was (in the words of a cover blurb) an “international bestseller”.

If you are a business owner, and you want to consciously move towards being a millionaire, and are amenable to jumping into a whole system of self-assessments, you might get something of use out of this book. If you're hoping, however, to have an expository walk-through covering the subjects of the book, you're pretty much out of luck. The way this is structured, if you're not coming to it with a business that has “a team” and customers and suppliers that you have actual contact with, there's not much “there” there, as without delving into the stuff on the web site, it's pretty close to platitudes and wishful thinking.

Since this has only been out since March (oddly, the same date is on the Amazon page for the hardcover, so I have no idea how it got to be “an international bestseller”!), it's not gotten particularly cheap through any of the channels. However, unless you're in the niche for whom this is generally targeted, it's definitely one I'd suggest you skip – there's nothing in there of use to a reader, and especially one who is not already running a business.

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