Verdict: Blending a semi-practical guide to business with elements of motivational speech, and drawing on the wisdom of his grandfather, Marc Demetriou’s book is part stories for the business classroom, part vanity project. The result is charming but cliched.
Marc Demetriou’s grandfather was clearly key in his life, and a successful life he’s lead, too. A graduate of Rutger’s university, he worked his way to the top of his field, building on what sounds like a fierce inner motivation and a keen drive and sense of opportunity. He is, in short, a fierce believer in the American dream.
Charlie – the grandfather in question – lived his life by a set of principles. Fifteen of them, to be exact, each specifically outlined in the text with a series of quotes from the man himself, and commented on through a religious or business lens. They’re simple but effective concepts, ones like ‘To Work To Survive Is Not Enough’ and ‘Be Joyful’, each outlined in a synopsis and driven home in the core of the book. They’re not revolutionary, perhaps, but they’re a nice set of guiding principles.
The market for self-help guides is a crowded one, of course, and the family dynamic of this particular text is a nice touch, in part because it does start from early life, and take those simple life lessons through to real, practical and applicable outcomes. We can all agree the basic concepts of ‘Do What You Love’ and ‘Live a Life of Purpose’ are always valuable lessons, and perhaps – given how many people don’t work in jobs they love – concepts worth of being repeated.
Business success stories like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are analysed, and dynamic use of time, together with a focus on polishing soft skills and working on network and strategy are all useful in a crowded business world, and charming with their personal touch.
There are a number of difficulties with the text, however. Firstly, there are sweeping aspects of this book that are clearly written from the perspective of a life of success, not a life of struggle. That’s not inherently bad, of course, but for a reader who might have bought such a text lacking that peak-view perspective, it could easily border on grating. ‘Success is a Choice’ – a core early message – for example is an easy comment to make when you’ve already achieved it. It’s somewhat less useful – and bordering on patronizing – to a reader wallowing at the bottom of the social ladder with few opportunities or resources to build from.
Secondly, the advice frequently ebbs towards profoundly cliched. That’s not to say it isn’t useful, but for anyone who’s even a passing experience of life coaching or business management seminars, great swathes of this book are going over old ground, simply with a touching personal angle along the way.
Is it significant that Demetriou worked hard from an early age, getting up at 6am daily, and applying himself in a dedicated manner to his job and his schooling? Of course it is. Is it significant he had the backing of a supportive family, worked his way into a top-tier business school, and was able to find work in a field he clearly loves? Also yes, and taking a step back, almost certainly more so than Demetriou alludes to in the pages of his text. He clearly started this race a good few steps in front of a lot of his readers.
That said, these inspirational, self-help books are rarely aimed at those genuinely starting at the bottom. If you’re looking for some motivation and drive, it’s a good refresher, and covers the key aspects in an interesting manner. For most, though, it’s probably not a life changer.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader