Most business books focus on what you should do. Which makes sense, of course, until you remember that there really is no specific route to corporate success: they’re all different, and once you account for the broad array of sectors and objectives, it would be weird if success wasn’t so varied. The heart of Domenic Aversa’s CORPORATE UNDERTAKER: BUSINESS LESSONS FOR THE DEAD AND DYING lies in flipping business-book convention on its head. What should we absolutely not do, if we want to succeed?
As it happens, Aversa is vastly experienced in this realm. Having worked as a kind of business crisis consultant for many years, he’s effectively been charged with either calling time on lost causes, or finding a way to ensure businesses on the brink of flunking their next financial examination edge their way back to profitability. The book is absolutely riddled with case studies, and where it succeeds is very much in the way Aversa tells them. They’re his own personal stories, told candidly, cutting no corners, like they might be if you met him in the bar and he simply blurted everything out, yet happened to be an incredibly coherent storyteller.
Aversa’s career trajectory has been incredibly diverse. He made a small fortune straight out of college when he went into business with Russian partners as the Soviet Union collapsed. He supplied, initially, meat, cheese, and similar staples, eventually growing into running a mid-sized bank. Having had that business swept illegitimately from under him by a dubious business partner, he learnt the art of crisis management, encountering bitter personal feuds, shallow husks of companies, and sharp mismanagement that threatened jobs and financial wealth.
CORPORATE UNDERTAKER paints capitalism in a deeply cynical light, and readers may suspect underneath it all that Aversa knows this, but he usually seems to see things from the angle of employment retention, and the potential loss of jobs. In particular, he fights owners over insurance rights and basic fairness, and tries to come up with plans that will save the fragile jobs of as many people as possible. Ultimately, his own health suffers, and he finds himself ‘dropping out’, living in a yurt in isolated Mongolia, suffering severe eyesight issues and some incredible bad luck in his day-to-day personal life. In between, readers will find some more straight up business tips, and meet a man who really is intensely committed to the betterment of the corporate world.
CORPORATE UNDERTAKER is a business book with a difference: a glance at the dark side of the corporate world from a vastly experienced crisis consultant, penned with humor and a wealth of enthralling personal context.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader