Me, Inc. (Book Review)
Released: 2014, Dey Street
I have a few people in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal world that I look to for motivation and inspiration in my own life. All of them are entrepreneurs. All of them are businessmen with many ventures out side of being rockers. All of them are successful, wealthy philanthropists who have created jobs and art. They are Bruce Dickinson, Ted Nugent and Gene Simmons. All of the men, whether they are an privately-educated liberal from England, a self-made conservative from Texas or an outspoken Jewish immigrant from New York, all of these powerful men have done many wonderful things above and beyond being a mere ‘Rock Star’.
Of these three I think Gene has always been my favourite because he had to crawl up the farthest and perhaps work the hardest to be successful. His new book ME, INC. is about the techniques Gene Simmons used to be successful. Some may question the value of review of a business manifesto in the hallowed halls of the Library Of Loudness, but we endeavour to cover all writers who have a Rock/Metal connection. Besides there is some music and Kiss stuff in here as well so it makes the grade.
ME, INC. is a pretty simple book, only a couple hundred pages long, a simple parerback with not really many ‘bonus’ features per se. There are a couple dozen chapters divided onto two main sections. ‘Me’ and ‘You’. The subtitle is ‘Build An Army Of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God and Win In Life And Business’. Sound pretty straightforward. Gene has never been subtle.
Gene talks about his early life and keeps it pretty simple as he covered much of this territory in his earlier books. He talks about his early business ventures (as a kid, (pre-Kiss ) and I was impressed how hard he worked to educate himself. Gene talks about hard work, dedication, sacrifice, restraint, honesty…many of those concepts are dirty words to Gen Y these days. Gene offers a couple dozen key points about things you need to (or should do) to be successful. He talks about taxes, spending, saving, wealth management, time management, education, and quite a bit about failure and motivation. He says you will fail. It is inevitable. He has failed many times and lists many of them and the difference is that Gene shrugged it off got back up and started again AND learned from his mistakes to minimize the chance of failing again…or at least as badly.
I’m sure that the book will have some controversy, as Gene is blunt, very blunt about how you should do what you need to get ahead in life and business. Educate yourself. Dress well. Speak English. Change your unpronounceable last name to something that people can say. Save, don’t spend. Learn manners. Don’t gossip. Gather basic business skills like spelling, grammar and typing. Get a job. Conform. Adapt to survive. Win. I can’t imagine why but for some people these will be upsetting and controversial ideas. As I type this review I’ve already seen my first batch of negative comments on-line and the book has only been out for a week. Gene would say …Good! Let the cynics gossip and complain as take themselves out of the success equation and the publicity will sell more copies.
For the reader who is maybe not so interested in being successful in business there is still tons of cool anecdotes and stores about Gene and his business and his personal life. He talks about his family, magazines, record labels, bands, comics, TV shows, his reality TV series, movies, the LA KISS football team and many other ventures most people don’t know about. It was very revealing. I always felt deep down Gene was a good guy (despite his own portrayal and self image) and for the first time he talks about the massive amount of charity work he has done in Africa, charity for disease foundations, charity for micro-businesses for women in third world nations, and many more. He doesn’t brag, all of this info falls under the part about responsibility to give back…once you have become successful on your own terms and taken care of your obligations and families…then you can spread the wealth and create jobs. Gene has given away more than most of us will ever earn in our lifetime and I was pleased to see him open up a bit about this side of his work to help people. He comes across as remarkably humble, gracious and thankful for the opportunities, which he took advantage of.
I found this book extremely helpful and motivating coming at a time in my life when I need a bit of a reality check and a kick in the ass. Gene was the man to do it. In that sense I give this book a perfect score. In terms of being an unbiased critic (something which Gene looks down upon, as people who criticize but don’t ‘do’) writing about Metal for a Metal site, this book will not appeal to everyone. Members of the Kiss Army will love it, as do I, but his no nonsense style of discussing techniques for success will not be embraced by everyone. That’s ok. Less competition. Gene haters, critics and cynics, approach with caution. Everyone else who wants to get an insightful glimpse at the way one man started at the bottom and made it to the top, grab a copy. Don’t steal it or buy it. Gene would recommend going to your local public library to read it for free to save money on things you don’t really need and invest that money in yourself. Sign out your copy today!