August 30, 2011

News & Opinion: Nothing to Lose

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 8:27 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Business books have a certain stigma attached to them. For non-fans, they might seem intimidating, or pointless, depending which end of the judgment spectrum you're on. The assumption is that "they're for other, more business-types of people."

On some level, that doesn't make much sense. We all have tastes and opinions, true, but, we're also involved in the process of survival. And survival comes down to what you can contribute in order to obtain that which let's you continue living. Business books are about all sorts of things having to do with profits and statistics and management; things some people "don't want to think about." Yet they live it, in some way or another.

That's what makes a book like Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain, by Ryan Blair, a refreshing glimpse into the world of business. You see, Ryan Blair wasn't a Harvard graduate, hedge fund manager, or heir to a company fortune - not that any of those things are bad. Ryan Blair was a middle class kid who got caught up in gangs: a gun carrying criminal that saw survival in it's most uncaring form.

But he learned lessons during that time, lessons about himself, the world, and in the end, business. For one, he lived through this experience, not just physically, but mentally. Eventually, he found a mentor and realized his life could change. But what about all those good lessons he learned in the gang lifestyle, about loyalty, investing, plans, and deals?

He didn't forget them, and he figured out how to filter them through his later book knowledge of business, where people didn't die over deals. While most people try to distance themselves from negative experiences, Blair used them to his advantage, took the fundamental truths from his negative experiences, and eventually started, built and sold a number of successful companies by the time he was in his twenties. He now helps entrepreneurs start and build their own companies under the "nothing to lose" philosophy - a philosophy that many of his previous "business associates" lived and died under.

Here's his statement:

Some of you reading this are judging me and saying, 'Why should I listen to him when he's made bad decisions in his life?' For those of you having a hard time getting over the fact that I haven't had a squeaky clean life, I say take any middle-class kid whose family is in shambles - torn apart by drug addiction and abuse - throw him into a gang-infested neighborhood when all he wants is a male role model, and he will find males to follow but they won't be role models. That's why I've made bad decisions, but that's also how I got my nothing-to-lose mind set. And those things you are judging - my poor decisions - those are my assets...But a mind-set isn't enough; you're going to need to get smart - book smart and street smart - because there are going to be a lot of people trying to steal your milk. Read on.
And "read on" is something we'd recommend. It's a compelling story from an interesting person who's seen more in his life, negative and positive, than most of us will ever see. And through his experiences, shared here, we too can learn.