Saturday, September 6, 2014

ALL I KNOW ABOUT MANAGEMENT I LEARNED FROM MY DOG, a concise guide to business life


Skyhorse Publishing
$19.95 hardcover, available now

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: When 91-year-old legendary management guru Martin Levin decided to adopt a dog by the name of Angel, he thought he was in for an interesting experience, yet not a challenging one. It didn’t take long for him to learn that he was wrong. Very wrong. Following one of the guiding mantras of his life to never stop learning, Levin found that each day with his dog brought new insights. Through interacting with Angel, he began to recall some personal adventures that added to this insight. And as it turned out, his journey led him toward realizing the Four Golden Rules of Management:

Rule 1: Trust and Leadership
Rule 2: Communication
Rule 3: Problem Solving and Decision Making
Rule 4: Perseverance

In the end, Levin found that his Four Golden Rules of Management were so simple that even Angel understood them. Thus, if a manager can develop trust, it will lead to corporate excellence, provided he or she is able to communicate effectively, make the right strategic decisions, and, above all, persevere. Levin’s book is one to entertain, inspire, and educate business executives (and dog lovers).


My Review: Martin Levin lost his wife of sixty-eight years, so he went and got a dog. The dog needed to be coaxed into a relationship with him, as she had been abused by a man before coming to a local shelter. Levin's seventy-plus years of business acumen got a sharp workout in the process of leading his dog Angel into her new life as his Service Dog.

Okay, them's the bones. The meat is, do you love dogs, and do you like Levin's personable, guy-in-the-next booth personality? You know the answer to the first one already, but let me tell you about the ninety-something Mr. Levin: If you don't like him, I doubt seriously you have a sense of humor.

Levin takes his cogent and credible four maxims lightly, telling stories on himself and his late-life love Angel the dog that relate to the facets of his principles. These stories are amusing, in that way that the modest and elderly raconteur learns is going to keep his audience attentive. No belly laughs (well, one if you're willing to be a little mean-spirited, involving a wheelchair) but a sense that the man regaling you is entertaining you on more than one level.

I'm compelled by my curmudgeonly perfectionism to complain about the use of the possessive for the plural, the strange comma usage...not in places it would help clarity, used in places not necessary...and other punctuation foibles, and some deeply picky referential infelicities (eg, short story titles are enclosed in quotation marks, not italicized). I noticed them, and even winced a bit, but kept reading.

It's impossible to live a full and rich life for over ninety years and not come away from it with many a story, and luckily Levin has shared a few of his choice ones in a brief, informative, and very useful package. I'd say it's most useful to an entrepreneur with a young business, or a post-entry-level management candidate.

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