Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold released this book back in 2003 as the follow-up to their previous work, Success at Life. I picked this one up because I was on my way to walk with my dog and we drove near the public library. I hadn't visited a library in a while and I was starting to think that it was time to see what I could find in there. I have been wondering things like "Are libraries going extinct?," and "Can I find something of value to me in there anymore?" Due to budget cuts the library doesn't open until noon so I had to kill a half-hour and walked around the block a few times. Waiting for the doors to open were droves of homeless and the nearly homeless - is this the last patronage of the lies-buried institution? Anyway, we were let in and I made my way to the business section.
Having not been in there for some time, the sections of book cases had been moved around and I had to re-orient myself. The database computers had also moved, and all I could find were "work-stations," where the computer-less can sit down and do some web surfing. The simple catalog search computers were hidden somewhere, and feeling impatient I just started to roam and look for the business section on foot. In the marketing section I began my final selection. First thought - "If the author of this subject is worth their salt, the book's spine should stand out and my top choices should be obvious." Nope. Next attempt was to search for book reviews on my phone. Several titles came highly recommended, even must-haves, but of course the library didn't have any of these. Then I noticed on the shelf "Dragon Spirit - How to Self-Market Your Dream." Right up my lane.
Dragon Spirit was a quick read and I found some nice quotes in this "Zentrepreneur's Guide" - a trademarked term adopted by the author's to distinguish their style of business. Although I found this book more of a motivational read than one full of specific actionable steps, I feel like my time was well spent going from cover to cover. I also found some very humorous author comments that indicate how much has changed since 2003 and how wrong they were in at least one observation. First, the quips and ideas that struck me as useful or motivational:
Dragon Spirit is full of proverbs, some from the Taoist tradition, directly from the oldest book in the world - the i Ching - some likely made up by the authors. Here are some of my favorites, worth a ponder...
If you ignore the dragon, it will eat you. If you try to confront the dragon, it will overpower you. If you ride the dragon, you will take advantage of its might and power. - Chinese Proverb
That one reminds me of the art of Leaning into Problems, a concept you can read about in a previous article on this site. And like the above proverb, each chapter in Dragon Spirit is begun with a proverby statement. This one is especially resonant with The Lucid Dream Site:
The greatness of a dragon is not judged by its strength, but by its perseverance.
And that's the holy of holys to me. In fact, the symbolic image I chose for my own business is the 32nd hexagram of the i Ching, which is most readily reduced to the word "Perseverance" in English. Of course, persevering in the wrong direction or moving head-strong in one direction without staying aware of results so as to create a feedback loop is insanity, but when correctly applied, this virtue can overcome any obstacle and make any dream come true. The authors make some great points about embracing continued effort, and here's an important one: "[Perseverance] is the process of being in love with what you want to do, without being in love with the idea of what you want to do." In other words, action and process are more important than the goal. If you really care about something, you will move in accordance with it, rather than only imagine and hope.
Another topic of discussion in Dragon Spirit is the importance of, and some ways to go about, developing a Buzz around your product or service. This is before YouTube, Reddit, FaceBook, Pinterest, and the dozens of other popular social media sites even existed, but at least the authors demanded that you have a website. More to the basics, they urge you to have a quality product that delivers a need, and that you have customers who love your products so much that they become almost evangelical for your cause. How is your product different from competitors'? Not only that, but how will you Over-Deliver, going above and beyond expectations? Good things to consider, not just in the marketplace but also in your personal life (if there is even a difference between the two). Next...
A dragon achieves its destiny by creating it.
OK, what's all this dragon stuff about? Although not clearly explained in this book, from what I gather the dragon symbolizes transformation and the embodiment of a big dream into something physical by breathing your own fire and will into your projects (my words). Put another way, in Dragon Spirit we are told:
As Zentrepreneurs we are all long de chuan ren, Chinese for "descendants of the spiritual dragon" - symbols of sense, spirit, creativity, vitality, and will.
To get you juiced up and on your way to creating your destiny, there is a chapter about writing your business Mission Statement, but first writing your Vision Statement - "a mental magnet that pulls you naturally in the direction of your life purpose." They go on discussing how vision comes from the Sanskrit vijnana, meaning breath. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: All mastery, at anything, and the practice and process on the road to mastery requires breath control. You are your breath, and everything else I could ever say is just commentary. But on your way to business mastery you really can benefit from having a clear Statement that outlines the essence of what your business is about.
Along with all of the timeless and powerful quips in this book, like a restating of Joseph Campbell's "follow your bliss," I must say that the passage of time since this book was first published - just over a decade ago - has made some of the content incomplete or just plain silly. Something that would need updating, for instance (and it is likely there are updated editions) is the section on business structures. No mention of the now all-pervasive LLC. That's kind of a huge deal. Then there is the point they bring up about how everyone had the Motorola cell-phones, but now if you "Got a cell phone...what kind is it? Think a second. Okay class, all together now...Nokia. Riiiight." Funny. But this next paragraph is hilarious:
The business street is littered with sure-shot ruins, unshakable believers who were genuine in their belief that dream-come-true success was made up of achievement and attainment and not an ongoing learning experience. And that's a damn shame. Ask Apple's Steve Jobs who failed to see the wisdom in licensing the Macintosh operating system to other companies.
Woe. In the short time since that was written, Steve Jobs, "who failed to see the wisdom" completely changed the world of communication, business, and entertainment. Although he is no longer here to ask, I don't think that Jobs would agree that he couldn't keep up with the learning curve. What do you think? If he made any mistakes it might be about diet, but that's another issue. The take home point - nobody has all of the answers and time has a funny way of making you eat your words. Bring a pinch of salt.
Overall, I liked this book and recommend it to entrepreneurs. Not for concrete tactics, but more-so for a positive, uplifting, and motivational fast read. And the authors' talk of tea sipping got me to take a coffee break. The past few days I've been enjoying a high quality green tea - along with my Armodafinil and Noo Day. I will be back to butter-coffee soon, but nothing wrong with switching things up once in a while. It doesn't always have to be either/or. Sometimes we have more fun when it's "AND."