Eat People: A book review by Bob Morris

Eat People…and Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs
Andy Kessler
Portfolio/The Penguin Group (2011)

How and why “Free Radicals” create wealth for themselves and meanwhile improve the world

Initially, I was somewhat put off by this book’s title but it certainly caught my attention and thus served its purpose in that respect. However, I wonder, how many people will let it go at that rather than read what Any Kessler has to say about various “unapologetic rules for game-changing entrepreneurs”? As my rating indicates, I think he has much of value to say…and says it well.

With regard to the meaning and significance of the book’s title, here is what Kessler observes:  “the best way to leverage Abundance and Scale and to create Productivity is to get rid of people…Now I’m not suggesting we actually eat anyone…But we do need to get rid of worthless jobs [and those who languish in then]…There’s nothing productive about [many different kinds of jobs], though they may be temporarily necessary until someone, a true Free Radical, writes a piece of code to make them obsolete. That’s how you create productivity…If you look at the world through a productivity filter, a lot more things start to make sense, especially about who is pulling their load and who is just along for the ride.”

As Kessler goes on to explain, a “Free Radical” is a change agent who is determined to eliminate anyone and anything that reduces (if not eliminates) value, however defined. Especially during the current Depression/Depression/Great Reset/ Whatever, it makes no sense to leave in place barriers (human and non-human) to productivity and efficiency, that are both scalable and sustainable.

How to decide what to do and not do? Kessler offers a baker’s dozen of “Rules” (the last is a bonus) and devotes a separate chapter to each. He explains why and how all can be essential “game-changers” for Free Radicals such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton. However different they may be in most other respects, all of them not only created wealth for themselves, but at the very same time, improved the world, made life better, and increased everyone else’s standard of living. As Kessler explains, “Free Radicals found situations to combust and destroy, but in the end, it was only to make room to build the new [and the improved] – disrupt the status quo, do more with less, advance society, drive progress rather than have progress drive them. A free Radical is someone who gets wealthy inventing the future by helping others live longer and better.” So, “eating people” is a metaphor for the process by which Free Radicals (Creators) and their allies (Servers) eliminate whoever and whatever opposes or impedes “increasing productivity, increasing society’s wealth, reinventing the way the world works and generating enough (altruistic?) profits to reinvest in their process to keep this reinvention going for decades on end. These are the real heroes in history.”

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the just published 10th Anniversary Edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto co-authored by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger ; also, Bill Jensen and Josh Klein’s Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results, and Rework, co-authored by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.


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