Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Succeed in Business without Really Spying

Ninjas were 16th century James Bonds who were tapped by their samurai masters for the dirty work of spying, sabotage and assassination.

Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, thinks ninjas created the die from which today's business winners are cast.

He draws out that comparison entertainingly in his new 250-page book Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses.

"Ninja innovation is my catch-all phrase for what it takes to succeed," Shapiro writes in the introduction. 

"You have to display the qualities of the ancient Japanese ninja, whose only purpose was to complete the job. He wasn't bound by precedent; he had to invent new ways."

In defining ninja innovation, Shapiro offers a quasi-memoir that might have been titled My Life in Consumer Electronics

The stories are fun and the major charactersincluding Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerbergmostly notable.

From the book we learn that business innovators, though not literally given to spying, like James Bond are particularly single-minded. They don't think twice about breaking the "rules of the game" to win.

Shapiro scatters among the lessons lengthy gripes about US immigration policy, government regulation and unions, leftovers from his first book, The Comeback.

But the fresh material—especially his inside look at lobbying and the history of the Consumer Electronics Show—makes Shapiro's new book worth reading.

In an interview, I asked him whether business success demands that you play the tough guy.

"Absolutely not," Shapiro replied. "In fact, that's a recipe for not being successful. Instead, you have to think like a ninja. You have to be clever, creative, and think outside the box. You have to set a goal and relentlessly pursue it. You have to have a plan and a strategy and you have to be focused."
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