Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!
— by Blake Glenn
This is a brand spanking new feature. I’ll occasionally post micro reviews of business, or business-related, books that I’ve read. My intent is to simply provide my brief perspective and maybe wet your appetite a bit for books you may or may not have heard of but whose topics I find interesting.
While some of these books will be recent releases, many of them will be years, or even decades, old. And they are not necessarily the latest “gotta-read-it” New York Times best selling networking conversation starters.
So with no further delay, here’s the list for my very first Looney Executive Book Review:
“Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football” – by Gilbert Gaul
As a youngster growing up I was a big-time fan of college football. My favorites started with Ohio State but also included USC and Oklahoma. As time went on my interest was still there but declined significantly because, you know, I grew up and had many other interests. In recent years however, as the ESPN era has really changed college sports, I’ve gazed on diametrically with both horror and abundant interest.
This book does a good job of looking at the various revenue sources of college football such as ticket sales, sponsorships, and TV contracts. Gilbert Gaul focuses on the operations of mega-programs such as Oregon, Texas and Alabama. He also compares the revenue and funding for the monolithic empire of big-time college football to other sports such as women’s rowing. The contrast is stark indeed. After reading the book you may have blood-red angry smoke pouring from your ears or … perhaps wondering how to get a piece of this sweet multi-billion dollar action yourself.
Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals Hardcover – by John LeFevre
More than 20 years ago I read my first book about the insider trading scandals of the late 1980’s. That book was about former investment banker Dennis Levine. I went on to read books about Michael Milken, the leveraged buyout of RJR nabisco and many more. And since the early 90’s I’ve had a fascination for Wall Street stories from various angles. Many were good, others mediocre, and a few were just bad.
I had high hopes for “Straight To Hell”. It’s about a young dude having an adventure on Wall Street, mostly based in foreign countries. Since most of my reads were from a prior generation I thought this might be an interesting Wall Street perspective from a newer generation. And I LOOOVE the name of the book. I actually have a series of personal stories about going to hell from my own business adventures.
But with that said … this book was a disappointment. While I like to hear about debauchery and juvenile behavior from way overpaid characters, this was just too damned much prostitution, drugging, drinking, and pooping-in-pants for me. I’m no prude by any stretch. Some of that actually is fascinating. But I thought there would be more about behind-the-scenes deal machinations. That fascinates me. I like to see how deals and strategies are pieced together. But maybe you’ll love it. If you love the poop-in-pants scene please never read this blog again!
Dead Companies Walking: How A Hedge Fund Manager Finds Opportunity in Unexpected Places – by Scott Fearon and Jesse Powell
This is another Wall Street book. But it’s from a different viewpoint. Hedge funds have become big news the last few years. And hedge fund managers, the big ones, are some of the world’s wealthiest people you’ve never ever heard of. This particular hedge fund manager, Soctt Fearon, doesn’t seem to be one of them. Not to say that he’s not well off. But, comparatively speaking, he runs a small hedge fund.
Part of his strategy is to “short” stocks. That is, he identifies companies whose stock prices he expects to decline and makes bets on them. He does this by using a fairly straight-forward formula to identify prospective investments. He tells interesting stories about how some firms fell onto rough times and why they make good “shorts”. Since distressed firms and turnarounds are another interest of mine, I wanted to read this book. And I liked it.
So that’s two thumbs up, one thumb down. But if you’re so inclined please read them all for yourself and let me know what you think.
Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?
If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com
P.S. I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!