Friday, November 23, 2012

By Invitation Only by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

I wonder if you've heard of Gilt Groupe? The first time I heard of it was because it was a pre-installed app on my phone (and I can't get rid of it). But I am always interested in the stories of how businesses succeed. And this book is way more than just a story.

Apart from being just a story, By Invitation Only aims to put "forth our story with the goal of offering concrete suggestions on how to handle some of the challenges that lie ahead". And yes, the book does fulfill that promise.

First, the story aspect. The story of Gilt Groupe is really exciting. I'm not a fashion-girl, so these ideas would never agree to me. But the friendship of the A's and the whole start-up team made me support this company (alas, I don't have the money to financially support it). It also presents a candid look at how a start-up works, and how it changes as it gets bigger and starts earning money. The prose was very readable and the story was compelling.

Next, the advise part. One very useful thing is that after milestones, the book provides Checklists that help solidify the lessons learnt. I know some people will be able to gather these lessons just by reading the stories, but for the slightly obtuse like me, the checklists are very helpful. And of course, woven into the narrative itself are bits and pieces of good advice. It didn't interrupt the flow of the re-count at all.

I really do wish that my textbooks were all like this. It's way more interesting to learn from a story (that also explicitly tells you what you're supposed to know) than to keep reading the same dry theories. Although admittedly, my Business and Management textbook is pretty interesting.

Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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