Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ben Franklin the Entrepreneur

Money Magazine ran an article entitled "6 Best money memoirs". As they put it, "How would you rather learn about finance: from a dusty textbook, or a tale of towering egos and high-stakes gambling? Money Magazine picked out six of the best real-life stories."

All the books are interesting, but I took particular notice of their pick for "Best book about entrepreneurialism" which was The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. That's not a title I would have expected in that category!

Some time afterward, I encountered a web site called LearnOutLoud.com, which distributes audio books (nonfiction only). I'm really busy, and don't have much time to actually read books. But I do have a commute to work, so I can download audio books and podcasts onto my MP3 player, and play it in the car. LearnOutLoud is a great source for material to expand your mind.

Furthermore, every month they feature a different free download. At least some of these are available for free elsewhere, but perhaps not all of them. Anyway, when I discovered the site, that month they were offering Franklin's very same Autobiography. I downloaded it and found it fascinating. Just the tale of his delay-prone and at times rather hazardous journey from New York to Philadelphia at the age of 17 is so memorable you'll be glad you got the book just for that. We think nothing of this trip today, but back then it turned into quite an adventure for him.

That trip even started in an unorthodox manner, because he was running away from his home in Boston. There was some question whether the ship captain would suspect this, and return him to his family, so to gain the captain's sympathy he concocted a story that he was leaving because he had gotten a girl pregnant!

The entrepreneurial aspects of the book occur in Philadelphia when Franklin was developing his career in the printing business. He was a pretty sharp businessman and employed some fairly aggressive tactics to advance his enterprise.

Later, as a member of the Colonial legislature, you'll laugh at the ingenious contingency plan he developed to get approval for the purchase of cannon to defend the city, over the objections of the pacifist Quakers.

All in all, a very entertaining book and one I highly recommend, no matter if you prefer the print version or the audio version.

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