Sunday, August 3, 2014


Born in 1979, currently the CEO of Atlanta’s Johnson Media Inc., which he founded, Kevin D. Johnson had already established several successful enterprises while still in his twenties. In his book, Johnson offers the would-be entrepreneur 100 guidelines, complete with apt quotations, and enriched by his personal experience, expressed candidly.

I liked his comment that going into business to make money is like getting married to get sex. To succeed, one needs more admirable motives. He’s not big on “follow your passion” nor “become your own boss,” either. Rather, become an entrepreneur if you want to provide goods and services that others value and if you get real pleasure out of doing so. The money will likely follow.

He writes well– clearly, interestingly, with many supporting quotes and examples. Neither overly modest nor unwilling to share his failures, Johnson presents some hard truths, including that the entrepreneur has got to be wiling to put his business ahead of his family. Talk about not being politically correct!

Fortunately, he married a woman in synch with his lifestyle. Surprisingly to me, they have a mortgage. Though it is a form of financial diversification, when you owe money, you are less secure than when you do not. You have to be willing to take risks, Johnson notes, and he has been rich and nearly broke within the last decade or so. It will be interesting to see whether he continues his well-earned winning streak or runs into circumstances that even diligence and talent cannot overcome.

Johnson’s success is at a scale that puts him within reach of many potential readers. He has multi-million-dollar success rather than mega-million dollar triumphs, much less the billion-dollar riches of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or of the founders of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, etc. If his level is hard for us to reach, it is not out of sight. His advice is relevant to the would-be captain of industry during those early years when such captaincy is just a distant goal.

Sub-titled “100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs,“ his book delivers as promised. The 100 topics are categorized within seven chapters: Strategy, Education, People, Finance, Marketing & Sales, Leadership, and Motivation.

Some of my favorites from the 100 are: Think Big; Create New Markets; Build a Company That Is Systems-Dependent, Not People-Dependent; Ask for Help; Business Comes First, Family Second; Hire a Good Lawyer; The Business Plan is Overrated; Fire Your Worst Customers; Technology is an Opportunity, Not a Threat; Always Follow Up; Failure Doesn’t Kill You; An Idea’s Execution, Not Its Uniqueness, Yields Success; Don’t Underestimate Your Competition; School Is Not Necessarily Education; Spend the Majority of Your Time with People Smarter than You; People Don’t Only Work for Money; Get the Right Mentor; A Check in Hand Means Nothing; The Biggest Investment in Your Company Is Yours; Your Customer Is Your Boss; Networking Isn’t All About You; Act in Spite of How You Feel; Make Difficult Sacrifices; You Are Excited When Monday Morning Arrives; You Are Disappointed When Friday Arrives; You Feel Unequaled Joy When Your Idea Becomes Reality.

The book ends with some valuable contact information for Kevin D. Johnson: at Twitter, he is @BizWizKevin; his email is; not surprisingly, his web site is

Mr. Johnson knew he wanted to be a businessman from early on, once he found he was too vertically challenged to make it into the National Basketball Association, even as a point guard. He now has the NBA as one of his premier accounts. He convinced me, however, that this is a route I was glad I had not taken: too much work, too many trivial issues, more stress than I would want. Still, he has hobnobbed with interesting people and seems to have enjoyed his choices.

The audience for this book should be those who want to understand successful businessmen and those who are entrepreneurs or are thinking of running their own businesses.

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