3 out of 4 stars
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Even as a boy, Dal LaMagna had the spirit of an entrepreneur, but he made some costly mistakes with his entrepreneurial ventures that landed him in serious debt by the time he graduated from Harvard Business School. Fortunately, LaMagna learned from his mistakes, and he shares his experience and insight in Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets It Right. After "failing at dozens of businesses," he learned to exercise focus and caution that he credits to his early failures: "I believe my failures to be as important as my later accomplishments because it is there that the seeds of success for Tweezerman are deeply rooted." Chapter by chapter, LaMagna highlights the lessons he has learned and shares how his $500 investment became a successful business that employs hundreds.
At the beginning of the book, LaMagna shared a meaningful quote from his mother: "Failure is just a perception." Although he acknowledged that it took him years to fully comprehend the significance of her encouraging words, the philosophy was reflected in his engaging narrative. LaMagna’s story stood out because he not only acknowledged his mistakes, but he also learned to capitalize on them. This was illustrated throughout the book. For instance, LaMagna wasn't accepted to Harvard when he graduated from high school despite his straight-A average. When he attended Providence College, he didn't apply himself, was almost expelled, and started eleven unsuccessful businesses. However, he began keeping a scrapbook that documented his failures. It was a letter summarizing these failures, including the statement: "This compulsive capitalist seeks your knowledge and guidance" that gained him acceptance to graduate school at both Harvard and Columbia.
I particularly like LaMagna's storytelling style. With occasional humor, he weaves engaging dialogues and anecdotes throughout the book, as he shares his childhood, family life, entrepreneurial risks, and the lessons leading to his success. LaMagna's revelation regarding the inspiration behind the idea for his successful invention caught me off guard and was somewhat humorous. I won't reveal spoilers since he doesn't mention it until the last half of the book, but suffice it to say that the proverb "Necessity is the mother of invention" applies.
Additionally, chapters included LaMagna's practical advice highlighted in bold type, such as: "The first thing I learned was the best way to deal with creditors was to talk to them, meet with them if you have to, and acknowledge the debt." I also admire LaMagna's tenacity; he sets a goal and follows through with it.
Although there isn't anything that I dislike about the book's content, it needs further editing. The minor errors are mostly related to incorrect capitalization and punctuation, but there are more than ten, necessitating the deduction of a star. Overall, I rate Raising Eyebrows 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend the informative book to readers who are interested in entrepreneurship, start-ups, and rags-to-riches narratives. Sensitive readers are cautioned that it contains profanity, recreational drug use, and nonexplicit sexual references.
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