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Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons Hardcover – March 19, 2013

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Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons + Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours + The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062253506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062253507
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Having started Edible Arrangements, an international franchise with more than 1,000 stores, I know that the more “business brilliant” my franchise partners are, the more likely they are to build hugely successful stores. I wish I had read this book a decade ago.” (Tariq Farid, Founder and CEO, Edible Arrangements)

“Whether you are starting a new business or navigating your career, conventional wisdom doesn’t get you very far. Lewis Schiff clearly outlines the true characteristics of success I wish I had read Business Brilliant 25 years ago when we started The Brooklyn Brewery.” (Steve Hindy, Founder and President, Brooklyn Brewery and co-author of Beer School)

“An engaging look at ‘realigning our career-development practices with the world we live in today’… intriguing, different kind of take on the self-help moneymaking genre.” (Kirkus)

“Schiff builds his narrative on solid evidence, including research data comparing and contrasting the self-made person with the usual middle class.” (Booklist)

“…Schiff offers useful insights such as ‘people who are the most brilliant at business are also those who fail most often,’ and urges readers to understand that ‘failure can be good.’” (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

Ask a member of the middle class what it takes to become wealthy, and she'll tell you it takes a bold new idea. Tell that to a self-made millionaire, and he'll vehemently disagree. What explains the difference in mind-set between the self-made wealthy and the rest of us? It's not what you think, as journalist and entrepreneur Lewis Schiff convincingly illustrates through groundbreaking research and compelling storytelling.

For decades, the middle class has believed that the road to success meant working hard and playing by rules passed down from previous generations. But as the 2008 economic crisis has made clear, the old rules no longer apply. While household net worth has declined for most, self-made business leaders—entrepreneurially minded individuals born into the middle class who have accumulated significant wealth—have prospered. What makes these have-mores financially successful while the rest of us have never felt more uncertain about our professional and financial futures?

In Business Brilliant, Lewis Schiff reveals the eye-opening findings from a national survey of middle-class workers and self-made millionaires, offering practical guidance to show the rest of us what America's self-made rich already know. Through his research, he holds a mirror to our most commonly held beliefs about success and then reveals the truth about how wealth is really created by surveying the truly wealthy. In doing so, he explodes the conventional wisdom and identifies the distinct principles practiced by individuals who may or may not be any smarter than the rest of the population but seem to understand instinctively how money is made. They don't employ business-as-usual practices; they adopt a "Business Brilliant" mind-set. The book illustrates how these self-made millionaires choose their careers, negotiate to win, and leverage social networks to accumulate their wealth.

Schiff argues that it is the synergy behind seven uncommon practices, not serendipity or luck, that produces success. He offers a practical four-step program anyone can follow to position themselves to succeed more often and a roadmap to compare your own Business Brilliance to the executives and entrepreneurs who have successfully navigated our rapidly changing economy. While Business Brilliant doesn't promise to make you rich, it can help you achieve better results in your career and accumulate wealth faster.

More About the Author

Lewis Schiff is the executive director of Inc. Business Owners Council, a membership organization for Inc. Magazine's top entrepreneurs and owners of closely-held family businesses and maintains a blog about behavioral entrepreneurship on

His new book, Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons, which focuses on the wealth-creating behaviors and attitudes that work best in the new economy, was published by Harper Collins in March 2013.

Schiff has co-authored two books: The Influence of Affluence: How The Rich Are Changing America charts the rise of America's growing affluent middle-class through original research and analysis. The Armchair Millionaire describes a wealth-creation system that leverages Nobel-Prize winning methodologies.

Customer Reviews

This was a very entertaining and well written book.
I have read a lot of business, self help and self improvement books, but I can easily say that right now it is the best.
I bought this book based on a review I read in the paper.
Ellen Contreras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jay Goltz on March 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book has three elements. 1. Very interesting and insightful looks at some very successful businesses. 2. Some insights as to why so many smart, talented, and hard working people never become wealthy. 3. The difference between the beliefs of the successful and the average person. While it was all interesting, I did get some validation that as a successful entrepreneur of 35 years, I in fact do not think like the average person. On the other hand, I do not exhibit or practice all of the habits of the super successful entrepreneurs. While this comes as no surprise, I never really understood what those things were. Now I know! And better yet, I'm O.K. with it! I appreciate the fact that this book is not a "road map to success" sham. It is honest and insightful, and it certainly has many valuable takeaways. Good job.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mike Carruthers on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I cannot recall a more fascinating and insightful book on wealth and success than Business Brilliant. Lewis Schiff clearly lays out the difference between how middle-class people and wealthy people think and act in the areas of money and success. It turns out that self-made wealth isn't "magic," in fact it is largely the result of routine and mundane work. It's just that wealthy people are willing to step out of their comfort zone to follow the money. Middle-class people are not.

One great example is that wealthy people ask. They ask more often, they ask for more and they ask in situations where middle-class people don't - or won't - for fear of looking greedy or feeling uncomfortable. He points out that only 1 in 4 people ever ask for more money when hired for their first job. Yet, 9 out of 10 employers are willing to pay more if (and only if) the employee asks.

This book not only offers a map to wealth - it gives you (in the last chapter) 17 very specific and actionable steps. It is well written and full of great stories.

Everyone who wants to be wealthy or wealthier should read this book. It is empowering and it certainly helped to liberate me from my long-held, middle-class beliefs that I now know have cost me quite a bit of money in the past. Not anymore.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Liana on March 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have been waiting for this book to be released. As an entrepreneur who is focused on mastering business, I firmly believe "Success leaves clues" and one of the best ways is to model ourselves after great business successes. This book reveals how ultra-successful business icons actually think and sets it out in actionable principles and steps. I took copious notes as I read through the book which remain on my desk to refer to constantly. Lewis's writing style makes it easy to read this book while at the same time learning how to be "business brilliant". I immediately put some of the lessons to work and started experiencing better results because I was able to approach negotiations and business relations in an improved way.

For anyone in business, I think this is a must-read and I highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By New York guy on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that belongs on the shelf of every entrepreneur (and isn't that all of us these day?) It is thoroughly researched and very well written. I think it is one of those books suited for consulting throughout one's career - during the ups and downs, and the big decision points along the way.

One of the things it does brilliantly is spell out how essentially misled we all are on how to succeed. It's not about hard work (only), it's not about luck (only), or even talent. It's about thinking like successful people think - and how they think will definitely surprise you. It makes a great gift for the recent graduate too!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew A. Goldman on April 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."

Lewis Schiff in his new book Business Brilliant tells us exactly how and why the rich are different, based on data derived from questionnaires and illustrated by many fascinating case histories.

The book's life teachings, if learned, would make any reader more effective in their lives, whether or not they achieved great wealth. For example, while it may seem obvious and even hoary, it is still necessary to teach people to ask. Mr. Schiff observes that people don't get what they don't ask for. Of course, they don't always get what they ask for--but never is it bestowed on those who don't ask. If you are always gets what they ask for--you aren't asking for enough.

Seems obvious but illustration after poignant illustration document instances where most of us leave money on the table that would be better in our pocket.

It turns out that wealth is not, as so many believe, the outcome of following shibboleths taught since early age--do what you love and the money will come, save more, spend less, be original, invent etc. No, Mr. Schiff makes a compelling case that the prize goes to the best prepared person doing what they do best with the most focused attitude.

Dispensed wisdom without techniques to follow, while enjoyable and instructive, lacks sustaining power.

Mr. Schiff, in addition to providing a prescriptive framework for success, wisely has included a-how-to-do- it manual which, if utilized, as night precedes the day, must yield great improvement.

There are none who wouldn't benefit in multiple ways by taking Mr. Schiff admonitions and lessons to heart and employing the 17 essentials with which he concludes this remarkable book.

Putting my money where my mouth is, I have purchased ten copies and am giving them to friends and family. When they are gone I will buy another ten.
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