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The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living Paperback – September 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
So, here's my attempt at summarizing the book. It's a story about a business plan being pitched by a budding entrepeneur that Komisar is reviewing for a VC friend. The (factitious...I presume) story includes Komisar's personal perspectives about how one's career interacts with one's life and passions, how his own career, life, and passions have evolved together, and how VC's look at business plans / ideas. The story is well written and not the typical Harvard Business School Press book, in that all of the wisdom and content are presented neatly within a story.
If you need more from your job than a wage, you will likely find some pearls of wisdom in this story. If you like what you read here, check out Komisar's article in the March/April '00 HBR. If you're interested in some insight into how VC's look at business ideas, there is certainly plenty of information within this story for you too.
Finally, about the five stars, the book is absolutely deserving of them. This story hit me right between the eyes in so many ways, was so elegantly presented, and so refreshing, that I highly recommend it.
So deep in fact, that many readers and reviewers may miss their significance for three simple reasons:
First, the book doesn't give answers. This is a brilliant insight which frustrates 'inside the box thinkers' no end. After you've written a dozen business plans and pitched a hundred venture capitaliists, you quickly discover the conribution of 'dumb luck' in getting a company funded and through a liquidity event. The hubris which generally accompanies fast millions blinds most people to the mere veneer of control they exert on the destiny of a business.
Second, some people won't get the cosmic joke. Using the vehicle of a pseudo dotcom called Funerals.com, the book gently makes fun of the absurdity of monomaniacal obsession with business, contrasted to the shortness of life. Again, the authors allow the reader to explore the journey of a startup in ways which few others dare imagine.
Third: they permit the struggle to appear deceptively easy. Randy glosses over how the passions of the founders are quickly subsumed by the demands of capital, perhaps the only shortcoming that bears mention.
If Randy or a top tier business school could develop an algorithm that properly values passion on the balance sheet, inspired founders everywhere would be more likely to adopt his guidance from day one.
Implicit in the message is the question: "What do you have to become to be successful?" Their insights may help you avoid a Faustian bargain. That is a gift you'll want to savor and pass on to others.
The work itself was often scattered and forced. There was no real continuity between the flashbacks, often sounding as if Mr. Komisar decided to insert various triumphs in his life whenever he felt like it. Furthermore, I found the characters of Lenny and Allison to be more symbolic than human. They were not actual individuals, but prompts put in by Komisar to respond to the questions he wanted answered. In his interactions with them, Komisar walked an unhealthy line between humility and arrogance, presenting himself as a sort of low-key person who thinks outside the box, yet is always right on everything and draws reverence from those around him. At times, I wondered whether this book was more of a teaching tool or a testament to his own greatness.
I found his main message to be useful, but somewhat hypocritical. His criticism of the "work first and then retire" philosophy struck especially close to home, as that is one I have often embraced. I paid close attention to his words and was partially persuaded. I think he is downright contradictory, however, when he tries to use his own life as an example of how a business does better when fueled by complete passion and the expectation of it being one's life's work. There were many times when I felt like screaming out, "Mr. Komisar, practice what you preach!" Furthermore, I can think of so many ways that his theory is wrong.Read more ›
Most of the book is a fable about a stiff would-be entrepreneur named Lenny who seeks Mr. Komisar's advice. To get some idea of this fable, Lenny starts his pitch by saying that his business concept is to put the fun in funerals. Through the course of the book, Lenny learns (with a lot of prodding from Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good, insightful read on the different aspects of career and the deferred life. A bit rambling at times but I thoroughly enjoyed the real life examples of having a passion for... Read morePublished 19 days ago by $hopperJ
I first read The Monk over 15 years ago. While the book hasn't changed, my perspectives have and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around.Published 1 month ago by Alex F
Boring book about the boring musings of a hypocrite. Dont waste your money!Published 1 month ago by agis
I am currently a student in Entrepreneurship 300 at the University of Baltimore. As a student in this class I was assigned to read “The Monk and the Riddle” by Randy Komisar. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am a student at the University of Baltimore and enrolled in the survey Entrepreneurship course and the book Monk in the Riddle by Komisar was recommended to me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Karen
Hi, my name is Ben Larson and I am enrolled in an Entrepreneurship course at the University of Baltimore. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Benjamin Larson
I am an University of Baltimore student enrolled in the survey Entrepreneurship course and this was my recommended reading
This book that can be very helpful for... Read more
An excellent book for those looking to understand how to find the balance between work and life. I also enjoyed reading about what goes behind forming a startup, from the point of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Pi3142
Well written. Not a bad book points out things I have thought obvious for a while but most people don't get that people are important, not just the bottom line. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jesse Mavity-Crump