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Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets it Right Hardcover – October 19, 2010

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From the Inside Flap

Before he was a success, Dal LaMagna was a failure. A self-described "compulsive capitalist," he failed at every business he tried, from one of the original computer dating services (run on a 1950s vacuum-tube computer), to an ice cream parlor on the Venice boardwalk, to converting drive-in movie theatres to drive-in discotheques (he tried to compete against Woodstock), to a Harvard Square waterbed store. All these ventures got him, aside from some really good stories, was about $150,000 in debt. As he puts it, "I failed to get ahead." Yet his tale has a happy ending.

Raising Eyebrows reveals how LaMagna turned his failures into the seeds of his success, founding the beauty tool company Tweezerman and building it into both a premium brand and a socially responsible enterprise. If you're tired of entrepreneurship stories that gloss over hardships or sugar-coat risks, LaMagna pulls no punches in depicting the long and difficult work of realizing his dreams.

Over years and years of starting and running companies, LaMagna discovered how his early unsuccessful ventures equipped him to ultimately achieve triumphs. While reading Raising Eyebrows, you will learn from his mistakes so you can apply them to your enterprise. You'll find practical wisdom on raising capital, marketing, selling, and more, all woven into a rich portrayal of doing business in the radical 1960s and beyond. You'll also learn how building and running a socially responsible company works in the real world, straight from an entrepreneur who has walked the walk. And you won't want to miss the painfully funny story of how LaMagna first got the idea for Tweezerman!

By turns inspiring, hilarious, poignant, and enlightening, Dal LaMagna's story, cowritten with his lifelong friends Wally Carbone and Carla Reuben, offers an unforgettable business and life journey that brings new meaning to the saying "never give up." If you've ever dreamed of following your own path and changing the world along the way, you'll want to see how a lot of pluck—and a little luck—had one man Raising Eyebrows.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Raising Eyebrows

"Dal LaMagna tells his story with startling candor about how he learned from his business and personal failures to develop that combination of resiliency, curiosity, and necessary entrepreneurial discipline to build a successful company, sell it at the top, and open up many other new initiatives."
Ralph Nader, leading consumer advocate

"Raising Eyebrows is the story of an indefatigable entrepreneur and adventurer who meets life's failures with an unrelenting forcefulness to always forge forward. Dal's book is a lesson in innovative life engagement and the power of unbending will."
Juleanna Glover, republican strategist, founding principal at The Ashcroft Group, LLC

"Dal's improbable success after many failures is a lesson for all of us not only about business but about life. Dal tells his story in a delightfully humorous 'no-holds-barred way' and shares what he has learned about creating a business that benefits society as a whole. This is a really good read. Dal rocks."
Ben Cohen, co-founder, Ben and Jerry's

"Dal LaMagna is one of the funniest, most original people I've ever met. He puts his money, passion, and creativity to work for what he believes in. I say that with particular appreciation because he was the first person ever to invest in me. Dal is a born storyteller who has good material to work with. This book is guaranteed to make you laugh—and think about how you are living your life."
Nina Rothschild Utne, co-founder, Utne Reader, and founder, Future Fit

"Dal LaMagna is a great storyteller, both funny and emotionally deep. He has gotten into and out of more trouble than any ten of us. This makes great stories, but it also allows him to teach the essence of entrepreneurship in a memorable and entertaining way. In addition to the laughs and thrills, reading Raising Eyebrows will make you a better businessperson and a better human being."
Gifford Pinchot III, co-founder, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

"Dal's book is delightful, entertaining, real, thought-provoking, and when it is over, you are inspired to live a more authentic, adventurous, and courageous life. Read it so you too can become a more engaged citizen for the peace and well-being of the world."
Jodie Evans, co-founder, CodePink


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470874376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470874370
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dal LaMagna is known as Tweezerman. He founded the company in 1980 and built it into a multi-national, premier personal-care-tool brand that practices responsible capitalism and corporate social responsibility. Part of the company's mission is to benefit all stakeholders: including financial partners, employees, customers, vendors, the community and the natural environment.

Dal sold Tweezerman U.S.A. in December 2004, to the Zwilling, J.A. Henckels Company, a privately held German company. Dal's U.S.A. employees kept their jobs and shared $10 million in capital gains because every one of them was a shareholder in the company.

During the Iraq War, Dal participated in two meetings with members of the Iraq Parliament and others in Amman, Jordan. The first meeting in August 2006, was comprised of a peace delegation where Dal and 15 other peace activists met with Iraqi members of Parliament, sheiks, and torture survivors on a mission to "Listen to the Iraqis." The second meeting was with Congressman Jim McDermott, D-Wash. From both these meetings Dal produced video presentations, which he used to educate members of the U.S. Congress and other Americans about an Iraqi point of view on the war. Dal produced a live videoconference between U.S. Congress members and members of the Iraq Parliament. Dal acted as a citizen diplomat working with Mohammed al Dynee, a member of the Iraq Parliament to negotiate a cease-fire between Iraqi insurgents and the Coalition Forces. The story of this effort became Man vs. History, a segment on NPR's This America Life. He is an executive producer of four feature-length Iraq War movies: The Ground Truth, Meeting Resistance, The War Tapes and Iraq For Sale. He also executive produced War Child - Emmanuel Jal. Jal is a former Sudanese child soldier who is now a hip hop artist building a school in Leer, Sudan Africa.

He is the founder and CEO of -- an online film, music and book-distribution company. His book Raising Eyebrows, a Failed Entrepreneur Finally Gets It Right, will be released in October, 2010.

Dal received his MBA from Harvard in 1971 and a master's in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2002 where he was named a Littauer Fellow for outstanding scholarship and leadership. He graduated from Providence College in 1968. He spent his junior year as an undergraduate at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended the Cathedral Preparatory Seminary his first year of high school.

Dal ran for U.S. Congress twice in the 3rd Congressional District in New York. In 1996 and 2000, he ran as the Democrat, Working Families, and Green Party Candidate. During the 2006 federal elections, Dal served as co-chair of Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell's successful re-election campaign. He ran for President in the 2008 Democratic primary - and received eight votes.

He is a long-standing member of the Social Venture Network (SVN), a group of responsible capitalists who promote social and economic justice through their businesses. He served on its Board of Directors for two years. Dal is currently on the Board of Directors of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), an MBA program that is "Changing Business for Good." He is on the Tweezerman Corporation Board and is Board Emeritus of Yes Magazine, He is a managing partner of IceStone.

Dal is an active investor in small businesses started and run by friends of his. They include: IceStone, The Huffington Post, Bennett & Company,, EO Naturals, Delta GNet, the Clean Technology Fund, the Domini Social Equity Fund, The Stoney Field Cafe, Green Harvest, Earthstone, Growstone, Napo Pharmaceutical, Margaret O'Leary, BioChar Engineering, Potomac Energy, Cara Therapeutics and Cempra Pharmaceuticals.

Dal currently lives in three Washington's: Poulsbo, Wash. Port Washington, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. He has two children: Julia who is 29 and Evan 21.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob O'Connell on October 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a total delight - funny, entertaining and, at the same time, provocative and inspirational. It will provide you with a new definition of the American spirit - irrepressible capitalism with an innovative social conscience. Plus it's just a great read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Craig Nakagawa on October 10, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't know the answer to this question, but one thing is clear. You've got to want it, whatever it is as your reason for wanting (needing?) to be an entrepreneur. There's no BS. Dal is brutally honest (and funny) about his foibles, and you walk in his shoes as he's doing, failing, doubting, recalibrating, and finally succeeding. There are useful lessons learned in the book, but the real story to me was about being able to move on after each failure. At the time, he likely did not know how all his ventures (failures?) tied together. It all made sense in the end though not in a way that one could have foreseen. You start off wanting one thing. In the end, it is something completely different but wonderful nonetheless. If you think you want to walk the tight rope without a net, read this book before taking the plunge. On the other hand, if you really are an entrepreneur at heart, or as Dal puts it, a compulsive capitalist, no one could convince you otherwise.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John M. Perkins on October 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dal LaMagna's story is not only eloquent and insightful; it is also an enlightening expose on how to bounce back from failure and succeed in a failed economic climate.

A college professor once told a class I was in: "The only difference between a person who ultimately fails and one who succeeds is that the latter has failed one more time and tried again."

"Raising Eyebrows" is a magnificent testament to this philosophy.

This is an easy to read, often funny book that, like stories told by the Buddha, carries a great deal of sage advice.

John Perkins
Author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" and "Hoodwinked"
Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded--and What We Need to Do to Remake Them
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PT on November 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I met Dal LaMagna one day at his home in Seattle, through a mutual friend, and I had no idea he was a former CEO or had just sold his Tweezerman company to Henckels in Germany for millions. He was just this down to earth guy who, on our way to dinner, took the four of us by to see his father--a wonderful elderly yet incredibly vital Italian father who regaled us with stories about his days in the Bronx as a firefighter and longshoresman. I was fascinated by Dal's father and particularly moved as he told us how proud he was of Dal and his son's tenacity in pursuing _the_ successful business model.

Raising Eyebrows is as personal and poignant a story as was the loving exchange between father and son that I witnessed. And unlike many of the great but dry business books I read each year, Dal's book is very fun to read as it is suffused with non-stop humor, honesty and intimate views of his journey as a "failed serial entrepreneur who finally gets it right." Ahhhh...the real scoop--a rarity in our world of CEOs who run giant corporations and often hold themselves out of reach of the rest of humanity. We are all gifted, Dal proposes, "There is nothing extraordinary about me. What I can do anyone can do." A loving message from someone who's done "it" in the business world. A needed counterbalance point of view to today's subtle yet real societal pressure towards mediocrity. How many of us are told we can (really) be the next Bill Gates or Oprah? Well Dal tells us how he did it, his way of achieving success in the business world, and that we can, too, if we follow our heart in our own journey as he did on his.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Jackson on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was so much fun, I couldn't put it down. Anyone who names himself and his business "TWEEZERMAN" has to be fearless and RAISING EYEBROWS proves Dal LaMagna is that and much more. It's not fair to think of this merely as a business and self-improvement book, no matter how booksellers may label it. It's a truly inspiring story of self-examination and a discovery of human nature and how we can work and live more happily and productively as a society. And LaMagna's funny and surprising stories are more entertaining than a whole season of THE WEST WING or MAD MEN, though they might well conjure up images of both.

I can't think of anyone who has faced failure with such fortitude and made it a learning experience, over and over. He polished the rough stone that he was handed, over and over, until it became a shining gem. The stories of the adventure en route to stunning success are hilarious and constantly entertaining, but that doesn't distract from the remarkably candid and often humble insights he offers about life and business.

Dal has managed to gain extraordinary insight into himself - and by extension, into all of us - with keen personal and universal perception that Woody Allen might have hoped for from decades of expensive psychoanalysis. At least as funny as Woody, Tweezerman did it by himself, looking at his strengths and weaknesses without flinching and being willing to learn from what he saw.

RAISING EYEBROWS makes me wish we had people in elected office who were as unabashedly honest and caring as Tweezerman, and who could admit and learn from even the most embarrassing mistakes. Then they might make the country today as functional and successful for its citizens as LaMagna made his company for himself - and all those who worked with him.
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