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

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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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: #1,335,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Over the years I've participated in several surveys aimed at determining the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. Finally now, after reading Dal LaMagna's brutally honest memoir about his long, eccentric business career, I understand the one truly essential attribute an entrepreneur needs for success: chutzpah.

It was chutzpah that led Dal to organize a petition campaign about the oppressive noise overhead from the airport nearby -- at the age of 8. It was chutzpah again when he set up a computer dating service as a college freshman, and when its collapse reflected poorly on the priests who ran the Catholic college, set up what apparently became Europe's first computer dating service in Switzerland, where they had exiled him for a year. It was chutzpah when he applied to Harvard Business School with a long, detailed accont of the 16 unsuccessful businesses he'd started. And it was certainly chutzpah when he ran for President -- of the United States! -- in 2008. There is no end of chutzpah in this outrageously enjoyable story. And many of the anecdotes about the misadventures of this perennial class clown are downright hilarious. Dal himself even laughed about some of them!

Dal, who has been a friend of mine for several years, is best known to the public -- at least to the eyebrow-tweezing public -- as Tweezerman. By Dal's account, the company of this name that he founded as he approached middle age, was his 17th business venture. The failure of the previous 16 caused him endless grief, lost friendships, and considerable debt.
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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dal LaMagna’s autobiography, Raising Eyebrows, is the most joyous, entertaining, and informative biography I’ve ever read. LaMagna takes the reader on a journey through his life, from his earliest beginnings selling raffle tickets as a schoolboy, through fifteen failed ventures over the course of eight years, to his eventual success as the founder of Tweezerman. Throughout this book, LaMagna mixes entertaining stories with entrepreneurial lessons, and even bolds the ones that he thinks are particularly important. If you read this book, you will have a new-found appreciation for this self-confessed ‘compulsive capitalist:’ he is a fabulous storyteller, and a smart, successful, and compassionate entrepreneur.
From the very beginning, LaMagna had the makings of an entrepreneur. At the age of 8, he won a sales competition selling raffle tickets. Shortly afterward, he learned a key lesson of entrepreneurship while playing with friends – the power of belief. As he describes it:
This [belief], I think, is the essential key to entrepreneurism. When you really believe, it sets off a chain reaction. Your manufacturer believes. Your employees believe. Your customers believe…It transforms us and awakens in us something greater and more profound than ourselves. It is this exhilaration in the process of achieving collective belief that drives me to be an entrepreneur.
LaMagna then had a near success organizing the formation of a community center near what was then known as Idlewild Airport. However, his plans were forgotten in the wake of the assassination of JFK, and LaMagna learned yet another lesson.
Sometimes in life you cannot change what has already come to be.
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