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The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Life [Paperback]

Randy Kosimar
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2001
What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life...? It's a question most of us consider only hypothetically-opting instead to "do what we have to do" to earn a living. But in the critically acclaimed bestseller "The Monk and the Riddle", entrepreneurial sage Randy Komisar asks us to answer it for real. The book's timeless advice - to make work pay not just in cash, but in experience, satisfaction, and joy - will be embraced by anyone who wants success to come not just from what they do, but from who they are.At once a fictional tale of Komisar's encounters with a would-be entrepreneur and a personal account of how Komisar found meaning not in work's rewards but in work itself, the book illustrates what's wrong with the mainstream thinking that we should sacrifice our lives to make a living. Described by Fortune.com as "part personal essay, part fictional narrative and part meditation on the nature of work and life," "The Monk and the Riddle" is essential reading on the art of creating a life while making a living. 'Belongs in a category by itself...The best thing I've read all year' - "San Francisco Examiner". 'A timely book' - "USA Today". 'A self-help manual and business fable rolled into one' - "The Times, London".

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From Amazon

Prospective entrepreneurs may think they know everything there is to know about starting a business in Silicon Valley. They can draw up business plans, have meetings with venture capitalists, maybe even get funded and actually launch a start-up. However, in The Monk and the Riddle, Silicon Valley sage Randy Komisar reasons that's only half the equation for success. And it may not be the important half. Komisar has worked with a number of companies--Apple, LucasArts Entertainment (the gaming division of George Lucas's empire), and WebTV among them--and has come to a rather startling conclusion: if you can't see yourself doing this business for the rest of your life, don't start it. In other words, he wants to see passion and purpose in business, not just spreadsheets and a by-the-numbers business model.

To illustrate, Komisar takes the reader through a hypothetical Silicon Valley start-up, with an eager entrepreneur named Lenny trying to get funding for an online casket-selling business. As Komisar helps Lenny find the real purpose of the business, the passion behind the revenue projections, he reflects back on his life as an entrepreneur. Komisar emerges as a master storyteller, the kind of guy you'd feel honored to share a bottle of wine with. And you believe his conclusion: "When all is said and done, the journey is the reward." It's great if you've made billions on the journey, but the important thing is that you do something you can truly throw yourself into. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Komisar is among a new breed of executives who have been called "virtual CEO's." Unlike consultants, they not only advise but actually work for companies that tend to be very small high-tech or Internet start-ups. In addition to working currently for seven such companies, Komisar has worked with WebTV and TiVo, was the "real" CEO at LucasArts Entertainment, and was one of the founders of Claris Corporation. With the assistance of freelance writer Kent Lineback, who has produced numerous films and videos for the Harvard Business School, Komisar here intertwines the story of his own career with that of two fictional entrepreneurs. The purpose is to show how deals are made and businesses get started in Silicon Valley. Komisar's many experiences allow him to speak firsthand about how venture capitalists and headhunters think and operate. He also warns that passion and vision are just as important as a well-crafted business plan. Throughout, we also get a strong dose of Komisar's own philosophy of success and fulfillment, a philosophy that might best be called Zen capitalism. David Rouse --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Subtle message May 3 2012
By Shawn
Format:Paperback
The book was well written and brief. I came away from having read the book a little underwhelmed. Not a lot of insights into Randy Komisar's experiences that would be portable to other entrepreneurs.
Perhaps the book "Go Corporation" has already provided sufficient details into the challenges and critical decisions that decide a company's fate.
The only message I obtained was "Follow your passion". Which is a good one.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dull Dec 16 2007
By SCurrie
Format:Paperback
Follows the story of two people trying to get a venture capitalist to help give them money for a business, whilst the venture capitalist tries to persuade them to do something else. Also covers the concept of working at something that you would do even if it never became successful so that your life would have some kind of purpose. Overall it didnt impart much meaning for a regular entrepreneur such as myself.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Crap Dec 8 2011
By T
Format:Hardcover
The book is so stupid. All he talks about is how good he is and just shows off. I have no idea why my friend actually recommended me this stupid book. What a waste of time and money. I was expecting a decent, intellectually written, intellectual/logical story.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, of little use. March 3 2009
Format:Paperback
I found this book of very little value for my business. I thought I'd find some amazing insights but it sort of put me off. Basically the guy says you shouldnt expect to get rich. Is that the riddle? I dont know... it sort of lost me.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Badly written, Boring & Little (or no) value June 3 2004
Format:Paperback
Randy tries to present an old concept in an old way. There are tons of books that tell you to do what you feel passionate about, how to succeed in investing and how to love life.
Randy fails miserably in delivering his story that is a mix of all of the above.
With less than 200 pages and big font, there's not much space to say in the book.
Randy, get a lesson on collecting thoughts before you write a book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Perspective May 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Could you be happier in your work? In your life?
Reading this book provides an opportunity to step back from the day to day muck and gain perspective on both life and career. Although the book takes place in and around Silicon Valley, it provides a means of reflection for anybody no matter where they live or the size of their employer.
An extremely worthwhile read.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Perspective May 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Could you be happier in your work? In your life?
Reading this book provides an opportunity to step back from the day to day muck and gain perspective on both life and career. Althought the book takes place in and around Silicon Valley, it provides a means of reflection for anybody no matter where they live or the size of their employer.
An extremely worthwhile read.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
This book by Silicon Valley legend Randy Komisar, beginning with its title, took me a while to get into, I have to admit. I was way into it (page 60+ or so) and still wondering what the big deal about it was. This is the reason why I give it four stars: it takes a while to hook you. But if you stick to it, Komisar has a wealth of experience to share with you, from his first days in the East Coast, litigating, all through his experiences with tech giants such as WebTV, Tivo and Apple.
The main idea presented by Komisar is that you don't need to postpone your life's dream for later, by playing it safe and engaging in what he calls the Deferred Life Plan. To convey this idea, he presents the reader with the process through which he takes Lenny (an entrepreneur at heart, driven by money, who comes to him for advice) in his pursuit to push his Business Plan for Funerals.com into the attention span of some Silicon Valley VC that Komisar knows. Initially a great idea conceived as a community-building scheme, leveraging the Web to assist those in grief due to the loss of a loved one, Funerals.com had evolved into a very basic money-making scheme that didn't have much of a spark to it, tied to the sale of cheaper caskets by leveraging the efficiencies that the Web can bring about.
In the end, if you take away the Silicon Valley specifics, Komisar's point remains not just valid, but a healthy proposition to lead life driven from within, by passion for what you do and pride rooted in leaving a legacy behind you, instead of ambition and short-term gratification. Highly recommended reading for those who are searching for their mission in life, as well as those who are considering pursuing the entrepreneurial path in their lives.
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