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The Ride of a Lifetime: Doing Business the Orange County Choppers Way Hardcover – Mar 9 2009
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"The Ride of a Lifetime is a smart, tough-as-nails guide to business success that every entrepreneur should read." (International Lifestyle Magazine, 2009)
From the Inside Flap
If you think ripping down the highway on a badass custom chopper is the ultimate thrill ride, try running your own business. The same outlaw spirit that drives some people to strap on a helmet and hit the road drives other people to risk it all and build a business from the ground up. Bikers and entrepreneurs share at least one traitthey do it their way, without compromise.
The Ride of a Lifetime takes you inside the head of Paul Teutul, Sr., and shows you how he runs the world's most famous bike-building business, Orange County Choppers. This isn't some Wall Street guy in a fancy suit and a $200 haircut telling you how to do business. This is full-throttle, hardcore business wisdom from a true hardworking entrepreneur.
Starting a business is about taking risks and believing in yourself. After working on bikes as a hobby for almost two decades, Paul Teutul, Sr., decided to take that risk and invested his retirement money to start OCC with his son Paulie. If you watch American Chopper, you know that the OCC team quickly became one of the world's best bike fabricators. But if you've only watched the show, you don't know the business values upon which Paul Teutul, Sr., built the business, the risks he took to get there, or how he manages the ups and downs of life as an entrepreneur.
The Ride of a Lifetime takes you beyond the television show to show you the real nuts and bolts of running a successful business. Paul Teutul, Sr., is loud, brash, and in your face. But he's got the kind of real-world business insight you can't get from a seminar or a business degree. So put on your boots and tighten up your chinstrap, because building a business isn't some joyride. It takes hard work, then more hard work. It means taking punches and hitting back, doing it your way, and believing in what you're doing every second of every day.
Do what you love. Work hard at it. And never give up. Running a business isn't easy, but it IS The Ride of a Lifetime.See all Product Description
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For the uininitiated, Orange County Choppers is a behemoth of a brand built by a unique man who has worked for himself almost his entire adult life. In fact, his biography is so fascinating that I found myself wishing to read more about him and his family; I had to remind myself that this book is a business philosophy book, not a biography.
Mr. Teutel credits his mega-success to relentless hard work and a passion for perfection. Most of his business principles are as well-known and as they are difficult to live by daily. Surround yourself with good people and reward them well, treat everyone with integrity, and embrace change while adhering to core values. The book is peppered with vignettes fo business decisions made, partners acquired and replaced, and descriptions fo situatinos that illustrate the points well. The book also includes a set of glossy photos of Teutel history and motorcycles.
Teutel posits that "everyone" expecte dhim to end up dead or in jail from an early age. His childhood in a very dysfunctional family included an addiction to alcohol and drugs at the age of 15 than lasted 20 years. His father and grandfather demanded relentless labor from young Paul. His father demanded, and Teutel paid, rent to his family during his adolescence. Merchant marine boot camp (at age 18) gave him his first opportunity to set a goal and achieve it.
Goal-orientedness coupled with hard work is a powerful combination which Teutel weakened with alcohol and drugs until he was 35. He credits Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with helping him achieve abstinence from drugs and alcohol for 24 years.. Demanding sobriety of hs partners and employees changed his iron works business and positioned it for growth. He turned over the iron works business and set to building motorcycles as a hobby in the early 1990s.
Ultimately, he invested his $120,000 retirement in the business that became Orange County Choppers (OCC). OCC is now an international brand operated from a 100,000+ square foot headquarters in suburban New York.
Teutel is ambivalent about his family's involvement in his business. One son took over the iron works and is apparently doing well. Two sons, Paul, Jr. and Michael, work with Dad at OCC. "American Chopper" viewers know the stormy relationship they have. While Dad always wanted his business to be a family business, he observes that things come too easily to Paul, Jr., making him casual if not lazy about deadlines and organization. "Mikey" is a lovable youngest brother with multiple interests and a good sense of humor but little ambition. Dad says that family businesses are the backbone of the economy, but that family can't be managed in the workplace like other employees, and that hurts the family members. He acknowledges the connundrum and apparently sees it as one of the few design problems he was unable to resolve.
One of the book's key messages is that it's never too late to resolve to be better - to become focused, passionate, and goal-oriented to pursue success. Hmm...my now-teenage son might read this book before a lot of other self-help/business success books. That's a good thing.
The book is written to help other business people in achieving their goals of success with Teutel's many anecdotes, personal philosophy, and honesty in talking about his personal demons while growing up. But the book doesn't ring true when it comes to the success of OCC as he tries to take credit for everything that made OCC a success. His obvious agenda is to rewrite history and take all the glory for himself, while marginalizing the contributions of his son, Paul Jr.
Paul Senior didn't mean this book to be a personal insight into his character, but that's what you get when you finish reading his book. You can't help but feel sorry for the man that had everything but couldn't share his fame and success with anyone else.
The book is an exercise in bragging, but more than this, it shows who Paul Senior really is and has little to do with business philosophy as much it is about what makes this man tick.
What perplexes me is how short the book can be, yet be so repetitive. And why so is much left out? Senior aims to write a book to help the small business owner, akin to Jack Welch's "Winning." He's certainly qualified, having grown first Orange County Ironworks and then OCC, but oddly absent from the book is perhaps the most pivotal moment in the shop's history -- getting on Discovery & the creation of American Chopper. The growth through the period, the expansion of bringing things in-house, expanding into a production line, what's involved in a custom bike... none of it's there.
Likewise the discussion about employees relations. He talks about a few cases, good & bad. He talks about Rick & how employees are like family & need to be treated as such. But no mention of one of one of the employees that was there for most of the beginning, Vinnie. I'd like to hear Paul's take on it, for better or worse, etc.
I think a much interesting book would have been one that simply chronicled the rise of OCC, and the Tuttles in conjunction with it. Hopefully they write that one day.
All said, it's a short book. If you're a fan & interested in business, it's probably still worth reading, just be ready for disappointment.
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