The Heart and the Sword: An Entrepreneur’s Fable
By Vance Brown and John Brolin
Published Feb. 25, 2018, We Happy Few, Inc., 138 pages
Paperback: $12.99, E-read version: $9.95
In a nutshell: The frustrated owner of a growing tech company learns how to balance his passion for starting his business with the realities of making it work.
Who is it for: Business owners trying to balance work and life.
Author quote: “How does one become a thriving leader with the ability to change the world? That is the lesson we all want to learn.”
The digital age has accelerated the time a company can find a market niche and realize fast growth. Left in the wake of this condensed progression are the people running companies that have limited managerial experience. Owners are caught between the pursuit of making money and running an organization that remains true to its original mission. Add family responsibilities to the equation and the juggling act becomes even more difficult.
Told as a fictional story, “The Heart and the Sword” explores the struggle entrepreneurs face balancing financial obligations with doing the right thing. The authors of this book work say that one can do both.
As “The Heart and the Sword” begins, we meet Chad Banning, the owner of a company that has grown quickly. In Chad’s mind, the business is poised to grow even further as the business can expand “with the Internet of Things.” Chad is a salesperson and his lack of skills on the operational side has left his company in a cash crunch in spite of the expansion. In order to fuel this growth the company needs funding. Chad has a meeting with a venture capital firm that makes a lowball offer to purchase the business, giving him a weekend to think over the purchase offer.
In the meantime, his wife has booked him on “the Ultimate Entrepreneur’s Retreat.” The timing of the retreat is serendipitous for Chad (and for the sake of the book).
The retreat takes place in the mountains of Colorado where Chad is teamed up with other business owners who are struggling, but for different reasons. Some excel at the financial side of their businesses, but are empty and unfulfilled personally. Others like to follow their passion, but are unable to realize monetary success.
Jack, the mentor of the group, describes how entrepreneurs fall into areas between being a mercenary and missionary. A mercenary acts quickly to make the most money. The missionary mindset leads more from the heart, where purpose far outweighs the profit. Traditionally, the belief has been that a business owner can’t ever be proficient at both. Jack explains through metaphors, introspection and a review of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” that both can be achieved by becoming a “Thriving Leader.”
It’s interesting to note how the authors point out that in an age where a business can scale up quickly, it is possible and perhaps necessary to weave a social mission into the initial business plan of a business. This conflicts with the traditional adage of a company doing well before doing good.
A business concept taught in book form as a parable or fictional story breaks up the monotony of business-related books that spell out their concept early on and spend the remaining 100 pages reiterating the concept in creative, but many times redundant, ways. At 138 pages, “The Heart and the Sword” can be read in one sitting and without the huge investment of time that many business related books ask. Although the plot line can be a bit predictable, Chad’s story is written well enough to carry readers quickly through to the rewarding end.
Chris Wendel is a business consultant with Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution based in Marquette, Michigan. Northern Initiatives provides money and know-how to businesses throughout Michigan. Wendel has worked with hundreds of business owners as a lender and consultant in the areas of money, marketing and management.