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SELLING YOU WITHOUT SELLING OUT

A compelling how-to guide that also reads like a saucy celebrity exposé.

The man behind the iconic rhino logo weaves an interesting story employing alternating threads of entrepreneurial advice and autobiographical confession.

When he was younger, few could have dreamed that the chubby kid busily aping graffiti culture in the garage of his parents’ New Jersey home would one day rise to become one of the top purveyors of hip-hop cool in the country. But that’s exactly what Ecko managed to accomplish in just a few scant years. From slinging airbrushed T-shirts in high school to hobnobbing with the Tommy Hilfigers of the world, Ecko and his partners—sister Marci and buddy Seth—built a clothing empire that still remains a sartorial force on the streets, even if the core group has fractured. Though he’s taken more than a few wrong turns, the author doesn’t flinch when laying down his entrepreneurial expertise. In fact, his “guts to skin, skin to the world” philosophy about self-branding is more potent given all the mistakes. In his role as entrepreneurial guru, Ecko is a sort of anti-Trump, using human frailty instead of unattainable omnificence to educate the next generation of dreamers. The author delivers a sobering inventory of screw-ups, ill-advised team-ups, lots of overexposure and overextension, as well as generous dollops of hubris and flat-out boneheaded maneuvers. Still, he stubbornly adheres to his philosophy of authenticity while sticking it to the clueless “gatekeepers.” “My business plan for Ecko Airbrushing might have been technically naïve, but it did have this much going for it: my personal brand was massively authentic and relevant,” he writes. Ideas about authenticity run deep throughout the book. Criticized throughout much of his career for allegedly co-opting established cultural touchstones, Ecko argues that what he has been doing all along is something more akin to sampling—just like the best MCs have done on their way to creating something legitimate and pure.

A compelling how-to guide that also reads like a saucy celebrity exposé.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8530-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

Categories:

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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