Book Reviews for Fully Booked Zine: Building Social Business and Gunn’s Golden Rules

By Anthony O. Alcantara

I’m so glad my book reviews for the Fully Booked zine were published. And I’m ecstatic that the bespectacled likeness of my image, courtesy of photographer Wig Tysmans, was included on the contributors’ page. You can get a copy of the zine at Fully Booked stores. No, you don’t have to read my reviews, or even look at my picture. There’s a lot of other good stuff in the zine.

Special thanks to editor-in-chief Gabriella de la Rama-Talan, who gave me permission to post my reviews here.

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs by Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus’s mission is to end poverty. Is he insane?

I’m not sure. But he’s succeeding so far. In his book, Building Social Business, he outlines his successes in Bangladesh and a few poverty spots in the United States. He has even enlisted the help of some big companies and universities in Germany, France, Japan, Singapore and the United States, among others.

Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for developing the concept of microcredit and microfinance to help impoverished people, believes that his concept of a social business will someday put poverty in a museum, just like a relic of a dinosaur.

Yunus defines a social business as a business that seeks to solve a social problem–poverty, hunger, infant mortality, illiteracy, etc.–by using traditional concepts of business but with one crucial difference: no personal financial gain for its investors.

The social business has to be sustainable. Investors can only get back the amount they invested.

But why would anyone invest in a social business?

Well, Yunus says there’s a big flaw in capitalism as we know it today because of a “misrepresentation of human nature.” Humans, he argues, are not only born to engage in businesses to make money. They are also born to pursue noble and selfless interests.

Ending poverty may be a tad quixotic, but Yunus’s social business is such a powerful and compelling idea that some influential companies, universities and even governments have already embraced. Yunus may be on to something here.

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Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making it Work by Tim Gunn

Impeccably dressed, well-mannered and punctilious about etiquette and decency. That’s how many people would describe Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame. And that’s the image he projects in his book, Gunn’s Golden Rules.

He intended his book to be like a lecture to students in a classroom. Indeed he dishes out some sensible advice to would-be fashion designers.

For instance, Rule 1: Make It Work! That’s the advice he often gives to contestants at Project Runway. It’s a call to be creative and flexible.

Some rules appear to be a rehash of advice from other motivational speakers and popular management gurus, like Rule 16: Take Risks! Playing It Safe Is Never Really Safe. Others appear mysterious until you see that it’s just a practical tenet of life, such as Rule 12: Don’t Lose Your Sense of Smell. It simply means “Never lose your sense of good taste or good judgment.”

One thing I admire about Tim is his keen sense of decency and proper behavior. He’d open doors for anyone. He epitomizes the true gentleman, even though he is gay. With diplomatic grace, he exposes the rottenness of some of the rich and famous who have this bloated sense of entitlement. Indeed the stories that accompany his rules reflect the richness and insanity of people in the fashion industry.

His writing though is a bit too breezy and at times unintentionally condescending, which is understandable since he writes as if he’s teaching a class. But then if I meet Tim, I’d definitely open the door wide for him.

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