Zentrepreneurial Spirit

Dragon Spirit: How to Self-Market Your Dream
By Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold
181 pp. New York: Newmarket Press. $19.95.

Blending the spiritual with the commercial is a time-honored tradition. Best selling authors like Norman Vincent Peale and Og Mandino have shared their inspiration for decades. Of course, most of that was from a traditional Western perspective. To even the scales, we now have a chance to see how Eastern spirituality can improve our business lives.

Authors Rubin and Gold, founders of The Republic of Tea and self-proclaimed “Zentrepreneurs,” have written a very motivational book for the aspiring marketer. Loosely blending Zen Buddhism with an American can-do attitude, Dragon Spirit manages to be both entertaining and useful. While the New Age/Left Coast flavor of the book may be off-putting to some, it should not detract from the essential insights the authors have to share.

First and foremost, believe in what you do. Of course that’s easier said than done, but merely going through the motions of a career simply to pay down your credit card is a waste of everyone’s time. Rubin and Gold hammer this point home repeatedly in chapters about passion, perseverance and faith.

Once you’ve chosen your bliss, try not to forget even a blissful business needs customers. Rather than rehash the “customer is king” dictum, Dragon Spirit comes at the problem from a somewhat more enlightened point of view.

“In building your business, a customer is not someone who buys your idea, product, or service,” the authors write, “a customer is someone who becomes part of it.” Meditate on that for a while.

When it comes to actual marketing tactics, the book is more of a starting point than last word on the subject. Casting their lot with the buzzmongers, the authors strongly advocate word-of-mouth marketing. The zeal that comes from Zentrepreneurism will perhaps make the task easier.

In addition, there’s a brief discussion of the elements of a marketing plan, along with a quick glossary of terms. It’s hardly a sustained analysis of basic marketing, but one suspects the authors are aware of this. Also included are a number of useful links to good marketing Web sites and a thorough bibliography.

Dragon Spirit is hardly a practical manual. It’s more in the nature of a breviary for those seeking regular comfort and guidance. Open the book to virtually any page and helpful pearls of wisdom spill right out. There’s also a curious section on diet and exercise. Undoubtedly sound advice, but it does seem a bit out of place in a putative marketing book.

In sum, those seeking day-to-day marketing advice will likely be disappointed. On the other hand, those hoping for a giant larding needle of inspiration and motivation could hardly do better than to read this slim volume. Succinct and easy to read (almost deceptively so) the real value of Dragon Spirit will be become apparent after you finish reading it and begin to reflect on the lessons learned.

Enjoy the dragon ride.

Jonathan Jackson is an independent consultant based in New York City. He has written extensively on internet advertising and email marketing since the inception of the internet. A frequent guest speaker, Jonathan has addressed global audiences on marketing and advertising topics and also teaches marketing at colleges around the world.

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