I like to read books written by people that are street smart (not necessarily book smart). Perhaps, such taste in books formed because I grew up under my parents wing, reading lots of classic literature. I really didn’t have a chance to really figure out how things work in the “real,” not academic, world until I started my first job. About that time, I picked up the book Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur (2011) because it promised to narrate about the formation of the character and business empire of Ryan Blair, a person that went from being a gang member and a prisoner to multimillionaire entrepreneur.
Ryan Blair’s debut book did not surprise me with exquisite metaphors and an intricate plot, but it provided me with some real-life recommendations on how to succeed in business. I devoured Blair’s book in two evenings mostly because I liked the approach that he took while discussing mistakes that he made over his career and life. I really liked the fact that the author didn’t try to pretend that his American Dream was just waiting for him around the corner. Instead, he precisely described all the ups and downs of his business ventures, including the marketing company that specializes on weight-loss products ViSalus. In my understanding, Ryan’s point is that a strong man should not be afraid to discuss those parts of his life that some people prefer to keep private. To the contrary, Blair states that such situations help people to grow.
Even though I found the book to be very interesting, I couldn’t relate to some of the business-related problems that Ryan Blair discusses in his book. Some parts of Nothing to Lose are dedicated to direct selling strategies that are simply not relevant to my profession. I didn’t skip those pages and just tried to concentrate on the fact that pretty much everything in business is somehow related to sales. (A couple of months ago I read a great book To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink that explains exactly this premise — take a look at that book, it is a really good read).
I found that many memoir books are too dramatic when it comes to the explanation of why the people writing these books succeeded. Most of the time people say something like “I just worked hard and eventually I made it.” It is also unfortunate that many successful people pretend to forget where they came from once they get on top. I liked the fact that Ryan Blair is down to earth and very grateful to people that helped him at certain points of his life.
While reading, I marked the book far and wide and was pretty surprised to find that Ryan Blair quoted some of my favorite authors ever, including Sun Tzu, Charles Darwin, and Mark Twain. I also appreciated the fact that Ryan is not afraid to admit that he likes hip-hop music and that he had a long-run fight with himself on his way to lose weight.
I recommend reading Nothing to Lose to people that are trying to build their business (fashion and beauty bloggers!) and for those that like self-help books. You can also take a look at the full-length documentary about Ryan Blair and his path to success below. Kindly let me know how you liked it. Also, do not forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Google+!