Isn’t reading great? When you find yourself nodding as you turn each page, scribbling down extracts and quotes, or geekily encouraging everyone you see to pick up a copy?
Well, all three things happened to me when I was Feeding recently. I was reading a book for work that I expected would pleasantly hold my attention. I never imagined I wouldn’t be able to put it down.
The book in question? Anita Roddick’s Business as Unusual.
The story of how The Body Shop came to be and the principles and values that drove Anita to set it up make for a compelling read. But it’s worth diving in to for more than just being a fascinating business autobiography.
At Stranger Collective we’ve worked with a lot of social enterprises and ethical businesses over the years, each one fired up about making a real difference through the work they do. They are always inspiring in their enthusiasm and energy, with interesting business plans and ideas of how to get there.
Social enterprise and ethically responsible business thinking feels very much of the now, but after reading just a few pages of Business as Unusual it became clear that the attitude, aproach and values these social entrepreneurs share were encapsulated in everything Anita did, decades ago. Anita was drawing up a blueprint for a better way to do business while a lot of us were still in nappies and she was doing it through hard graft, determination and sheer belief.
Her passion is contagious, and her insight and vision for how individuals have the power to make real change happen has never been more pertinent than now, as we face a triple-dip recession.
What’s more, as a writer and advocate of the value of personal stories in business, it was wonderful to read as a business leader extolled the virtues of real storytelling, authentic, impactful, captivating stories to get messages across.
Here are some of the gems I picked up as I read, but if you have the time and are looking to be inspired about business and the future (aren’t we all right now?), I can’t reccommend Business As Unusual enough.
“The old view of business as a jungle where only the vicious survive will, I hope, soon give way to a view of business as a community where only the responsible lead.”
“Every entrepreneur is a great storyteller. It’s storytelling that defines our differences.”
“My mother taught me how important personality is in business. You can’t be a nondescript person or you’ll have a non-descript product!”
“Starting The Body Shop wasn’t about business. It was simply about creating a livelihood – my own livelihood. It was about being mistress of my own time and space, redefining my own success as a sense of freedom.”
“I believe one of the most effective means of communication is storytelling. Stories excite the imagination of the listener and create states of puzzlement, insight and resolution.”
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