Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Review - It's a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring by Steven Schussler

Title: It's a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring
Author: Steven Schussler 
Year: 2010
Page: 256
Genre: Non-Fiction - Business

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
As a burgeoning businessman in the 1980s, Steven Schussler stopped at nothing to make his dream of a tropical-themed restaurant come true, even turning his home into a rainforest-complete with indoor waterfall, life-size replica of an elephant and 40 tropical birds-in order to have a prototype to show potential investors. Drawing from his own life and business triumphs, Schussler offers would-be entrepreneurs a new way of utilizing creativity to achieve their dreams. 

Schussler distills his principles for entrepreneurs on a budget, and also reveals the ways in which his lessons-from self-branding to developing strategic partnerships to giving recognition where recognition is due-can work in larger corporations. Just like his famous themed restaurants, Schussler's insights provide entertainment, education, and ample food for thought for all business people aspiring to their next level of success.

First Sentence: 
Let me tell you a story about risk taking.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • I like reading business books, or books on how people succeed or be creative in their profession. This seems like an easy read and looks interesting while I browse the library's new books section.
First thought:
  • Fast read, wish it goes into depth a little bit more
Cover Art:
  • Eye catching! Definitely caught my attention on the walls of new books. Relevant to the book as well
  • The main title fits the book - has a double meaning (the author was the founder of the Rainforest Cafe, plus the business world can be described as a jungle!), and the subtitle further explains what the book is about. Not bad.
  • Pretty easy read. Not a lot of jargon so easy to understand
  • The book is a series of stories (failure and success) of how the author got to where he is today. Each chapter started with a question and make you reflect.
  • The "5Ps" - Personality, Product, Persistence, People and Philanthropy - are the main principles. There were examples to illustrate these principles.
  • The author's personality really showed through in the book. He is passionate, creative and not risk averse! While you are reading this book, it is almost as though he was talking to you, or you're listening to one of his seminar / presentation (I have no idea if it is true or not since I had never listened to him or seen him in person, just the impression I got that you know how he'd be like in real life.)
  • Even though I live in MN, I had never been to the Rainforest Cafe, and now made me want to go eat there (though he no longer owns it.) I didn't know that he turned his house into a rainforest, to try to get investors to buy into his theme restaurant concept! There were other pretty "outrageous" (or crazy lol!) stuns he did to get attention - I won't spoil them for you so you'd have to go read the book yourself! Would I do what he did? I don't know, since nowadays you'd probably get arrested! But I am definitely not a risk taker... maybe it is okay to take some risks sometime?
  • The book ended with the Philanthropy chapter, which was actually the chapter I found the most interesting since you don't usually see a lot of it in other business books (apart from Dave Ramsey's money management book). For one project he hired some homeless people instead - cost double because they needed to be trained and some of them weren't good workers (or didn't show at all), but some ended up leaving the streets and became productive. His night club offered free soft drinks to designated driver, or free to tow the patrons' cars home while they take a taxi instead... doesn't necessarily make financial sense (the tow services costs $100,000 a year) but it was the morally right thing to do. 
  • He also believed in thanking the people who helped him along the way, and it was evident as he thanked A LOT of people in the acknowledgment! 
  • I was amazed by some of the things the author did! I wish I was as creative sometime!
What I Learned:
  • While I did learn something new (how passionate he really is on what he believes in, which I think I lack - there are lots of think I like, but what do I really, really, really LOVE and is my life mission - it got me thinking?), most of the rest of the book was not really new to me - networking, trust, good impression etc. So I wish the book goes a bit more in depth, rather than just give a high level overview with some examples
  • I think if you haven't read a lot of business books, but are thinking of having your own business or just want to learn more about being an entrepreneur, this is a good book to start as it is easy to understand and entertaining to read. However, if you have familiar with business principles, this is more like a refresher or complementary book as a lot of the concepts aren't really new - but I guess it reinforces these concepts work.

Read this Author again?
  • Probably

Overall Rating: 
3.5 Stars. Pretty good. Would rate it higher if I hadn't read much of this genre as I'd have found it more useful then.


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