By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here at Proud Money we don’t shy away from the pursuit of financial success. We’re not all about clipping coupons or uncovering “deals.” Those things are fine, but our reach is something higher. If a Website can have a theme, ours is this: get out there and get what you want, and don’t be ashamed to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
On Power, the new book by legendary KISS co-founder Gene Simmons, has a similar theme. Simmons has long been known as a marketing genius as well as an excellent showman, offering no apologies for spreading the KISS name onto every product imaginable, from the expected music memorabilia to less-intuitive tie-ins like credit cards and toothbrushes. (I collected KISS trading cards when I was a kid, and thoroughly enjoyed the ridiculous 1978 KISS-as-superheroes movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.)
Simmons is the quintessential immigrant who comes to the U.S. and seizes the opportunities that his new country offers, aware in a way that his peers can not be of the uniqueness of his situation in a chaotic world. Simmons’ early childhood was spent in Israel after World War II, in a country hated by its neighbors. Most of his mother’s family had perished in concentration camps during the war. The United States was a revelation, and he didn’t hesitate to look for his place in it and exploit the chances he got.
So it should be no surprise that Simmons would write a book like On Power. It’s message: Learn the game, and do what it takes to win it. If you’re in a country that speaks English, learn English. If you want to be a rock star, make up a rock star name. (Simmons’ birth name was Haim Witz.) The world isn’t going to bend for you, bend yourself to become something that the world wants. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses, then wring every drop out of those strengths.
If you don’t like that message, Simmons is undisturbed. He’s spent a lifetime proving that it works, accumulating the money and power that the world generally uses to keep score. In his view, the world does not care about you unless you make it care. And if you reject that idea, not wanting to see yourself as a “sellout,” be prepared for the meager rewards that such a stance is likely to bring.
But, but, but… isn’t this awfully mercenary? Is power the only thing that matters? What about being happy, spending time with your family, enjoying the many natural pleasures of the world?
Simmons sees this as a false choice. Power is not inherently bad, and wanting it is not evil. Power gives you the ability to make tremendous things happen — for yourself, your family, and for the wider world. But first things first: you can stop and smell the roses after you’ve put yourself in a position of financial stability & safety. And that requires gaining a certain level of power in the world.
Simmons says his inspiration for On Power is the famous Machiavelli book, The Prince. People often think of Machiavelli as encouraging leaders to be merciless in the pursuit of power, but in reality Machiavelli was more an observer of his times than a proponent of the methods used. Simmons wants to trod a similar path, showing you the world as it is, not just how you’d like it to be. (Even if his ideas raise some eyebrows, such as his thoughts on how women might gain power.)
In addition to his own story, Simmons touches on other famous people past and present, gleaning lessons from their pursuits of power and how they used power once it was gained. I would’ve actually liked less of this and more of Simmons. There are a million business books that can tell you how Oprah or Warren Buffett beat the odds. I would’ve liked another 75 pages of Simmons showing how he used power to propel his career for 40+ years.
On Power will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want to succeed using a reality-based framework, it’s worth your time.