At Berkshire Hathaway, we like companies that are easy to understand. Doris Christopher's "keep it simple" approach has a lot to teach anyone who is reaching for the American Dream. Frankly, if I can't understand a company's business, I figure their customers must have a pretty hard time figuring it out, too.I would challenge anyone on Wall Street to take $3,000 and do what Doris Christopher has done: build a business from scratch into a world-class organization. But follow the simple steps in this book, and it just might happen. Come see me in Omaha when you've put together your own recipe for success; we pay cash and Bershire's check will clear. In the meantime, read this book. Then, read it again.
Christopher's multimillion-dollar kitchen tools company, the Pampered Chef, was recently acquired by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway; her book documents how she turned a $3,000 initial investment into a thriving direct sales business that today employs tens of thousands. After a perfunctory foreword by Buffett, the book progresses more or less chronologically from Christopher's initial idea in 1980 (to sell high quality tools by way of TV infomercials), through her business development and hiring her first employees, to her quick expansion into a large international company. Along the way, Christopher shares the lessons learned from her business, including tips on starting up, handling organizational growing pains, customer service advice and wisdom on how to treat employees. Yet while Christopher's guidance is useful to aspiring entrepreneurs, her business advice is fairly basic, and written in a tone that is modest to a fault. Despite her tremendous business success, Christopher continuously downplays her own drive in favor of the assertion that her only desire was to put her kids through college and help her family. For those with other motivations, it will quickly become tiresome. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 05, 2005
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Excerpt from The Pampered Chef by Doris Christopher
Small-Town Girl from Chicago
As a little girl, on our family trips to Michigan, I'd tell everyone I was from Chicago. But the truth is, I grew up in Oak Lawn, Illinois, twelve miles southwest of the Loop. We were definitely not big-city folk. Oak Lawn was a small, rural community, away from the hustle and bustle of life in the metropolis.
Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, my two older sisters and I were raised with old-fashioned, small-town values. Our family knew our neighbors on both sides of the street. Few families bothered to lock their doors. We didn't watch much television and there weren't any VCRs, CDs, or video games. Instead, my friends and I cut out paper dolls and played hide-and-seek in the backyard. On Saturday night I'd sometimes gather around the dining room table with my family or friends to play tripoly.
Oak Lawn was an unincorporated rural area, so there wasn't a lot there. The subdivision where we lived was a lower-middle-class neighborhood with no sidewalks. Our small Cape Cod house, 8605 South Seventy-eighth Court, was a mile or so from Harlem Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Chicago that runs north and south for some fifty miles. While houses on our street were inexpensive, they were well maintained. The residents took pride in their front lawns: grass was regularly mowed, hedges were tidily trimmed, and flowerbeds were neatly manicured into decorative rows.