Paul Orfalea’s Two Billion Dollars in Nickels – Reflections on the Entrepreneurial Life, is now available in Kindle format for instant download to electronic readers, cell phones, and computers.
Originally published as a paperback in 2008, the book features concise essays on some of the lessons Orfalea learned about ownership, judgment, and self-knowledge while building his company. Orfalea founded Kinko’s in 1970 with a small loan from his father, and grew the business into a $2 Billion industry leader before leaving the organization thirty years later.
According to contributor and publisher Dean Zatkowsky, “We tried to create the kind of book we like to read on airplanes – brief vignettes about business experiences, with end-of-chapter questions to stimulate our imagination.”
Excerpt from the foreword to the paperback edition, by Dean Zatkowsky
Sometime in the late 1980s, I took my father to the Huntington Beach, California, Kinko’s to get some passport photos. We got the photos, and while the store manager and I discussed some ads he wanted me to design, my dad stood back and watched the cash register for a while. Later, Dad told me there was never a long line, but the cash register was in constant use. “You guys are making big money, a nickel at a time.” Yup. By the time founder Paul Orfalea left Kinko’s in 2000, the company was doing almost $2 billion in sales. That’s a lot of nickels.
I’ve been working on writing projects with Paul since 1986, when I joined Kinko’s Service Corporation as an advertising copywriter. Coworker development was a big deal at Kinko’s, so along the way I read a lot of business books. And I mean a lot of business books.
I enjoyed books like Jim Collins’ Good to Great (Collins Business, 2001), which I consider the best business book ever, and shorter books like Ken Blanchard’s Gung Ho (William Morrow, 1997). I liked USC president Steven Sample’s The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2002), and I keep a large collection of Peter Drucker’s works as a reference library—there’s something useful on every page!
Over the last few years, however, I’ve enjoyed business books less. Or more accurately, I’ve enjoyed less of business books. Traditional publishers urge authors to produce ever-higher page counts because bigger books command higher retail prices, while economies of scale reduce per-piece production costs. Thick books are more profitable. That’s why so many recent business books contain twenty or thirty pages of interesting ideas supported by three hundred plus pages of ponderous and often redundant examples.
Paul and I can’t work that way.
On my first day at Kinko’s, I was warned that Paul did not like to read, and I should never present him with anything longer than one page—and it better be in large type. I didn’t know he was dyslexic, but I thought, “Whatever, he’s the boss.”
That one-page limit turned out to be the best training an aspiring writer could hope for. My job was to distill the key messages to the simplest language possible—no matter how complex the subject. Any success I’ve achieved as a writer is a direct result of that challenge.
I’m not a lazy reader, and I don’t think you are either. But we are busy people, and we have our own priorities. My to-do list does not include studying twenty pages of intricate charts and graphs that illustrate a concept I understood after one good example. Maybe I’m just losing patience as I get older, but I’m drawn to slimmer business books these days because I expect people to just get to the point. And maybe it’s the Kinkoid toner in my blood, but wasted paper drives me crazy.
Thanks to the BookSurge print-on-demand publishing service, which I consider a descendant of Kinko’s mid-1980s Custom Publishing product, Paul and I don’t have to pad our books with extra pages just to pad our publisher’s pockets. We don’t have to waste paper, ink, and fossil fuels. Paul has always said that inventory is the dirtiest word in business for both cash flow and waste reasons. Thanks to print-on-demand, the book in your hands is truly your copy—it was made just for you. It’s a thin book, but we hope you’ll find a useful idea on each page. We’ve kept the price low so that even if you only find a useful idea on every fifth page, the book should still be a good value.
I’ve learned a lot from Paul Orfalea over the last twenty-two years, but here is the most important thing he has taught me: Entrepreneurship is not about owning a business; it’s about owning your life. His entrepreneurial philosophy melds business, personal finances, lifelong learning, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a very uplifting and rewarding way of looking at the world.
Here, then, is a small collection of essays and questions for entrepreneurs and people who want to live more entrepreneurially. Portions of this book were published previously on Paul’s Web site (www.paulorfalea.com) or in our Tolosa Press (www.tolosapress.com) newspaper columns. A version of Paul’s introduction appeared in the International Dyslexia Association’s quarterly journal, Perspectives. You can read this thin volume quickly, but we hope you’ll be pondering its ideas and questions for a long time to come.
The Kindle version of Two Billion Dollars in Nickels is available as an instant download for $4.99. The paperback version is still available for $12.99.
Zatkowsky’s book about Kinko’s unusual democratic culture – E Pluribus Kinko’s: A Story of Business, Democracy, and Freaky Smart People – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions as well.