Today is a very exciting day for us: Our book is out — The Barstool MBA: Why Running a Bar Beats Running to Business School. Book birthdays are very special. I’m lucky to say this is the fifth time for me, but this book is realllly different from anything else I’ve written.
Dan Maccarone and I have been working on this project for several years. It’s a lot of things. It’s a business book for people who think business books are boring. It’s a how-to for starting a startup, or really taking any big leap. And it’s a secret love letter to service workers everywhere, who are some of the best-trained, most highly-skilled American workers.
The book is an Audible Original, which means it’s available only from Amazon’s audiobook service. Dan and I narrate the book for you, which adds to the fun. If you aren’t sick of my voice from listening to the Breach or So, Bob podcasts, I think you’ll enjoy listening to this book.
Audible subscribers can use their monthly credit to “buy” it; newbies can sign up for a free trial, or buy the title individually.
You can order it here. You can listen to a free sample of the audio there, too.
Or you can watch this video above to learn more about the book.
To give you reader types a little flavor of what the book is like, here’s a brief portion of the introduction:
BOB: Admit it. At least once in your life, probably dozens or hundreds of times, you’ve sipped on a beer or cocktail at a bar and thought: I could do this. I should open a bar! How hard could it be?
How do we know this? Because you’re listening to this book. It’s an educated guess. This is going to be a very short chapter, but it’s an important one, because we need to be real with you up front.
So Dan, how hard is it to open a bar?
DAN: It’s *really* hard. Maybe the only thing harder is starting your own company. Well, it *is* starting your own company.
BOB: Well, that’s disappointing. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to open an Irish pub called “Sullivan’s.” The name says it all, right? I could probably just imagine the thing into being, right Dan?
DAN: F—ING NO. (Sheesh, writers)
BOB: Hey, I’ve worked hundreds of nights in bars! But Dan is sick of hearing me talk about this, because it was just about the very first conversation we ever had. When we met, I was kicking around the idea of doing a book on Irish pubs. I’d already done extensive, ahem, research on them. In them, anyway.
Just as I was deep in the work of crafting the heady prose for my Irish bar book proposal, a series of tragic headlines started hitting New York newspapers, like this one in Crain’s: “Last Call for Irish Pubs.” Or this, in the New York Times: “Manhattan’s Most-Mourned Bars,” which was basically a list of classic Irish pubs. With the usual Irish literary flair and subtlety, the Irish Times declared: “Irish Pubs are Dead.” Nearly half the classic Irish pubs in the city had shut down in the previous few years. I might as well have been working on a book about the virtues of dial-up internet access.
So what does a writer do when they find out their book idea is terrible? They double down, of course. It’s human nature. So my next bright idea was to invest in one of these dying beasts. Buy an old pub. Publishing houses love memoirs, I thought. The idea was sort of elegant in its simplicity. Drop some cash on a bar, and if it worked, great! I’d have amazing, autobiographical, from-the-trenches tales to tell. And if it didn’t work, well, I’d make my lost money back when I got an advance for a book chronicling the bar’s demise. I couldn’t lose! (False! Very false!).
DAN: Bars close all the time. You know how the saying goes, people can and do lose money. A lot of money. I’ve seen friends get really, really hurt—completely wiped out—by following their bar dreams . . . fantasies really . . . and getting overextended. They’re usually the last to know that the situation is hopeless, and they just keep throwing good money after bad until all the credit cards are maxed out and they have to go hide for a while.
Opening a bar is no joke. I’ve done it 3, 4 times now. It *does* get easier; you learn from your mistakes. You develop relationships with important, experienced people along the way, like people who will come fix your toilet at 5 a.m.
That, of course, implies that you will be standing in or near a pile of shit at 5 a.m. If you dream of opening a bar, count on that. If you aren’t into that, then do what I told Bob to do, and save your money.
Buuut . . .
If you really think you have what it takes, opening a bar is awesome. You are the host of a never-ending cocktail party. Everyone wants to talk to you. The bar becomes a second home, in all the best and worst ways. Co-workers become your family. You spawn weddings, and new companies, and tons of friendships. You create a space for joy, or at least civility, something that is really important, especially now.
And of course, starting a different kind of company can feel like this, too. Taking an idea from imagination to reality—an idea that will make the world better and maybe employ a bunch of people—well, that’s really awesome.
Maybe you were cut out to be a musician, or a writer, like Bob. Maybe you’ve bartended or waited tables, or maybe you’re doing that right now, or maybe you think you might want to. Maybe you simply enjoy going to bars. Or listening to a book about bars. That’s just fine. This book has something for everyone.
As we said in the introduction, we feel pretty confident that the lessons you learn owning a bar, or just working in a bar, can be applied to any business, any kind of job. So even if you’re thinking right now, “OK, never mind. I’m not opening Sullivan’s,” we still have a lot of fun in store for you.
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