Rubies in the Orchard

I have read many management, marketing, and strive-to-achieve books over the years. I have also read many biographies which were engaging and inspirational. It seems that Rubies in the Orchard, by Lynda Resnick, is a self-promotional biography which is mistakenly being promoted as a management book of some type. I really feel this book would do much better if it was honestly promoted as a biography that is intended to help promote Lynda's businesses, rather than being a marketing book aimed to help others improve their businesses.

The key problem here is that Lynda loves self promotion. Almost every other chapter is intended to get people to buy her products. Her pomegranates juice is made from "the tastiest, sweetest pomegranates in the world." It is, in fact, like "a fine Burgundy." Her Marilyn Monroe doll for the Franklin Mint was apparently the most perfect representation of Marilyn Monroe that ever existed. Her over-one-hundred-thousand-dollar purchase of Jacqueline Kennedy's pearls is spectacular because "everyone" knows and loves those pearls. PETA is evil. Bottled water is perfect. Her praise for herself is never-ending. Her disdain for her opponents is thick and excessive.

I don't mean to say that Lynda has not achieved great things. She has. She has taken the much-neglected pomegranate and taken it to new, stellar heights. She took a poorly performing bottled water company and elevated them. She convinced millions of people to buy "collector plates" and "collector dolls" rather than investing in actual savings accounts. She achieved everything she aimed for.

But along the way, she takes pot-shots at anyone who dared to impede her progress. Her father was nasty for not funding her college dreams. She laughs at people who think outside the box or who try multiple lanes of income. She claims only her "inside the box" research and discipline can work. This from a person who grew up with a very wealthy family and with a savings account to fall back on. Even as she says he only does things she feels will succeed, she admits to her failures. Surely that means that people SHOULD try multiple paths to find the one that is right for them?

She says not to sell an awful product, to focus on what is true, simply, and a real need. But in the same book she talks about pushing people to spend multiple hundreds of dollars on a die-cast car. Is that a real need? When those people hit a credit crunch, did they value having a "tin car" on their desk, rather than money earning interest in a portfolio? I have in fact bought "collectors plates" from the Franklin Mint. Twenty years later, they are not "collectors items". They are boxes in a closet that nobody will buy.

Lynda's claims of the average newspaper reader's age being 60 is proven false by a number of studies. Her avid promotion of bottled water despite the mountain of evidence against it definitely gives me reason to pause. There seem to be many "facts" in this book which which five minutes of Google investigation are proven to be quite untrue. She picks on other bottled water competitors as being wrong for trying to create thinner bottles, to save on plastic and weight?

There are definitely some gems in here. Figure out your intrinsic value. Don't sell an awful product. Focus on creating a quality feeling in your customers - that they are "collectors", not "buyers". Make your message concise and meaningful. Go for NPR coverage rather than Super Bowl ads.

That all being said, Lynda's self promotion exceeded even my normally tolerant acceptance of such activities. The fact that Lynda is going around the Amazon reviews and commenting on negative reviews, pushing people to go to her blogs, gives me an even more uncomfortable feeling. This is not a book about learning to market in your own space. This is a book about promoting Lynda and her products. If it was sold as such a book, i wouldn't have minded as much. Since the book is promoted as a marketing guide, I find it very deceptive that her actual message was to drink lots of pomegranate juice while drinking her bottled water and buying her collectible items.

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