In his book Me, Inc.: Build an Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win in Life and Business Gene Simmons chronicles his poor beginnings as a kid in his native land of Israel to the now businessman/Rock Star he is today. The book begins with Simmons discussing his early childhood in Israel. At the time the country was in its infancy with water and food in short supply. Gene recalls:
There were certainly no brands as we are familiar with them here–bread was just bread. Butter was just butter. you’d get a certificate and once a week you’d be allowed to purchase milk and a little bit of meat.
Despite these poor conditions Gene shows us a glimpse into his first business venture as a kid. Gene and his friend “Schlomo” would spend the entire day collecting cactus on top of a nearby mountain, using a vat filled with ice and water to carry them. They would sell these cactuses for shekels, earning them a total of $2.
Out of all the stories in Me Inc., this is one of my favorites. From the beginning, we can see that Gene was a winner. If the old rock star was born in the U.S., I’m certain he would be that kid on the side of the road selling lemonade for a buck-fifty, with plans to expand in other neighborhoods.
Now to the nitty-gritty. Me Inc. is broken up into two sections; ME and YOU.
The ME section of the book focuses on Gene’s immigration to America, early days growing up, his college hustles, and finally forming the early band that would later become, KISS.
Gene talks about how hairline-close he came to failure when forming the band and how he twisted the odds in his favor. This part of the book is a must read for anyone. Most people don’t even recognize when they have a big shot opportunity. If they do, they apply the old “hope for the best” routine and give it their best shot, hoping karma takes care of the rest. Simmons however, not only recognized his big shot, but took steps to ensure all the cards turned up aces for him. He went the extra step.
The last part of the book is the “YOU” section, which gives 13 tips from Gene Simmons to “you” the reader. I won’t spoil them, but Gene goes in-depth, drawing from his vast business and life experience.
After finishing Me Inc., I can say this: Simmons has his hand in so many businesses it almost overshadows the fact he is a rocker. He’s upfront about businesses that failed as well as talking about those that succeeded for him. Overall the book offers good insight into starting up a business, even if you have no experience doing so.