Boss Life

  • by Paul Downs
  • Narrated by Jonathan Hogan
  • 12 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When columnist Paul Downs was approached by the New York Times to write for their You're the Boss blog, he had been running his custom furniture business for 24 years strong - or mostly strong. Now he embarks on a book-length essay that intends to show a portrait of a real business, with a real boss, a real set of employees, and the real challenges they face, in hopes of promoting a better understanding of the behaviors of small-business owners.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Paul Downs opened his first and last business: a small company that built custom furniture. With no idea how to run a business or how to build custom furniture, Downs spent a year teaching himself the business, and in 1987 he hired his first employee. That was when things got complicated.
As his business began to grow, he had to learn about management, cash flow, taxes, and so much more. Furthermore, globalization and the arrival of the Internet made a big impact on the economy, causing him to have to reevaluate, restructure, and reinvent. Most important, Downs is keenly aware that every small business, no matter the product it makes or the service it provides, starts with people. He writes with tremendous insight about hiring employees, providing motivation to get the best jobs out of them and incentive to maintain their loyalty and respect, and the difficult decisions he's made to let some of them go.
With honesty and conviction, Downs tells the true story behind building and sustaining a successful company in an ever-evolving economy, often airing his own failures and shortcomings to unveil the difficulties that arise from being a boss and a businessperson. We've heard countless stories from employees about their managers; Boss Life seeks to tell the other side of that story.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Close to home

I heard Paul Downs on WNYC Brian Lehrer this week and knew that I needed to read or listen to this book. As a small business owner in the trades, I feel profoundly related to his account of a year in the life of a boss. And feel understood.

Particularly resonant are his explanations of the complexities of the cash flow cycle, and the difficulty in finding craftsmen who are both good workers and good communicators.

I plan to recommend this book to peers and employees. And may even convene a book club to discuss how we can incorporate some of insights into the business.

Paul, thanks for writing this!
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- Liz Reisch-Picarazzi

A great book for any small business owner

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, it gives a detailed account of one man's small business, from the good to the bad. It is a refreshing and good read.

What did you like best about this story?

Paul is blatantly honest about himself and his business, which is rare to find.

What does Jonathan Hogan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Rather than having a narrator that is not realistic, I was able to picture Paul himself as the narrator because of the way that Hogan narrated/sounded.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was definitely humorous at times. Amazon, what is with this weird question?

Any additional comments?

Paul's book was a pretty amazing read. As a woodworker by trade and local to Paul's shop, I always thought of him and his shop as being on a much higher tier. I randomly happened upon his book and was pleasantly surprised. His detailed, honest, and humble account of this trade was extremely refreshing and came at the perfect time for me. I was looking for a book about this industry and randomly came across Paul's, and I am very thankful that I did. Even if I was not a woodworker, I feel that, as the other reviews say, he finds a way to make even the business side of things, detailed and numerical, quite interesting and keeps you intrigued. Also, even though the book is centered around woodworking, it is not TOO specific and definitely helps to see the intricacies of any small business, and helped me see the big picture of mine. Thanks Paul for the awesome read, going to have the rest of my shop get a copy.

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- Louie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2015
  • Publisher: Recorded Books