The Entrepreneur’s Must Read Pages: Brand Like A Rock Star by Steve Jones

A few weeks back I confessed my addiction to business books, and promised to let you know about some of my faves. I’m not a critic, so instead of giving you a traditional review, I’m going to tell you which pages I believe are must-reads, and why.  Plus, I was big on Cliff Notes in the high school days, so I thought, “Why not do the same thing for time-strapped entrepreneurs?”


How Books Are Selected For Review

Before I get started, I want to remind you that I only do “must-read” reviews for books I discover on my own. If a publisher asks me to do a review, it’s out.  An author mails me a copy to “check it out,” and you won’t see it here. Bribes (while often effective if you want to borrow my lawnmower or get me to the ballet) won’t get a book mentioned here either. This review and all my posts under “The Entrepreneur’s Must Read Pages” feature books I found on my own and read cover to cover. If I highlighted the living crap out of it, I’ll tell you about it on this blog.


Brand Like A Rock Star by Steve Jones

First up is Brand Like a Rock Star, a book you can only find on, or in my case, at Newark airport, stuck behind a Malcolm Gladwell book The author, Steve Jones, uses the stories behind rock bands and pop stars to show how entrepreneurs can “build a brand that rocks.” I really enjoyed this book (that’s about all my inner critic has to say). First, it’s about the music I grew up with. Also, the book is relatable, and the storytelling concept is fresh – a successful band is a successful business.


The Must Read Pages

As the folded-over pages, underlined passages, and scribbled notes on the back page attest, this book offered up a lot of insight and value.



Here are a few standout pages:

Page 17, second paragraph: “Keeping things brilliantly simple wasn’t accident.”

(My thoughts on this: Making things hard is, in fact, easy. It is the lazy way. Making things easy is hard, but so, so necessary for explosive growth.)

Page 44: “He (Bob Marley) stayed true to his Reggae music niche, and that’s part of the reason he became so iconic. You become successful by appealing passionately to a small group of people for very specific reasons.”

(My thoughts on this: If you serve a very small group of people, it’s MUCH easier for you to become their go-to person/company. Whereas, if you serve a larger group, you become second fiddle – and all you get are sloppy seconds.)

Page 57: “What makes (Jimmy) Buffet unusual is that he embraced the idea of giving up some control of his brand, allowing his fans to run with the idea.”

(My thoughts on this: Empower your community. It is NOT about you. It’s about them.)

And this follow up:

Page 59: “The result? His (Jimmy Buffet) fans are possessed!”

Page 100: “Part of the reason of Justin Bieber’s success is not just the millions of passionate starts, (it’s the) millions of others who cannot stomach a note of his music.”

(My thoughts on this: Conflict cultivates awareness.)

Page 101: (slight paraphrase) “Love and hate aren’t really opposites in the branding world. They go hand in hand.”

(My thoughts on this: Bieber. ‘Nuff said.)

Page 122: (re: bands that overhype themselves, including Sammy Hagar’s band Chickenfoot, and Axel Rose’s release of the G&R album Chinese Democracy). “Rock star brands understand that communicating with a sense of humility and honesty will win over more fans than empty, boastful hype. Rock star brands know how to under promise and over deliver.”

(My thoughts on this: Customers are overjoyed when they experience more then they expected. If you want to build loyal fans, don’t just serve them well – every one of your competitors does that; blow them away.)

Page 163: “The White Album ranked 10th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time (in part because the album didn’t have a name).”

(My thoughts on this: When we offer up something that is incomplete, people feel the need to complete it for us. For example, giving a title to the “White” album. Oh, and one more thought. Did you know that. . . .)

Pages 223-229: I read this section about the story of the Grateful Dead (marketing geniuses) over and over again. And again.

(My thoughts on this: They may have been the ultimate business machine. In my opinion the Grateful Dead can stick it’s tongue out at Google.)

Page 238: The very last sentence, picking up in the middle “…. Never forget that when it comes to consumer’s purchasing decisions, the heart always trumps the mind.”

(My thoughts on this: so true. So true.)


What Are Your Best Finds?

Have you read Brand Like a Rock Star? If so, post your favorite pages (and why) in the comments section. Or, tell me about one of your favorite business books and give me your favorite page number (and why). I eat this stuff up – you can’t give me too much of it. Send me more, more, more.



49 thoughts on “The Entrepreneur’s Must Read Pages: Brand Like A Rock Star by Steve Jones”

  1. In the picture above of the book, that is how I read and track my highlights.  I simply fold the corner of the page that has the highlight (I often use a ball point pen and underline the part).  If there is a highlight on the flipped page (front and back of the same paper) I then bend the bottom corner of one of the pages.

    1. Love the down and dirty of getting to what is valuable for you, Mike. I like to post key thoughts from a chapter on a sticky note, then leave the note in the book. Super easy to jump back to pick up the idea(s) that caught my attention. My own Barb version of Cliff Notes.

    2.  Bottom corner bend…genius!

      If you like the kindle, you might check out audible an app for people who love reading books so much it gets a little expensive…

      I think I will check out the rockstar book too!  Nice review.

  2. I wish all book reviews were written this way – super helpful and fluff-free. Thanks for getting straight to the point, Mike. 🙂 You should definitely include a picture of the bent page corners in all of your book review posts, too – it shows how valuable you found the book to be without a whole lot of evangelical-ish praise.

    You rock. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for saying that Megan.  I think I will be doing just that. Maybe I can include pictures of the section I underlined too, so readers can refer to the entire paragraph and not just a line.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Love the review.  I included an analogy using CliffsNotes in my new book, and I was surprised that there isn’t a space between Cliff and Notes, and there’s an “s” in there, too.  It’s CliffsNotes.  It wasn’t spelled that way in high school. (Nope, this isn’t a solicitation to read my new book – just sayin’).

    Jan Cullinane
    The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)
    The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (John Wiley & Sons, Fall 2012)

  4. Sounds like a great book, I might just read the whole thing, even though the MikesNotes version was extremely enlightening. When I’m reading a biz book and there are pages I want to go back to and find later, I write the topic on a sticky note, and then put the note on the page so it’s sticking out the top. Then I just skim through the sticky notes to find my topic again. And it saves the book from bent corners. 🙂

  5. The 50th Law, Robert Greene (while not typecast as a biz book it applies).
    It changed my entire construct. I love him.

  6. Wow Mike…  Two things stand out for me here:

    1.)  Love the Justin Bieber analogy.  Let’s face it, the guy is polarizing.  Like you said, you either love him or hate him.  But that’s a good thing.  Too many entrepreneurs try to be all things to all people.  And that is not a good thing.  No uniqueness.  No positioning.  Yuck.

    2.)  You read regular books!  Yes…like real life, pick one up and feel it, books.  Where is the Kindle?  Love the old-fashioned, grab the book, make notes in the margins with a real pen and 
    accidentally rip a page or two stuff.  My daughter has a Kindle and thinks I’m nuts, but something about a physical book is still cool to me.  Oh well, maybe some day I’ll switch..  

    Thanks for your review here.  Gonna stick a copy in my shopping cart right now…  🙂

    Warm Regards….  Eric T. Wagner  

    1. Funny story, I was having dinner with my family tonight and my daughter (now 13) hears Justin Bieber come on the radio, and she runs over and turns it off…. saying she can’t stand that song.  This is the same girl, who one year ago, declared her favorite color is purple, because of Bieber.  He is polarzing the same people. Amazing!

      I have not made the Kindle leap yet.  Haven’t even tried it.  I suspect I will get hooked.  But at the same time I love the sensation of marking up margins, making notes, drawing pictures.  But I think the biggest draw, to be totally honest, is having a wall of “trophies”.  All the books I read through piled up.  I think that part of my ego keeps me reading the hard covers.

  7. My favorite business book is about a Pumpkin and I cannot say anything until after July 5, nuff said (for now).  Easlily on my top 10 all time business books.Thanks for the tips you posted here Mike.

  8. Hey Mike – thanks for the cool review. Totally unexpected and much appreciated. To those who have commented and/or purchased “Brand Like A Rock Star”, thank you as well! If you’d like to send me your mailing address, I’ll fire off to you a personalized cover insert to turn your book into a signed copy. You can also read the blog at for more on the topic.
    Thanks again Mike! I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time, and it is an honor to learn that the feeling is mutual.
    And to answer your question about favorite business books (besides mine and yours :)), I’d throw in Hugh McLeod’s “Ignore Everybody” as a great reinforcement of the need for creativity in business.

    1. Howdy Steve.  Awesome for you to show up here for Mike.  That’s really cool.

      Haven’t read your book yet, but stuck it in my Amazon shopping cart earlier.

      If it’s got good stuff for entrepreneurs, I thank you for sharing your wisdom…   

      We all need a little help sometimes….  🙂  Eric

    2.  Hi Steve, great to see you comment here.  I bought the book and already received and starting reading it today.  I left a comment on your blog with my address for the cover insert!  Thank you for the generous offer.

      Janet DaPirano

  9. never heard of the book – now that you highlight this stuff – can see why so valuable. thanks for doing it in this format –

    @532557616a4946a13ce6744a9923b097:disqus  -this was a great research idea!

  10. Great stuff Mike. I recommend “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. It covers the latest brain science on why being happy makes you up to 37% better at sales, marketing, treating patients, etc, etc. in everything. Best thing is it shows you how to grow the happiness in your own brain. Plus how to become ‘luckier’. Fortunately reading it on my Kindle (with its built-in highlighter) or I would have worn out my highlighter before I finished the book.

  11. Thanks for the notes Mike. I guess I should go read the first chapter about your “Pumpkin’ concept thanks for sending it to me again.

    P.S. Glad to see I’m not the only one who abuses books with “ear marks”! 

  12. Mike this is a great review and I really like how you break things down. Oh, and thanks again for the fantastic endorsement of my book. It’s selling really well, I’m sure partially due to your quote! I won’t mention the name just to make sure this does not come off like a shameless plug. Your obsession with the topic also makes me feel good to know that I am not the only business book addict. Honestly, for a while I thought I was reading too much. So I decided to do the same thing and post my reviews but I’m going to go in the opposite direction and find the hidden gems that few have heard of. That way we can cover all bases and fellow entrepreneurs can get the full breadth of what is out there. If you have’t already check out Dorothea Brande’s “Wake Up and Live” published in 1936. Incredible read. I can honestly say this book changed my life. Cheers!

  13. Hi Mike!  Thanks for this post and the cliff notes on Brand Like A Rock Star. I’m re-branding so this book will be perfect for me to read.  I bought it and already received it today.  Gotta love Amazon Prime! 

  14. Wow, Mike — I love the concept of Cliff’s Notes for these entrepreneur books!  So helpful, as I truly do not get time to do much reading of that nature.  There was a lot of great stuff in this one — thanks for sharing!  And thanks to Steve Jones for making such a cool book, and to come on your blog and thank you for writing about it.  I like him even more now!

  15. I had not heard about this book.  I do, however, have an addiction to books in general, business books are one of my favorite categories.  I like the analogy of the rock music and the business world.  And, Mike, I am older than you, and I also grew up with most of these bands.  I believe you just added another book to my list. 

    And as I see Steve Jones answered you, I am checking his blog now.  Thanks for the info and the review.  Way to go.

    1. Hey Roxana – I too grew up to this stuff (had an older sister that made me listen to the Bee Gees all the time).  

      But I have seen many of the bands Steve talks about in concert.  AC/DC was the first concert I was ever at. At age 13. Talk about trial by fire. I still start shaking when I think about it.

  16. Wow. It is great review of book. I loved Mike’s Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and I read 3 times already and because he recommended this book and I just ordered Brand Like a Rock Star. I will read it tonight and see how good it is. As Mike mentioned below, I will not blame Mike but Steve… Haha.

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