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How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parentsby Zac Bissonnette
Synopses & Reviews
and#147;Whenever you have something intended as innocent fun for children, you can count on adults to turn it into an obsessive, grotesquely over-commercialized and#145;hobbyand#8217; with the same whimsy content as the Bataan Death March."
and#151;Humorist Dave Barry on Beanie Babies,and#160;The Miami Herald, 1998
There has never been a craze like Beanie Babies. The $5 beanbag animals with names like Seaweed the Otter and Gigi the Poodle drove millions of Americans into a greed-fueled frenzy as they chased the rarest Beanie Babies, whose values escalated weekly in the late 1990s.and#160;
A single Beanie Baby sold for $10,000, and on eBay the animals comprised 10 percent of all sales. Suburban moms stalked UPS trucks to get the latest models, a retired soap opera star lost his kidsand#8217; six-figure college funds investing in them, and a New Jersey father sold three million copies of a self-published price guide that predictedand#160;what each animal would be worth in ten years. More than any other consumer good in history, Beanie Babies were carried to the height of success by a collective belief that their values would always rise.
Just as strange as the mass hysteria was the man behind it. From the day he started in the toy industry, after dropping out of college, Ty Warner devoted all his energy to creating what he hoped would be the most perfect stuffed animals the world had ever seen. Sometimes called the and#147;Steve Jobs of plushand#8221; by his employees, heand#160;obsessed over every detail of every animal. He had no marketing budget and no connections, but he had something more valuableand#151;an intuitive grasp of human psychology that would make him the richest man in the history of toys.and#160;
Through first-ever interviews with former Ty Inc. employees, Warnerand#8217;s sister, and the two ex-girlfriends who were by his side as he achieved the American dream,and#160;The Great Beanie Baby Bubbleand#160;tells the inspiring yet tragic story of one of Americaand#8217;s most enigmatic self-made tycoons. Bestselling author Zac Bissonnette uncovers Warnerand#8217;s highly original approach to productand#160;development, sales, and marketing that enabled the acquisition of plush animals to activate the same endorphins chased by stock speculatorsand#160;and gamblers.
Starting with a few Beanie-crazed housewives on a cul-de-sac in Naperville, Illinois, Beanie Babies became the first viral craze of the Internet era. Bissonnette traces their rise from the beginning of the official websiteand#151;one of the first corporate websites to aggressivelyand#160;engage consumersand#151;to the day when and#147;rareand#8221; modelsand#160;became worthless as quickly as theyand#8217;d once been deemed priceless. He also explores the big questions: Why did grown men and women lose their minds over stuffed animals? Was it something unique about the last years of the American centuryand#151;or just the weirdest version of the irrational episodes that have happened periodically ever since the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s?
The Great Beanie Baby Bubbleand#160;is a classic American story of people winning and losing vast fortunes chasing what one dealer remembers as and#147;the most spectacular dream ever sold.and#8221;
Good Advice From Bad People is a daringly original humor book based on real quotes from murderers, stock swindlers, and other ne'er-do-wells.
The world is full of people telling you how to live your life. Sometimes though, the advice-givers fall ever so slightly short themselves. For instance:
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuse, that's the day you start to the top." - O.J. Simpson, 1975
"When you know what you are talking about, others will follow you, because it's safe to follow you." - Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, 2006
"I think the most important thing is restore a sense of idealism and end the cynicism." - future Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, 2002
"It is easier to get into something than to get out of it." - Donald Rumsfeld, 1974
Bissonnette also includes risk management advice from the man who triggered the world's largest hedge fund collapse; a pair of #1 bestselling relationship experts who married each other and promptly divorced; and gay-prostitute-patronizing pastor Ted Haggard on how to build a marriage that will last a lifetime.
The result will keep you smiling while you glean all the wisdom you need to build the life you want... if only you can follow it better than the people who gave it.
A bestselling journalist delivers the never-before-told story of the plush animaland#160;craze that became the tulip mania of the 1990s
In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanieand#160;Babies. In just three years, collectors who saw the toys as aand#160;means of speculation made creator Ty Warner, an eccentricand#160;college dropout, a billionaireand#151;without advertising or big-boxand#160;distribution. Beanie Babies were ten percent of eBayand#8217;s sales inand#160;its early days, with an average selling price of $30and#151;six timesand#160;the retail price. At the peak of the bubble in 1999, Warner reportedand#160;a personal income of $662 millionand#151;more than Hasbroand#160;and Mattel combined.
The end of the craze was swift and devastating, withand#160;and#147;rareand#8221; Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as theyand#8217;dand#160;once been deemed priceless.
Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (includingand#160;a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty productsand#160;and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworkerand#160;over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the strangestand#160;speculative mania of all time.
About the Author
Zac Bissonnette wrote two acclaimed bestsellers before his twenty-fourth birthday: Debt-Free U and How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-LookingThan Your Parents. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Daily Beast, NYTimes.com, and Mental Floss, among others. A 2011 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, he is currently working on his fourth book. He lives in New York.
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