It was Christmas Day, 2012. I sauntered into the checkout line of the downtown Powell's Books with a copy of It's Okay to Be the Boss
. I had struggled to find a book that spoke to my experience or at least didn't alienate me. When I reached the counter, the clerk looked at me, then looked at the book, then looked back at me.
"Time to be the boss, huh?"
"Yup," I chirped.
"What do you do?"
"I actually started a small publishing company in 1996."
He was increasingly interested. "Which one?"
I didn't expect the conversation to go in this direction. I felt as anonymous and uninteresting as the hundreds of other shoppers that day. Bookstore chatter has always been a welcome part of my life, but the way that my company had been run by its former management for the past six years had dug a ditch of debt so deep and produced a constantly conflicting composite of statements about what the company stood for that I had become embarrassed to be involved. I had tried to become an electrician instead. Then a filmmaker. Then a teacher. But the company had finally reached a turning point. I was taking over management again and realized how much I needed to learn, so I turned to a book...