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Breadwinner review

As 2012 is the national year of reading, I am going to share some of my reading this year through a series of book reviews. Here is the first one…

Breadwinner: a fresh approach to business success

by Tom O’Toole with Lowell Tarling
BAS Publishing, Seaford 2009

Some time ago, an IT trainer told me about a video by Tom O’Toole from the Beechworth  Bakery. The trainer (and others at his training company) were using it in a business course to cover customer service. I then heard of Tom O’Toole in passing a few times.

Driving through Albury last year we happened across a Beechworth Bakery outlet and stopped for lunch. Whilst there, I bought a copy of  Breadwinner by Tom O’Toole.

I admit I didn’t start reading it until January but was very impressed with it once I started. So much so we detoured to Beechworth on our way back from Canberra a few days later.

Personally, I generally don’t find biographies or autobiographies satisfying as a business book (as interesting as they may be to read for pleasure) but this book was a great blend of the two. Tom starts with a chapter on his philosophies from business and finishes with a chapter on his personal philosophies and lessons. In between was his autobiography from childhood to business success.

There are a number of thoughts in the book that I have come across before (if it’s to be, it’s up to me;  it’s the little things that make a difference; goals are just dreams with a date) but they had an impact because they fit in Tom’s story – he shows how they helped him rather than lecturing readers with clichés.

Tom was a poor kid growing up on the banks of the Murray – and his childhood and family certainly gave him stories to entertain with in his book! Imagine kangaroos and frogs living in the house, brothers sharing a bed and living with your front door open and you’re heading towards young Tom’s world.

While Tom discusses his poverty and hardships, it is neither a pity party nor a ‘look how good I am for rising out of this stuff’. It is his story so he tells it, tells it honestly and lets us see how things influenced and taught him.

It’s a good read which will have you laughing and thinking.

From a business perspective, Tom does give ideas and examples of customer service and how to build yourself and your team for success.

In Tom’s words “this book is about making dough, the paper kind. It will hopefully get you out of your comfort zone, it certainly got me out of mine.” And me out of mine.

I recommend grabbing a copy and investing your time in it. Once you’ve read it, come back and let me know how it motivated you or changed your business.