Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Ben and Jerry of super-fattening-ice-cream fame weren't the first guerrilla marketers, insists author Gabriel Stricker. As he puts it, "Mao -- the original 'Chairman' of the board -- beat you to the punch years ago."
So what if Communist Party chairman Mao Tse-tung, the former head of China, wasn't a capitalist at heart? He knew how to win battles as an underdog, Stricker writes. In his new book, Mao in the Boardroom (St. Martin's Press, $14.95), out this past week, Stricker lays out Mao's theories, then describes how capitalist warriors apply them on the corporate battlefield today. For example:
* Mao said: "There is in guerrilla warfare no such thing as a decisive battle." In the corporate world: Amazon. com and Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertain ment have faltered, risen, been written off, risen again ...
* Mao said: "A primary feature of guerrilla operations is their dependence on the people themselves." In other words, never underestimate the power of the masses. In the corporate world: Napster connected millions of music lovers and shook up the recording industry.
* Mao said: "The idea that officers can physically beat or tongue-lash their men is a feudal one. ... Discipline of the feudal type will destroy internal unity." In other words, beat up the competition, not your workers. In the corporate world: Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor-apparel company Patagonia, hires what he calls "dirtbags," or people who are passionate about the outdoors, so they can be passionate about their work as well. Work spaces are communal, a volleyball court is set out in back of the office, and the rest rooms have showers so people can bike or run to work or work out during breaks.
"When the surf's up, you go surfing," Chouinard is quoted in the book. "Why should you care about what hours your employees work as long as the work gets done?"
The book also meshes images of Mao and top corporate executives, including Anita Roddick of The Body Shop. The caption reads: "Mao maintains his soft complexion by using The Body Shop's Shea Body Butter with SPF 15."