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Book review: Oversubscribed

Book review: Oversubscribed
Photo by Levi Jones / Unsplash

I've been creating a course on emotional intelligence, and have been devouring books and podcasts on enterpreneurship. You see, being good at what you do, i.e. your art, is different from being good at running a business around that art. For example, if you are good at making coffee, that does not mean that you can run a cafe, let alone a chain of cafes. So if I want to get my course out there, I need to study business.

Oversubscribed is one of the best business books I have ever read. It is based on the premise that a business that runs successfully needs to be oversubsribed - the demand for the business should exceed the capacity that the business can handle. The book also does a good job of explaining how to go around creating this imbalance, and has useful advice on how to select your team, how to distrubute roles, and even encourages celebrating your wins.

What I found most intriguing is how psychologically rich the book is. It teaches the lesson of humility. The book starts with the idea that we all have a capacity to deliver. A restaurant can only serve a fixed number of customers every night. If they tried to add more tables, or if they try to use every inch of their space, their ambience might deteriorate, their hygeine might suffer, and the customer experience will feel rushed.

Yet psychologically, it's somehow hard to accept your capacity. We want to be liked by everyone, even though we can only be friends with a small number of people. We want every attractive woman/man to find us attractive even though we can only have just a handful of times for dates in a week. And perhaps we just need one as a long term partner.

So the key to being successful in business or in your social life may lie in switching from making everybody like you to acknolweding your finite capacity, and therefore only spending your attention on people who value what you do or who you are.