Patrick Burke’s new book is that rare case of simultaneously in-fashion and individualistic. Burke may be a self-professed ‘serial entrepreneur’, CPA, and lawyer — specifically the managing partner of Cincinnati-based firm Burke & Schindler PLL — but communicatively he remains a straight-talking man of the people. The result makes you respect him two-fold, both as an accomplished, decorated professional within his field and on a more personal level because of how he breaks down concepts in clear, on-point prose.


He’s not interested in lording his experiential value over the reader, instead in essentially treating them as peers on his level. This is also reinforced by his lack of presumption over his theoretical audience, choosing to focus on the timeless pitfalls of climbing the corporate and entrepreneurial ladders than focusing on what he deems extensive success strategies. This kind of humility makes the read expansive, as it can complement and appeal to people with varying visions, backgrounds, and capabilities as they enter into the fold of the professional milieu. At the beginning of the book, Burke highlights, “Although experience is the best teacher, it’s also the most costly.” He continues, “Learning business lessons the hard way, through your own mistakes, often results in significant downturns or even failure. Business success doesn’t require a fabulous new product or service (it doesn’t hurt, though) but does require avoiding the big mistakes.

I made most of these big mistakes myself and barely lived to tell about it. So please do as I say and not as I did.” It therefore seems appropriate he christened the title of his new book The 10 Biggest Business Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Like the way it communicates its varying contents, it’s snappy, no-nonsense, and feels entertainingly irreverent.

Probably one of the most important tenets Burke highlights is the necessity not just to institutionalize successful tactics and strategies within one’s own conduct, but also to know how to objectively surround one’s self with the right people. In true fashion to the spirit of the book, he lays out such challenges in the fifth chapter entitled The Wrong Team. He cites the hiring of however qualified, yet pragmatically insufficient candidates to certain corporate positions as an analogous ‘Pete Rose’ effect. The book will do a better job in explaining the specifics of the term than I can, needless to say again this is a referential sign of Burke’s irreverence. He’s a loud and proud die-hard fan of the Cincinnati Reds. In short, the ‘Pete Rose’ effect is what Burke assigns to the psychology of transformational value.


Many entrepreneurial profiles suffer from a feeling that with a qualified, decorated addition to their team, they can guide them into maximum job performance. This is patently untrue, argues Burke. Frankly, it’s a classic case of If it’s broke, fix it and If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Firing too slowly is partly due to disbelief that (employee) conversion (can’t) happen,” he writes. “…this occurs mostly because entrepreneurs lack attention to detail, which is compounded by the general failure of entrepreneurs to see value in middle managers such as human resource professionals, who revel in the details.” He adds, “Whatever the cause, it’s real, and entrepreneurs generally will not pull themselves out of this process until they understand their own limitations.” It’s through these kind of ruminations, yet so succinctly worded, that Burke truly makes himself — and the book — stand out as unique. It’s a nice change, and a pragmatic one at that — it makes dense concepts understandable…

Colin Jordan

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