Business Book Review: Living a Richer Life

Living a Richer LifeRocky Balboa is not exactly a poet laureate, but the movie character’s strength lies as much in his life observations as in his southpaw tenacity.

In the movie “Rocky Balboa,” Rocky’s son admonishes Rocky for his boxing comeback decision because he feels the fight publicity will embarrass the both of them.

Rocky’s response is a great father-son teaching moment:

“Nothing will hit as hard as life…but it’s not how you hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Nothing like boxer logic to point out the way to surmount life challenges.

There are an increasing number of books, programs and therapies meant to develop one’s ability to overcome life obstacles. A unique approach that may be a great fit for small business owners and entrepreneurs lies in Living a Richer Life: Getting The Most out of Life’s Gifts and Circumstances by Earl and Charlotte Cobb. Why? Because the Cobbs have been entrepreneurs themselves, having launched CobbCare GNC and Better Life sunrooms, as well as having corporate backgrounds. So who better to share life-balance tips to other business owners and franchisors than two entrepreneurs who have been in the trenches of economic warfare?

I learned about the book through a sibling who contributed some insights, as well as through other friends, so I asked for a copy to review.

Highlights for Introspection

Living a Richer Life explains the Life Continuum Model, a process for discerning value from life events and managing the associated decisions effectively. Five steps form the basis of the Life Continuum Model:

  1. Framing Stage – to determine your mindset during a given life event
  2. Opportunity Identification – to see the circumstances that have surfaced from the life event at hand
  3. Examination and Prioritization – to prioritize the circumstances from Step 2 that will most likely enrich your life or goals
  4. Enrichment Examination Stage – to examine circumstances and actionable opportunities
  5. Action Execution Stage – simply the execution of the engagement model that is part of the Enrichment Examination Stage.

There are four enrichment principles for setting the observations being made in a given life, and corresponding enrichment challenges for the objectives that correspond to the principles. There are also elements that frame your thoughts, as described below:

“ Your state of mind and perspective can be generally characterized by capturing an inventory of your thoughts surrounded by six structural components, referred to as Elements. These elements are believed to comprise an underlying system or structure that …frames who you are and what you are thinking at the time you initially encounter a major circumstance in your life.”

This may sound like overthinking common life occurrences, but the Cobbs make a good point about creating a system to appraise your opportunities and challenges alongside your own mindset. The authors also make clear why a self-assessment model can be a needed overview to stay the course.

“Self-awareness is developed through the practice of observation and focus — focusing your attention and observing the details of your personality and behavior….Our society discourages self-awareness with an almost religious cycle of working and consuming that keeps all of us too busy to slow down for self-reflection.”

An Unusual Book From an Interesting Working Couple

The way the couple choose to introduce the material can seem a bit counterintuitive at first blush, but it’s the Cobbs’ mindset that makes the book work as a whole. The typical blurb on the authors’ background is missing from the book jacket (though bios appears on page 231). The authors instead opt to use their background to showcase the Enrichment Examination Stage through four of their personal journeys. Franchisees and small business owners who have had other life happenings occur — mainly family events and business structure decisions — will find this useful to understand themselves as well as the authors.

The Cobbs let the readers know that they are just two hard-working Americans who grew up in working-class families…Over the years we have not viewed our personal improvement activities as laborious tasks. We have framed these tasks as journeys that illuminate our paths and crossroads as we move from one stage of life to another.”

The very approachable nature of the authors stands out and provides a counterpoint to the process-oriented, textbook approach of the text. The Cobbs are not overly psychological in their tone, though there are psychology book references at the end. Living a Richer Life provides the reader the right means to distinguish when a bad feeling from an event is really something more substantial and requires action.

Some personal development books use slightly more lightweight language than Living a Richer Life. The book’s diagrams and textbook-like appearance are meant for honest introspection, and the format provides a noteworthy alternative to gurus trying to “be all” for all personal and professional queries. The book’s sit-down-and-think attitude is a valuable counterpunch to the e-book/blogging times we’re in. In short, the Cobbs apply a great systematic approach for those who help that’s deeper than empty promises but are not quite ready to see Dr. Phil either.

You will gain a lot by reading  Living a Richer Life, including a best sense of self to make your life and business the best they can be.


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

4 Reactions
  1. Great to see a review of a book that has more substance that the usual “Ten Best Ways to Do Anything”. Quick reads are great and certainly have their place in the busy world of a small business person like myself. However, from looking inside “Living a Richer Life” on, I can see from the book’s table of contents and the few pages that are shared online that this is an excellent way to address some “real world” challenges that we all face—yet struggle through at home along in fear of being viewed as mere mortals” . Kudos for the Cobbs for the courage to tackle reality and cheers to Small Business Trends for giving me the opportunity to read something that I would not have normally taken the time understand. P.S. I have already ordered my copy.

  2. Pierre – I just love this review! I love the introduction and the reference to Rocky, maybe because it rings true to me. And I’m touched and inspired by the way you profile the authors – or is it the way they profile themselves? 🙂

    As an admitted self-improvement junkie, I can see that this book is serious stuff. I’m looking forward to picking it up for myself.

  3. Pierre – I had a chance to check out the book review of Living a Richer Life on last night. You did a great job!

    Using the “Rocky Balboa is not exactly a poet laureate” intro is quite clever. It allows the reader to quickly grasp the angle you took in reviewing the book. The ease by which you detected how our entrepreneurial background and our passion for sharing the “curse” we both have (i.e. a driving need to give people real, tangible approaches to tackling unavoidable challenges in all aspects of their lives) is quite remarkable.

    Framing the value the book can have to the small business readers over and beyond the hottest business trends was also indicative of your natural ability to comprehend the vast and sometimes complex environment which innately encompasses the “real world” of personal and professional improvement.

    Charlotte and I both really appreciate your willingness to take the initiative and time to support our mission— i.e. shaping thoughts and changing lives for the better.

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