cover image Master of None: How a Jack-of-All-Trades Can Still Reach the Top

Master of None: How a Jack-of-All-Trades Can Still Reach the Top

Clifford Hudson. Harper Business, $29.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-288903-4

Hudson, CEO of fast food chain Sonic for 23 years, imparts life and business lessons in this boundlessly entertaining memoir. “I don’t believe I’ve ever had the patience to master anything,” Hudson begins. Instead, “I’ve always been a bit all over the map,” and it’s this to which he accredits his success. Hudson moves through life experiences, including getting in his first fistfight at age four and joining his high school’s first desegregated class as a freshman in 1969, and shares, via nine “Rules of Thumb,” some of the lessons he’s learned, beginning with “Stability Is a Myth” and ending with “Embrace Options That Aren’t of Your Own Choosing.” His “rules” also include “Innovation Is Not a Luxury,” illustrated by how he chose to back rather than shut down a Sonic franchisee accused by middle management of “diluting the brand” (by serving ice cream); by applying the franchisee’s approach to Sonic locations as a whole, he doubled sales over four years. Hudson supplements his own life experiences with those of historic or business leaders, including Eisenhower (who favored the motto “gently in manner, strong in deed”) and UNC basketball coach Dean Smith (who earned his players’ respect through an ethos of “servant leadership”). Hudson’s book is so enjoyable that readers may not at first realize the trove of valuable advice it contains. (Oct.)