Zenon Hansen was an all-American enterpreneur with motivational skills who became the president of Mack Trucks, one of the biggest trucking companies in America. Starting off as an Eagle Scout, he won a badge that led him to give his life to the Boy Scout movement. Pitched by writer Steve Myers as an inspirational read for young adults who need a guide to take action into adulthood, this book is a detailed biography of an obviously very personal hero for the author.
Filled with photos and factoids on Hansen, as an historical document of 20th century America in the throes of a new industrial future, the book documents a lost time of self-made millionaires and rags-to-riches through sheer hard work and self-belief.
Although it does seem somewhat doubtful, that given the Internet age we are now in, that many young adults would find inspiration from such a last-century figure when they have the cool likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to look up to, especially given the cover shows a very elderly Hansen smoking a pipe, on a very vintage brown background. Instead, this book will probably appeal to those in the management of logistics or trucking industries who want to learn more about the history of their chosen career. I also suspect the book is highlighting the The Hansen Leadership Program at Doane College, Nebraska, where students hone their leadership skills for work.
The author loves adventure, and this shows in the work. He has adopted the spirit of Hansen in tone, and this does add an entertaining flavor to the read. The book itself seems to belong to the last century: Written in script-like prose, it almost reads like a Ken Burns or Biography Channel voiceover. This is not a bad thing: in fact the book suits this style, and this enhances its content. Even the cover conjures up a college library, where a fervent business studies student may unearth this almost pitch-perfect all-American hero to write about in a thesis.
For me, given the book is written in a library style adds to its charm. There’s no slick marketing vibe to this work, but a real heart and soul dissertation of a well-loved figure who left a $10 million legacy behind to help others. The book is pretty short, and is more of a collections of touchstones and lists of figures and achievements of a man’s life, but somehow still manages to pack in enough flavor to paint a rounded picture of life in America’s automotive age, of roadbuilding and belief in the power of dreams that used to abound in the Land of the Free once upon a time, and maybe in some corners, still does.
Maybe this book is niche, maybe a little old-fashioned in conception, and obviously it’s a very personal pet project of Myers’, it is worth a look for a certain sort of audience that enjoys a good uplifting business biography that shows what anyone can achieve if they put their mind to it.