Suggested Reading: Shut Up and Listen!


I was recently sent a thought-provoking book titled Shut Up and Listen! authored by Tilman Fertitta. The book’s title might ring as a familiar entreaty in the workplace to subordinates and colleagues alike. No matter how abrupt it may sound, whether because of mental exhaustion, lack of sleep or a long slog to reach an agreement on a critical matter, its intention is to help people realize that they don’t know as much as they think. It could be their financial numbers, reduced rate of repeat customers, inability to leverage opportunities, or more likely, blind spots in their leadership abilities.

Business Rules to Live By

Fertitta, the current owner of the Houston Rockets basketball team and the star of his own reality show, Billion Dollar Buyer on CNBC, offers advice called “Tilmanisms,” which cover five important foundational concepts, each building on the prior one:

  • Hospitality Matters
  • You’d Better Know Your Numbers
  • The 95:5 Rule
  • See the Opportunity, Seize the Opportunity
  • Live Your Leadership

Tilman built up his empire staring with a $5,000 loan to purchase a restaurant, Landry’s Seafood, in Katy, Texas. From here, he immersed himself in buying more restaurants, and through intelligent planning, clever use of capital and a keen eye for opportunity, he expanded into the casino industry and other hospitality venues.

Triumphs as well as setbacks provided Fertitta with the kind of business acumen learned from his successes, but more important, also from his failures.

An easy-to-read publication with a straightforward writing style, Shut Up and Listen! offers summary points at the end of each chapter to reconfirm what budding and seasoned entrepreneurs should always focus on. One point that resonates is avoid saying “no” to a customer without first discovering how to turn a request into a “yes.”

What is so valuable about this book is that no matter what type of business you own or industry in which you operate, if customers (or clients) are your business’s lifeblood, then etch in your memory the philosophy of “There are no spare customers.”

Consider this book a figurative two by four to the head. Think about change; embrace the future; know your strengths and weaknesses; and learn by listening as opposed to talking. Shut Up and Listen! should be within arm’s length of every business owner, corporate leader and accounting firm managing partner.