Book Review

Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy

Publisher: St. Martin's Press | Genre: Memoir, Business

Byrne Murphy shares the most candid and universal experience there is--being lost and finding oneself. Throughout the book, you see the growth of Byrne Murphy along with his company. From the uncertainty of his actions to his decisive leadership, he is molded by the obstacles he faces--all of which are detailed.

Title: Le Deal

Author: J Byrne Murphy

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Memoir, Business

First Publication: 2008, Republished in 2020

Language: English


Book Summary: Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy

Le Deal is an adventure story involving raw entrepreneurship, high-level politics, and a young American family in foreign lands. It is the true story of Byrne Murphy, a businessman who abruptly moves to Paris with his wife and baby daughter in a quest to reignite his career and his fortunes. He quickly finds himself up against strange and powerful forces for which he is ill prepared.

Just days after landing in France, Byrne reads that the newly installed prime minister has declared a moratorium on all new retail development, apparently snuffing out Byrne’s proposed new venture—discount fashion malls—before it’s even started. He and his company will engage in a mano a mano struggle with the prime minister (which reaches all the way to France’s Supreme Court); encounter a ruthless political ambush in Germany by the soon-to-be chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder; and face a threatening (“Is this the Mafia?”) would-be partner in Italy. Counterbalanced against these are a series of mostly charming encounters with nearly all members of the British Royal Family, capped off by a tour with Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, which nearly ended in a royal embarrassment of epic proportions.

Byrne and his wife, Pamela, experience the joys and risks of living and growing their family in foreign lands. From proposals for dalliances to a harrowing experience with a local and dangerous disease during pregnancy, they are reminded time and again that surprises can be ever present in foreign cultures.

Over eight years the company (McArthurGlen Europe) grew from nothing to generating approximately a billion dollars in sales from 11 centers across Europe. Those efforts created nearly 8,000 jobs, opened 1,500 stores featuring 500 brands, attracted nearly 40 million shopping visits per year, and spawned an array of competitors. In short, an industry.

Along the way, the author learns what he, and Americans in general, do and do not know about life beyond our borders. The book ends with a message about the need for twenty-first-century Americans who work in international affairs to truly take “context” into account; to realize, in our quest to accomplish more in less time, that investing the time to understand the nuances of foreign cultures with which one may be working is a key to prospering in this multicultural, polyglot, interconnected, globalized world.


Book Review - Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy

Book Review: Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy

Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy is a real-life story of passion, perseverance, belief, loyalty with a lot of heart. Unlike so many memoirs, it’s not an equally balanced arc through Byrne Murphy’s life. It’s not an ego gratifying display of his awesomeness, heavily weighted in the success of the company and all the amazing things that went on around that. Instead, it’s a deep focus on the beginning years of his struggle as an entrepreneur after he landed in Paris with his wife and a baby and a dream in 1992.

Byrne Murphy covers all of it in detail. The ups and the downs, many downs. The moments where he felt like he could lose it all, which seemed to happen at least once a year. His personal struggles as a leader and a manager. His momentary conflicts about whether or not the struggle was worth it. The breakthroughs – mostly understood in hindsight – when he realized they had gotten to another level.

Le Deal provides insight into the mindset required to be a founding CEO of a start up. It’s a scary place to be knowing your every action will impact the future of the company and all the people who work for you! This book is a gold mine. Labor relations, change management, marketing, Govt. relations, & cost reduction – I get to know all about it in this book. More than that it teaches you about persistence, about confronting petty egos, not falling in the paralysis of analysis and doing something, and about having guts to do what might be unpopular now but right in the long term.

Le Deal by J Byrne Murphy is distinct in the way it is written, as it masterfully balances the nature of honesty and humility. The story, told in first person by Byrne himself, begins by focusing on his early life. In fact, Byrne Murphy shares the most candid and universal experience there is–being lost and finding oneself. Throughout the book, you see the growth of Byrne Murphy along with his company. From the uncertainty of his actions to his decisive leadership, he is molded by the obstacles he faces–all of which are detailed.

The book is beautifully written, and Byrne Murphy’s voice shines through as both smart and honest. He spends most of the book returning to the real-life business and relationship challenges of founding a company and managing people. Writing aside, the story itself is fascinating—let me be more precise—Byrne is fascinating.

This is one of the best memoir books written by a businessperson. It’s smart, exciting, and is full of amazing life lessons. A must-read for anyone that identifies themselves as a competitor, whether that be in business or life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs. More so for budding or even seasoned entrepreneurs.

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