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Book Review:
"Evolve or Die" Lessons for Life and Business Can Be One and the Same

Humor, outrage and wouldn't expect to find these themes in most books on business. They are prevalent throughout a unique collection of essays called "Evolve Or Die The Infinite Process of Becoming," by Timothy LaBadie.

LaBadie is founder and Chairman of the Board of CrossCheck, Inc., a 20-year old, privately held check guarantee company. The company has been an innovator in many aspects of the payments services industry and has grown to be the third largest check guarantee company in the nation following recent years of record growth.

For over 20 years LaBadie has written essays for his employees on a variety of topics that reflect the evolution of a growing, successful and inventive business. Gathered together in the book are 65 essays grouped under five different headings: "Corporate Enlightenment;" "Home: Where Decision Making Begins;" "Uncommon Sense;" "Further Considerations;" and "After Words." The essays touch on a variety of topics and include diverse thoughts on capitalism, management, relationships, childhood and philosophy.

Essay titles hint at the unexpected approach he takes as a business writer. For example, under the title of "Thrash & Rave," LaBadie admits he likes to break rules and then goes on to point out why that is good for business.

"Fear is Free" degrades complacency in the workplace. When workers become too complacent, they no longer feel part of the success of a company. This theme is repeated in "Complacency Rules," which urges the reader to take action, as action kills complacency. In "Welcome to the Monkey Bars," he states that life is dangerous but removing all possibility of danger is impractical, ineffectual and stifles creativity-and business.

Many of the essays are very personal and speak of relationships with wives and children. Others seem to be written to a friend, giving readers the feeling they have been invited into his home to share a cup of coffee. Grouped together these different stories become united under the theme that business and life are connected. Business is a journey, a process of becoming, with many aspects in common with life.

A company has its infancy, its teenage years and will eventually grow to maturity. LaBadie writes that CrossCheck is his child and teaching 'her' rather than directing her, makes the business grow and thrive. He has even written an essay titled "Those Teenage Years," included in the collection.

Part of the value in reading these essays, in addition to enjoying the humor, is the overall message that LaBadie conveys about both business and life: Make decisions and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Take risks, he urges, because we cannot take control of our own lives without them. He challenges readers to make decisions in their lives and in their workplaces. He writes, "Mediocrity is not an option; good decision making is paramount."

LaBadie doesn't offer rules or steps to success. The essays are designed to make readers think, question the ordinary, step back from the everyday and rebel a little.

Though entertaining on their own, the essays gain impact when presented together. In this context the reader sees the process of creating and building a business by treating it as a living and breathing entity, one with personality, faults and a unique sense of humor.

"Evolve Or Die The Infinite Process of Becoming"
By Timothy LaBadie
Planetspin Publishing, Bloomington, Ind., 2003
ISBN: 1-4140-1495-3 (Paperback)
148 pages
Available on and

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