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  • Writer's pictureFrederic Martin

Review: Rocky Mountain High



Right off the bat I'll tell you that, at 200 pages, I found this to be a quick and highly engaging read. There is no fluff or padding in this story, and that reflects the author’s personality as well as his approach to the “Hemp Space” business that he started during the Colorado hemp boom years of 2018-2019.


On the other hand, I have a different take on this book than most reviewers. I consider it a book about business and in that regard, I rank it up at the top of my list for must-reads for entrepreneurs, alongside two of my favorites; Honest Business (Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry) and Growing a Business (Paul Hawken). The common theme of all three books is that they were written by people who not only started businesses from the ground up, they engaged in face-to-face interactions with every individual involved in their business, whether it was an undocumented day laborer, law enforcer, bookkeeper, customer, government bureaucrat, or honey-wagon driver. Even when delegation of duties to other people became necessary, they never allowed themselves to get isolated from the lowest tier workers by layers of “businesstocracy.” (I think I just invented a new term!)


One startling observation that can be made about these three books is that although they were written in different eras, there is almost no mention of the internet. Honest Business (1981) and Growing a Business (1987) were pre-internet, pre-cell phones while Rocky Mountain High (2023) was written in an era where internet and cell phones were ubiquitous. That a modern business book can be written with little reference to the internet is witness to the fact that basic economics and business principles have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with how humans interact.


The other commonality is how each writer reveals how fertile, thriving business environments rely heavily on the basic honesty, trust, and persistence of each individual as well as a judicious business legal structure with firm yet properly constrained regulation. In short, they rely as much on cash-and-a-hand-shake as they do OSHA safety regulations. Both, in proper measure, create a very fertile business environment where negotiations can happen very quickly but within the constraints of oversight that protects individuals from being bulldozed by the soulless aspects of capitalism.


Okay, “business” business aside, Murphy is also a darn good yarn teller with good strong opinions and lessons expressed in a light-hearted, self-deprecating, and perhaps ever-so-slightly narcissistic tone (at times ;). His language is lean, concise, and sophisticated without being condescending (see “narcissistic”) though some may find him so. I think that those who object to his strong opinions may not have spent a lot of time mingling with tradespeople and so lack that perspective. I have spent a lot of time working with, among, and as a trades-person and find his observations spot-on and delightful.


Beyond business, yarn-telling, and opinion, Murphy’s insider view of the guts of the Hemp Space boom of the 20-teens is a worthwhile read for everyone as it is a case study of entrepreneurism in 21st century United States. I might even recommend it as required reading for business majors ;^)


4.6/5 stars for being extremely well written.

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