In this university-wide program, we select a provocative and challenging book each semester. The book’s theme is then adopted for discussion and analysis during that semester within all programs.

Our Omniquest selection for the 2017 fall semester is Irrational Persistence: Seven Secrets That Turned a Bankrupt Startup Into A $231,000,000 Business.

Dave Zilko, the author of Irrational Persistence, took over an unassuming startup, a fresh salsa company founded in the back of a bankrupt restaurant, from the unlikeliest of places: Detroit. Despite operating in a mature industry with a team that had virtually no formal training or formal education, he applied a unique, counterintuitive style and grew it into the largest brand of fresh salsa in the United States. Dave recently engineered its sale to a Fortune 500 company for almost a quarter-billion dollars. Dave has chronicled his experience both as an entrepreneur and with Garden Fresh in a national best-selling book, Irrational Persistence: Seven Secrets That Turned a Bankrupt Startup Into A $231,000,000 Business. Today, Dave is an equity partner in and CEO of FUEL, a digital media property.

Irrational Persistence is the account of Garden Fresh Gourmet, and how two entrepreneurs turned a $1,000,000 debt to a $100,000,000 annual revenue. Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is just showing up, but any entrepreneur can tell you that it's the other 20% that's key. The founders of Garden Fresh took that old saying to heart, building so many strategic advantages into their products and business that their “sales” team didn't have to do any selling - they simply had to show up. In this book, you'll find out what kind of legwork goes into building a mega-success product, and the strategies, methods, and just plain stubbornness that helped two guys from Detroit build a market leader. Garden Fresh Gourmet is now the #1 fresh salsa in the US, shipping over a million units every week to Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, and other national chains - and it all began with two middle-aged guys with negative funds and plenty of ideas. This book shares their journey, insight, and passion to help you build a better business and take it to the top. Garden Fresh Gourmet is an inspiration beyond the journey - the way you run things at the top matters, too. Irrational Persistence shows you how to make the tough decisions, live with the sacrifices, and prioritize your values as you build your brand and just keep on going.

Irrational Persistence is a fast-paced read as Zilko takes us through his successful turnaround of an ill-fated business, and we know you’ll enjoy the journey.


OMNIQUEST selections

2016 – 2017

  • The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo
  • Equal is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins

2015 – 2016

  • Good Profit – How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies by Charles G. Koch
  • The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure by John A. Allison, President and CEO of the Cato Institute

2014 – 2015

  • Guardian of the Republic by LTC Allen B. West and Michele Hickford
  • American Icon by Bryce Hoffman
  • On The Edge by Alison Levine

2013 – 2014

  • It Didn't Have To Be This Way, by Harry C. Veryser
  • Conscious Capitalism, by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

2012 – 2013

  • Ladies for Liberty by John Blundell
  • How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

2011 – 2012

  • Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John C. Maxwell
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  • Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven Strategy to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner

2010 – 2011

  • Make It in America - The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy by Dr. Andrew N. Liveris
  • Winners Never Cheat - Even in Difficult Times by Jon M. Huntsman with the Foreword by Glenn Beck (2009)
  • SWITCH: How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2010)

2009 – 2010

  • How Capitalism Will Save Us by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames
  • 1000 Dollars and an Idea by Sam Wyly
  • Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People by Rich DeVos

2008 – 2009

  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • Capitalism At The Crossroads,2nd Edition by Stuart L. Hart
  • Simply Success: How to Start, Build, and Grow a Multimillion-Dollar Business the Old Fashioned Way by Jack Miller

2007 – 2008

  • Where Have All The Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca
  • The Science of Success by Charles G. Koch
  • New Ideas from Dead CEO's by Todd Buchholz

2006 – 2007

  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  • An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths by Glenn Reynolds, 2006, Nelson Current, ISBN: 159555042

2005 – 2006

  • Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
  • Cleaning Up by Barry Minkow
  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

2004 – 2005

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • The Commanding Heights by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw

2003 – 2004

  • Founding Brothers (The Revolutionary Generation) by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Homesick by Sela Ward
  • Sailing Alone & Around the Room by Billy Collins

2002 – 2003

  • Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management by Blaine McCormick
  • The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  • Make It BIG: 49 Secrets for Building a Life of Extreme Success by Frank McKinney with Victoria St. George

2001 – 2002

  • Fish! by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen
  • Living a Life That Matters by Harold S. Kushner
  • The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley

2000 – 2001

  • The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
  • No Place for a Woman: A Life of Senator Margaret Chase Smith by Janann Sherman

1999 – 2000

  • Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey
  • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

1998 – 1999

  • Leading with Soul by Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal
  • Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff by Richard Carlson
  • The Northwood Idea: People Helping People

1997 – 1998

  • In Search of Nature by Edward O. Wilson
  • Image by Design by Clive Chajet & Tom Shachtman
  • Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

1996 – 1997

  • The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players by Pat Riley
  • The Road Ahead by Bill Gates
  • The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America by Phillip K. Howard

1995 – 1996

  • Beyond Race and Gender: Unleashing the Power of Your Total Work Force by Managing Diversity by R. Roosevelt Thomas
  • Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy by Viktor Frankl
  • The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter Senge

1994 – 1995

  • Compassionate Capitalism: People Helping People Help Themselves by Rich DeVos
  • Beating the Street by Peter Lynch
  • The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection by Russell D. Roberts

1993 – 1994

  • Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future - Today by George Land and Beth Jarman
  • The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
  • Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey

1992 – 1993

  • 2020 Visions: Long View of a Changing World by Richard Carlson and Bruce Goldman
  • Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment by Stephan Schmidheiny
  • Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise by George Gilder

1991 – 1992

  • Essentials of Business Ethics by Peter Madsen and Jay M. Shafritz, Eds.
  • The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America by Shelby Steele
  • The Man Who Discovered Quality: How W. Edwards Deming Brought the Quality Revolution to America - The Stories of Ford, Xerox, and GM by Andrea Gabor

1990 – 1991

  • The New Realities by Peter F. Drucker
  • Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition by Harvey Mackay
  • Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus