Note to authors & publishers
Due to the high volume of review copies we receive, we may not get to a book for several weeks.
Smart People Should build Things
Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America by Andrew Yang, VFA founder and CEO. Yang's definition of “building things”:
we mean forming and helping companies and organizations that are innovating and creating value.
Starting with outlining the problem in the introduction, the book follows a logical outline. [read more]
Richer Experiences Reduce the Role of Luck
Instead, context means how is this making my life better as in “how is the use of this product or service going to help me gain new skills that I can use meaningfully?” to them/us.
The key is in the results:
Competing on out-caring the competition is fragile unless “caring” means “caring about user results.”
Says Kathy Sierra in her new book Badass: Making Users Awesome published by O'Reilly media. The book includes simple techniques you can use to start experimenting with providing ways to help your customers become better at their context, what they want to do. [read more]
How to Design a Conversation of Impact
I've long maintained that conversation is a tool -- and a strategic one at that. Christ Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon agree. They authored a simple and straightforward manual for creating Moments of Impact.
The book includes a 60-page starter kit that will help you design strategic conversations that accelerate change.
When defining your purpose, say the authors, you should pick one and then communicate it. [Read more]
My Summer Reading List
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Pixar's Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
Because this is not just about pulling off a strong streak of hit animation films thanks to curiosity and innovation. It is also a story of stamina, leadership, and experimentation.
Twenty years, thirty Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards with more than fourteen movies like Ratatouille, WALL-E, the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc. under its belt, Catmull describes what it takes to sustain a culture of disciplined creativity during setbacks and success. [read more]
Scaling up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less
The result is a book due out February 4. In Scaling up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less, Sutton and Rao take us on a journey to understand the trade-offs companies make as they grow. Things like:
- spreading mindset, not just footprint
- how scaling requires subtraction, not just addition
- slowing down to scale faster
- how sometimes snowballs are better than no balls [read more]
12 Books that Changed My Life
Some of the 12 books I carried with me from Italy, others I picked up along the way:
1. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
I own two copies, one in German and one in English, a gift from a friend at a very intense time. [read more]
Spring Reading: Decisive, Nice, and Hidden in Plain Sight
Despite the increase in volume and similarity of titles, especially on business and marketing, I find there is still so much more to figure out, learn, and teach/share. The topics where I am often left wanting sharper thinking, research, and pragmatic advice are still fairly rare to come upon.
I selected three for the spring edition based upon familiarity with the topics and the authors' body of work.
To Sell is Human: the Surprising Truth About Moving Others
I just finished reading the galley copy of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, and am already recommending it. The book addresses a universal need -- that of understanding the art and science of selling. Pink reminds us we're all in sales, and explains what it means in the new context created by savvy buyers.
Conversation Agent 2012 Recommended Reading List
People often ask me for book recommendations and it's been a while since I published a review.
This time, it's nine books -- an eclectic collection of new and evergreen titles mostly about creativity, social behavior, and willpower.
1. The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge by Doc Searls
The book's premise is based upon the belief that the `free' customers are more valuable than captive ones.
Relationships between customers and vendors will be voluntary and genuine, with loyalty anchored in mutual respect and concern, rather than coercion.
Reinvent How You Make a Living with $100
In The $100 Startup, Guillebeau provides extensive examples of businesses started by people all over the world, in all kinds of fields.
If you're looking for inspiration and practical advice on how to get started in a microbusiness that fits your lifestyle, you will find plenty here.
The Power of Habit
The book didn't stink, no.
Quite the opposite actually, it stood out for its clarity of purpose -- demonstrating how human intelligence is connected to habits and what we can do to make changes in the way we work, and live.
Febreze was there because of a landmark case study about how P&G figured out how to promote their new compound and product that would spread and sell.
It involved understanding how to insert a new habit into people's existing routines. [read more]
How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth
When I met Stan Phelps for coffee a little over a year ago, I learned for the first time there was a term -- lagniappe -- that meant a small gift given to a customers by a merchant at the time of purchase.
It cannot be faked of forced, for it to work it must feel real.
Resistance and the War of Art
When my friend Chris gave me a copy of Steve Pressfield's non fiction book, The War of Art (Amazon affiliate link) in the kindle version (publishers, take note, please) as a gift, I put off reading it.
I told myself that I was saving it for my upcoming trip to WOMMA in Las Vegas.
Of course, part of me knew that I was only buying time.
I'm quite good at finding all kinds of things to do right before I sit down to write. Especially when my goal is to work on something really important. [read more]
Two Books on Content Strategy You Should Own
Note the emphasis on the term strategy. I've written extensively about content marketing and strategy -- mapping your content to the buyer's cycle, producing content for business-to-business (B2B) companies and brands, and even provided a fun way to visualize your content to check if it has story value.
Strategy is the framework you use to plan, create, distribute, and manage the content you create.
The Lean Startup
What he offers them, and his book readers, is the result of his experience founding three companies, which he boiled down into an iterative process organizations can use under extreme uncertainty - when they're trying to build something new.
3 Books I'm Reading Now
I became intrigued with the work of Genevieve Bell from reading some interviews when I was researching the post on the role of the participant-observer in organizations. Admittedly, the book she co-wrote with scientist Paul Dourish and published by MIT, is pretty geeky.
However, besides it providing a much needed and fascinating history and chronology of the movements behind the technology that is shaping our world... [read more]
Everything is Obvious (once you know the answer)
Almost four centuries is not nearly fast enough in a day and age when each quarter matters.
What happened to make it famous? Was there a tipping point? After all, Leonardo da Vinci was a change agent.
As it turns out, there was. [read more]
How Content Rules
She stood next to the podium and started reading from Gustav and the Goldfish, a book written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss in 1950 as part of his long-running series of children stories for redbook. We all sat there in rapt attention -- the bigger the fish got, the more we leaned forward in anticipation.
Ann Handley is more than a writer and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs: She's a storyteller.
As someone who has more than a decade under her belt spent creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals [read more]
Should You Be an Entrepreneur?
If I were to make an educated guess, I'd say it's because they are hoping to ride on the coat tails of the work that went into building equity in the name as associated with a new way of talking the walk, and marketing that makes business sense.
This is without question the most competitive time ever in the market. [read more]
"We are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutions and organizations."
When Simon Mainwaring and I met to talk about his upcoming book and company at SxSW this past March, I instantly saw the potential -- truly connecting brands and people doesn't just make good business sense; it can change the world.
Why would the public sector get involved with building a better future? [read more]
Game Frame of Mind
In Game Frame (Amazon affiliate link), Aaron Dignan describes how to create ways to be engaged at work by producing peak learning conditions and accelerating achievement. Games are a powerful way to influence and change behavior in any setting. [read more]
Killing Giants is a Way of Doing (and a Book)
I shared mine just a few posts ago. The punch line is that we didn't just talk about vision and core values -- we lived them. We won every single time, because our focus was on developing relationships, partnering with businesses, not ripping kidneys out.
There is a time and place for being aggressive where it counts -- being rigorous and excelling in service delivery and counsel. As Stephen Denny writes in Killing Giants (Amazon affiliate link), we are squarely and permanently in the doing-more-with-less era.
Things have changed. There is no going back. [read more]
The Big Thirst in a Water World
The book was released yesterday, although I think I have seen it in a store before the release date. I knew Charles Fishman would write this book. His excellent Fast Company message in a bottle was well received a couple of years back.
As he writes in response to a comment to his ChangeThis manifesto: We pay too little for water.
What we pay doesn't cover the cost of the water — of finding it and acquiring it in the first place, of treating it and delivering it, of disposing of it. And we don't pay the cost of protecting the environment that provides the water in the first place.
Cognitive Surplus in Business
Cognitive surplus is not simply trillions of hours of free time spread across two billion connected individuals, writes Clay Shirky in his seminal book about creativity and generosity in a connected age.
Rather, it is how connections help us create opportunity for each other.
And I'm going to hit pause here because I'd like you to think about something. When was the last time you felt you had the mental space to ponder something at least a little before plowing through at work?
Have you been in any meeting that rewarded exploration and listening over assertive "here's what we do" talk?
Cognitive surplus starts accruing when there is enough time and space to actually think. [read more]
The Hyper-Social Organization in a Book
In The Hyper-Social Organization (Amazon affiliate link), Human 1.0 founder Francois Gossieaux and Ed Moran, Deloitte Director for Product Innovation, write about putting people back into business and getting to know and work with its communities or tribes.
In strategy, there are always some pillars that underpin how a business and organization can find its motivation to move from where it is to where it needs to be, which then the people in the business translate into execution. [read more]
Are You Ready to Succeed?
Perhaps the best way to explain the difference between success through personal mastery and what the current misunderstanding about success tells you is by reading together part of a review of Srikumar S. Rao's course and book Are You Ready to Succeed? (Amazon affiliate link).
From Brandon Peele's review, which in my view reflects where so many get stuck, even today: [read more]
3 Books on Leadership, a Vision of Life as Play, and Acting on What Matters
The lenses you use to view your business will determine how it will grow. Leadership, vision, and acting on what matters are indispensable components of the mix for that growth to become a long term promise and value instead of short term gratification, as tempting as that may be.
As you reflect on your results of this past year and prepare for what's next for your business development, I thought of connecting the dots on a couple of resources that continue to serve me well.
Driving Social Change: The Dragonfly Effect
Of all the books you will find in the bookstore about social media, The Dragonfly Effect [Amazon affiliate link] by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith is the most approachable and useful to the person who's not spending half their day in social networks and wants to understand the potential of connecting technology and personal life to impact social change.
Switch: Take Two
After reading and using Duarte's Resonate, I felt it would be useful for us to cross reference what we learned last week with Switch (Amazon affiliate link) by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, which I already reviewed here.
The subtitle of the book will tell you why: it's about how to change things when change is hard.
While Duarte's book teaches you how to think about developing the visual story and organizing its flow to support the hero's journey, Switch helps you drill down on how to craft your message [read more]
Why Visual Stories Resonate
Every time you present to a group -- whether that be your colleagues, management team, the CEO, company investors, your customers, or conference attendees -- you have an opportunity to connect.
However, transmission is only the tip of the iceberg.
The World Has Changed. People Are Empowered
One of the most common questions I get when I facilitate conversations at events is: how do I convince my manager and IT group to work with me? What can I say that will help me win them over to support my initiative?
The risk component of the "what if" has stilted many an innovation inside organizations. And not just in my experience. It is well known that smart marketers enroll agencies and analysts in support of those kinds of initiatives.
Set Your Own Rules
You really don't have to sign up to do what others think one should do to succeed. In fact, most of the time that's a sure path to disappointment, because they are setting the pace, and you cannot possibly know or have what they have under the hood.
It's much more fun changing the game.
My friend Chris Guillebeau did the honors this week by celebrating the fourth anniversary of this blog. He graciously agreed even though he is about to come to a city near you for the launch of his first book The Art of Non Conformity (Amazon affiliate link). Buy it and read it, it will change your life. [read more]
Why Revenge is so Important to Us
Right before why can large bonuses make CEOs less productive?
Good questions both, why?
As a strategist, I'm paid to ask why a lot. And like Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, I ground that question into research data and observation of reality. You got it, this is a book review. Instead of covering the whole book, as I usually do, I will take one slice of this book and apply it to social media.
Are you with me?
Time to Rework: Book Review
Many of the old hierarchies and rules are holding them back -- way in the past -- when it comes to adapting to the new market realities. The disconnect between a stubbornly siloed internal culture clashes with the networked approach that the external conversation demands.
Culture defines a lot of things in organizations. How problems are tackled, priorities, rewards, and thus behaviors.
Get Big Results by Thinking and Acting Small: microMARKETING
The media tides have turned. And many marketers still make the mistake of seeing the raising numbers of those getting on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs and lifestreams as one big market for their big idea. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In this new media reality -- what Greg Verdino calls the era of microcontent and microcultures in his new book microMARKETING (Amazon affiliate link) -- the biggest marketing opportunities lie not in the one big thing, but in lots and lots of small things.
Social Media Metrics
In thinking about metrics, it seems to me that the difficulty is not so much in measuring -- there's plenty you can measure online. So much, in fact, that the conversation needs to be about what to measure, and why. Why is especially important.
Measurement has become more important for marketers in recent years, especially with the increased fragmentation of media.
With digital media, once you know your objective and goals, your strategy can have measurement built right into it -- from the get go.
How do you optimize the myriad ways you could execute a program?
In his book about Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment (Amazon affiliate link), Jim Sterne talks about... read more
Ten Books that Stand the Test of Time
There are two kinds of books I hold onto:
- those with a personal and special dedication from the author
- those where I wrote furiously in the margins
Writing a book is hard work. Writing a book that teaches you something different, that literally rewires your operating system through the ideas/actions of the authors. Ideas and actions that are now built into you in the way you think and behave [thank you, Peter]... those are keepers.
I thought it would be fun to share ten books that jumped out at me from my bookshelf as standing the test of time -- still as useful today as when they were published. These books taught me something different in a way that rewired the way I operate in business. read more
The Power of Pull
Have you ever wanted something so much that you spent all your waking hours working towards it and your dreams uncovering new avenues to pursue it? I've always been very interested in achieving our potential as individuals and as businesses.
Up until quite recently, this was done mostly with organizations that could forecast needs and then design the most efficient systems to ensure that the right people and resources are available at the right time and place using carefully scripted and standardized processes. In other words, through push. read more
Dan Heath and Chip Heath do it again. They unpack the complex set of systems that conspire to undermine lasting change efforts and make us aware of a few levers we can use to move the needle in our favor. In Switch, they identify three components to understanding change and use metaphors to illustrate a framework you can affect.
Learn to Build a Referral Engine
By far the scariest and most unpredictable part of being on your own is to have enough leads in the pipeline to sustain your business. Preferably not all at the same time so you have to say no to some and send them elsewhere.
It was a more difficult undertaking before digital media. As human beings, we don't scale so well. And many go out on their own to do more of the kind of work they love doing: design, communications, etc. -- sales being a necessary aspect.
Flip the Funnel On Customer Acquisition
Many organizations have become really good at streamlining customer support and service processes. Yet, as co-managing editor of Consumerist.com Ben Popken reminds us in the foreword to Flip the Funnel -- processing is not solving.
Putting in place a good customer retention strategy is a good business move. It's also a smart branding move.
Book Review: The New, New Rules of Marketing and PR
Even before we had our conversation here, David Meerman Scott has held a special place on my bookshelf. His practical advice and no nonsense approach will help you break the rules -- and drive buzz, product feedback, sales and more.
The second, expanded, edition of the book starts strong with Robert Scoble's own story about Microsoft, and grows richer with tips and case studies from Meerman Scott's own experience.
No Limit for Better
1.) Autonomy - or the desire to direct our own lives
2.) Mastery - the urge to get better and better at something that matters
3.) Purpose - the yearning to do what we do in the service larger than ourselves
3 Social Media Marketing Books for the Holidays
Now that we're basking in the quiet moments of the holidays, I've had a chance to do a deeper dive on some of the books I've been wanting to read and share with you.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is actionable from page one to the very last page. If you buy it and use it (please use it) in combination with Web Analystics one Hour a Day, which I bought about a year ago, it will get you a long way to understanding and measuring actionable metrics.
Escape from Cubicle Nation
More Agent, a Little Less Conversation
I wanted to introduce you to this gem from Tom Asacker, who's been an inspiration through his work and in the comments to this blog recently. It's called A Little Less Conversation - connecting with customers in a noisy world. It's written as a conversation between Tom and a business executive after an event.
Why I Bought Meatball Sundae
Aside from the fact that I am a long time reader of Seth Godin - evidence here, here, and here. Why talk about this book now, you may ask? While it published last year and some of the examples may be considered old by those of us who move at the speed of the Internet, let's face it - it's not old because it's still too few who are doing it.Meatball Sundae is one of the books... read more
How The Numerati See Workers, Shoppers, Voters, Bloggers, Patients and Lovers
Are You Too Accessible?
I just got the paperback in the mail from Debbie Aroff at Random House and I'm already a big fan. The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente is filled with twists and turns and is a fast read. It's about learning to thrive in a more-faster-now culture. Think about this, we want things faster, but we don't necessarily want to do things faster. According to Poscente, speed is the new change.
Here Comes Everybody
To me it goes beyond that to tell the stories of individuals who have made a difference thanks to the ability to use social media tools and networks to connect with like-minded people.
How to Read the Groundswell and Increase Your Business Success Threefold
Want to increase your business success threefold? Tap into Groundswell. According to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff a groundswell is:
A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.
25 Reasons Why You Need to Have a Whack on the Side of the Head
Many things go out of fashion to be replaced by others. One day they are business imperatives, the next day they are gone and forgotten. Amidst the buzzwords, awards, and puzzling fads we have seen develop and fizzle, one trend stands tall as valuable - the ability to create.
How valuable? Think innovation, think learning, Creative Think. All of those are the currency of modern times, what we call the conceptual age. Roger von Oech is one of my favorite creative thinkers - an amazing writer, storyteller, conversation facilitator, and cultured journeyman. Read more
Personality Not Included: Go Get Yours!
This is one of those books that works almost like a blog post. It's cross-referenced and you can skip to the parts you are interested in, because everything is organized so you can pull content. We will see more books come off the press with formats that borrow from social media - and not a moment too soon!
I have it from reliable sources, that although personality is not included, you can go and get yours. Rohit Bhargava was among the group at Blogger Social 2008 a couple of weeks back, and I've had the distinct pleasure of picking his brain on book writing and how he's launching his new book with a full social media conversation. Read more
Career Advice from a Comic Book? Meet Johnny Bunko
I just received my copy of Dan Pink's new book (thank you, Dan), The Adventures of Johnny Bunko - The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need, and I am already writing about it. Dan and I corresponded about manga at the time he went to Japan months ago. The impact of a comic book that teaches lessons applicable to business did not hit me until now that I have the book in my hands.
Hardest Thing to Manage: Our Own Ego
Chance has it that my next book in the queue is The Art of the Start. In the book, Kawasaki focuses on what's real and addresses the frequently avoided questions (FAQs). This has everything to do with managing our ego. What is it that we should work on and do today, this moment, that can make a difference? The hardest thing of all to starting anything is the starting point itself, where the ego does battle with itself and finds many ways to avoid the hard questions. For a taste you may also read the Change This book manifesto. Read more
The Big Switch
It's very tempting to think that change will happen quickly. That's probably because we seldom notice all the things that shift in small and sometimes hidden ways to conspire for the change that will take place.
As well, predictions are always long while time seems short. Yet, change happens and when it does in substantial ways, our lives are swept along with it as entire industries seem to disappear overnight.
My Take on "Join the Conversation"
I'll say it up front for clarity-sake, I liked Jaffe's book, especially the case studies and the section on partnerships. I bought the book last year before my vacation so I could have the time to read and digest it. I also liked Jaffe's writing style -- easy and (dare I say?) conversational.
Rather than doing a chapter by chapter review, which many have already done or are in the process of doing, I will build on its premise and touch on a couple of highlights.
Connection Kata: 5+1+1 Business Books I Gave Away in 2007
Every year I invest in the publishing industry by buying in bulk. There are books that are great to read, even better to share. Many of the books I share are new or newer releases, some are just classics for me. The criteria I use to determine what I give away are:
- I read it and learned something unique that no other book taught me;
- It contains potentially a life changing methodology or way of thinking;
- It speaks to trends in a way that is researched and requires some leap in attitude;
- It provides a great synthesis of insights and stimulates action;
- It's a new window into the journey of life and mind expanding.
Using Foresight to Provoke Strategy and Innovation
Every year, The Institute for the Future puts out a map of the future. To create it, they consider several trends through stories.
Acts of Kindness: Make the Impossible Possible
[...] A few days ago I received an email from Meredith McGinnis at Doubleday, Random House. Her email was the best pitch I have received from anyone to date. She started by referencing my post on Three Cups of Tea that made her decide to reach out and tell me about a book titled Make the Impossible Possible. A book by Bill Strickland with Vince Rause. What Meredith described in her email touched me because I had felt it in Bill's presence, hearing his story many years earlier.
Now is Gone - How Companies Can do New Media
While building a new media effort needs to follow the same rules of relevance and effectiveness that marketing follows, you also need to understand that new media has forever changed the rules of marketing.
The Cluetrain Manifesto
"The cluetrain stopped there four times a day for ten years and no one ever took delivery." [Doc Searls about an acquaintance at a company that was free-falling out of the Fortune 500, The Cluetrain Manifesto, Apr. 1999]
Is this you? Is this your company?
Economics 101: Who Gets What and Why?
According to Tim Harford this is what economics is about. In his book titled The Undercover Economist, Harford provides the inside scoop on how the puzzles of everyday life are part of a system, what we call “economies”, that endeavors to understand people – individuals, partners, competitions and members of societal organizations alike.
The Age of Conversation
The New Kind of Business Hero
"This new kind of business hero... must learn to operate without the might of the hierarchy behind them. The crutch of authority must be thrown away and replaced by their own ability to make relationships, use influence, and work with others to achieve results." [Rosabeth Moss Kanter, When Giants Learn to Dance]
I just finished reading the advance copy of GUST, The Tale Wind of Office Politics by Timothy L. Johnson. Tim blogs at Carpe Factum and was one of the very first people to welcome me to the blogosphere. Read more
2 Weeks to a Breakthrough
Today I had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with Lisa Haneberg and I can tell you that everything they say about her is true: she is energetic, passionate and motivated to help you succeed. If you do your daily practice, you are Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, too.
Message Mishaps and Words That Work
These are no mashups. Here we're talking about mishaps. When what you say does not achieve the desired results, nor it reaches your intended audience -- that's when your messages fall flat. In Words that Work, Frank Luntz talks about the importance of preventing message mistakes. Language is in constant flux, so the words you choose need to work in the context of your audience.
The Narrative Fallacy
I've been reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I caution you this is a highly enjoyable reading and not for the faint of heart. It will require more of you than the casual ten point business book.
Taleb approaches the impact of the highly improbable through multiple literary, philosophic and narrative references. I worked for years in risk management. The topic fascinates me.
Made in USA: Brand America
"The European view of mistakes is always interesting to me. It seems to me a disconnect from their appreciation of design. Their lack of creativity and risk tolerance seems to limit their new business development. They play it safe. How you can be creative in an activity without risking mistakes." Read more
How Do You Go From Start to Success?
"Almost everything worth doing in life is controlled by the Dip." [Seth Godin]
The kinds of decisions you make as you start something will determine whether you will be successful or not. Starting is easy; it's knowing how to pull through the rough times that will bring you success. You've heard it before: someone who becomes famous all of a sudden, except it was several years in the making. It is not easy to identify a course of action, and to know the difference between what to pursue and what to let go. Read more
The Results Are In
Remarkable wins -- The Big Moo. Even though this is a book written by a renowned group of modern thinkers and practitioners and led by Seth Godin, not everyone knows Seth, not everyone wants to risk sending something unusual that people may not be ready to receive, etc.
And this part included a message on giving back to three deserving charities by virtue of accepting the book.
Tuesday With Mavericks
Today is the official release date of Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win. Bill and Polly will be in center city Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon -- Tuesday -- with a few local mavericks. This is one of the few times our fair city has been on the front lines of a conversation on business innovation and the design of work.
When It's Time to Decide