Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

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Rate: 12 Stickies

Read: Cover to Cover

Category:  Big Idea, Communication

Twitter Review: You can catch more b’s (business, bounty, bank, backing, belonging) with honey than vinegar.

I’m pretty stingy with the stickies in a book review, but Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment is, well… enchanting.

He enchanted me into it.

He does what every great enchanter does – he charms, amuses, disarms, gives you insight without pontificating, and writes not so much with great efficiency, but as a great teacher with experience to share.

This is a book (as with his others) that brings concepts and ideas from many credible sources as well as his own, but he also brings his own (enjoyably irreverent) personality to the writing.   This isn’t a book about product, or disrupting an idea, or a new marketing gimmick.  It’s really the new “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  It really takes us back to the golden rules – amongst but not limited to, be kind, be likable and trustworthy, return a favor, don’t screw you friends, business partner or for Heaven’s sake, your best friend’s wife.

He argues the interactions you have with people, be they business or personal, shouldn’t be manipulative with the aim of getting what you want, rather, by enlisting their goals and desires in an honest, trustworthy way, and by framing a cause that others can embrace, you have the opportunity to change your own course, build a more enduring business, turn observers into buyers, all the while having a lot more fun.

I may be making this sound like a touchy, feely kind of book – and I want to assure you it is not. It is really a marketing, sales and communication book that simply puts forth a different (and much more interesting) way of doing business.

My Takeaway

This is a timely read, with the economy the way it is.  Independents, freelancers and small business people can sometimes appear desperate in securing customers, clients and an audience. They fallback on gimmickry, the hard sell, the push to close.  When you read Enchantment, you learn that having resources like being likable, honest, passionate, trustworthy and smart – attributes that you probably already have – are worth more to your business than anything you could throw money at.

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Continue to be awesome!

Elaine Joli

The Most Successful Small Business In The World by Michael E. Gerber

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Rate: *****

Read:  Cover to Cover

Category: Big Idea, Entrepreneur, Small Business

Michael Gerber should not be a new name to you (if it is, tisk-tisk).  He is the author of thirteen books, including what the PR guys call a mega-bestseller (sort of like a power seller on ebay).  If you haven’t read the E-Myth Revisited, I recommend you read that one before this one (maybe that’s how he got the mega).   As in his other books, he is like your wise grandpa (assuming your grandpa is Sam Walton on your father’s side or Warren Buffet on your mother’s), part philosopher, part inspirationalist, part evangelist and poet, but always passionate about steering you in the right direction.   And he has nailed one thing that, to me, has always been the stop sign, the red light and for some, the cyanide in growing our self-employed life.  He strips away all the extraneous help – better marketing, how to use SEO, be an expert, grow your business in three easy steps – he throws all that out the window and starts with a premise that no one wants to hear.   “That small and independent business are populated by owners working for a living…that all they ever wanted to do was create a job; to create control over their personal income; to create a place to work; a place to do what they know how to do.  In short, they want to be self-employed.”  What is wrong with that, Gerber says, is that it is no business at all.  He wants you to understand that you have the potential, the brains, the chutzpah, to look at your business as a business, not just a place to answer the phone when it rings, complete a job and wait for the next customer.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  But if you follow certain rules, you can change not only your own future, but you can change the world.  Yup, you can change the world if you change your paradigm to how you see what makes a business vs. what your business makes.  Great stuff.  But like all great grandpas, he hits you with his cane and then gives you a lollipop and says, “I know you can do better.”

My takeaway:

While I was reading the book, I had an inspiration from his words that will change my own business.  This is no easy feat – I am a “creative,” and ideas happen faster than planes landing at JFK.  But this was a BIG idea that will impact my present business and it came from Gerber’s chapter on the First Principle, “A Small Business, Built Rightly, Can Grow 10,000 times Its Current Size.”  So this is not just another book to read, say “Wow, that was great” and then go on doing the things you’ve always done.  You are reading this blog because you want to know if this is a book that can change/add/empower you in growing your business.  If you are interested in having job that you created for yourself, and just want to know how to get more business, this book is not for you.  However, if you want, nay need and desire to create a business that you can grow, sell, innovate and possibly change the world – this is a must read.

The Wealthy Freelancer, 12 Secrets to a Great Income And an Enviable Lifestyle by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia

Rating: ****1/2

Read:  Cover to cover

Category: Small business, entrepreneurial

I hate titles like “10 Easy Ways to Become a Millionaire” or “The Four Hour Workweek”, but let’s face it, it’s just me.  Publishers, authors, readers – everyone else loves tapping into making minute rice even faster in the microwave pouch.  I need to be rich, damn it, and I need it now!  So, I was reluctant to read The Wealthy Freelancer – to me a 12 secret oxymoron.  Title notwithstanding, the word “Freelancer” in the title moved me to read it, because the freelancer industry has an opportunity to boom in the coming years and the people I write book reviews for, well a lot of them are freelancers.  So here’s the more than pleasant surprise.  This book is (should I say it?) is the quintessential guide for all freelancers to read – but it will be the biggest disappointment for those who really thought they would get microwaved minute rice.  They talk about what “wealth” really means, dumping “ugly” clients (another great book on the subject of the client “dump” is Booking Yourself Solid by Michael Port), bringing focus to your business, creating a buzz piece, cultivating and nurturing your business, even how to make sales calls – all standard stuff starting from the beginning.  A lot of freelancers come to doing their own thing after they start hating their job, they don’t have job or they have a passion they want to pursue.  They may be good at what they do, but many lack the ‘well rounded’ skill set (sales, marketing, networking, book-keeping, pricing their goods/services) of running a complete business.  There are some really great ideas in this book – and I’m happy to say, my initial reaction was quickly proved wrong.

My Takeaway

If you are a freelancer or in a partnership this book is a must read if you don’t have enough clients, if your stomach drops when you see the phone number from an “ugly” client incoming, if you are on a roller coaster of cold and hot income spells, or think that sales, marketing and building a client base means you have a website, there is no time to waste.

If you are an indie – check out indieAWESOMEness, the community for the coolest people on the planet!

Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty Neumeier

Rate: ****

Read: Cover to Cover

Category: Branding, Big Idea, Communication

I like a book that has the reader’s time in mind.  This is a very short book; Mr. Neumeier calls it an “airplane read.”  He has a few very simple (aren’t the simple ideas usually the best?) ideas that he puts into a chronological order using a hypothetical (wine) business to illustrate his big idea.  He is talking about branding – but since he started out as a designer, he combines form and function (and a little beauty) in the process.  He is on the same Tsunami as Seth Godin (Purple Cow), Luke Wilson (Disrupt) and many other surfers in the new (huge) wave of marketing and branding in the 21st century.  They all say there are really only two ways this thing is going down.  The first is to do what everyone else is doing, trying to build your brand by differentiating on price, speed and improvement on the same type of products and services, or putting your efforts to creating something that is really different and truly unique.  He calls the process “zagging” as in “when everyone zigs, you should zag.”  He gives you a short painless history lesson, and then just when you’re a little depressed because you realize you are doing these things, he opens the gate and let’s you walk on the stepping stones (from naming your company to truelines, taglines, core product, passion to engagement) to that big house on the hill or in his case study, the unique wine store he imagines, Bibli.

My Takeaway

An excellent read for small business, entrepreneurs and independents.  It’s even a better read for people just starting out with an idea.  But what kind of “zagging” can you do when you’re already “zigging?”  How do you “zag?”  There was not a good answer to that, because in the second part of the book the “zag,” described handling entrenched business models of corporations – diversification, competitive cycles… yawn.  Oh, excuse me.  So, for independents who are already in the “zig” (you already have  crummy name) look to this book for thinking about the quintessential “disruptive” idea for, maybe not your product (or maybe your product or service), but perhaps how you can engage your customers in a different way, create an outstanding design for your website, or by discovering the concept of pulling your customers in rather than pushing information out to them.  Still a terrific read with some incredibly valuable information.  Read it.

Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity – And How Great Brands Get It Back by Rohit Bhargava

 

Review (only most awesome deserves 5 stars)  *****

Read:  Cover to Cover (skipping some of the “how to get you giant ass corp bosses to go along”)

Category: Marketing,Branding

Twitter Review:  Let your freak flag fly and let your true colors shine.

Look, we’re in a funny (not haha, but strange) place when it comes to marketing our small or independent businesses.  The old way of doing things, print media, electronic media, direct mail, seems to be pretty much over (hallelujah – none of us could afford it anyway).  But now the kool-aid for today’s savvy marketers is to create a “story” about you and/or your small business and/or insert your personality, and grow the WOM (word of mouth).  This is the basis for creating the “personal brand,” creating a compelling and memorable back-story so that your customer/client/followers/evangelists can repeat it.  As my Aussie friends, say, “all good” and I say, “pour me a cup.”  Authors who write business books, this author included, typically use the “big” names to illustrate their points (and possibly their gravitas), StarBucks, Dell, Oreck, ING Direct, but in this case, I have to give Rohit Bhargava a break, he says he personally interviewed every business he writes about.  The only downside/upside to his writing, is that like so many good authorities, he comes from a corporate background (SVP of Digital Strategy and a founding member of the 360 Digital Influence group at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, one of the the world’s largest marketing and communications agencies).  But let’s not hold that against him.  You just have to read the book from your point of view – the concepts are universal to all business, including yours.

My Takeway

So what is so compelling, that I am encouraging the reading of this book?  Because when you are a small business person, an independent, freelancer or entrepreneur, this concept is the quintessential model.  You are the ones who can pivot easily into this terrific, compelling, cost effective way to build a brand.  Yes, I used the “B” word.  You are the gals (and guys) that actually HAVE a back-story.  Most big business is already entrenched.  They have a PR department to tell then what is “authentic.”  They have a LOT to lose by communicating directly with their consumers (as seen in the hubbub, scramble for attention on Facebook with the “like me please like me” button).  There is a trend now, for people to be charmed by your passion, to follow the little guy, to stand up and spread the word about you and your services, products and ideas.  This is a book that can take you from start to finish in understanding how to put personality into your business, but here’s where his book is very different.  In the second half of the book Rohit gives you everything you need to apply these ideas to your small business.  Easy charts, guides and tools that give you the action plan you need to get started.  If you take his advice and use the tools to implement a “personality” into your small (but beautiful little) business, fasten your seat-belts because you may be in for for a very enjoyable ride in 2012.

Elaine Joli

  Short video by Rohit Bhargava: