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.

BTW – zip over to indieawesomeness.com for the best in awesome generators, hacks and fabulous cheats to help you get to where you need to go -easy breezy – Stuff like an “I Need a Positioning Statement’ and ‘How Much Should I Charge’ to the most fabulous marketing dictionary – Don’t know what a generator is?  indieawesomeness.com

Continue to be awesome!

Elaine Joli

The New Writer’s Handbook: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice For Your Craft and Career by Philip Martin

Rating: Nine Stickies.

I’ve decided to rate the books I review with how many stickies I used.  Stars are OK, but what do they mean really?  Good writing, good idea, great cover, a famous author?

Exactly.

Stickies mean, these are the pages that I NEED to come back to because there is something I can use.  Something that is going to make an immediate change.

If you see this:

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You’ve got a pretty informative, life-changing, biz altering read.

For this book, The New Writer’s Handbook, nine stickies is pretty good.  It’s a 60 article collection contributed by best-selling authors, journalists, writing instructors, bloggers and literary agents.  I am not reviewing this book for Writers.  Because what freelancer, entrepreneur, solo flyer or small biz guy is not a writer today?  We’ve all been pushed into this field, and frankly, you may drink like Hemingway, but that will only make you think you are a writer.

I have found Tequilla works best for that particular delusion.

The first two chapters, Creative & Motivation and The Craft of Writing are kind of ho-hum.  Motivation?  If you don’t have it, this book’s not going to help you.

What rattled my brain was a short article called Story Techniques, written by Ira Glass, the host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated show This American Life (www.thislife.com).  It’s an ‘aha’ moment.  A master storyteller, Glass invites us discard the notion we all learned in high school – a topic sentence is always followed by the facts that fill out the argument.

What blogger has not been told to start with a story to reel the reader in and have them continue beyond the 8 seconds we have now allocated to the human attention span?

But how do we write a good story?

He suggests you start with two building blocks.  The first is the anecdote, which are literally a sequence of actions.  This happened, and that led to the next thing, and that led to the next thing.  He says the power of the anecdote is so great that in a way, no matter how boring the material is, in a story form, an anecdote has a momentum in and of itself.

“Okay, I’m going to think of the most boring possible story.  There’s a guy…

…and he wakes up.  And he’s lying in bed.

And the house is very quiet, very quiet.   Just unearthly quiet.

So he sits up, and he puts his feet on the floor.  And he walks to the door of his bedroom.

Again, it’s very, very quiet.

He walks down the stairs, looks around….

It’s just unusually quiet.”

This is the most boring possible fact pattern.  And yet, there’s suspense in it.  It feels like something is going to happen.  Sequence of events.  Moving from space to space.

The second thing about the anecdote is it’s raising a question from the beginning.  You want bait.  You want to continually be raising questions. The bait in this story is the house is very quiet.  So the question hanging in the air is why?  Glass says the whole shape of the story is that you’re throwing out questions to keep people watching or reading and then answer then along the way.

The other building block you have, is to have a moment of reflection.  Offer the point of the story.  Here’s the bigger something that you’re driving at.  The story is meant to tell the reader something new – your new idea or a new way of looking at what you want them to “see” or understand.

Oh Ira! – Beautiful, yes?

Five Steps to Successful Email Interviews by Terry L. Stawar, Boost Your Personal Brand Online by Philip Martin, Business Card as Offline Home Page, by Tony D. Clark were a few of the other stickies.

Well worth reading if you choose the chapters that relate to you.

Let me know what works for you in building a story or share a successful blog that always starts with a story – maybe it’s yours or maybe it’s someone who knows their craft.  Use your outdoor voice, people!

BTW  Check out indieawesomeness.com – we’ve launched a new site that is filled with awesome business generators, hacks and fabulous cheats to make the life of every independent a little easier and a lot more fun!

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: