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ISBN 9780470614181 Published Aug. 2010
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Posted Jan. 31, 2013 9:03 a.m. by michael
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
A few weeks ago I reviewed Mike Rohde's The Sketchnote Handbook. This week Tuesday, as Jon and I were sitting inside Greenville's Peace Center, eagerly anticipating the start of Brains on Fire's 2013 F.I.R.E. Sessions, I picked up the blank Moleskine sketchbook (compliments of the Brains on Fire folks) that sat on the table in front of me and said to Jon, "I think I'm going to sketchnote this."
What followed was an amazing day full of insights. From the author Jackie Huba we got a sneek peek into the world of Monster Loyalty. Then Brains on Fire's own Geno Church delivered a compelling talk on creating authentic community interaction. Then we walked down Greenville's sunny Main Street to a delicious shrimp and grits lunch at Devereaux's. We returned for the afternoon session, kicked off by author Jonah Berger's presentation on how things become contagious. Closing the day was Love146's Rob Morris, a living, breathing definition of the word 'passionate'. The common thread throughout F.I.R.E. Sessions was one thing: people. This event served as a clear underscoring of what Brains on Fire is all about, and we were honored to be there to share in the conversation. My personal take-away is this: put people at the center of your business, always.
For an even more in-depth re-cap of the event, check out John Moore's blog post. To all of you at Brains on Fire: thank you!
Check out my sketchnotes from the two morning sessions below, but please withhold your criticisms—I will confess I'm an amateur. Be sure to keep an eye on the Brains on Fire folks in 2013. Since we're book people and you probably are too, I'll simply say that there is a new book on the way and it's going to be good. If you can't wait for the new one, make sure you've taken some time with the original Brains on Fire.
Posted April 8, 2011 6:50 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
➻ Emma Jacobs wrote about Exposés of life on the breadline in The Financial Times this week. The article looks at "a subgenre of books in which writers document their experience of low-paid employment," the most recent of which is Caitlin Kelly's Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail, being released next week by Portfolio. The article raises the following question:
Are writers right to put themselves at the heart of the story? Or should they stick to what they know—and interview those who are actually living the life?
Jacobs gets compelling answers from a few authors, including Kelly, but my favorite response is from Alain de Botton about his terrific book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work:
“To have become an undercover reporter in 10 industries would have taken maybe 10 years,” he says. While he concedes that experience and research are important, “I’d wager that actually doing the job is arguably not an indispensable part of writing about work”. Just, he points out, “as committing a murder is not an indispensable part of writing a good crime thriller.”
Regardless of how you feel about the question, it is a genre that is filled with excellent writing. Other than the two books listed above, there is:
- Working: People Talk about What They Do All Day and How They Feel about What They Do by Studs Terkel
- What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question by Po Bronson
- Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
- A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember by Iain Levison
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Don't Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit edited by Sonny Brewer
And the list goes on and on. I'm sure you can think of a few to add. (Hat tip to Tiffany Liao at Portfolio Javelin.)
➻ The folks over at Brains On Fire, the wonderful "identity" company that gave us the great book of the same name, brought to our attention an example of how those who work in what we would usually consider workaday jobs can do truly remarkable things to inspire love for the companies that employ them. In this case it is Todd, whose truck full of soda is really Just a Love Machine.
Day in and day out he stops at various locations around the city, quietly letting himself in and out of office buildings, schools, churches, malls and lobbies. After refilling theemptied racks inside glowing red machines, Todd returns to his truck and heads down the road to the next destination on his list.
Sounds kind of unremarkable, doesn’t it?
Here is what you may not know: Todd is a silent super hero. A secret agent of surprise and smiles. A wielder of happiness. Todd comes and goes—usually without being noticed—but what he leaves behind is felt and shared by many.
That might sound ridiculous. I don't even like Coca-Cola so it certainly did to me, but just watch the video below.
Head over to Amy Taylor's original post to view another, possibly even more remarkable video and read the rest of the story.
➻ And, speaking of superheroes, you may want to check out Round Table Companies new partnership with Smarter Comics. Why? Well, because as Susan Adams reported in Forbes last month, Now You Can Read Business Books as Comics.
For those of you just too busy to slog through Larry Winget’s 229-page business bestseller, Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life, here’s an easier way: Starting mid-April you can pick up the 51-page comic book version. It’s one of four business titles coming out in graphic novel form, the brainstorm of Corey Michael Blake, who runs a tiny Chicago book-packaging and marketing outfit called Round Table Companies. “We’re taking the PowerPoint version of these books and illustrating them out,” explains Blake, 36.
And not only is their treatments of the books interesting, so is their publishing model. All of the authors involved agreed to give them the rights to do this for $100 each in exchange for 20% of what they bring in. For a full list of titles, head on over to the Round Table Companies website.
➻ Tom Greco, author of The End of Money and Future of Civilization, wrote about another interesting business model on the Chelsea Green blog this week. In the post, he explores mutual credit clearing, which he believes allows small and medium sized businesses to Stop Chasing the Buck and Change [Their] Luck.
Most small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) these days are having a hard time financially–sales are down, costs are up, and bank credit is unavailable, all of which is symptomatic of the stagflation that besets the American economy.
Our present predicament is no accident of nature, nor is it a temporary condition; it is the expected result of a flawed system of money, banking and finance. We have allowed the banks to control our credit and charge us interest for the “privilege” of accessing some of it as bank “loans.” [...]
But we need not be victims of a system that is so obviously failing us. We can learn to play a different game. It is possible to organize an entirely new structure of money, banking, and finance, one that is interest-free, decentralized, and controlled, not by banks or central governments, but by businesses and individuals that associate and organize themselves into cashless trading networks. This is a way to reclaim “the credit commons” from monopoly control and create healthy community economies that can enhance the quality of life for all.
The article discusses WIR Bank of Switzerland, running since 1934, and the newly developed Green America Exchange. Greco believes that "Like Facebook, Twitter, My Space and other networks that are purely social, cashless trading networks will eventually grow exponentially—and that will mark a revolutionary shift in political as well as economic empowerment." If you're interested in learning more, head over Greco's original post on the Chelsea Green Blog.
➻ And finally, because I haven't linked to anything baseball related since the season began, I'd like to point you to An Interview With UZR done by Joe Posnanksi. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), if you're unfamiliar with it, is a defensive metric. Here is what she had to say about why she is better at judging defense that the human eye:
UZR: I’m saying that the human mind is better for writing poetry. The closest thing I’ve ever come to poetry is this: “Hat … Pat … Sat.” I’m still thinking a name for it. The human mind is better for literature, for music, for art, for comedy. The human mind is better in billions of different ways that I could never conceive. The human mind is especially better at narrative.
But by being better at narrative, the human mind can and will shift things to make them fit. The human mind will find trends in randomness, and stories in fog, and that’s one of the beautiful parts. I can count better than you can. I don’t mean that in a bragging way. I just can. I can count better, and I can ignore unnecessary data better, and I cannot be influenced by beauty or awkwardness. If you have one day to determine if a guy can play defense, or a week, or a month, you are better off to use your eyes because I need more than three days. If we have five years of data, I’m pretty sure I’ll beat your analysis every time.
She also gets in a rather funny dig at Runs Batted In (RBI).
➻ I asked her at the Pabst Theater.
Posted Oct. 8, 2010 10:47 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
➻ One of the finest books of the year was released this week, Steven Johnson's Where Good Idea Come From. The author has rounded up some of The First Reviews over on his blog. We will have our own review for you this coming Thursday.
➻ Spike Jones, one of the coauthors of the brilliant Brains On Fire, has had two very interesting posts recently that may prompt you to rethink how much time you're putting into online efforts. The first is about Why you care about Twitter too much, and features beautiful infographics from Information is Beautiful. Spike sums it up:
Over 70% of users (which, let me remind you, is still a very small sliver of the population) aren’t active users. And, on average, only 8% of content on Twitter is considered “good.” (And yes, I know that’s subjective.)
My point? That Twitter is a drop in the bucket of word-of-mouth. That you don’t need a Twitter strategy first. You need a STRATEGY first.
The second post pulls it back even further, noting that 93% of Word-of-Mouth happens offline. That is, entirely offline.
➻ strategy + business magazine interviewed Raghunath Mashelkar about A Gandhian Approach to R&D. As Mashelkar explains:
It’s a term I coined for getting more from less for more people, a new way of expressing one of Gandhi’s teachings: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” In other words, Gandhian engineering is inclusive innovation: developing products and services that improve life for everyone, innovation that doesn’t leave out the poor.
Check out the interview for real-world examples of this philosophy in practice and the breakthroughs on the horizon.
When Tennessee Ernie Ford gave the full weight of his bass-baritone to "Sixteen Tons" and boomed that he owed his soul to the company store, the phrase evoked images of stooped miners living in tar-paper shacks under what Hardy Green calls the "super-exploitative conditions of life in a coal-mining company town." But Mr. Green shows, in "The Company Town," that such communities have also been social experiments, alternative forms of capitalist enterprise that encompassed everything from prophet-blaring to profit-sharing.
He continues later in the review:
... Mr. Green's survey is a useful one, though the early utopian ventures he profiles are far more interesting than his pallid examples from the postwar era. Classic company towns could not withstand automobiles and suburbanization. No one owes his soul to an industrial park or a corporate campus.
➻ If you're looking for a way to spruce up that next job application, why not take a lesson from Hunter S. Thompson's brutally honest Canadian job request. Applying to the Vancouer Sun in 1958, he wrote to then editor Jack Scott:
By the time you get this letter, I'll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I'll let my offer stand. And don't think that my arrogance is unintentional: it's just that I'd rather offend you now than after I started working for you.
I didn't make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he'd tell you that I'm "not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person." (That's a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)
Nothing beats having good references.
Tip of the hat to Boing Boing for the story.
➻ Tattered Cover posted a video about literary tattoos from the authors of The Word Made Flesh. I wonder if the trend will ever become popular among business book readers. I long to see folks walking around with Peter Drucker quotes on their necks
Posted Sept. 3, 2010 11:10 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
➻ Chris Guillabeau's The Art of Non-Conformity will be released on Tuesday—a book I hope everyone reading this blog will pick up. On his blog yesterday, he briefly discussed Seth Godin's departure from traditional publishing before laying out the Strategy, Tactics, and the Plan for the Next 97 Days he has devised for entering the publishing arena that Seth is leaving. And his plan is the only plan that has ever succeeded: think big; work hard. Responding to the notion that “The only authors who sell books anymore are those who have popular blogs,” he writes:
Where does a popular blog come from—does the blog fairy descend from the sky with a passionate group of readers, all eager to support a new writer?
It's a valid question, and we are glad this dedicated, unconventional (indeed, dedicatedly unconventional) individual has taken a step into traditional publishing, and we wish him the best on his Unconventional Book Tour.
If you'd like to learn more before picking up a copy of his book for yourself, you can read the interview Callie Oettinger did with him over at Steven Pressfield Online, or dig into some of his online offerings.
@ssiewert: How can young pros/Gen Y apply their years of personal experience online to achieve business objectives?
@unmarketing: You have the advantage, since you’re already online. Be yourself, have an opinion but also be humble. You don’t know everything yet.
➻ The Bullish on Books blog had a great guest post from our dear friend Erika Andersen today, entitled You’ve Been Laid Off – Now What? She used the space to discuss how, once you declare an intention, or "put up your sail to catch the wind you’re looking for—it makes you available to other winds, as well." And Erika knows. She is one of the best advisers in country and the author of two outstanding books, Growing Great Employees and Being Strategic, the latter of which was recently made into a PBS special (Check your local PBS listings for the airtime, or purchase the DVD at shopPBS.org).
Many would-be innovators deal with the trade-off between efficiency and innovation by rejecting traditional management entirely. They repeat mantras about “breaking all the rules” and “asking for forgiveness rather than permission”. They set up skunk works (small, autonomous units with a remit to innovate) and mock the boring corporate types who write their pay-cheques. But again this is counter-productive. Mocking the corporate establishment only encourages it to starve you of resources.
They also touch on Warren Bennis's Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership briefly, and thought it looks like a great book, I think they did so only to have an excuse to introduce the topic of innovation by writing "Today there is no hotter topic in management theory than 'sperm in the air.'"
➻ Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation, writes a twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun. His most recent post discussed the 10 Best Books For Back To School Business Reading, and his list is very solid:
- Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones, John Wiley & Sons
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur & Tim Clark, John Wiley & Sons
- Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell, Pantheon
- The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What it Means for You by Michael Malone, Crown Business
- Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams, Portfolio
- Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn From the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott & Brian Halligan, John Wiley & Sons
- MicroMarketing: Get Big Results by Thinking and Acting Small by Greg Verdino, McGraw-Hill
- Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Li, Jossey-Bass
- The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by John Jantsch, Portfolio
- The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely, HarperCollins
I personally think that if you have read all of these books, just go ahead and forgo going back to school and get on out there and start conquering the world.
➻ "In addition to being a bullfighter and magician, he's a lazy river, a slow moving train, a future hall-of-famer playing through the pain, he's a grizzly bear." And his son is a book reviewer.
Jack Covert Selects - Brains on Fire
Posted Aug. 12, 2010 10:45 a.m. by dylan
Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church & Spike Jones, Wiley, 224 pages, $24.95, Hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 9780470614181
“Brains on Fire is not really a business book. It’s a love story …”
Those are the opening lines to an incredible collection of stories and insights that is, in fact, both business book and love story. Brains on Fire is also the name of a great company of people in Greenville, South Carolina from which the stories and insights originate. But, more than all that, it is what happens when you ignite movements that stir passion in people.
The online marketing environment is changing so rapidly that it can feel as if you’re tumbling down the rapids, sometimes above water and sometimes not, but never seeing very clearly what’s ahead. The authors know what’s happening to those conversations online, and have tips on how to join them, but they have a deeper knowledge of the fact that, eventually, that river empties into the ocean.
The authors know that what’s truly powerful in business (indeed, in society as a whole) is the creation of movements. And they know that “90 percent of word-of-mouth interactions happen off-line. Yes, you read that right. Nine. Zero. Percent. The good folks at the Keller Fay Group have done the homework, and it’s no joke.” They continue:
Look, social media is great. The Internet allows ideas to travel at the speed of light, and it connects us to both information and other like-minded people. But as great as all the Twitters and Facebooks and MySpaces and blogs and message boards and digital doodads are, they will never, ever replace the power of shaking someone’s hand, looking them in the eye, getting kindred spirits in the room (or better yet, at your brand’s Mecca), and laughing together, getting a drink, sitting at the dinner table—whatever.
The book clearly defines the distinction between campaigns and movements. And while making no call for the death of the campaign, the authors reveal how to ignite sustainable movements that build on and spread the passion that people already have for your idea, product or company. Those people are out there; you just have to get out and find them. Because “All it takes is one person to start a movement. … One. Passionate. Person.”