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Posted April 5, 2013 11:09 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
➻ Regular readers and those that know us well know that our business was born in an independent bookstore, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, here in Milwaukee, and that those stores closed in 2009. The that know us really well know that former bookseller, book buyer, and general manager of those stores, Daniel Goldin, kept the Downer Avenue location alive as Boswell Book Company. For those looking for an update on how that venture is going, Claire Hanan penned an article on the Goldin Boy for Milwaukee Magazine. (Hint: it's going really—maybe even magically—well.)
Without Goldin or Boswell, [Brent] Gohde says, “There would be an awful void in the literary culture of Milwaukee.” Part of that is the “magic” of bookselling. “The right bookselling experience is really intense,” Goldin says, and “just stays with you forever.”
He witnessed that magic during his Schwartz days: “You get a bunch of younger people working together, they’re all really creative, they’re all really engaged, they all like community stuff, and you think—holy cow!—there can’t be anything like this in the world.”
But there is. Halley, one of his young booksellers, recently told Goldin she thought Boswell had the magic, too. Goldin, of course, was dubious. But if the opinions of the myriad bookworms who step into Boswell are to be trusted, she might be on to something.
That Brent Gohde fellow quoted above is an old Schwartzy, and just happens to be putting on an Alverno Presents production this month called May the Schwartz Be With You celebrating the old bookshops and all they've done for Milwaukee culture. Also, if you're interested, Rebecca Rego Barry of Fine Books & Manuscripts has Ten Reasons a Pessimist Can be Optimistic About the Future of the Book, but a Kindle ain't one.
➻ Being a bookseller is certainly a noble calling, but salespeople in other fields often get a bad rap. In a recent installment of strategy + business's Author's Choice series, Mastering the Complex Sale author Jeff Thull says You Gotta Serve Somebody, and introduces an excerpt from Dan Pink's To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others that "overturns negative stereotypes about sales." He writes:
Let’s ... set aside outdated sales stereotypes once and for all. I’ve always found that the most successful sales professionals are what Dan Pink would call servant sellers. In the excerpt that follows, Pink hits the nail on the head when he quotes Robert Greenleaf’s vision of servant leadership—“do no harm...listen first...accept and empathize”—as a model for sales professionals. ... The thinking and behavior of top salespeople are a close match to those of the best doctors. They diagnose and prescribe while keeping the well-being of their clients foremost in their minds.
An effective seller isn’t a “huckster, who is just out for profit,” [Alfred Fuller once] said. The true “salesman is an idealist and an artist.”
So, too, is the true person. Among the things that distinguish our species from others is our combination of idealism and artistry—our desire both to improve the world and to provide that world with something it didn’t know it was missing. Moving others doesn’t require that we neglect these nobler aspects of our nature. Today it demands that we embrace them. It begins and ends by remembering that to sell is human.
This is especially true of booksellers, I think. Daniel Goldin and the sales staff of Boswell Books and the old Schwartz stores—specifically Stacie Michelle Williams, Carl Hoffman, and Sarah Godsave—have all provided me with "something it didn’t know it was missing" in literature. All have introduced me to new authors, new ideas, and made my life richer with their recommendations.
➻ TED has carved out a very large space in "ideas worth spreading"—at times too large, it seems. Some of the ideas presented at TEDx events are, in fact, not worth worth spreading at all. Some of the ideas are fanciful, as in not true or, as Stanford professor Jay Wacker put it, "Such f---ing bullsh-t." Nilofer Merchant, author of the excellent book The New How, wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review about what happened When TED Lost Control of Its Crowd, concluding:
Anyone leading an organization today is already managing a crowd—whether it’s composed of consumers, the media, or citizens of the towns in which the enterprise operates. What TED faced is the new reality for all of us. “Nothing is predictable,” Stein concludes. “This flies in the face of leaders’ being asked to plan and predict and know more than others. Today we have to create scale for our mission by being open. The TEDx construct is an example of how being in a community lets us learn, adapt, and grow together.”
Even though management experts have long argued for looser organizational models and against command-and-control leadership, most executives are still ill equipped to manage crowds. As humans, we want to be perfect and in control. We like knowing more than we enjoy learning. We want to get it right the first time rather than iterate. But crowds—and the community constructs we’re talking about—are not about flawless execution; they are about allowing anyone (quite possibly everyone) to contribute and gathering a large volume of potentially powerful ideas from which to pick the best.
And the community is still growing.
➻ For those of you enjoying Masterpiece's Mr. Selfridge, maybe you'll want to know know How Mr. Selfridge Created the Modern Economy, and even, perhaps, how the department store supported early feminism? Virginia Postrel at Bloomberg has you covered:
When department stores were new, people understood that they were significant institutions—liberating in the eyes of some, threatening or corrupting to others, but obviously important. Nowadays, we treat shopping as silly stuff. “When I tell people I’ve written on shopping, I still get giggles,” says [historian Erika] Rappaport, whose 2000 book Shopping for Pleasure describes the development of retailing in London’s West End, focusing particularly on women shoppers. “People are uncomfortable: ‘that’s not real history.’”
But ignoring consumer culture produces a bizarre mental picture of the Industrial Revolution that features textile factories but includes no one buying or selling clothes. By downplaying the pleasures of newly inexpensive goods and the shops that sold them, the production-only version of history also misses the everyday meaning of a rising standard of living—the satisfaction, for instance, of having multiple outfits, or even a variety of hat trimmings, that allow you to express your mood or personality.
“The appeal just of the stuff is a really major part of all of this, and that of course is only made possible by manufacturing,” says Linda M. Scott, a professor at Oxford’s Said Business School and the author of Fresh Lipstick, a history of the relationship between feminism and the American beauty and fashion economy. In researching the book, Scott says she was surprised to discover just how important the desire for cash to spend on consumer goods was in drawing young women out of domestic service and into factories. “Even middle-class girls who weren’t supposed to work would talk, in interviews and letters, about envying the working-class girls,” she says. “Because if you couldn’t work you could only get the stuff you wanted by manipulating a man.
For the early women’s movement, department stores were “flash points, places where it mattered,” says Scott. “Mr. Selfridge” hints at the connection when Lady Mae, the hero’s fictional patron, demands a reciprocal favor: a weekly luncheon for suffragettes in the store’s Palm Court tearoom and the sale of suffragette merchandise in the store.
The real Selfridge’s did carry such goods, including Suffrage Christmas Crackers, and department stores on both sides of the Atlantic furnished meeting spaces for women’s groups. The U.K's most radical suffragettes ran fashion articles and ads in their journals, and they broke store windows not to protest fashionable images of women but, on the contrary, because they knew stores cared about their business. “They understood,” says Rappaport, “that women had power in that sphere.”
Also, did you know that the real Mr. Selfridge wrote a book? Even better, it's called The Romance of Commerce.
➻ I love Roger Ebert, and of all the tributes that have been making the rounds since his death, The Onion writing that Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence As 'A Triumph' is my favorite:
Calling the overall human experience “poignant,” “thought-provoking,” and a “complete tour de force,” film critic Roger Ebert praised existence Thursday as “an audacious and thrilling triumph.” “While not without its flaws, life, from birth to death, is a masterwork, and an uplifting journey that both touches the heart and challenges the mind,” said Ebert, adding that while the totality of all humankind is sometimes “a mess in places,” it strives to be a magnum opus and, according to Ebert, largely succeeds at this goal. “At times brutally sad, yet surprisingly funny, and always completely honest, I wholeheartedly recommend existence. If you haven’t experienced it yet, then what are you waiting for? It is not to be missed.” Ebert later said that while human existence’s running time was “a little on the long side,” it could have gone on much, much longer and he would have been perfectly happy.
Sometimes satire just works best, and gets to the point quickest.
➻ Neat and strong.
The Business Book Awards Translator Lab
Posted Jan. 23, 2013 6:43 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
When I got in my car, the temperature gauge on the dashboard read negative four degrees. It was sunny out, but it was the kind of sunlight that seems reluctant—like a lone light in a walk-in freezer—struggling through the cold air to get to you.
So when I backed out of the driveway yesterday morning, I thought to myself, "there is no way we get a good crowd this morning, on the coldest day of winter. There's no way people leave the warmth of their beds an hour early and head out into sub-zero temperatures just to discuss ideas and business books for two hours before they head off to their actual jobs for the day." I underestimated the drive and gumption of the business book readers of Milwaukee, and the ability of the good folks at Translator to get them there. They showed up.
You can tell by the winter light, and the heavy winter coats and scarves in the pictures, that it was well below freezing. But Translator had good, hot coffee, and a really great group of people, and our [general] manager Jon Mueller curated an engaging conversation around the ideas and stories from each of this year's 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards category winners.
It was an excellent crowd. It was not a gathering of people looking for a way to escape their current circumstances, but of those that knew they have a lot more they can contribute to their current circumstances—whether their work, home, or hobby—and were searching for new ways to meet that challenge. All those that spoke seemed happy and effective in their life and work, but they also seemed to know that they can get even more out of life, and that they have more to offer their world. And instead of being bitter, they were all striving for ways to be just a little bit better. So they came, and they discussed, and they went back out into the cold morning fortified with new ideas and insight.
Thanks so much to those that showed up, to Translator for organizing and hosting the event, and of course to all the authors that wrote the books and provided the ideas and inspiration that continue to get us up, excited, and out the door early. We'll have some video of the event for all of you in the not-too-distant future.
The Elite Eight: Our Picks for the Top Business Books of 2012
Posted Dec. 18, 2012 6:40 a.m. by sally-haldorson
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
In anticipation of announcing the winner of the 2012 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year tomorrow, here's a recap of the category winners. Click on the links below to read more about these top books of 2012.
Which book is *your* pick for the top book of the year?
~General Business: PRIVATE EMPIRE | Steve Coll
~Leadership: THE COMMITMENT ENGINE | John Jansch
~Management: THE ADVANTAGE | Pat Lencioni
~Innovation & Creativity: THE ICARUS DECEPTION | Seth Godin
~Small Business & Entrepreneurship: THE $100 STARTUP | Chris Guillibeau
~Sales & Marketing: TO SELL IS HUMAN | Dan Pink
~Personal Development: SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU | Cal Newport
~Finance & Economics: FINANCE & THE GOOD SOCIETY | Robert Shiller
The 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards, Marketing & Sales
Posted Dec. 17, 2012 6:13 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
If you have a book in the same category as Dan Pink, it's going to be hard to beat him. And, although this year's Marketing & Sales category was extremely competitive, nobody did. Pink's To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others from Riverhead Books takes the prize.
“Some of you, no doubt, are selling in the literal sense—convincing existing customers and fresh prospects to buy casualty insurance or consulting services or homemade pies at the farmers’ market. But all of you are likely spending more time than you realize selling in a broader sense—pitching
colleagues, persuading funders, cajoling kids. Like it or not,
we’re all in sales now.”
To Sell Is Human, page 2
To see the runners-up, check out our Marketing & Sales shortlist.
Jack Covert Selects - To Sell is Human
Posted Dec. 14, 2012 5:53 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
Dan Pink dedicates his new book, To Sell is Human, to booksellers. As one of those booksellers that Pink kindly acknowledges, I long ago embraced my seller-self. But what is most intriguing about this book is how Pink recasts “selling” to show us that we are sellers in every aspect of our lives, whether we are convincing the kids to do their homework before dinner, our friends to splurge on a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas, or our bosses to sign off on a work project. The book’s epigraph (opening quote) from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman sums it up nicely:
The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.
In the first section of To Sell is Human, Pink provides the context:
The very technologies that were supposed to obliterate salespeople have lowered the barriers to entry for small entrepreneurs and turned more of us into sellers.
And, once Pink gets you on board with the idea that, regardless of your occupation, you are in sales, the second section of the book presents research on the psychological and sociological aspects of sales that can help put you in the right frame of mind. One of the greatest challenges of sales is learning to tolerate the high percentage of rejection, so you’ll “learn from a band of life insurance salespeople and some of the world’s premier social scientists what to do before, during, and after your sales encounters to remain afloat.” And finally, in the third section, Pink deals with the actionable nitty-gritty we all recognize sales to be: pitching, improvising, and serving.
Pink’s advice is doled out in digestible doses—brief sections, pithy paragraphs, amusing anecdotes—that make taking our sales medicine all the more tolerable. And for all its sales talk, To Sell is Human is a large-hearted book. Sales, he concludes, should do one or both of two things: improve a life, or improve the world. And I think our business book world is indeed improved by the addition of Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human.