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Full disclosure: I have known Guy Kawasaki for over twenty years and have enjoyed each and every one of his books—my favorite being The Art of the Start. But, however biased I may be from past experience, it is safe to say that his new book, Enchantment, continues his mission of spreading fresh, new ideas that are relevant and accessible to all business people.
Online, Kawasaki himself is to many people the very definition of enchantment. And, in this book, he reveals some of the secrets of enchantment, defining it “as the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization, or idea” and describing its outcome as “voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial.” Of course, there are cynics out there who believe enchantment is just another way to make more money through appealing marketing, but I think Kawasaki has it right when he says “Enchantment is on a different curve: When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do that you want, but to fill them with great delight.” This struck me as a remarkable statement—transformative, really, to make delight the goal of all your communications with your customers—and it hooked me on the book.
The book is broken into twelve chapters, including chapters on “How to Achieve Trustworthiness” and “How to Overcome Resistance.” Two chapters that are particularly useful for people who are trying their hands at social media, but not getting the kind of engagement they seek, are on “push” and “pull” technology. Kawasaki explains the difference: “Push technology brings your story to people. Pull technology brings people to your story.”
For example, push technology can be a presentation, or the use of Twitter, while pull technology includes your blog and your Facebook page. Throughout, Kawasaki includes graphics, charts, pictures, lists, and other examples of enchanting work, sometimes clipped straight from the Internet, to illustrate his points. But Enchantment is not just about creating enchanting marketing. Kawasaki also discusses how to be personally enchanting, and even how you can resist others’ powers of enchantment.
Whether you’re a C-level executive looking to lead people more effectively, a mid-level manager hoping to stand out, or a marketer trying to better spread your organization’s message, you’ll find Enchantment absolutely, well, enchanting.
There have been many books released over the last two years about the financial crisis that shook the foundations of our economic system a short time ago, but none have addressed how weak those foundations really are—that maybe, after over 200 years, the very cornerstones of industrial-age capitalism as unstable and badly in need of repair. In The New Capitalist Manifesto, Umair Haque lays out how they can be, and are already beginning to be, rebuilt.
While recognizing that “there’s no single, simple definition of capitalism,” Haque distills the current paradigm into five foundational cornerstones that are “so familiar to CEOs and clerks alike that they are invisible fixtures of everyday economic life:”
Value chain as the means of production, value proposition as the means of positioning, strategy as the means of competition, protecting marketplaces as the means of advantage, and inert, fixed goods as the means of consumption.
Addressing what he sees as The Great Imbalance in that system, a system that “shifts costs and borrows benefits from people, communities, society, the natural world, or future generations” to appear profitable, he lays out a blueprint for a sustainable new foundation. He devotes a chapter to each of the traditional cornerstones and how to rebuild them, replacing “Value Chains” with “Value Cycles,” “Value Propositions” with “Value Conversations,” “Strategy” with “Philosophy,” “Protecting a Marketplace” with “Completing a Marketplace,” and “Goods” with “Betters”—all to build a new, Constructive Capitalism.
While the picture I’ve painted of the book so far may sound like pie-in-the-sky idealism, it has everything that you’d expect from a Harvard Business School title—solid research, insightful analysis and thoughtful conclusions. And while Haque’s language is by turns ominous and inspirational, his approach is entirely pragmatic, showing that Constructive Capitalists—big and small, old and new—have a competitive edge in the kind of value they are able to create, in both the short and long terms.
Haque also understands that this “manifesto” is not about him, but for the reader, writing in the preface that his “insights matter less than your vision, ambition, and passion.” And, most importantly, he has produced a wonderfully written book that helps readers become the change they want to see, declaring that “Though the pages that follow are filled with examples … I don’t want you to follow an example, but to be the example.”
We’ve all been told to use common sense, usually after we’ve made a common mistake. And it is pretty easy to criticize someone else’s decision making by saying, “Why, it’s just common sense!” But sociologist Duncan Watt’s new book, Everything Is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer argues that we should (usually) forget common sense entirely. Problems in society, the economy, innovation, and other situations beyond day-to-day activity should be researched critically, and understood from many angles. This point itself might be common sense, but the author asserts that it happens less than we might assume, and this lack of critical thinking needs to be addressed. He states:
These days, common sense serves the same purpose as mythology. By providing ready explanations for whatever particular circumstances the world throws at us, common sense gives us the confidence to survive from day to day, and relieves us of the burden of worrying about whether what we think we know is really true, or is just something we happen to believe. The cost, however, is that we think we have understood things that in fact we have simply papered over with a plausible-sounding story. And because this illusion of understanding in turn undercuts our motivation to treat social problems the way we treat problems in medicine, engineering, and science, the unfortunate result is that common sense actually inhibits our understanding of the world.
Following this premise, Watt goes on to explain how the human mind works in different situations, and the same situations with different variables, revealing why we believe some things and not others, what we understand as truth, and how we make decisions. The chapter, “Thinking About Thinking” further explores the scientific side of how our brains work, and mixes in cultural and social forces that affect how we think. From there, ideas about crowdsourcing, the bias of history, predicting, and planning are analyzed not only for how they became tools for us to use, but also how our assumptions about them, and other characteristics, limit them from truly helping us. As the title states, we don’t know things until they are pointed out to us, even though we “knew” them already.
Sound mind-bending? It is a bit, but if you are a fan of the kinds of big ideas that Dan Ariely and Malcom Gladwell write about, you’ll be instantly engaged by Everything is Obvious. This book is for entrepreneurs, managers, and front-line employees—all of whom are expected to be smart, avoid problems, and base future decisions on past performance—because it offers lessons on how to avoid jumping to conclusions, how to pursue details, and how to make decisions based on information, not assumptions.