10 Things I Learned from Tom Peter’s Vook on Excellence

Tom Peter's The Little Big Things: ExcellenceI started reading through the second of five Vooks that Tom Peter’s recently published. The series is based on his book, The Little Big Things (amazon affiliate link). This one was focused on excellence. It is a simple read and Tom’s videos are great.

The concept is simple – be excellent in everything you do. Whether you focused on work or life, Tom provides us with a clear challenge – why would you want to do anything in life that you are giving your all to?

Think about this question for a minute in relation to your life. Are there things you are doing today that you aren’t giving your all to? Come on, be honest with yourself. Maybe you have focused all of your time on work and your personal life is suffering. Perhaps you have a hobby that you’ve always wanted to pursue, but you have only been able to commit 10-15 minutes a week to it? What about that project at work that you’ve been procrastinating on for the last month?

Stop wasting time on the things you don’t love. Now is the time to find those things you love and pursue them with all your might. Be excellent. Here are 10 other things I learned from Tom:

  1. Excellence is a state of mind that can propel you beyond your current limits.
  2. Excellence can become your differentiator.
  3. Excellence doesn’t stop at the office.
  4. Excellence is a process that requires a commitment to continual learning.
  5. Excellence is not common.
  6. Excellence is all about hard work.
  7. Excellence is all about seeing a project through to the very end.
  8. Excellence is not something that most of your competitors are worried about.
  9. Excellence requires focus.
  10. Be excellent. Why would you want to be anything else?

War, by Sabastian Junger – book review

War by Sebastian Junger (cover image)There are books and then there Books. Junger’s “War” (amazon affiliate link) is the latter type. It is a book that every American should read so we can collectively understand what it means to send our young men and women into harm’s way.

Summary

War is Junger’s no holds barred, gritty look inside of an Army platoon stationed in the heart of violence. Junger shares his first-hand account of his time with some of America’s bravest young men, many of whom find themselves in love with the day-today fight for survival.

Why Should You Read War?

You should read this book for one simple reason. You, the citizen and voter, have a responsibility to be informed. Though our elected officials are the ones who vote on resolutions of war and make life and death decisions for our loved ones, ultimately, we are the ones that are responsible.

This isn’t a political statement. It is simply a plea to you. Please take the time to learn about these issues and make an educated decision about who you are putting into office.

War and Marketing

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about how this book relates to marketing. It might seem like a stretch, but it does. Junger has an impossible task – impartially observe and report on the very soldiers he is living among and must rely on for his very life. There is no humanly possible way to do this. Sure, detailed notes and video taped footage can help add objectivity. But there simply is no way to separate the emotion that is involved when living on the edge like this with others for weeks, months and years at a time.

As we work on campaigns and develop plans for clients, often we lose objectivity. It is very easy to do. After devoting a ton of time and emotion to projects, we become incredibly passionate about what we do. We want to win. We want our clients to win. And through it all, we become more and more emotionally involved.

After reading “War” you are left with a feeling that there is little hope for the soldiers you have read about. Most of them joined the military to escape civilian life. They found a home in combat and may never be able to return to a normal civilian life again. And you have to wonder about Junger – what does the future hold for him after all he has seen and been through.

Now, marketing is no where near as scary or difficult as what Junger describes. We have tools to maintain our objectivity. Simply put, if we are finding ways to measure the impact of our marketing and are using that information correctly, we can easily make adjustments, ramp up efforts that are working and ultimately help our clients win.

Are You Objective

How are you measuring or score carding your efforts? What are you measuring? Is what you are measuring helping you understand why things are happing the way they are?

Under the Dome, by Stephen King: Book Review

stephen king's under the domeFor those of us in the marketing world, understanding people, their motivations, and what we can do to reinforce their behaviors is of utmost importance when developing great campaigns. After watching people for a long time you start to pick up on some of the stranger things that go on. Have you ever noticed what happens when people find themselves in stressful situations? More often than not, their personalities are magnified and you get an opportunity to see a little more deeply into their true selves. That is the genius behind Stephen King’s book, “Under the Dome.”

I haven’t read a Stephen King book in years. In fact, I haven’t read much fiction at all for the last 5-6 years because I had purposely immersed myself in reading all things business and marketing.

I recently decided to make a change in my reading habits. Here’s why. I’ve been reading a great book by Carmine Gallow called, “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.” Carmine discusses a key attribute that lies behind a lot of great thinking – exposing yourself to lots of new stuff and then finding unique ways of connecting things. This is a lesson we should all take to heart no matter what path we have chosen for ourselves. Let’s get back to King’s book.

“Under the Dome” is absolutely brutal. King basically runs a hypothetical experiment to see what would happen when a small American town is suddenly thrust into chaos. He literally drops an impenetrable dome over a town and then let’s us watch as people vie for power, manipulate one another “for the greater good,” and allow themselves to be manipulated out fear and ignorance.

There’s no doubt that King was subtly playing off of historical events from the last 10 years, namely 9/11, the war on terrorism, and their surrounding politics. Overall, King’s little experiment is a cynical look at the ways politics and religion can be and are used to form perspectives and decisions world wide.

No, King’s book isn’t a marketing or business book. Nor is it high fiction that will change your view of the world. However, it is a suspense-filled, exciting read that will keep you up late at night reading page after page, looking for clues, and hoping these people are going to find a solution to their problem. King is a master story teller and his writing and ideas are crisper than ever.

Blogging: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known (Blogging for Business)

blogging keyboardStarting a blog is a great idea but there are some things you should think carefully about before you start one. I have been working on this blog for almost a year now and it has been quite a learning experience. Each week I learn something new about blogging and wish I had started off with a little more knowledge about what I should have been doing. Here are a few pieces of advice:

  1. Do your research ahead of time. Prior to starting your blog find a great book about blogging and read it before doing anything else. The best book on blogging out there is “ProBlogger: Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income” (amazon affiliate link) by Darren Rowse. Darren also runs an awesome blog by the same name. What you will find as you learn more about blogging is that there are a ton of great blogs out there, but they are far outnumbered by a whole bunch of crappy blogs. If you want to end up in that great column, you must do your homework, work harder than your competition, and be patient. Success will not come overnight.
  2. Host your own blog. I’ve gone back and forth on this issue over the last year. I originally set up this blog on WordPress.com and loved it for a while. But as traffic started to pick up and I started considering affiliate marketing options, I soon discovered that I could not earn any money from my blog because of the restrictions that WordPress.com places on you. There is a second reason to consider hosting your own blog – design and functionality. The sky is the limit when you host your own blog. You will only be limited by your own technical knowledge. Please learn from my mistake on this one. I am now in the process of migrating my blog over to a self hosted option. I am incredibly excited about the changes, but I sure wish I had realized this a year ago.
  3. Think carefully about what you want to write about. I have broad interests and whether I am talking about marketing or the latest business book I’ve read, I find that I wander a bit in my writing. You will want to keep your writing tight – stay on subject and do your best to maintain a tight hold on categories and tags. What are categories and tags? Every time you write a post in WordPress you are asked to identify your categories and tags. I would recommend keeping your categories limited to 4-5 items. You can be a bit looser with categories, but even these should be kept under control. The reason for this is that as you start setting up menus on your blog you will end up using your categories and tags as menu heading and subheadings. This will help you stay organized and, more importantly, your writing will end up staying on subject.
  4. Set up templates for your posts. You will want gimmicks and regular features on your blog. For example, maybe you will have a “weekly rants” column. Save yourself some headaches and set up a template in Word or on your blog platform (if it allows it) so you have some consistency with these posts.
  5. Break from your routine now and then. I have routines for writing. Without them, I would never be able to write six post a week. you life will have unique demands, but if you want to be successful, you will want to find specific times that you can set aside each week to dedicate to your writing.

Start planning your business blog today and take these five pieces of advice seriously. You will save yourself a lot of time and grief.

Book Review: Guy Kawasaki’s “Art of the Start”

Guy Kawasaki's "Art of the StartGuy’s book, “The Art of the Start” (amazon affiliate link) was released back in 2004. Some might consider this dated reading; however, as a fan of his, I couldn’t resist picking up the book when I found a good deal on it recently. What I discovered was that Guy was on to many of today’s business trends long before anyone else.

As the title indicates, the book is geared for entrepreneurs that are looking to seeking out venture capital and angel investments. But don’t let this fool you. The book is as much about how to build amazing businesses, build great teams, and launch disruptive products and services as it is about being an entrepreneur.

Guy begins the book with an great overview of how to quickly build and launch new businesses. One of the keys he talks about was incredible – you must start with purpose. Guy talks about the importance of finding a purpose and then embracing it with all your might. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Not only is this a key when building great teams, your customers will be much more likely to buy into what you are selling.

This is actually one of the trends that Guy seemed to be ahead of the curve on. Over the last year, we have seen a number of radically new business models being launched by ivy league, MBA toting entrepreneurs that focus as much on improving the world as profitability. We have also seen the rise of businesses like Zappos, Apple and Trader Joe’s that have flourished during one of the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression. Guy knows his stuff.

Another section of the book that is useful for almost any business person is Guy’s art of pitching. We’re not talking about baseball. We are talking about taking your ideas and selling them to others. His advice is sound and it can be used for more than just pitching venture capitalists. Guy touches on everything from developing your pitch to slide design. He also includes a few tips that definitely contradict conventional presentation teachings.

I’ll be using Guy’s book in a couple ways. I’ve been working on a few side projects and Guy’s advice is more than appreciated. I will also be taking a lot of what I learned and will use it in my day job. Guy’s wisdom and insight is powerful and every bit as applicable today as it was when the book was first released. Don’t miss out.

If you have read “Art of the Start” what were your impressions? What other Kawasaki books would you recommend?

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What Makes Steve Jobs So Innovative?

Innovation Secrets of Steve JobsHave you ever wondered what makes Steve Jobs tick? How did become so creative? What are his secrets to innovation? You no longer need to wonder because Carmine Gallow is about to release a new book called “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success” (amazon affiliate link).

I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of Carmine’s book by the publisher prior to the launch date which is set for early October. Having read Carmine’s earlier book, “Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” (amazon affiliate link), I was excited to have an opportunity to read this book. I am now about four six chapters into it and am completely enthralled.

One of the things I love most about the book is that Carmine takes a fresh look at innovation and breaks away from process-oriented visions of what innovation looks like. Instead, he talks about how Jobs has infused the Apple culture with innovation by following seven key principles. I won’t go into all seven principles in this post, but I will quickly reveal one of my favorites so far – associate.

Carmine points out that Steve has lived a rather diverse life. His exposure to many different belief systems, ideas and cultures has helped him to perceive the world in a way that most people simply cannot. But there is still hope for all the rest of us. As Carmine points out, everyone can learn to see the world differently by exposing their minds to lots of new experiences. From these experience, true innovation comes from our ability to make new associations between all of your new knowledge and the old stuff in your head. Learning and associating your learning is where innovation happens.

I will follow up in a week or so with a final review of “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.” Until then, be sure to pre order your copy of the book today.

The Little Big Things: Strategy (Vook) – Review

The Little Big Things by Tom PetersDisclaimer – I was recently given the chance to review Tom Peter’s newest Vook, The Little Big Things. I’ve been a customer of Vook before and I really appreciate them giving me the opportunity to review all five of Tom’s Vook collection.

This review is the first of five parts. In this post, I will be focusing on the first of Tom’s Vooks, “The Little Big Things: Strategy.”

Tom Peters is an amazing guy. Until now, I have not had an opportunity to read any of his books. But after reading “The Little Big Things” I will be exploring more of Tom’s writing.

The essence of the strategy Vook is simple. Tom nails down a number of those simple things you should be paying attention to but often don’t because of time or other pressures. The problem for you dear reader is that not paying attention to those little things is what will end up turning your customers away. Continue reading “The Little Big Things: Strategy (Vook) – Review”