Chris Guillebeau’s first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, is not a business book, at least not per se. It’s more of a manifesto for living differently, in which Guillebeau makes a passionate appeal for people not to accept the role of living out a life of what’s expected, but to chart your own unconventional course instead.
Last week I finished Amber Mac’s (that’s Amber MacArthur, or @ambermac; also on Wikipedia) book, Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business [Kindle Edition]. I admit to being hesitant because of the title, which I didn’t really like, but I do appreciate Amber’s take on all things social media, so I overcame my apprehension. And the title can’t be hurting sales — at least not more than is made up for by Amber’s smiling face on the cover. And the book just hit one of the Globe & Mail’s Top Ten book lists, probably because Amber knows her stuff and presents it well.
Malcolm Gladwell’s been wrong before, when he disagreed with Chris Anderson’s thesis in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. But this time, it’s a little stranger… this time I have to wonder what he’s thinking in his latest piece, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted,” where he discounts social networks, saying they cannot product the kind of passion necessary to drive social change because they really only affect weak ties issues.
I’m enjoying Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?. In his chapter on “Becoming the Linchpin”, he has a great diagram on page 52, which I’ve reproduced here. His linchpin discussion is a good illustration of the variance between price and value. I always cringe when a client reacts negatively to my billing rate (which is low for the industry). If they say, “I wish I could bill my time at that rate,” I know they haven’t got it and may never “get it.” I want to ask them what rate they pay their mechanic or their accountant. It’s a question of the value contributed, not the price paid. This is the problem with people who try to do too much tweaking on the product of a good designer… they don’t understand that they’re paying for expertise and then negating its value. Perhaps they’d rather have an expert at minimum wage?
In his bestseller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about Umberto Eco’s library.
The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a larger personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others–a very small minority–who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.
Sometimes a book needs to be set free. When I received my second copy of Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, it was with the proviso that it be passed along. Anyone who pre-ordered the book and joined Triiibes (as I did, though I don’t hang there much) was sent a second copy of the book as a gift and told to pass it along to someone who needed to start a tribe.
I did this, and it’s a good example on Seth’s part of giving something for free in the interest (at least partially) of increasing sales. More exposure to your message, even for free, in the short term will mean more ongoing sales in the long term. It’s Seth Godin putting his money where his mouth is (before the fact), and I agree with him on this one. Apparently, so did his publisher.
For almost the past four years now, I've been writing a pseudonymous blog that primarily follows the emerging/missional church, but even there I occasionally touch on topics relevant to marketing and (for lack of a better description) "Cluetrain" thinking. I have a post or two about Starbuck's that might be the culprit, or it might be the quip I sometimes use with reference to products or services that I tend to call "a perfect solution to a problem nobody has." Whatever the inspiration, I somehow made it onto the authors' list of people who helped inspire or inform their thinking as they describe what they call the "Tuned-In Process" through their book, Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs (USA Link) by Phil Myers, Craig Stull, and David Meerman Scott. I discovered the link-back to my blog and read their offer to anyone on the list to provide them with a free copy of the book. I was curious about what they were saying and how I might fit in, so naturally I took them up on the offer.