Category Archives: Books

Guy Kawasaki ‘Enchants’ SLA Chicago 2012 conference

Guy_KawasakiGuy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker at the recent SLA annual conference in Chicago, and here are my notes from his talk.

Kawasaki started by talking about his time at the Macintosh division of Apple Inc. He described them as the largest collection of egomaniacs ever assembled in the US, until the creation of the Facebook development team.

In hindsight he realised that enchantment was a key part of his life, dating back to his first job in the jewellery trade.

His two recommended essential reads are:
How to win friends and influence people, published in 1931 by Dale Carneigie, and Influence – The Psychology of Persuasions by Robert B Cialdini.

Kawasaki has observed many hi-tech speakers over the years, and with the exception of Steve Jobs, they all ‘suck and go long’.

He always uses the 10 point model for presenting. So he told us if he ‘sucks’ today we will be able to tell.

1.    Achieve Likeability
–    Have a great smile – not just using the jaw, but also the eyes. So crow’s feet are good. Needs to be a Duchene smile
–    Accept others for what they are
–    Default to ‘yes’ – How can I help the person I just met

2.    Achieve Trustworthiness
–    Trust others first
o    Amazon – have a policy of returning an ebook in 7 days if you don’t like it
o    Zappos – buy the shoes online, if you don’t like them we will pay the return postage
o    Nordstrom – you can return anything to them at any time
–    Become a baker not an eater – a producer not a consumer
–    Find something to agree on with customers – it doesn’t have to be a big thing
o    Example of a dislike of Opera

3.    Perfect what you do
–    Do something DICEE
o    Deep
o    Intelligent – they understand my pain / my problem
o    Complete – the totality of the service you offer
o    Empowering – they make you more creative and productive
o    Elegant – someone has thought about the user interface

4.    Launch
–    Tell a story – a personal one, not a marketing one
–    ‘My girlfriend wanted to sell Pez dispensers online’ – the story behind eBay
–    Plant many seeds
–    The key to bottom up marketing – make them available to everyone
–    Use salient points when you talk about your services
o    Calories vs Miles to burn them off
o    Dollars vs Months of food for a family in Eithiopia
o    Gigabytes vs X thousands of songs on portable player

5.    Overcome resistance
–    Provide social proof of success – the white ear-buds that came with iPods were a visual indicator in the streets
–    Use a dataset to change a mindset
o    Gapminder.org – review of number of children and longer lives across the world
–    Enchant all of the influencers in the family not just the ones with the money, e.g. children.

6.    Make your enchantment endure
–    The Grateful Dead provide a space for people to tape their concerts for free
–    Build an ecosystem of the totality of your service
–    Invoke reciprocation
o    Don’t say ‘you are welcome’ say ‘I know you would do the same for me’
o    Enable people to pay you back in their own way
–    Don’t rely on money (e.g. price offers) – it is not the core of enchantment

7.    Great enchanters are great presenters, so:
–    Customize your introduction
–    Sell your dream
o    iPhone = $188 of parts manufactured in a factory in China, but is more than the sum of its parts
–    10 is the optimum number of slides
–    Delivered in 20 minutes at most
–    A 30 point font size is optimal – so you don’t read your text out to your audience

8.    Use technology
–    Social media is free and ubiquitous so use it
–    Remove the speed bumps for your customers
–    Capta reduces the number of customers
–    Sungevity.com – Uses your home address to mock up installation using satellite imagery
–    Provide added value
o    Information
o    Insights
o    Assistance
–    Example of Alltop.com website – aggregates information by topics
–    ‘Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant’. i.e. take little – give a lot
–    Use a lot of sources and spread the information.

9.    Enchant Up
–    When your boss or partner asks you to do something – drop everything else and do it.
–    Prototype fast
–    Deliver bad news early

10.    Enchant Down
–    Book by Daliel H Pink – Drive
–    Provide a MAP
o    Mastery – if you come and work for me …
o    Autonomy – if you come and work for me …
o    Purpose – if you come and work for me …
–    Empower action
–    ‘Suck it up’ – be a boss who is willing to do the ‘dirty job’

Kawasaki summed up Enchantment as having;
The Quality of Apple – the trustworthiness of Zappos – and the likeability of Richard Branson.

Enchantment-Cover

The law of unintended consequences and e-books – Fifty Shades of Grey

50_shades_of_greyThe law of unintended consequences is an interesting topic in its own right, with perhaps the most well known example being the unexpected use of text messaging on mobile telephones.

The latest example according to David Sexton in the Evening Standard is the way e-book readers have allowed more women to read adult fiction. Apparently the lack of a racy cover and give-away title when reading a discretely packaged Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad, allows more and more women to indulge their tastes in public. No longer do they need to fear the snorts of derision or disapproving looks as they plough their way through the latest Bodice ripper.

Apparently the growth in e-books (one in eight of adult fiction books is now purchased digitally) has allowed for a rapid growth in what some call ‘Mommy porn‘, or literotica.

The UK market leader in this genre is E L James and her début adult romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey. According to her official website;

E_L_JamesE L James is a TV executive, wife and mother-of-two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and her career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.

It is claimed 250,000 copies have already been sold in different formats, and has topped the New York Times Bestseller list.

So, the next time you see a fellow commuter looking a bit hot and bothered, it may not be due to the faulty heating system on the train, but caused by something hot and steamy in her e-book reader.

CMI Management Book of the Year 2012

Last night I attended the CMI Management Book of the Year for 2012 held in association with the British Library.

brainwaveThis competition aims to celebrate the best of management books published or distributed in the UK, from the most inspiring to the most useful.

This year Cass Business School joined as sponsor for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category.

I was pleased to see that Celia Gates’ book From Brainwave to Business, How to turn your brilliant idea into a successful start-up, was one of the short-listed titles.

The overall winner on the night was The Cult of the Leader, A Manifesto for More Authentic Business by  Christopher Bones.

cult_leadershipThis is a very timely topic with the media attention firmly on the causes of our economic plight, and railing against excessive executive pay.

The book is a critical look at the way business leadership has gone so badly wrong, and what can be done to fix it. Christopher explained that this was his first book for 15 years, so was particularly pleased to have won the award.

The Cult of the Leader, A Manifesto for More Authentic Business
Modern business is obsessed with leaders.  We talk about leadership all the time, but its real meaning is becoming more and more obscure.  Recent corporate crises have shown that all too often, our leaders are missing in action when we need them most. 

In this groundbreaking and provocative new book, Chris Bones shows how we need to:
    Restore trust and confidence
    Be more realistic about what leaders can and can’t do
    Redefine talent
    Revalue experience
    Reconsider remuneration

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – A monster of a book about a monster of a man

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_IsaacsonMany thanks to Debbie Epstein for giving me this amazing book as a present.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson is the only authorised story of the life and death of one of the most influential figures of the last 50 years, who died on 5 October this year, aged 56, from pancreatic cancer.

The book is something of a monster at 627 pages, and chronicles Steve Jobs‘ life from his childhood, through the creation and early days of Apple computers, his battles with Microsoft, his sacking and 12 year later return to the company he founded. Isaacson managed to interview Jobs himself over forty times, and tracked down more than a hundred friends, family, colleagues, competitors and adversaries.

I found it a compelling read, and managed to complete it in less than a week. It is perhaps the most honest and revealing authorised biography ever written of an industry leader. Isaacson uncovers both the amazing stories behind the revolutionary products Apple produced. However, he also reveals something of a monster of a man.

Jobs was a sensitive person, perhaps more so due to being adopted at birth, who spent several months wandering across India in his youth looking for spiritual enlightenment and followed Buddhism for the rest of his life. But he could also be the most manipulative and down-right nasty person it is possible to imagine. So much so, that his early colleagues referred to his ability to distort reality to his own ends (Reality distortion field even has its own Wikipedia entry).

Having been something of a computer nerd as a teenager in the mid-1970s I first came across his creations in the form of an Apple II computer. As you can see it was some way from the sleek and sexy design of the more recent iMacs. So reading the story of how Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed these machines made for riveting reading.

Apple II computer

Although he made many mistakes along the way, as well as many enemies, and a trail of broken colleagues, his vision and passion resulted in products which have truly revolutionised the computer industry, and made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Steve Jobs was that he never felt the need to conduct market research (something we recommend all our clients in the Business & IP Centre should do). Instead he worked on creating ‘insanely great’ products people would discover they didn’t know they needed until they saw them.

Green Metropolis – a million books to read again and again

greenMetropolisThanks once again to Smarta.com for this inspiring business start-up story, this time featuring books (a subject close to my heart).

They have interviewed Barry Crow the founder of Green Metropolis about  how he came to develop the site using his redundancy pay.

What’s your background and how did you come up with the idea for the site? I’m originally from Newcastle and worked for British Airways as an IT developer. I moved to London for my job and went from a 4 bedroom house to a one bedroom flat. I’m an avid reader and had loads of paperbacks. If people have space, their books go under the bed or on the shelf. I had no space and had to de-clutter everything. So I started giving them away to charity shops. 

I went through pretty much the same process; I would buy a new book every month, read it and then drop it off in a charity shop.  But I could never find books there I wanted to buy. If I had just finished a James Patterson, then I would want to read another one. But if the charity shop didn’t have it I would have to go to Waterstones and buy a new one.

After a while I just thought: this is crazy; there must be a better way to do this. That was the beginnings of the idea but I didn’t look at it properly until I lost my job.


How many people use the site?

We have about 100,000 members.

We started with 1,000 books in stock which were mostly mine, and a few of my friends. We have about a million second-hand books in stock now. Some members still buy books brand new, because they have to have it, but within a week they’ve read it and will post it on the site


What sets you aside from sites like Amazon or even eBay?

Our site is more like a book club; it’s a community doing it to benefit each other. It’s for people who want to share their books with each other and at the same time raise money for a good cause. It adds to the whole feel-good factor of the site.

When you join us, you get an online account and every time you sell, you can either have the money refunded to you or use it buy new books.

Everyone should benefit, whether buying or selling, and ideally, we want our sellers to have enough credit from sales to buy their next one on the site without ever needing to use a credit card.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

I think probably promoting the site. I have no experience with the marketing side of things. My background is computers and IT, so I didn’t have a problem with the technical side of the site. But I suppose I naively thought after 6 months that once we had a great website, people would naturally come to it.

Like I said, we’ve never advertised it, and it’s been a very slow process. I started off and it was just me and I massively underestimated the time it takes to do everything.

Where do you see the site in five years time?

I would like GreenMetropolis.com to be the main ethical alternative to Amazon for second hand and charity books. For myself, I would like to work a little less, so that I can read a little more.

Review of who’s got your back

whosgotyourback_coverOnce again I am indebted to Pervin Shaikh for another generous donation to our Business Help book collection.

Last time it was the amazing What Would Google Do? This time I am reviewing who’s got your back (yes, it seems lower case titles are still trendy). Keith Ferrazzi, the ‘best selling author of NEVER EAT ALONE’, supplies ‘The Secret to Finding the 3 People Who Will Change Your Life’. I think I’m all case confused at this point.

By the way, what a great surname for an author, or in fact, anyone intent on becoming a personal brand.

If the title and pre-title (see cover shot) don’t get the message across, then how about the sur-title? ‘The breakthrough program to build deep, trusting relationships that create success – and won’t let you fail’.

It is at this point that I have to confess to breaking a long standing policy on this blog of avoiding negativity. I don’t really see the point of writing about something unless it has something positive to contribute.

However, I’m afraid this is going to be an exception, and this is really an appeal to you, to help me understand where I am going wrong with this very popular book.

Unfortunately the author gets my goat right from the first chapter, by using the example of Jean Nidetch, ‘a plus-sized housewife who enlisted her friends to help her stay on a diet’. This was the 1961 beginnings of what was to become Weight Watchers, a $4 billion turnover business by 2007.

The author explains that Nidetch, ‘just wanted to get skinny, but through an inner circle of friends offering expertise, wisdom, honesty and support she achieved far more than she ever imagined possible.’

However, to me Weight Watchers is an organisation that exploits people’s desire to lose weight by persuading them to adopt a calorie counting diet, when so much evidence indicates that no diets work in the long run.

Why diets don’t work and The Problem with Weight Watchers and other Calorie Counting Diets

To quote the book’s blurb; Keith Ferrazzi, the internationally renowned thought leader, consultant, and bestselling author of Never Eat Alone, shows us that becoming a winner in any field of endeavour requires a trusted team of advisors who can offer guidance and help to hold us accountable to achieving our goals. It is the reason Ph.D. candidates have advisor teams, top executives  have boards, world-class athletes have fitness coaches, and presidents have cabinets.

In conclusion, I am left wondering if this the management book equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes. So please let me know why I am wrong.

Dealing with the Customer from Hell

Although surrounded by 15 million books here at the British Library, and unlike WoodsieGirl, I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like.

However, in the last few weeks I have managed to get through several, thanks to my epically slow train journey, and my speed reading training from Alex Garcez the The Speed Reading Coach.

As part of my aim to constantly strive for better customer service within the Business & IP Centre, I bought a copy of Dealing with the Customer from Hell – A Survival Guide, by Shaun Belding.

It is a great book because he recognises that in most cases customers from hell did not start the day in that mode (or mood), but circumstances have lead to the behaviour we are seeing as service providers. He reminds us that we have all probably been, or come close to acting as customers from hell, when things have gone particularly badly for us. Once we start to see them in that light we can begin to move towards resolving their problem.

Shaun also points out that we are not taught at school, or in most workplaces, to cope with bad behaviour. So when we are confronted with it, we go into shock and react, rather than calmly respond appropriately and with humour.

We also can be badly emotionally scarred (and scared) by these experiences, which can negatively influence our behaviour in future customer interactions.

One of the most important messages, is that you can’t win against customers from hell, but in most cases you can win with them, and so resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

Shaun introduces the LESTER acronym for the six steps to take to resolve customer problems:

  • Listening to your customer
  • Echoing the issue
  • Sympathizing with your customer’s emotional state
  • Thanking your customer for his or her input
  • Evaluating your options
  • Responding with a win-win solution.

 

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis

Perhaps I spent too many years working in the City of London working for unappreciative customers, so I am frequently surprised by how grateful many of our customers are for the help we give them in starting up their business. However, when I heard that Pervin Shaikh wanted to express her appreciation by giving us a copy of What Would Google Do, I was amazed.

Pervin explained that she thought the book would be helpful to aspiring (and existing) entrepreneurs.

Having speed read it this morning, before sending it off to be added to our collection, I agree with her.

The author Jeff Jarvis writes the new media column for the Guardian newspaper, as well as founder of Buzzmachine.com, one of the web’s most popular and respected blogs about the internet and media.

He starts the book by listing some of the new rules that Google used – to become successful, in what he calls the upside-down, inside-out, counter-intuitive and confusing world of the internet age:

1.    Customers are now in charge. They can be heard around the globe and have an impact on huge institutions in an instant.
2.    People can find each other anywhere and coalesce around you-or against you.
3.    The mass market is dead, replaced by the mass of niches.
4.    ‘Markets are conversations,” decreed The Cluetrain Manifesto, the seminal work of the internet age, in 2000. That means the key skill in any organization today is no longer marketing but conversing.
5.    We have shifted from an economy based on scarcity to one based on abundance. The control of products or distribution will no longer guarantee a premium and a profit.
6.    Enabling customers to collaborate with you-in creating, distributing, marketing, and supporting products-is what creates a premium in today’s market.
7.    The most successful enterprises today are networks-which extract as little value as possible so they can grow as big as possible-and the platforms on which those networks are built.
8.    Owning pipelines, people, products, or even intellectual property is no longer the key to success. Openness is.

Google have been generous in sharing their philosophy on their website, so we can look there to see why they are the fastest growing company in the history of the world, according to the Times newspaper.

Our philosophy – Ten things we know to be true:
1. Focus on the user and all else will follow
2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well
3. Fast is better than slow
4. Democracy on the web works
5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
6. You can make money without doing evil
7. There’s always more information out there
8. The need for information crosses all borders
9. You can be serious without a suit
10. Great just isn’t good enough

You can get more details from the Google website.

Jarvis also looks at Facebook, and recounts listening to the 22 year old founder Mark Zuckerberg answer a gathering of media moguls at Davos on how to build their own communities – ‘you can’t’.

What he meant, was that communities already exist, so your role is to bring them ‘elegant organization’, to help them achieve their goals more effectively. Jarvis illustrates Zuckerberg’s approach by retelling the story of how he managed to graduate from Harvard, despite not having attended a single class or finding time to study.

‘The final exam was a week away and he was in a panic. It’s one thing to drop out of Harvard to start a gigantic, world-changing company; it’s another to flunk.

Zuckerberg did what comes naturally to a native of the web. He went to the internet and downloaded images of art he knew would be covered in the exam. He put them on a web page and added blank boxes under each. Then he emailed the address of this page to his class-mates, telling them he’d just put up a study guide. Think Tom Sawyer’s fence. The class dutifully came along and filled in the blanks with the essential knowledge about each piece of art, editing each other as they went, collaborating to get it just right. This being Harvard, they did a good job of it.

You can predict the punch line: Zuckerberg aced the exam. But here’s the real kicker: The professor said the class as a whole got better grades than usual. They captured the wisdom of their crowd and helped each other. Zuckerberg had created the means for the class to collaborate. He brought them elegant organization.’

Some of the other highlights of the book for me were:
•    If you’re not searchable, you won’t be found – make sure you maximise your discovery, especially by Google search.
•    Your customers are your ad agency – in the early days of Google, Facebook and Twitter, all their marketing work was done for free by their fans.
•    The mass market is dead – long live the mass of niches – and the long tail.
•    Middlemen are doomed – unless they can show how they add value.
•    Life is beta – let your customers test and develop your products and services.

In the second part of the book, Jarvis applies the Google rules to a raft of traditional activities, from utilities to hospitals to banks. The results are fascinating and relevant for everyone in business. For example, why don’t supermarkets have forums where customers could ask for and vote on new product lines.

In conclusion, I would say this is a fascinating wide ranging and challenging review of how the Google approach to business can (and most likely will) impact how many business and service operations operate in future. And a ‘must read’ for anyone about to start out on their own business adventure.

Evolving English exhibition – One Language, Many Voices

I just love words. They are one of my favourite things in life, so I am really excited about our new Evolving English exhibition, where we will be exploring our wonderful language, from Anglo-Saxon runes to modern day rap.

My favourite word for some time has been serendipitous, both for its sound and meaning. As a very poor speller (sp), I am intrigued by what I consider to be ridiculous spellings, which I would never guess how to say. For instance, how about the dance groups The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs. Did you get they are pronounced Chumleys and Fanshaws respectively?

I also noticed last week that David Usborne writing in the new i newspaper from the Independent, is not averse a bit of language creativity. He used the term ‘courtesy-impaired’ passengers in reference to the story about Steven Slater the ‘air rage’ steward. I did a little digging a found an article titled Courtesy-impaired peers frustrate fellow worker by Diane Crowley in the Chicago Sun-Times from 20 September 1990.

Here are some great language websites I have come across over the years:

Wordia – the online dictionary, which brings words to life through video.

Dictionary of English slang and colloquialisms of the UK

Save the Words is all about trying to stop them from disappearing.

ToneCheck™ is an e-mail plug-in that flags sentences with words or phrases that may convey unintended emotion or tone, then helps you re-write them.

Phrases.net Thousands of common phrases, sayings and idioms that can be browsed, searched, heard, and translated to several language.

100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English

AlexHorne.com Can one man deliberately invent a successful new word? Is it possible to break into the dictionary? What is a pratdigger?

Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices

The first exhibition to explore the English language in all its national and international diversity. Iconic books and manuscripts, set alongside engaging everyday texts, show the social, cultural and historical strands from which the language has been woven.

In the exhibition and on this website you will also be able to take part in a national initiative to record how English is spoken all over the UK. You will be able to submit a recording of yourself reading ‘Mr Tickle’ to form part of the British Library’s collections. Add your email address at the top of the page to join our mailing list.

‘Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices’ also looks beneath the tip of the linguistic iceberg at comics, adverts, text messages, posters, newspapers, trading records and dialect recordings that make up the bulk of the English language.

The oldest private library in Scotland

While on holiday staying with friends in Doune in Stirling in southern Scotland we popped over to Dunblane and paid a flying visit to Leighton Library.

According to the sign outside, it is the oldest private library in Scotland. It dates from 1687, and was built for the 1,400 book collection of Robert Leighton, the Bishop of Dunblane from 1661 to 1670. The cost of the building was £162 and the Bishop left another £100 to help build on the original collection of mainly religious texts.

The number of books grew to 4,500, and cover a wide range of topics printed from 1504-1840. Apparently the Bishop could read several languages, although at least 80 have been identified in the collection so I’m not sure who would have read those.

They have quite a few first editions dating from those periods, including The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott. However, in many cases they only managed to get  hold of second editions as they were often too slow coming up with payment to get hold of significant new publication before they had sold out their print run. So for instance they have a second edition of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

We asked to have a look at Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language. Although not the first dictionary, this was certainly the most influential from the 1700’s. The library has a second edition from 1756, and it was wonderful to be able to look through the pages of such a significant publication.

We were very fortunate to have two librarians present to talk about the collection. One turned out to be the founder of the business library at Strathclyde University and the other had employed my old friend John Coll at the National Library of Scotland from the days when they had a science library.

We were made to sit on the original ‘turkie red lether’ chairs bought for the library in 1688, and still going strong today, and told lots of interesting stories about the collection and Johnson’s dictionary. I hadn’t heard about Johnson’s somewhat dubious definition for Oats before:
‘a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’
We have an image of the definition on our education pages.

The library is open to the general public from the beginning of May until the end of September as follows:

2011 – Robert Leighton was born in 1611 with the consequence that 2011 will represent the 400th anniversary of his birth. A number of events are planned to mark that occasion.