Many reviews and interviews have already touched on Brad Stone's book, The Everything Store. Stone provides an in-depth look at Amazon and the company's founder, Jeff Bezos. I want to accomplish two things with this post:

  • Provide a brief review of the book
  • Reflect on what I learned from the book and how it can benefit anyone working in the retail space

The Review

Stone's book is a fun read and will give you an "insiders" look at the massive online company. He has been reporting on Amazon for over a decade and has a good understanding of the company's culture, successes and failures. However, many of the interviews that were done for the book seemed to rely on former Amazon employees. After reading it, I was left feeling like the book was a mixed bag of solid reporting and bitter accounts.

Stone is hard hitting. Throughout the book he does a good job of depicting the battles between Amazon and it's many rivals, including Walmart, Target, Circuit City and Best Buy. Make no mistake, these companies are in bitter competition with one another and its anyone's guess on who will prevail. But the book felt a little slanted.

I could not help but fell that Stone has respect for Bezos, but at the same time he seems to look at him a little like an evil genius. Stone spends an inordinate amount of time talking about Bezos' peculiar laugh. I couldn't help but think of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers' movies. The author also spent a lot of time referring to interviews with former Amazon employees and referred to Bezos' loyal supporters as "Jeff Bots" - hardly a fair portrayal of team members that have chosen to work for the company and support its cause.

Overall, The Everything Store is a great book and if you are interested in understanding the last ten years of retail and what the future may hold, you should pick up a copy of this book and get reading.

Reflections

It is scary to think this, but I have been working in retail for about twenty years, both on the retail and retail marketing sides. Retail is an exciting place to be in. It is always changing, demanding and gives you an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of every single customer you engage with. 

I have met and built relationships with dozens of great people. I have also met my fair share of folks that should never have picked retail as a career. One of the key lessons I have learned over the years is that, like much of life in general, success in retail comes down to your perspective. 

When I say I work in retail, I must admit that I work in one of the most challenging retail environments around - retail grocery. In retail grocery, the margins are tight which means the labors, budgets and everything else leave little to work with. You have to make use of every resource you have if you want to succeed. My guess is that most customers do not understand what this business actually looks like behind the scenes and know little about the competitive environment that exists between small local grocers and the big national chains. It is both fascinating and incredibly challenging. Now let me connect these thoughts up with the review you just read. 

Like I shared, I felt like Stone portrayed Amazon and Bezos as being a little on the evil side. What he totally misses is the brutal realities of retail. Bezos did not create the retail environment. He simply learned it, adapted to it and created a disruptive business that has thrived. People love Amazon and in a capitalist society, the consumer votes with her dollars. 

Is retail for everyone? No. But if you choose to play in that space, you need to do so because you want to. My favorite people that I have worked with in this industry are all tough, smart and frugal. They are there to fight a good fight and will do everything they can to take care of their customers. If you want to succeed, you've got to take on this mindset or get out. 

Stone seemed to play favor to many former Amazon team members who had bitter feelings about Bezos and Amazon. I understand why, but it is hardly fair. These team members chose to leave or were fired. They obviously didn't belong there. To call Bezos' supporters as "Jeff Bots" is completely unfair simply because they want to be loyal and support the Amazon cause. To do so is the equivalent of calling Steve Job's supporters "Steve Bots." Every company and leader will have supporters and detractors. 

Love it or leave it. If there are things you don't like, then stick it out and work toward making positive change. If you can't tough it out, then you really should be looking elsewhere for employment.

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/The-Everything-Store...
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AuthorJason Sokol
Jason Fried of 37Signals

Jason Fried of 37Signals

I've always been a fan of Jason Fried and the 37Signals team. I read Jason's book, ReWork several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had an opportunity to take a break from things today and listen to an interview with Jason on RadioWest. If you are interested in rethinking how work gets done, this is an interview I would highly recommend.

For the uninitiated, 37Signals is a software development company. They started out as a website development company and quickly shifted gears as they watched what was happening. Essentially, they went back to the drawing board and figured out a unique and much needed offering. ReWork and the linked interview will give you a good understanding of how this team developed a unique perspective on how to work. Many of the team members work remotely; they avoid meetings; and they pay the deepest respect to different types of personalities. 

In a quickly changing business world, Jason provides a fresh look at what the workspace of the future might end up looking like.

Source: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/reworking-0
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AuthorJason Sokol

No one looks forward to paying their yearly taxes. It is an inconvenience and takes you away from the things you would like to be doing, like spending time with your family. That's why when my wife and I were introduced to Rachel at our local H&R Block store, I had to stop and think carefully about the average customer service interaction.

Most of us are time starved beyond anything our parents ever would have believed. Long hours at work, getting the kids to and from daycare, trying to fit in time for a workout, and many more daily events all add up to incredibly hectic lives. Then you throw in the other routines that you have to do, like stopping to fuel your car, shopping for groceries, paying bills or, going back to the premise of this post, paying your taxes each year.

All of these later experiences are nuisances. So no matter how hard you try as a business owner, you are faced with an uphill battle when trying to figure out how to make the experience a good one. But there is one thing that can turn things around - great team members.

We've been working with Rachel for three years now. She works at the H&R Block offices in Riverton, Utah. She is a gem. She is amazingly cheerful, likes to laugh and listens well. Rachel has taken time to get to know us and doesn't rush us through the process. Even though we only see her once a year, she remembers lots of details about our family. 

Rachel is the type of employee that every service business owner should be seeking to hire. She cares about the integrity of the business and about the clients she serves. My thanks to Rachel and H&R Block for hiring such a wonderful team member. 

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AuthorJason Sokol

It has been quite a while since I wrote in my blog. A lot has happened since I last visited. Here's on big change. 

 

Izzy and Abby

Izzy and Abby

Yes, we now have two beautiful girls. Izzy joined us clear back in April of last year which is why I haven't been around much. Lucky for us, Abigale loves her little sister, Isabelle. The two of them are a joy to be around and have made me rethink a lot about life. 

Here we go with the blogging thing again. My hope is to combine a few of my favorite topics - marketing, fatherhood, leadership, education and reading - and get a mental break from some of the daily routines.  

Let's get started.

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AuthorJason Sokol

I just finished reading "The Business of Belief" by Tom Asacker and thought I would share a few thoughts.  Here are 3 things you should know about it.

1. Your beliefs shape your world

Tom takes about one-third of the book making the case that we are far from rational beings. Our emotions guide us. Our beliefs make up who we are. Anything that stands in the way of our beliefs is often easily forgot or dismissed. 

As marketers and leaders, it is our job to understand the beliefs of those around us and then help shift their thinking. 

2. Great leaders guide

Tom points out that the best leaders around us don't force things. Force only creates resistance. But by creating a beautiful vision, helping others to see that vision and then slowly guiding others to the vision.

3. The world is ever changing

Despite how hard you may try, the world around you is constantly changing. You can either fall victim to the change or ride the wave and help move things forward. It takes a special leader to help others feel safe throughout change. 

 Tom's book is an excellent read and by far one of the best books I have read about change, influence and change management. Rather than dive deeply into abstract processes, Tom simplifies things down to a very simple perspective. I highly recommend it to anyone that deals with change - marketers, non profits, leaders.

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AuthorJason Sokol

When I logged into Google this morning, here is the search screen that greeted me. google birthday screen

No, it isn't Google's birthday; it is mine and the kings of data knew it. This isn't all that difficult for Google to do, but it really is the fact that they did this.

Did they score points with me today? Honestly, I love Google and now I love them even more. When it comes time for me to upgrade my iPhone later this year, I might just have to consider the Nexus phone.

Here's the thing to keep in mind. They didn't give me anything. All they did was acknowledge a special day for me.

How can you do something similar for your customers?

Supermanager 200x300What in the world could a restaurant manager teach about budding businessman about the high stakes world of corporate management? Plenty and in The Supermanager, Greg Blencoe lays out a no nonsense roadmap for anyone that is in management or aspires to be in management. I will keep this post short, mainly because Greg's book is also pretty short. The Supermanager provides readers with seven tips all of which are told as part of a brief story. The book is easily read in about an hour and it is well worth your time.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone that is new to management; however, even the seasoned manager might pick up a few valuable tips. While most of the book might feel like common sense, the truth of the matter is that many managers struggle with the basics.

For me, the most valuable point that Greg hits on is this - no one is perfect and you must commit yourself to a path of lifelong learning in order to grow as a manager (and person). You can purchase a copy of Greg's book at Amazon or visit his site to download a free copy in PDF or Kindle versions.

168979Last week, I reviewed John Miller's QBQ, a book all about personal responsibility. This week I thought I would take time to share a few thoughts about his follow up book, Flipping the Switch (buy a copy). In Flipping the Switch, Miller takes the theories presented in QBQ and provides readers with critical principles to put the QBQ way of living into action. Miller defines five critical principles that can empower and enrich anyone to live a fuller, more meaningful life:

  • Learning
  • Ownership
  • Creativity
  • Service
  • Trust

All five of these principles are important, but I wanted to take just a second to explore my favorite one - learning.

While it might be in the best interest of businesses to provide their employees with training and learning opportunities, it is not required. Even for the ones that do, the types of training that are available may not always line up with your goals. Should you look at either of the situations and blame the business? Or should you recognize the situation for what it is - you learning is your responsibility.

I have had the pleasure to work with many types of people over the last 24 years of my life. What has always amazed me is how people react when they are challenged to learn something new, especially when handed a book.

Recently, we purchased some books for our team and started passing them around. We saw many interesting things. There was a small group of people that eagerly grabbed the book, read it and got something valuable out of it. There was a second group that reluctantly read it and picked up a couple pointers. And we had a smaller group of people that refused to read it.

It is probably no accident that you can then quickly figure out which of these employees is on track for great careers and which ones are not. No one was required to read the book, they were just passed around. But the situation seemed pretty typical.

I love people that see challenges, even impossible ones as opportunities to learn. This is exactly what John Miller shares in Flipping the Switch. Learning is a lifelong process and it isn't anyones responsibility buy your own.

Miller's book is a quick read, but well worth the time. Pick up a copy today and start using the 5 principles to take your life and career to an all new level.

Bk rr qbqbook About a week ago, a good friend of mine mentioned that he had been reading an interesting book called QBQ: The Question Before the Question, by John G. Miller. Intrigued, I downloaded a copy and read it the same night. If you are interested in a simple, yet highly impactful book to read, this is one you don't want to miss.

Miller's book is, in many ways, a rehash of Covey's important principle, the sphere of influence. The big difference between Miller and Covey is the amount of time dedicated to this topic. Miller dives in deep and provides his readers with a very persuasive argument for why it is important to focus your efforts on the things you can change and be accountable every step of the way.

The book can be broken into two important concepts:

  • IQs or Incorrect Questions
  • QBQs or Question Before the Question

Understanding IQs and QBQs are key to putting yourself on the path to success.

Banish IQs

Incorrect questions lead you down the path of wasted energy, negativity and blame shifting. IQs are all about looking for blame everywhere but where it should belong; with others rather than yourself. Here are a few examples:

  • Why can't my child's teacher give him more attention?
  • When will the government stop punishing me with overly high taxes?
  • Who is going to take responsibility for improving the communication around here?

Notice something with all of these IQs? In each case, there is no personal accountability. How can anyone expect to improve if s/he looks to blame others for her plight and never takes responsibility for her/his own situation.

Embrace QBQs

QBQs are focused on you taking personal accountability for whatever situation you are in and helps you focus on moving in a positive direction to fix or improve things:

  • What can I do to help my child become a better reader?
  • How can I be more responsible with my finances and work toward a good retirement?
  • What can I do to find out more information about our company and help my team members learn more?

Each of these examples are focused on putting you in charge of fixing your own problems. While this may seem simple, give this a try for a few days. You might be surprised by how often you fall into the IQ trap.

Take the QBQ Challenge

Grab yourself a copy of the book and read it. It only takes about an hour to finish. Then I dare you to put Miller's advice to work for you.

If you give it a try, drop on back here and leave me a note about your QBQ experiences.

Startswithfood One challenge that almost any executive has is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating in a way that prevents weight gain. There are a million different diets available (and you've probably tried a few of them). Look no further. There is an exciting new book, It Starts With Food (affiliate link), by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig that will show you why your current diet isn't helping and how a change in your eating habits can lead to dramatic changes in a reasonably short time.

About It Starts With Food

Disclaimer: I am not a health expert. Please consult your physician prior to starting any radically different nutrition or fitness program.

Dear Reader,

I know I typically write about business books. If you have not figured it out yet, I love reading about business, marketing, social media and so many other business related products (frankly, my obsession with reading everything business related annoys the heck out of my wife). But every once in a while, I try to squeeze in a book on fitness, nutrition or an easy to digest novel.

This week I read a book that can change your life. Yup, I said it. I read a book that will transform the way you think about food, fitness and the way you live your life. It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways was written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and if you have ever struggled with staying in shape, this is the book for you.

Enjoy the review and remember to keep an open mind.

Jason

You have undoubtedly heard of the 80/20 rule. It is not science, but it does seem to play out as a ratio you can count on much of the time. What you will discover as you read It Starts with Food is that eating the right food is probably the 80% issue that you should be focused on if you want to lose weight, rather than spending hours on a treadmill or elliptical.

Enter Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. They are proponents of a Paleo approach to eating. For those of you that are not familiar with Paleo (a.k.a. the caveman diet), you should take a look at The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Yes, both of these books recommend a diet that is based on evolutionary principles. For some folks, the "e" word is not an acceptable way of thinking about our history. I get it. Give the diet a chance and forget about the evolutionary theory behind it.

The first 2/3 of the book is focused on the different roles food plays in your body. The cool thing about Dallas and Melissa's writing is that they have made these super heady topics approachable and fun to read about. There a number of simple sidebars and jests throughout the text that help you stay focused on what really matters.

They go through everything from why the typical diet many of us eat today is causing major issues - obesity, diabetes, heart issues, long-term brain/memory problems, etc. Their diet is simple:

Eat protein at every meal. Include a fair amount of vegetables. Top it off with a serving of paleo-approved fat.

There is a lot more to the diet than this; however, I would suggest that making just these changes can quickly lead to big differences in just about anyone's weight. After years of crappy eating, cutting you diet down to these simple foods will have a positive impact.

I don't want to give you the wrong idea about this important book. It is not just a diet book. It Starts with Food is really about changing how you live your life. This book is about lifestyle and living in a way that is in harmony with who we are, our ancestral past, and counter to everything you have ever learned about nutrition. If you are open minded and ready to make a dramatic change in your life, buy this book.

I started Robb Wolf's plan about a year ago. I combined his program with high intensity, crossfit-like training. In total, I lost about 15 pounds. It was awesome and I have stayed fairly strict since. I am moving into another high intensity training phase and am determined to lose another 10 pounds. This stuff works.

Don't wait until New Year's to start your fitness goals. Pick up a copy of the book and start now. There's no better time!

7 Things You Will Learn

1. What you learned about nutrition in elementary and high school is so not the way to eat. 2. The typical high carb American diet may be the single most important factor that is contributing to our current health crisis. 3. Food quality (where your food came from and how it was made) matters. 4. Habits are incredibly hard to change and big food manufacturers work really hard to keep you hooked on their products. 5. You don't need to weigh and measure everything you eat. 6. Meat, vegetables (a little fruit) and fat are all you need to be eating (good bye nachos...) 7. 30 days is all it will take to get you on the right path to a healthier, happier, more productive life.

About the Authors

Dallas and Melissa know their stuff. Dallas has a degree in anatomy and physiology. Melissa is a certified sports nutritionist. They have owned and operated a fitness facility for a number of years and founded a program called the Whole9 that is focused on teaching people like you and me how to implement this type of nutrition into our lives. You can learn more about them by visiting www.whole9life.com.

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Reading Are you looking for easy ways to speed up your reading? Here's a tip that will help you read faster and learn more in no time - remove distractions.

You have to concentrate if you want to be able to remember what you've read while speed reading. Removing distractions from your physical environment is your key to success.

If you are trying to speed read and and are using your finger to quickly scan through the text, you are essentially forcing your mind to read larger chunks of text at once. Good readers read in chunks. Instead of reading a word (ex. cat), you read 2-3 words simultaneously (ex. the brown cat). Obviously, this latter reading strategy is more efficient than the first. But it also requires your braining to do more.

This is why removing distractions is so important. You will find that a TV or radio planing in the background will completely kill your ability to read quickly and retain what you are reading.

Find a quiet place to read, away from distractions that is well lit, calm and cool. Then hunker down and go at it.

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Pssst. Hey you. Yeah you - the really quiet one in the corner that doesn't want to be bothered. I have a secret for you. There is hope. There is a fantastic book that can help you better understand the difference between introverts and extroverts. It talks about how being an introvert in today's really loud world matters. It's called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (affiliate link).

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Quiet

Who should read this book?

  • Introverts and extroverts can both benefit from reading Quiet
  • Leaders that want to better understand their teams
  • Executives that want to build strong, well-rounded teams
  • Anyone that is looking to build environments where teams can thrive
  • Teachers that are willing to look at different perspectives on learning

Summary

We live in a world that has been taught to love and promote extroverts. We "love" these types of people - the ones that can easily swagger up in front of large group of people and speak without any preparation. They are bold, confident and never at a loss for words. They are the doers, the difference makers, the revolutionaries. Right?

Hold on a minute. There is so much to this story. There is no doubt that we live in a world that places great value on extraversion. However, this is only half the story. Introverts play a vital role in the world and are often the people who quietly make a big difference.

I grew up as a full-fledged introvert. As a kid, I was perfectly happy sitting in my room alone, reading a book, building skyscrapers or rocket ships out of legos and drawing a photo. This has persisted through out my teenage and adult years. I love going for a nice long run or walk alone. Bliss for me is a quiet hike through the hills where no one can be seen for miles around. I love working in a darkened room with music quietly planing in the background. And throughout all this time, I have struggled living in a world where being quiet, shy and bookish never seemed to be valued.

This is where Quiet comes in. Susan is an introvert. She took 7 years out of her life to write a book that talked about the roots of introversion and extraversion; how our education and work environments advantage extroverts and often miss the richness introverts can bring to the game; and why we need to reconsider our approach to collaboration if we really want to build innovative and productive settings for students and employees.

The genius in Susan's writing is that she has written a book about introversion that is meaningful reading for both introverts and extroverts. This is not another self-help book. It is a book full of timely studies, relevant stories and tips that any business person, educator or people-focused organization can use.

If you are open-minded and looking to better understand the diverse people around you, there is no better place to start than by reading Quiet.

4 Important Things You Will Learn

  • Where do introverts and extroverts come from? Susan reveals some pretty interesting findings about how nature and nurture play into the type of person you become.
  • Who are often our best leaders? She makes a darn good case for why introverts might trump extroverts as the best potential leaders for your organization.
  • What types of work environments make for the most productive and creative settings? You might want to rethink that open office space you spent so much money building.
  • What can you do if you are an introvert and trying desperately to be a part of a loud and aggressive world? Start with Susan's personal story. She is a hard-core introvert that has taught herself the art of public speaking (she is very good at what she does).

Learn More

Susan Cain is an amazing woman who is an introvert that has learned to thrive in today's unbalance, extroverted world. You can read more about her at her site. She has also spoken at TED.com. Check out her speech below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

Get it!

You know you want and need this book. Follow this link to buy your copy.

How About You?

  • Have you read Quiet? If so, what are your thoughts on the book?
  • Do you see a difference between introverts and extroverts' performance at your workplace?
  • Do introverts or extroverts make better leaders?
  • How does your work environment match up to or conflict with your level of introversion or extraversion?
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Speed reading Read with a finger, not your lips.

Years ago, I took a speed reading course and the very first thing they taught was that  you must learn to stop verbalizing the words you read on a page. What do I mean by verbalize?

When you see a word, most of us have a tendency to want to actually say the word in our heads or even worse, with our lips. If you do this (and all of us do to some degree) you needn't worry. You are perfectly normal. But you must realize is that this practice slows you down tremendously. What is the quicker alternative?

You want to use your finger as a guide and allow your eyes to quickly follow it across the page. Don't sweep your finger across the page too quickly, but try to go quicker than what you would normally read.

What you are training yourself to do here (and yes, this takes a lot of practice) is reading with your eyes/mind minus the verbalization. You see, when you become an efficient reader, you don't have to sound our words and your mind actually can see an entire word and quickly process it without you ever saying it in your mind. Whoa! What am I saying here?

Let me try that one more time. Your mind is capable of reading more than one word at a time once you become a proficient reader. By using your finger to scan over the page, you are literally training your mind to see sets of words and process them in groups. 

Yes this is for real and yes, with lots of practice, you will find that you can read an enormous amount of material in a very short amount of time (and your comprehension will actually go up).

Don't believe me? Check out this free online service and test this out: http://www.spreeder.com/.

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3DPlatformCover 2 Building an online empire to launch your next product launch, branding effort are simply to be heard is a bigger challenge than most people understand it to be. In his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (amazon affiliate link), Michael Hyatt provides you with a step-by-step guide that will take you into social media stardom.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Who should read this book?

Social media novices and intermediates will benefit alike from Michael's wisdom. However, even the seasoned social expert might find a few gems. Another audience that will benefit from reading Platform is the c-level executive that wants to better understand what social media is all about and how it should fit within the context of today's marketing mix.

Summary

Early in Platform, Michael shares a quote from all-time advertising great David Ogilvy, "Great advertising will only make a product fail faster." This is an important quote because the ideas and techniques he then goes on to share are powerful and if you don't heed this warning and make sure that you have a great product to sell or topic to write about, you will end up only annoying people.

This is an important point to consider long before you read Michael's book. The techniques he shares will help you succeed. He does a fabulous job of establishing why you should invest in your own URL (web address, ex. jwsokol.com) and spend time building a site/blog you own.

He then goes on to share, point-by-point, everything you should do to properly build and run your blog. He covers everything from simple to dos like how to make it easy to subscribe to your blog (the mechanics of blogging) to critical topics like writing great content. He is incredibly generous with what he shares and does not hold back from explaining the good and bad things he personally learned as he built his own blog.

Michael's generosity continues as he goes on to share how to use other social media platforms to then drive traffic back to your blog, engage potential fans and create meaningful relations ships with people around the world. He covers the big social tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (and more).

One other area that Michael covers very well is email. This is an area that seems to get missed in many other social media books I've read. Though some folks may say email is a thing of the past, Michael makes a solid case for why this might be one of your most powerful tools. He then goes on to share how to set up an email database, get people to subscribe and then what to do from there. Don't skip these sections!

I've been blogging and playing with social media for a few years now and I have read my fair share of books on the topic. But I have not read anyone that matches up to the level of generosity that Michael has. He is open about both his successes and mistakes. He refuses to shy away from sharing the most important things he has learned along the way and he does so in a way that only great writers and teachers can do.

3 Important Things You Will Learn

  • You need a home base - You cannot rely on sites like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube as your main stomping ground when attempting to build your social media empire. These sites may or may not be there for the long haul, nor can you have an influence on how the actual owners of these services run them. You need a site/blog you own and can drive readers to.
  • Not all social media is created equal - A common mistake made by both individuals and companies is not understanding that different social media services are meant for different things. For example, Twitter is a great way to share short, timely messages. It is kind of like short form broadcast email. It is a great medium for sharing, but not all that good for selling.
  • How to build a successful blog from start to finish - There is a lot of work that goes into building a successful blog. Michael takes the guesswork out of doing this.

Learn More

MIchael runs one of the best blogs and podcasts around the web. The guy is brilliant (former CEO and successful writer) and I am guessing that you might love his balanced views on how to live a meaningful life. You can learn more about him by visiting his blog, MichaelHyatt.com.

Get it!

You know you want and need this book. Follow this link to purchase your copy.

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Every wondered how you can gain influence in today's over communicated, instant gratification digital world? Are you looking to give your career a boost or launch a new product with the attention it deserves? Look no further than Guy Kawasaki's book, "Enchantment" (amazon affiliate link). Enchantment cover small

Why This Book Matters

I am sure that most of you have heard of a classic business book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. If not, it is definitely worth purchasing and adding to your business book collection. It is a quick read but one that every professional should take to heart. Though it was written many years ago, most, if not all, of Carnegie's recommendations still hold true. But there is a gap.

Carnegie lived in a much simpler time when so much of business was done face to face. There is no way he could have predicted the digital world we now live in. Guy Kawasaki has created a book that is truly the modern world's equivalent of "How to WIn Friends…"

Whether you are working on your personal brand or acting as the publicist for a major Fortune 500 company, Enchantment can serve as a blueprint for how to use today's digital technologies and social media tools to be heard and make a difference.

3 Things You'll Learn

  • How doing something that matters most to you might be the most important part of your future success
  • Why using a little "surprise and delight" can give you an major competitive advantage
  • What tools you can use to help you get the word out and how you can use each one effectively

I Love Guy Kawasaki

I've been reading Guy's books for a while now and they seem to get better with every new book he writes. What is common to all of them is Guy's desire to genuinely help others succeed in a  world that can be a little unforgiving.

Guy happens to be one of the most selfless people around and I hope to have the honor to meet him some day. Guy's twitter feed is great place to start learning more about him.

Follow this link to purchase your copy of "Enchantment."

Your Turn

How are enchanting your coworkers and customers? If you've read "Enchantment," what was the most important thing you learned?

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20120620-232916.jpgIt has been a while since I last posted here. Frankly, I have been busy with work and life. Regardless, I have missed spending time on the blog and have been trying to figure out what I might do to get back into the flow of things and start contributing once again. I have thought a lot about what I might be able to write about that would enhance, rather than hinder, the many things I am currently involved in. One thing that is pretty consistent is my reading. I have to do a ton of reading and research for work. In the past, I found it incredibly valuable to write about and review business books. Not only did writing reviews help me retain info, it served as a way for me to better process what I was reading and apply it to my daily responsibilities.

With this in mind, I will be rebranding and refocusing my efforts. From this point on, I will be writing about the amazing business books I am reading.

My hope is that this will be beneficial for you as a reader and to me as a learner. Hopefully you can learn a few things in a "cliff notes" version of reading a book, while I continue to work on my writing and reading. I'd also love to get your thoughts as I start sharing my own.

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AuthorJason Sokol
CategoriesGeneral

You have to have a website, right? In today's fast paced, on demand, web driven world, having a website is pretty much a given. So I thought it might be fun to quickly cover a few reasons why you should consider getting a website (if you don't already have one) and then turn to a big reason why you simply shouldn't make the plunge. 1. Welcome to the phone book 2.0.

In case no one has told you, phone books are a thing of the past. They have been replaced by these things called websites. Consumers carry these other things around called smart phones and they can look up your website anywhere they go and find out anything you share with them. If you don't have a website, they might not be able to find you.

2. A website provides a relatively inexpensive way to market your business.

Marketing and advertising can get incredibly expensive. If you are outsourcing these capabilities, you are definitely paying a fair chunk of change. If you are doing it yourself, you then have to factor in the your valuable time. Direct mail, print, radio, billboards, cable television - all of these media can quickly add up. The cool thing about having a website is its relative ease of use, low entry cost and potential reach.

3. Your competitor has a pretty cool site.

So should you. Customers are smarter than ever and they spend a fair amount of time online researching, making comparisons and trying to learn more about who they might do business with. If you don't have a site for them to search through, they might just move on.

But...

There is a small, but significant challenge that you should consider before building a website. His one factor should way heavily on your mind and should play into your final decision.

Regularly updated content - we live in the age of immediacy, where any customer can quickly whip out a cell phone and find out just about anything. Getting them to visit your site more than once will require a commitment. You must be willing to either pay some one to write new content or do it yourself. Failure to do this will result in leakage of site visitors and potentially your brick and mortar location.

If you cannot commit to updating your site's contentent at least 2-3 times a week or at a bear minimum of once a week, building a site might not be for you.

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Ever worked on a problem that seemed way too complex with far too many moving parts and just as many opinions all pointing in different directions? There's a secret to winning in this situation. Want to know what it is?

Start somewhere.

That's right. Just do something that make sense and get things moving in a positive direction.

Pick out a small piece of the problem you face and get everyone, including yourself focused on that one item. Then go to work. Be warned, people will stray, but just pull them back in and get them focused on that one initiative. As everyone starts moving along, you can start identifying the next small piece.

Complexity is a Diversion

Ever visited the grocery store, found yourself standing in front of a section of canned vegetables, and not knowing which can of beans you should buy? It doesn't help that there are far too many choices. Bean are beans, but the manufacturers that can the beans don't want you to think that. In the process of trying to get you to buy their beans, they create complexity.

The thing you must understand is that complexity is a diversion. If you want to get things done, you have to look beyond the complexity and do something that moves you in a positive direction. Make a choice and go.

Lesson 1: Don't Get Stuck

It is easy to see a complex problem and want to over think it. You must resist this and the only way to do this is to do something.

Lesson 2: Make Things Easy

If you are running a business or have opportunities to work with customers, you must keep this complexity issue in the forefront of your mind. Don't make things too complicated. Don't give your customers too many options. They might suggest that they want more choices, but resist. If you are building a website, keep you navigation and pages to a minimum. Maybe you are setting goals. If so, tackle them one at a time and don't move onto a new one until you have reached the first one.

Simplify Where You Can

I recently started getting rid of extra stuff (whomever lands at that garage sales will be awfully happy). I cleaned out my closet, got rid of a few unused electronics, donated stuff that I had not used in a long while, etc. I don't miss any of it. More importantly, getting rid of all this stuff has made life much less complicated and I can now focus better than ever.

I did the same thing with my fitness program. I adopted Jim Wendler's approach to fitness (for the most part). Jim's got a pretty simple take on this stuff:

  • Lift heavy weights (time tested, compound lifts for the most part)
  • Walk everyday
  • Sprint 1-2 times a week
I've added in a paleo approach to eating on top of this and am getting great results. The key to all of this is that it is all simple. It is easy to follow, be consistent with, and comply with over the long haul.
How do you approach complex problems? What are you doing to simplify your lifestyle?
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