Category Archives: Book Reviews

How to Become Indispensable?

Critics say that Linchpin is Seth Godin’s most passionate book and I have to agree. First, he reveals that “there are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.” Linchpins who hold meaningful jobs don’t just follow orders. They add creativity-filled innovation and thus, create art.

Seth shows how to free people so they can become artists, which means creators of unique and compelling value. It does not matter what these individuals do for living. It’s the attitude that matters. Linchpin’s drive and passion make it possible to create art every day.

If people can become artists, “they will rise to a level you can’t even imagine. When people realize that they are not an easily replaceable commodity….they produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money …” People crave connection and respect.

As an individual, you can’t become a linchpin merely because you are different.

Linchpin is a most unusual, thought-provoking and concise book about becoming indispensable, whether you work for someone else or are self-employed. Godin’s principles can be applied to other aspects of life. Linchpins can be spouses, friends and community members. They can be indispensable in many ways.

Godin says that if you want customers to flock to you, it’s tempting to race to the bottom of the price chart. There’s plenty of room there, but the only way to win is to race to the top.

Are you indispensable? Do you create art?

How to Become a Good Leader – Should You Learn Acting First?

It takes Warren Bennis 480 pages to describe leadership, compare it to acting, and tie together the three pathways to becoming a great leader.  Bennis, a UCLA management professor, has many stories to tell.

He points out that leaders have the ability to draw together a fragmented public, be it on the radio, television or in person.

Bennis quotes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as he says, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” He cautions the reader not to assume these three paths get equal traffic.

Most leaders, he says, achieve greatness when a role requiring it is thrust upon them.  Bennis compares leadership with show business again when he says actors and directors may feel a role is too big for them. It is a feeling many leaders are familiar with. But the leader’s leap into the unknown and accepting the risk of failure, is the first step in becoming great.

Like great actors, great leaders create and sell an alternative vision of the world, a better one in which we are an essential part.  He says leadership may be “the greatest performing art of all, the only one that creates institutions of lasting value that can endure long after the stars who envisioned them have left the theater.”

The Essential Bennis by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ware Biederman, Jossey-Bass, 480 pages, April 2009.

From Purple Cows to Tribes and Free Prizes – Seth Godin Has Mastered Edgecraft

Cover of "Free Prize Inside"

Cover of Free Prize Inside

In his book, Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin points out that innovation is cheaper than advertising.  He defines the “free prize” as that extra, edgy product feature. His examples include swatch watches, frequent flyer miles, Tupperware parties, and portable shredding trucks. Design and style matter, he says.

One chapter describes how brainstorming can become boring. His alternative, “edgecraft,” involves analytical thinking to add something remarkable to a product.  His laundry list of edges includes safety, invisibility, and hours of operation. Much of the book deals with how to sell great innovative ideas to the VIPs of any given company.

Purple Cow taught marketers the importance of standing out from the crowd. But it left readers wondering how to come up with new purple cows.

Free Prize Inside delivers answers.

Godin says that if a product satisfies and gets consumers to tell other people what you want them to tell other people, it’s not a gimmick. It’s an experience worth talking about. It’s a soft innovation.

Anne Fisher of Fortune has told that Godin is a “guru you’d love to discount because he seems so cocky, but it’s hard to do because he’s so rarely wrong.”

I love  Seth Godin’s books, as they are always thought provoking, insightful,
unusual, edgy, non-academic and inspirational.

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Small Businesses Can Also Experience Rebirth

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and coauthor of Built to Last, now tells us why even great companies can fail and how some survive and thrive after coming close to disaster.

In his new book, How the Mighty Fall,how-mighty-fall-why-some-companies-never-give-jim-collins-hardcover-cover-art Collins offers leaders the hope that they reverse their course when they are failing.  He says every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. Any of them can fail and most eventually do. But some companies recover and become stronger.

Collins gives these stages of decline.

Stage 1.Complacency – know why specific things are a success and under what conditions they will no longer work. Good leaders realize that luck has played a role in their success and don’t become convinced that they personally were responsible for it.

Stage 2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Do not neglect negative data and put a positive spin on ambiguous factors.

Stage 4. Grasping for salvation – lurching into a new area or product rather than getting back to the discipline that brought success in the first place.

Stage 5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. The longer a company grasps for silver bullets, the more likely it is that it will continue the downward spiral.

To survive and thrive, companies need to listen to customers in an unemotional way. They should tune in to the customer experience. As long as they can avoid getting entirely knocked out of the game, hope remains.

How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins, published by Jim Collins, 240 pages,

Small Business Advice, Found at Barnes and Noble

differentiate.JPGOur family likes to hang out at Barnes and Noble.  I am happy my kids still prefer books to video games. Today we stopped at our favorite hangout again.  While my husband and kids enjoyed delicious hot chocolate and cookies, I checked out some business books I had not seen before, including Small Business Bible: Second Edition by Steven D. Strauss.

Marketing to small business owners differs from marketing to non-profit organizations, but here it was, black on white, the list of suggestions to keep in mind when dealing with small business owners:

Small business owners buy when the pains get too great to bear.

You have to put your product or services in front of the owner again and again – when the time of pain comes – you will be the one he/she remembers.

Small business owners don’t want to be bothered – so get down to business and benefits.

Small busineess owners don’t want to be sold, therefore your job is to educate them, without a heavy hand.  Lead them to the water – when they are ready, they will drink form your well.

Time and money are huge considerations – explain how your product and service saves time and money as well as makes your prospect’s life easier.

Small business owners dream of reducing the risk. Show them that your product or service carries little risk.

Do You Have “The Knack?” – Question To Small Business Owners

The Duct Tape Marketing Coaching Excellence Series featured Brodsky and Burlingham today.


Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham, two of Inc. magazine’s popular columnists,  talked about their book “The Knack”.  Their advice mixes common sense, street smarts and pragmatism. Here are some points to remember:

  • Life plan should be in sync with your business plan.  Be flexible enough to make changes if necessary.
  • Have a set of long and short term goals for yourself and your business.
  • Numbers run a business – get a handle on your finances.  Understand why gross margin matters.
  • Keep in mind – sale does not occur until you collect the money.
  • Short term assets should always exceed short term liabilities.
  • No friends in business – make decisions that are best for your business.  Take emotion out of decision making process. This does not mean that you don’t care about the people you work with.
  • Treat true competitors with respect.  You get nowhere by badmouthing them.
  • Explain why you are better/different without putting your competitors down.
  • Culture drives a company.  We don’t necessarily start out with a written statement that sets our company culture.
  • CEO should take responsibility for your company culture,  otherwise you may end up having several different cultures.   Company culture  is company’s soul.
  •  Don’t be wasteful.  Have enough cash on hand to get your company through hard times.


Will One Minute Treatment Help You Become A Smarter Entrepreneur?


Ken Blanchard, author of the famous One Minute Manager, got support from Don Hutson and Ethan Willis to create his book, The One Minute Entrepreneur.

Most people who start a small business fail within 10 years, say the authors.  Readers find a simple map to success. Some advice is short and to-the-point, and some common sense advice they share you’ve heard before, but it still works.

The authors describe 20 key attributes of a successful entrepreneur. I find the following five they have included to be essential.

Resourceful – In my experience successful entrepreneurs find ways to get through difficult times, constantly learn new skills and improve their self-reliance.  They practice patience and come up with new ways to open doors that have been slammed shut in their face.

Visionary – Vision-inspired focused small business owners WILL find success. They don’t get discouraged by numbers and inspire people around them.

Optimistic – Future may not seem so bright for some small business owners right now, but they have to show up and motivate others.

Strategic -Clarity of direction will lead to smart decisions, learning to let go and working smart.

Team oriented – That’s how smart entrepreneurs earn the commitment of their people and the loyalty of their customers. Successful leaders always help other people grow.

The goal of writing this book must have been helping people discover their entrepreneurial strengths.  Entrepreneurs must learn to commit to success one step at a time.

The One Minute Entrepreneur: The Secret to Creating and Sustaining a Successful Business, Currency/Doubleday, 139 pages.

Content is King, President and Pope

newrulesofmarketing.jpgI just finished re-reading an excellent book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Some stuffy PR guys would probably like to challenge the contents of this book as it does not promote the old truths of PR and marketing. David Meerman Scott has focused on explaining the world of opportunities that have opened up for aspiring journalists, marketers and small business owners via web-based tools and services. Free or low cost applications such as blogs, podcasts and social networking tools such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are changing the old rules. Niche buyers can be reached with targeted messages that cost a fraction of big-budget advertising campaign. In addition, these marketing efforts often allow instant feedback and measurable results, so the “train can be stopped much sooner when it’s headed to the wrong direction”.

One-way interruption does not work as well as it used to. Instead, marketers have to create a dialogue with potential buyers and deliver useful content at the moment their prospects, buyers or constituents need it.

Readers learn that online marketing is not about pretty websites either. Per Meerman Scott, content is not only KING, but President and Pope as well. The key to interesting and entertaining content is the collaboration between the different departments of the organization. Websites cannot be stale either – content needs to be fresh and the reactions of the visitors should be measured and analyzed, so the content can be improved. I agree with all these points as I prefer information rich blogs and websites to flashy and design driven sites.

Here are some steps David Meerman Scott suggests for creating thoughtful content. These steps apply to websites and all social media tools in my opinion.

  1. Do not focus on writing primarily about your company and products. Content should be designed to solve buyer problems or answer questions.

  2. Define your organizational goals before you design your website.

  3. Based on your goals, decide whether you want to provide the content for free without any registration, or you want to include some kind of registration mechanism (much lower response rates).

  4. Think like a publisher. Consider buyer personas.

  5. Write for your audience. Use examples and stories, make it interesting.

  6. Choose a great title that grabs attention.

  7. Promote the effort like crazy. Offer the content with easy-to-find links.

  8. Alert appropriate bloggers, reporters and analysts that the content is available and send them a download link.

What is the main reason I like The New Rules of PR and Marketing?

It gives easy to read instructions on how to become a thought leader while remaining authentic and transparent. No need to pay a top dollar to reach your audience if you have expertise, find your voice, target a specific group of people and keep improving your skills.

Educate, entertain and motivate!

How To Read A Business Book

I tend to read through several reviews before I purchase or read a book. Very often I rely on my friends’ opinions before I spend my valuable time.

Here’s the summary of Seth Godin‘s suggestions on reading a business book:

1. Decide to change three things about what you do at work. The goal of the reading should be to persuade you to change, it should help you choose what to change.

2. Go ahead and make your reading productive. Take notes, create marching orders. If after three weeks you haven’t taken action on what you’ve written down, you wasted your time.

3. The best use of a business book is to help someone else. You should share what you read, hand the book to a person who needs it. A book is a souvenir and a container and a motivator and an easily leveraged tool. Hoarding books makes them worth less, not more.


I have read some good books recently, have taken notes. According to Seth’s suggestions, I have to take action soon as the clock is ticking!

Here are some business books small business owners may find interesting:

How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner and Still Have a Life, Paperback by Bill Collier

Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of The Pack by Donna Fenn

Book Reviews: Is the Pursuit of Happiness Overrated?

If we stacked up all the books on how to be happy, the pile might reach into the stratosphere.

Professor Eric G. Wilson says the ideology of constant happiness has people in its grip. In his book, Against Happiness, he says many people read self-help manuals, watch feel-good TV, eat comfort food and pop pills, all to avoid the blues that are an inevitable part of the human condition.

Cherishing our melancholy, he says, lets us absorb the insight it provides. We should feel what we must feel: insecurity, shock, turbulence, anxiety and grief. These experiences introduce us to the beauty of the world with all its indifference.

In his 2007 book, The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder, New York University’s Jerome Wakefield says feeling down after your heart is broken, even so down that you meet the criteria for clinical depression, is normal. But today’s sufferers want a pill instead of learning from the situation.

There is one problem with acknowledging sadness and depression: often times you get no sympathy. Friends and co-workers just want you to snap out of it. Take a pill!

Don’t get me wrong, – I am an optimist and I love to be around happy people. I enjoy doing business with happy people. At the same I like sincere individuals who admit to having difficult times now and then. Experiencing grief often opens our eyes to understanding other people’s misery.

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