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Book Reviews

Scientific Advertising

Actually, that title is false advertising, at least a little bit.

It’s really a double feature: Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising AND My Life in Advertising, which is Hopkins’ autobiography.

Scientific Advertising is one of the classics that anyone who has marketing responsibilities should have read by now. It’s not like you havent had the time, as it was written in 1923.

Ask anyone in the direct marketing world (the world where they actually TEST for results) and they will all tell you that this is one of the books that they’d grab if their house was on fire. Isn’t that enough?

Here are a few things he invented: coupon sampling, copy research and testing, test marketing.

And David Ogilvy, one of the legends of advertising? All he had to say about this book was this: “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Just because it’s 80+ years old does not mean it should be dismissed to the Old Books’ Home. Marketing in the early 1900s was a lot harder than it is now. No internet. No phone. No tv. No radio. Newspaper and direct mail was about it, so it had to work. The strategies taught in this book are the things that worked back then, and still work now.

Put it on your short list of books to read sooner, rather than later.

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Book Reviews

Raving Fans

Ken Blanchard’s Raving Fans prompts you to ask yourself: “How can I afford not to offer amazing service that no one else offers?”

Some might typically ask, “Why would I do <whatever>, when no one else is?”  Earl Nightingale has a great answer to that, but we’ll hit that some other time.

So how can you afford not to offer amazing service that no one else offers? That’s the question that Raving Fans prompts you to dig into, and offers 3 strategies for getting there:

  • Decide What You Want
  • Discover what the customer wants
  • Deliver Plus One.

I wont give the details away, you have to work a little by reading the book:)

Really though, the most important thing this book does is make you ask yourself what else you can do to make doing business with you a simply amazing, and ADDICTING experience so that you won’t want to go anyplace else.

A quick read that shouldn’t be dismissed. There’s some real value here, IF you take some action and use it.

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Book Reviews

What Clients Love

Harry Beckwith’s 3rd book is called “What Clients Love – A field guide to growing your business”.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, it’s a really quick, easy read because they are often lessons (or advice) illustrated by short anecdotes. The books are small in size so they make for great travel reading as well.

But that’s not the real value. The real value is in the lessons/advice Harry gives out. While there are a few things I disagreed with, I found most of the book provoking new ideas about how I do things and how I can change, fix, tweak them. While I do that pretty much every day anyhow, it’s great to have a fresh set of eyes to give you a few more ideas.

I dogear’d a whole bunch of pages in this one. If nothing else, it’ll generate a lot of blog posts as I go back over the dogear’d pages. Recommended.

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Book Reviews Competition The Slight Edge

E-Myth

I find it a little hard to believe that I hadn’t included this in my must-read list, but sure enough, it wasn’t there.

Michael Gerber’s E-Myth describes the benefits and process of getting those mindless trivial tasks in your business under control. You know, the ones that suck up the hours and have you doing things that someone else should be doing? Yeah, those.

The ones that you just know you can perform better than anyone else. As if its important that you load the packing tape gun jusssssst right.

In a few respects, it takes a McDonald’s-esque look at your business. Identify and document every process so that a new employee could do immediately (or at least…soon). If the task involves a computer, go click by click. If the task involves manual labor, document every step. No assumptions. Leave nothing out.

Make sure every staffer has a copy. Keep it up to date. Set the expectation that the processes will be used as documented, and if they aren’t, fix the documentation or fix the process.

Give a copy to every new employee. Set the expectation to learn and use it.

Why go to all this trouble?

So you can get some real work done. So your people can get their work done without bugging the crud out of you.

So you can leave town for a week and not get 27 cell calls each day asking inane questions like “where is the mailbox key”, “how do I turn on the alarm before I leave” and “how do I backup our critical data?” (as if anyone knows you even do this…and you DO do this, right?)

And most importantly, so you can focus on what’s important in your business.

Think about how easy it would be to train a new employee and get them moving in the right direction (ie: positive ROI) if you had their job processes documented, step by step.

There are a few things that you don’t want to do after reading the E-Myth:

1) Assume that the book will run the place. It wont. What gets measured, gets managed. The book simply tells how things should be done, it doesnt get up and kick people into gear.

2) Turn your business into a McDonald’s. Gerber uses McD’s as the example, not as the be-all, end-all of small businesses. The key to his McD example is that the steps are documented and used. Not that you want to turn your business into an faceless (and smelly) automaton run by 16 year olds.

3) Pick apart every little conflict in the book like some of the reviewers at Amazon do. Wonder how many of them actually USE what they read? Take what works and use it and move on. This process works, but only if you use it.

4) Read the book every time you perform a task. It teaches the process and provides a reference to new employees, temp employees and those of us who might have a brain fart when we need to do something that we havent done in a month or two.

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Book Reviews

The Radical Leap – Steve Farber

This one is on my “re-read annually” list. Written a bit like a mystery story, it sneaks up on you. You think you’re flying through an easy-to-read mystery wrapped around a business book, but the story of E.G. Maritime and Sons gets you in the end.

Ideal for any leader, wanna-be leader, business owner or entrepreneur, it boils what the author calls “Extreme Leadership” down to 4 things, which are covered in the LEAP acronym: cultivate LOVE, generate ENERGY, inspire AUDACITY and provide PROOF.

I know, I know. It sounds like something you might hear on Oprah (by the way, Oprah is a billionaire, so don’t think too little of her). The author is a former Tom Peters VP, so he’s seen a few great leaders in his day.

12 bucks. Can’t go wrong. I didnt dog ear this one because the entire supplement at the end is one big ear.

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Book Reviews

Thick Face, Black Heart – Chin-Ning Chu

Thick Face, Black Heart – The warrior philosophy for conquering the challenges of business and life
by Chin-Ning Chu

A bad habit of mine (or good, depending on your outlook) is that I don’t buy books when I’m ready to read them. I buy them (or put them on my Amazon wish list) when I find them. They then go on the “unread books” bookshelf in my office, where they will get pulled the next time I need a book, or the next time I have to fly somewhere, or go camping, etc.

So as you might expect, this is one of those books I bought on a recommendation over a year ago and am just now getting around to reading it.

Holy cow I’m ticked off at myself. Along the lines of Psychocybernetics or The Power of Focus, I CANT BELIEVE I’m just now getting around to reading Thick Face, Black Heart. Yes, its another book that Kennedy and Ken McCarthy recommended to me. The book is written by an American immigrant who grew up in China, and now acts as a consultant to businesses who want to do business in Asia, as well as to Asian businesses.

The gist of the title is this:

Thick Face is about the Asian trait of being stoic, unflappable – at least publicly and having a thick skin, although its substantially more than that. It’s about the necessity to be unconcerned about what others say, think and feel about what you do and how you do it. A better way to state this is “immune to criticism”. For example, you may use a 48 step marketing program to grow your business including mailings, phone calls, faxes, boxes of stuff, etc. Your friends, competition, employees, and spouse may think what you do is stupid, ridiculous, outrageous etc – but if it WORKS, you have to be immune to criticism.

An example that always pops up to me is Dan’s reasoning for never using evaluation forms when he speaks. His angle on it is that his level of skill and demonstrated success after 25+ years in platform speaking is that he is at the point where the only people who can offer criticism that HE CARES ABOUT are people who are at his skill level speaking-wise, so why bother passing out an eval to people who have never spoken and dont even understand why he does and says what he does and how he does it.

To put it in more basic terms, would Donald Trump ask you or I to offer criticism about his ability to invest in real estate? If we offered our opinion, would he care? No. Warren Buffett probably has the same feelings about our thoughts about his investing prowess. We simply aren’t qualified to criticize, so they don’t even seek our input.

Black Heart is about being ruthless about the pursuit of your goals. Doesnt mean running over people in the crosswalk, but simply unrelenting and unstoppable when chasing after goals, deadlines, milestones, projects, etc. If you play, play to win. The author makes several references to the Art of War and related publications, which also address this topic.

A must read. Definitely on my re-read annually list.

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Book Reviews

Referral of a Lifetime – Tim Templeton

Referral of a Lifetime – Tim Templeton

130 pages of pure gold for the burned-out cold caller who is struggling for business, perhaps not sure that they are doing what they enjoy and last but not least – broke. As with many things I read, it is a great reminder that you should be sending your printed newsletter to every business acquaintance (at least) that you have, even if they have no need for your services. If you don’t have a staff, or your staff is busy doing more important work, you may wish to check out our Ready4You newsletter service (link to page). You really shouldn’t be doing this yourself. I don’t.

A handful or 2 of dogears, with the best being something that far too many people do. Page 48, Paul talks about “letting business happen to him”. That speaks to the newsletter nagging I do, the reminders to do lead generation vs the failed only-works-in-the-movies “if we build it, they will come” strategy that is the primary cause of the Going Out Of Business signs we all see with too much regularity.

DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that this sort of thing is only for people in car sales, realtors and mortgage brokers. It’s for ANYBODY.

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Book Reviews

Would you rather your customers were satisfied or loyal? How about your WIFE?

When I saw Jeffrey Gitomer speak in Spokane a few years ago, his normal level of brash interaction with the crowd was typical for him: laced with his New Jersey style shtick and humor. He’s a funny guy, but he’s always making a point with his humor.

At one point, he asked the crowd if they would rather their customers be satisfied or loyal. About half the crowd raised their hands for each. Then he asked the crowd, “Would you rather your spouse was satisfied or loyal?”

Amid lots of laughter, he made his point.

That’s the focus of “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless”.

Gitomer’s books are always an easy, quick, entertaining read – and they’re always worth the price of admission. You may not like Jeffrey’s New Jersey style humor, but you cant argue with his success, nor his ability to get a point across about sales and customer service.

I stumbled across Jeffrey in the airport a while ago, and in person at the luggage carousel, he’s no different than in front of a crowd. Funny, yet sincere, you know he wants you to succeed. Pick up a copy and pass it around to your staff, or buy each of them a copy. You’ll be happy you did and so will your customers.

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Book Reviews

Never Eat Alone

A quick, easy read, Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone” covers a slew of great tips for not just being another guy tossing business cards around with a leaf blower, but truly getting and giving value from from networking efforts. Certainly, the importance of networking and nurturing business relationships is known to anyone with a little common sense, but Ferrazzi’s rapid climb in the “big time” consulting world is worthy of watching and looking for little takeaways to improve your ability to not only network, but be a better resource for those you network with.
Lots of dogears in this one, though not as many as “Focus” and “Execution”.

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Book Reviews

Execution – The discipline of getting things done

Larry Bossidy’s stories of the struggles to maintain the focus and discipline of execution at GE, Honeywell and elsewhere hit home. What was particularly interesting to me were the anecdotes about EDS, given that I worked there before GM bought EDS and continued to work there during the adjustment period when it seemed like 75% of the company was moving to Detroit.

Anyone who was paying attention during the subsequent years and saw what GM did to EDS was not surprised to see them pitch Ross off of the board. You see, Ross’s lips never saw a backside, and with good reason – and that just wasnt how the board did business. So…EDS lost focus, their execution suffered, as did their stock. Oddly enough, several years later when Brown was brought on as CEO to turn things around, the story in Fast Company about his efforts motivated me to email him about my experiences at EDS. Amazingly, he actually replied in prompt fashion, and not with a canned response from his admin.
Back to the story at hand, this book is right up there with “The Power of Focus” in the dogear department. It might be easier to count the pages that I didnt dogear. Its a very easy read, primarily because its about the stories of the experiences of the authors, rather than a dry management treatise or a touchy-feely discussion that we so often find.
One of the interesting (and perhaps rewarding in a pathetic way) things about this book besides the laundry list of strategies for becoming and STAYING more productive is the perspective of the C-class exec at major corporations like General Electric (GE), Honeywell and EDS (Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems) who struggles with the same things that entrepreneurs struggle with. Feels a little better to know that it isnt just kitchen table entrepreneurs that have to work on the discipline of execution:)

Yes, I know its not Ross Perot’s EDS anymore, but I worked there when it was, so it’ll always be that for me…

Just get it. A very good read. Not at all dry, and full of quality takeaways that you can put to use.