Posts Tagged Business Books

Book Review: The Business of Winning

Posted by on Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

the-business-of-winningThe Business of Winning by Mark Gallagher is probably the business book I need to defend reviewing the most. It was also the most fun to read. Little known fact, I used to be a massive Formula 1 fan. Even beating the boys in a F1 tipping contest. Unfortunately Australian timezones aren’t conducive to watching races at midnight and holding down a day job. A move to the States didn’t really help either.

Back to The Business of Winning. I pounced on this when it came on NetGalley. Mark Gallagher started off as a reporter covering Formula 1 before moving into PR and comms, before executive management. His 30 year career means he worked with the greats of Ayrton Senna, Murray Walker, Damon Hill, and a fanboy of Michael Schumacher. Shush, I still have a little bit of a crush on Jacques Villeneuve. Schumi favoritism sticks out.

I’m getting off track. Hey, I did warn it was a fun read. This book is actually a hard one to review as a business book. Yes, it’s filled with real examples of the need for communications, and branding and innovation, however it’s much much more than that. It’s probably about 80% memoir and 20% business book. That mix will, unfortunately, be a hindrance to mainstream success. It will definitely limit the audience.

Each chapter has a different focus: leadership, brand, performance management. It’s a chapter of themed memoirs, with bullet points at the end linking the memoirs back to lessons learned. Sometimes I had a little trouble recalling the focus for the chapter, but I did read an unedited proof (thus messy formatting) and was spasmodically reading in between school for the semester and starting a new main gig.

The memoirs and examples are brilliant. Really, I would read this just as a memoir. I loved hearing the behind the scenes of races I watched, and hearing the paddock gossip. It is naturally very Jordan heavy; that’s where Mark spent most of his career. This was also the racing era when I was following, so I loved it for that.

Who is The Business of Winning for?

It’s for F1 fans in business. I’m not sure there’s enough business for anyone else. It’ll be more useful and successful in Europe where there is a decent F1 following. I accept that Seattle won’t get a signing. Darn.

Buy it, read The Business of Winning and tell me if you agree.

And Mark, if you write a book about the time Eddie Irvine was renting your room, I’m buying multiple copies.

Book Review: Dataclysm

Posted by on Sunday, 31 August, 2014

DataclysmDid you hear? Dating site, OKCupid has lied to you; just to see what happens. This headline hit just days after Facebook tried publishing user behavior research in an academic journal. What the journalists seem to have missed was that OKCupid’s co-founder and President Christian Rudder wrote the blog post about some of their findings just before his book, Dataclysm was released. I actually suspect Christian wrote the blog post because of huge backlash Facebook received. After all, a blog post worth of user behavior data is easier to stomach than an entire book.

So what’s Dataclysm like?

It’s an informative, educational look at people and what they do. Is it a scandalous expose? Not really. Will you be surprised by the results? Probably.

Christian takes what comes across as a math nerd’s hobby and turns it into an insightful profile. He has access to gigabytes of offered and acquired data. I know I wouldn’t be able to resist.

I suspect this book has two aims. One, to show what data is available for analysis, and two, to research some behaviors that are difficult to accurately measure. For instance, do men search for gay porn more in liberal states? By the way, no they don’t. Search rates are equal across the country.

Other little snippets are reported from data that extends to Google, Twitter, a job site and more. Academic research also supplements the OKCupid sample, giving a more robust story than just that from a dating site. Some snippets are useful for marketers, such as the fact that people are more likely to reword a Tweet than use abbreviations. However, most of the data is general and an interesting anthropological view.

Christian’s story telling tends to be more pop sociology with simplified English. He does drop just enough research terminology to keep the data nerds happy, but always with translations. Chapter titles like, “Death by a Thousand Mehs” helps grab those who detest math.

The book could be tightened a little with some setting the scene paragraphs being dropped. I do especially like the “end of book philosophical chapter”* that explains how web data analysis is here and should be useful for consumers, but of course needs to be treated cautiously. He quotes the Target case where their data modeling was so accurate they predicted a pregnancy before the woman told her family. Unfortunately the woman was a teen. He’s right though, data analysis is here and really we should embrace it.

Who Is Dataclysm For?

Dataclysm is more of a sociology book than a marketing book. If you’re a marketer wanting to understand the applications of big data, then definitely read this. It won’t help a marketer do their job better. If you’re worried about online privacy and want to understand what is recorded, then definitely read this book. Finally, if you’re just a curious nerd, buy it. My copy was an unedited proof courtesy of NetGalley, without the graph formatting. I now have to wait until it’s released next week to buy a full copy.

Book Review: Human to Human

Posted by on Wednesday, 6 August, 2014

Human-to-HumanThere was nothing profound in Human to Human: #H2H. There was nothing even new, and that’s the way it should be. Human to Human: #H2H by Bryan Kramer is the hot business book of the summer.

For the few of you who haven’t heard about Human to Human or seen the #H2H tweets, it’s a book dispelling the B2B and B2C sales concepts. After all, we’re all humans.

Those who know me are familiar with my rants on this. I can’t recall if I’ve mention it on here, but I kind of, may have, rudely called people out-of-date when they’ve suggested we need to have B2B or B2C focuses. Now I can just send them the link to this book and be done with it.

For an example, here’s the introduction:

“Communication shouldn’t be complicated. It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, every one of which has spent time in bot he dark and delightful parts of life.

That’s human to human.”

In a short 68 pages, Bryan explains why. Using recent and public cases, and even one of his own projects that went astray, he describes human behavior and what we need to do as communicators and marketers to appeal to our audiences, regardless of their segment.

Short videos embedded through the ebook have experts explaining their experiences. If you’re like me and don’t like video, you won’t lose anything by skipping them, but you will gain a lot from watching them. I didn’t make many notes through #H2H (it is rather short and reinforced my existing beliefs) but these did stand out:

  • “we all need to speak more human”
  • lines between B2C and B2B are blurred (paraphrased)
  • context and understanding your audience
  • rules of social context

Yes, once again my notes make no sense on their own.

Who is Human to Human: #H2H for?

Any marketer or communicator that needs a reminder that they’re appealing to humans, irrespective of the purchase context. Oh, and all who need a kick up the butt to get up to speed.

Go, read it now. You’ll regret it otherwise.

Book Review: The Year Without Pants

Posted by on Saturday, 8 February, 2014

year-without-pantsI’m not sure if it was a blessing or a curse to read The Year Without Pants reviews on GoodReads while mid-read. The reviews are mixed. Many hate the book. Some love it. I’m not sure how many get it.

The Year Without Pants isn’t your typical business book. Author Scott Burkun wondered if he could walk the talk. It was several years and four books since he left a management role with Microsoft. So, he took a job with WordPress and wrote this book on leadership, productivity and work. It’s part memoir, part business book. Scott describes it as participatory journalism.

If you’re not aware, Automattic, the company behind WordPress operates with a 100% remote workforce. Not only that, they’re successful enough to run 21.4% of the world’s websites. I’ve been running sites on WordPress for many years and heard Scott speak at WordCamp 2013. This little fan girl was excited to read this book, and annoyed that life got in the way from a quick read.

Was I disappointed? Not a chance. I loved the inside stories of the product I was using. So many moments of “ooh, I love that plug-in” and “awww, baby-sized JetPack”. I actually had to drop half my post-its from this review because they were pointing out great examples of teamwork and process I want to implement, not if this is a good business book or not.

So Is It a Good Business Book?

Yes. It is. It’s not as straight forward as something by Philip Kotler, but it’s more entertaining and useful. And contains more drinking stories. The hits and hindrances of leading a much-younger team, whom you only see face-to-face a couple of times a year will help many as this becomes our norm. There are also great quotes like, “safeguards don’t make you safe, they make you lazy”, and “morale isn’t an event, it’s the accumulated goodwill people build through work together”.

Overall, The Year Without Pants is an honest and open look at leadership tactics being put into practice, thorns and all. Just remember while you’re reading this, it’s Scott’s story, not an instruction manual. Learn from his experiences, not his examples.

Book Review: Klout Matters

Posted by on Sunday, 22 December, 2013

Klout_MattersKlout Matters (Gina Carr and Terry Brock) is as close as you can get to a book-sized advertisement for Klout, without it being written by Klout.

If you’re wanting to know how to game your Klout score, then this is the book for you. Yes, I went there. Despite how many times the authors claim you can’t and they’re not instructing how to game Klout, this is a book how to game your Klout score.

The authors want this book to be a fair, definitive guide to Klout. There’s even an entire chapter on Klout’s shortcomings. It’s towards the back and positioned as their wishlist for development. Despite my personal dislike of Klout, I’m trying to be fair in this review. Author bias aside, there’s one major flaw with this book, the editing. I’m not sure any was done. My copy was a pre-release from NetGalley, a few days before its official release, so I can excuse the switching between podcast and pod-cast. I can’t excuse the inconsistent claims and weak narrative.

With some editing, this could be great. I’m afraid many would put it down before getting to chapter four and discovering why a Klout score is important or relevant. Also, mid-way through we’re told we must be content creators, but later we’re told to be expert content curators. Which is it? Personally, I think a mix. I’m also not sure who the book is targeting. It’s 90% at individuals for personal branding, but then a random corporate reference appears.

The marketing concepts are also a tad dated. Audiences and targeting are rarely mentioned, even within the tips on using social media to increase your Klout score. Chapter ten is definitely the most useful. It discusses getting to know your key influencers, putting value first, and, amusingly, that it’s not all about your Klout score.

Who is Klout Matters for?

This is tough. Probably people who are wanting a numeric score as a trophy, and are trying for freebies from companies. Not marketers who are wanting to see if Klout is relevant for their brands.

If there’s a second edition, with some strong editing, Klout Matters can be a useful book. Assuming Klout still has clout.