Posts Tagged Business Books

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.

Some Great Marketing Books To Fill The Time

Posted by on Tuesday, 24 May, 2011

As you’ve seen, my commitment to weekly blogs hasn’t been going that well. It’s all for a good purpose though. I’m working on IABC/Seattle‘s new WordPress site. It will be live in a few weeks and I’ll be back to normal programming.

In the meanwhile, here are a few of the marketing and business books I’ve either read recently or are on my shelf waiting to be read. Reviews will be coming soon, but don’t let that stop you starting on them now.

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki (can you see the trend here?)

Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz

Have you read a great business or marketing book recently? Share it in the comments.

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis

Posted by on Friday, 29 January, 2010

What-would-google-doThe business world has been changed by the internet. Consumers can jump online and in five minutes publish a video blog (vlog) detailing poor customer service. Give them another 30 seconds and the vlog has been sent to to 126 Twitter followers. A further 30 seconds and it’s with 130 facebook friends. If 10% of those people share the link, that’s potentially 6,656 people hearing of the bad experience in under 10 minutes.

Jeff Jarvis’s book What Would Google Do? (Amazon, Dymocks) looks at this reallocation of control from corporation to consumer and how you can use the same tools and tactics in your business.

While the book’s title suggest following Google’s lead (following the What Would Jesus Do? movement on the 90s) it’s really all about openness and transparency in business and our lives, and how to work with it.

The book details some excellent case studies, such as Dell Computers and Starbucks Coffee. It does fall down in the second part (of three) when the author attempts to “Google-ize” a range of industries, some of which shouldn’t have the level of transparency or user input Jarvis demands. It picks up again in the final part, allowing you to forgive his pontifications.

I totally recommend this for anyone needing to get a handle on the way business has changed or just to get some case studies of where transparency has worked.

Thanks to Davinia Khong for her help with this review. I had to leave my copy of What Would Google Do? in Melbourne, so she is my researcher.