Blog Archives: Reading

Review: The Thank You Economy (@TYEBook) – @garyvee

Rating: 5 stars. The Thank You Economy (TYE) is a smart, useful and compelling book about the benefits of a cultural shift for your business. Gary convinces us that the long-term strategy for every business involves OUT CARING the competition. By being the most caring, the most surprising, the most delighting business out there, you will win customers, employees and everything in between. I highly recommend you read this and buy a copy for your CEO, especially if you’re running a business or involved in a stagnant one.

Gary has put a lot of great effort into writing TYE and has created, not only an inspiring viewpoint for a change in culture, but, an impeccable reference tool with proof and evidence for every point he makes. Gary has chosen amazing real-world-examples to demonstrate his opinions and arguments.

The over arching theme in the TYE is that the future of every business depends on their attitude toward their customers. In a world where customers are inextricably and publicly linked, and news and opinions can spread like wild fire, businesses must delight and surprise customers rather than treat them as “just another sale”. The great thing about the world that businesses now operate in, is that the tools to do this one-on-one “delighting” are openly and freely available to them. There are no excuses for ignoring your customers.

Gary emphasises persistently that every brand must be creative in everything they do. Out-of-the-box thinking and campaigning, continuous innovating, is the only way to consistently delight your customers and OUT CARE the competition. It is also very important to innovate quickly, and try be the first to market. Doing so will help keep you ahead of the game.

I suppose the most important paradigm is attitude. None of this is possible in the long-run if you and your business do not have the right culture. It is your job as the CEO to instil a culture of care in your organisation, in your employees and in every interaction that takes place between your customers and your brand. Trusting employees and giving them the freedom and resources to delight is empowering for them and inspires them to work towards the vision. It also crowd-sources the creative marketing work you need to delight your customers. Work from the top, empower your employees and inspire a culture of CARE in your company and everything will work in your favour in the long-run.

Utilise both traditional media and social media to execute your campaigns. Using them both creatively can be powerful. Gary suggests that by using social media to back up traditional campaigns and continue the conversation can enhance the emotion your customers attach to your brand. I couldn’t agree more with this suggestion. Using Facebook, Twitter and other digital tools to continue the conversation with your customers, builds relationships, trust and a bond that competitors cannot contend with.

I urge every business leader to consider this new culture, this philosophy. Out-caring your competitors shows your customers (and employees) that you give a damn. This will make them loyal, make them feel a part of a community and grow a strong business for the future. Consistently delighting and innovating is vital to keeping your brand in the forefront of your customers’ minds. But it couldn’t be any easier than right now, with the tools available to you.

What is your business doing to change face with your customers? Please let us know about what you’re doing by posting a comment below.

Review: Think And Grow Rich – Napolean Hill

Rating: 4.5 stars. This was a great, serious read. I gathered some great insights and learned a load about things I do and shouldn’t and things I don’t do and should – to be successful. This is a comprehensive argument and guide to being successful. My only issue with this book is that it is outdated – however EVERY lesson is true and worthwhile reading. I highly recommend this book. You can buy it from The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide).

This was a great read that I found quite hard to put down, even though I have been very busy. Napoleon Hill after years of research, thousands of interviews with America’s richest and most powerful leaders and a lot of time to think, reasons that there are 13 steps to being successful. Here they are with my take on them:

  1. Desire – Having something you really want to achieve, earn, buy or find is key in the long run. It gives you a target to aim at, something to think about when you need motivation, and most of all the end point of a journey. This is the starting point in your journey to success. What do you want?
  2. Faith - Knowing what you want and believing you can achieve it is paramount to success. 99% of people will bash your goals and be nay-sayers. You need to believe in yourself and your goals to keep motivated in your journey to success. Thinking positively, visualising yourself achieving your goals is also very important. Do this often and you may trick yourself into believing! Are you self-confident and believe in your vision?
  3. Auto-suggestion – Train your mind. Repeatedly and systematically think and meditate about your goals. Consistently bringing your desire to the forefront of your mind will help you see the opportunities available to you, train your subconscious, filter out negativity and make you strong in your desires. Do you take 5 minutes out every day to think about your mission?
  4. Specialised Knowledge – Read, talk about, learn about as much as you can. But that is not enough, learn to apply and use this information. Information is not knowledge until you know how to use it. Do you take the time to think about what you learned every day?
  5. Imagination – Test your mind, search for problems, imagine solutions. Most importantly when you believe you have a solution, BELIEVE you have the solution. Be confident and definite in your ideas and your plan to execute them. Have you come up with ideas and stuck with them?
  6. Organised Planning – Take your desire, your ideas and cement them in a plan to take action. Make sure you are comprehensive in detailing your plan, write it down, tell people about it, make yourself accountable. It’s not good enough to have an idea, work out how you will execute it, and then make sure there are fail safes to keep you on queue. Have you written down your plan of action yet?
  7. Decision – Be decisive. Whenever you have to make a choice, do your research, make a decision, stick with it and do this all very quickly and efficiently. Indecision leads to problems, distrust, lack of confidence from those around you and problems just keep getting bigger. Being decisive makes sure you don’t procrastinate. Are you being decisive?
  8. Persistence – ALWAYS stick to the plan, do not be swayed by obstacles and negative people, be confident in yourself and Go! Go! Go! The secret to attaining your goal is ruthless persistence. If you are the most driven, most focused, most desirous person out there, YOU WILL WIN. When was the last time you stuck with your goal to the end?
  9. Power of the Master Mind – Surround yourself with people that add value to you, assist you with skills and knowledge that will help you achieve your goals. By bringing intelligent, talented people together, you can play to your strengths and theirs. This helps eliminate weaknesses and build a team of successful people. Who do you spend your time with? Are they adding value to your journey or detracting from it?
  10. The Mystery of Sex Transmutation – According to Hill, during intercourse or other sexual activities we are at our most lucid and creative. It is at these times when we can transfer our most powerful energy towards our goals, harness the power of our imagination and see the thing we most desire. I won’t confirm nor deny this to be true, but having a supportive partner is imperative. Does your partner actively support your endeavours?
  11. The Subconscious Mind – The most powerful thing of all is your mind, your subconscious. This is where decisions get made that you aren’t even consciously aware of. This is where things get “seen” that you may not notice, this is the filter of your mind. You must train your subconscious to possess and amplify these emotions: Desire, Faith, Love, Sex, Enthusiasm, Romance, Hope. And you must eliminate and block out these emotions: Fear, Jealousy, Hatred, Revenge, Greed, Superstition, Anger. Are you training your mind to be positive?
  12. The Brain – Your brain can receive and transmit information through thought. Surround yourself with positive people, and you will possess positive thought. Think about your desires and the opportunities to achieve those desires will suddenly appear plain-as-day. Use your brain and your thoughts to tell the world what you want and attract that closer to you. Do you think about what you want enough?
  13. The Sixth Sense – Napoleon talks about this in much the same way as “Enlightenment” or Nirvana: it is the state where your mind and desires fit with your surroundings and the Universe. I interpret this slightly differently. I think when you know what you want, you know what drives you and you are so focused on this end goal you suddenly see things (opportunities) that make your goal realisable. By following these 13 steps, you can train your mind to see what it needs to see, and to act when it needs to act. Have you ever just suddenly spotted opportunities in front of you that weren’t that obvious?

Most of all, the power of the mind is one to be reckoned with. I believe in this wholeheartedly. I believe what you think, what you believe is permanently transfixed in your subconscious and everything you do and see is filtered through this lens. Training your mind to see what it needs to see helps you spot opportunities, grasp them and win. To be successful quickly and with the least amount of pain, I recommend you buy this book.

Have you read “Think and Grow Rich”? What did you think of the book? Lets discuss this in the comments below.

Stop and think, cultures differ

I have found myself, in the past, extremely critical of what people do in different countries and cultures. The one thing that always got me angry was that in some asian cultures they eat dogs, cats and horses. To me, this is obscene. But I never stopped to think about it, and consider that I may be wrong – or at least not seeing their perspective.

I am currently reading the book I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter – which so far seems to me a book about a philosophical view on language and “consciousness”. But it was in the course of reading Chapter Two, that Douglas talks about how circumstances and cultural difference create a society-wide habit or norm. The fact is that people in different regions act, talk and behave completely differently to other people in other regions. If you grow up in a society where it is normal to eat cats and dogs, then you will most likely fit yourself into that norm and do the same.

For example, we take for granted that we eat calves, piglets, chicks, lambs and many more. In India, a large cultural and religious aspect is that cows are a holy animal. They would find it disgusting and unimaginable for a person to eat a cow – which we do all the time. For Jews, the same could be said of pigs. For me it is cats and dogs.

Who are we to point fingers and criticise people for having different cultural norms than we do? Who am I to be angry at the asian community that eats dogs and cats?

So my question today is…

What cultural differences have you been critical of in the past? Has today’s post changed your perspective? I look forward to continuing this discussion in the comments below.

Review: How Companies Win – Dave Calhoun & Rick Kash

Rating: 4 stars. A great read once you get past the first chapter. Really good information and thoughts about a “new” way to do business. I learned a lot from reading this book, it made things very clear. I didn’t enjoy the writing style; a bit too academic and procedural as opposed to a story/advisory form. But good points and enlightening.

How Companies Win starts off a little slow and talks about the state of the economy post-credit-crisis. There was some description of what happened in the crisis, but I feel that they didn’t cover this adequately. However, they did ensure that the focus of the book was obvious “consumers are cutting spending on the ‘unreasonable’ items”. They talk about how we have gone from a supply-economy – where we make a product, market it and hope people buy – to a demand-economy – where we find out what customers want, make the product and give it to them. This may seem obvious, but in the past few decades we have been operating the wrong way and using useless tools like mass-marketing to sell our products. This is a paradigm shift. Businesses must compete on value for customers rather than cost-cutting and price.

The book goes on to explain that knowing your customers is what makes you a long-term successful brand. Find out which of your customers are most profitable. Identify what their current needs are, what their needs are changing to, and what might be their needs in the future. Knowing your best customers’ current and future needs, helps you create a valuable product and sets up your company for the long-term.

But, how well do you know your customers? Calhoun and Kash, stipulate that precision is integral in a business; knowing what your customers are thinking when they are thinking it, is vital. A company must utilise tools and put in place procedures that allow it to get up-to-the-minute feedback from their customers. This will enable the company to “hear” their customers and change dynamically to meet their needs. Precise, timely information provided by inherent systems is required by a company to “know” their customers needs, and to change dynamically to meet them.

Furthermore, companies must shift their view on innovation from an “outright innovation” to an “iterative innovation” approach. Instead of spending loads of money on R&D to find the “next big thing”, companies should focus in what their customers want, now and in the future. By focusing on iterative innovation, a company can consistently meet the needs of consumer demand. A much cheaper and less risky approach is to improve on the current model. Note, that iterative innovation is only possible if the company’s goal is to meet the needs of the customer, and is founded in a great team – where each individual knows their role in that goal. Innovate iteratively, and consistently meet the needs of your customers in order to create value in the long term.

In order to be successful, a company must create value in the eyes of the customer, differentiate themselves from competition and compete on service (not price). By building a community of customers, keeping engaged with them and “knowing” them, a company can always be a step ahead of anyone when meeting the needs of it’s consumers. By always being the first (you were the first to listen to your customers) and the best (you know what your customers want) at focusing on the needs of the customers, the company will have the ability to set their price. Being the best and first to meet the needs of your customer will differentiate your company and allow you to set the price.

There is more than just customers and products to worry about though. One must also remember to focus on optimising the supply chain and operations, and to build a good team. Most importantly, every member of the team must have defined, understandable, measurable goals. Your staff, customers, suppliers, and promoters should each know how they fit in with your goals. Staff, customers, suppliers and promoters must understand where they fit in your company’s goals in order for your goals to eventuate.

It is always a good idea to connect and collaborate. Grow your company by linking manufacturers, retailers and promoters together, in order to share information. This “demand chain” will provide precise, immediate information about your customers and is accessible by each party. Help each other out, share information and grow together, whilst everyone focuses on meeting the needs of the end-consumer. Connect and collaborate with manufacturers, retailers and promoters in order to share information about the customer and grow your businesses together.

Tying the demand-focused products with the collaboration between the great supply-side (manufacturers, retailers and promoters) relationships helps build a long-term successful community of customers : A BUSINESS.

Some interesting extras:

  • Current, Latent and Emerging Demand: Your customers currently demand a particular product from you, but they have some thoughts on what they would like changed. This helps you understand what your current and emerging demands are from your customers. However, latent demand is the demand that, not even your customers know about yet. If you know your customers well enough, then you may be able to predict what latent demand is waiting to be released, just by knowing what problems they face you can solve them.
  • Have you identified Strategic Growth Areas based on Latent Demand? Test your assumptions: “I believe X will happen, because Y is happening. This is similar to Z (a precedent example).” Once you are happy with your assumptions you can then (1) predict where demand is (will) be, and (2) take the necessary actions to meet it.

If you read this book and have any resounding thoughts, please leave comments for discussion below. I found this book really interesting and enlightening, and would love to discuss some of your thoughts with you.

What did you think of the book? Is this the natural progression of businesses? Of society?

Review: Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

Rating: 5 stars. Exhilirating, logical, passionate, motivating. If you have a passion, and it’s not your job (right now), read this book today, and make a commitment to your passion! Thanks for a great read Gary Vay-ner-chuk! Buy the book here.

If there ever was a book that was perfect for Gary to write, this was it. I have followed Gary for some time now, and this book is written with pure Gary Vee style – that is with passion, enthusiasm, confidence and flair.

Crush It is a book that talks about how every single one of us has the tools and the ability to enjoy our “work” lives. Gary shows us that we can find our passion – the one thing that gets our juices flowing – and use the amazing world around us to monetize it. The most important point of the book it to find your passion, be the best you can be in that area, focus on building your name (personal brand), and the money will eventually come flowing.

I believe him, and he is one of the driving forces behind me, my business and my drive to achieve personal brand recognition. After reading this book, I guarantee that you will be so motivated to get “hustling”, that you will need to stop and think for a second. Know this, the tools are there to monetize your passion. Right now, the world is our oyster; with freedoms like the internet, and tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Blogging and more, anyone can talk about and specialise in what they are passionate about.

I challenge you to read this book, identify your passion, get hustling and make your dreams a reality.

Key points in the book:

  • “Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill in business” <– something I totally agree with. Being able to tell a story in a way that is personal to the people you want on your side, and getting people motivated enough to act is an art. Learn to do this well, if you can’t already.
  • Learn about how to use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, ustream.tv and more. Gary gives great explanations about each tool and how best to use them. If you want to know more, read the book! Oh, and make sure all your channels are linked to each other and integrate well.
  • Be original, be authentic YOU – after all, there is no one better than being you,  than you.  Be loud, be creative, be out there, be different. This will draw attention.
  • CARE. Pay attention to you fans. If someone engages with you take an interest in them, show them you care and they will grow your community for you.
  • Gary is so awesome that he encourages you to contact him at gary@vaynermedia.com if you have any questions at all.

Find out more about Gary Vee at http://garyvaynerchuk.com/

If you liked this post, please share it, or buy the book for a friend. And if you’ve read the book already, or are going to read it, please post your thoughts in the comments below.

Review: Blink – Malcolm Gladwell

Rating: 4.5 stars. Challenging, descriptive, convincing and eloquent. A great read and very educational in a fun (subconscious) sort of way.

Malcolm Gladwell is a great writer and author, he has written many highly acclaimed books and is a consistent writer for the New Yorker. I like Malcolm’s books because he makes links between characteristics and data that many may not. He makes it clear, easy to read and simple for any reader to understand what he is trying to say and achieve.

Blink is a book about human nature, impressions and behavior. Blink discusses how our first impressions (within a matter of micro-seconds) can be highly accurate indicators of a particular person’s nature and attitude, and whether we may continue a relationship with them in the future. Gladwell provides evidence from many studies that show this to be true, and I must implore you to read this book, because it blows my mind how some of it could possibly be true – it is just so inconceivable and yet believable.

Gladwell talks about how behaviors can be influenced by what we read, what we see, what we hear and much more – our surroundings, our circumstances. Having just finished reading Tipping Point he explains this very well in a few of the chapters. I find it fascinating that, as humans, we are influenced by our environment and circumstances more than anything else – so we should pick our friends, homes, workplaces and surroundings very carefully.

I loved this book – I love learning – and it taught me a lot about human emotion and behavior. I did find it difficult to read compared to many other books I have read recently, but this is because a lot of what Gladwell is trying to say needs to be evidenced in detail – which is what made Blink a little hard to read. However, if you want your mind to be blown then pick up Blink today. Oh, and check out Malcolm’s blog.

Read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell? What did you think? Please share your thoughts and learnings in the comments below.

Review: Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

Rating: 4 stars. Enlightening, engaging and inspiring; a book for every person who ever wanted to get into business. Highly recommend!

To be completely honest, I can’t remember what exactly was in Rich Dad Poor Dad. But I do remember it was a catalyst for me – it got me passionate about business.

I remember Robert talking about his history, and how he had been brought up; how his friend’s father had encouraged him to think about money and how to make it. I remember that everything Robert did had a purpose, everything had a value, and someone was prepared to pay for it.

The way Robert talked about his stories, his successes, his failures and his life inspired me to walk the path of business. I have been passionate about business for years since reading this book, and now have started my journey to changing the world with Vital Link Group.

Thanks Robert Kiyosaki, you have pushed me in a direction that I hope will revolutionise the world, behaviors and attitudes of us all.

Read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki? What did you think? Please share your thoughts and learnings in the comments below.