Category Archives: Book Reviews

Saturday Book Review: Credibility

Today’s Saturday Book Review: Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. Written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, this book distill some of their data from tens of thousands and counting interviews with people across the world in multiple industries to write Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. This book is a course on leadership, especially if you study their bibliography (208 Endnotes). You can also read this with the resource The Leadership Challenge.

Kouzes and Posner “relied upon our own surveys, which over the years have been administered to well over 100,000 people from around the world.” They claim that the results of the studies have not changed since they started in the early 1980s. They cover those surveys and in-depth analysis with their encyclopedic book; in this book they cover the 6 essential activities they see credible leaders providing in their surveys.

The Six Disciplines for Earning and Sustaining Credibility

Kouzes and Posner are excellent prose writers; some of this book is very hard to read, but it is all valuable. A discipline is an activity that you improve with practice, and the core of Credibility are the disciplines listed below:

  1. Discover Your Self
  2. Appreciate Constituents
  3. Affirm Shared Values
  4. Develop Capacity
  5. Serve a Purpose
  6. Sustain Hope

Discover Your Self

The classic statement from Delphi and the oracle of Apollo is to Know Yourself, and this statement is as needed today as it was then. If a leader is going to be believable to your constituents, you need to believe what you’re selling, yourself.

Appreciate Constituents

If you have ever read Joy Starts Here, another book for another Saturday, you will know that shared appreciation is tremendous! It builds joy skills, develops our neural pathways, and establishes credibility. In this chapter, Kouzes and Posner discuss how to show appreciation that aligns with your shared values, while embracing conflict and engendering trust.

It is difficult to think about how to hold these positions in tension with each other, but Kouzes and Posner tell many stories of how leaders do just that.

Affirm Shared Values

This chapter starts with a tremendous story of a village elder who lived on the mountainside. One day he noticed that an earthen dam upstream from the village was about to give way. He thought through what he could do to save the lives of the people in his village, and he lit his own house on fire. The whole village rushed up the mountain to save his house, and in doing so all their lives were saved from the flood.

Shared values are important for credibility because you are able to trust how people within a group will act in a given situation.

Develop Capacity

The two activities that develop capacity that resonated with me were to foster confidence and create a climate for learning. I have been a part of many organizations where employees were put down or disciplined for systematic mistakes. This removed confidence and create a climate where true learning was feared. If you want to develop capacity in an organization, team or just among your friends, find a way to help them feel more confident and free to “take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” To borrow from one of my children’s favorite shows.

Serve a Purpose

Kouzes and Posner wait until 2/3rds of the way through the book to introduce a concept that was a buzz word in many leadership circles for some time, “servant leadership.” One of the key activities that I appreciated in this chapter was the fact that leaders who are serving a purpose beyond themselves will do what it takes to restore credibility once it is lost.

Sustain Hope

The final of the disciplines a credible leader will engage in is sustaining hope. This chapter is key to the fact that leaders are often called to go it alone but need to have a hope in the vision they see; when hope stops and forward activity stop, the leader loses a key attribute of what it means to be a leader, to be forward-looking.

This book is a great resource for people who are looking to become a better leader. But, I must warn you that it is not an easy or fast read. A notebook of notes or video journaling your thoughts as you read through it could be a good way to get more out of the dense and content-rich reading.

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SBR: Becoming

I love memoirs. They challenge me to see the world from someone else’s point of view, to understand a new way of doing things or thinking.

So, when I saw a copy of Michelle Obama’s Becomingat a friends house, I decided to pick it up for the next Saturday Book Review. Politically, I am about as far from President Obama’s administration as you could be. But, a significant reason for reading a memoir like this is to see from someone else’s point of view.

Becomingis a well-written book with insight into the family life of the family of the 44th President of the United States and to much of the periphery of their leadership.

It is also the story of how an African-American from south Chicago met a Kenyan-American from Hawaii and his charm, charisma, and passion for the political process led them both to become our first black Presidential family.

Leadership Lessons Learned

Sometimes We Have to Be Comfortable in the Supporting Role

Michelle Obama had to balance the life of a Princeton and Harvard educated lawyer with a career of her own with the life of the primary household and child manager for the years that Barack was in office.

This is a key lesson that I think anyone looking to grow in life should learn: designating one parent as the at-home parent is key for most larger than life goals.

Yes, Michelle is a strong woman. Yes, she has her own career. But, no, she is not able to have an independent career and remain married to the President of the United States. This isn’t a gender thing, it’s the fact that some positions require so much energy that the entire family gets behind it, even if one member is the figurehead.

The Supporting Role Can Be More Meaningful

After Donald Trump became President, he worked to undo much of President Obama’s signature legislative legacy and executive policies. I was struck while reading Becoming  that some of Michelle Obama’s silent work on the side is more likely to survive partisan pruning.

Will the White House’s Vegetable Garden remain?

Longer than the Iranian nuclear treaty.

Michelle was the First Lady of the United States and she never expressed the desire for power that Hillary Clinton was known for in Bill Clinton’s presidency. But, her quiet determination to do something for America’s children had a measurable and long-term impact in both legislative and private processes.

Be Confident

One of the things that attracted Michelle to Barack was the ease of movement that he had, he always portrayed a sense of confidence. Agree or disagree with him on policy, only a reactionary jerk would say that President Obama did not hold himself with presidential decorum.

If you are going to build a business, advance your career, or run for the most powerful position on the planet, you need to show the world a calm confidence in what you do.

Don’t Give Power to Naysayers

Michelle talks about the pain of being a target for conservative media; being a leader in politics today means that your opponents will throw everything at you.

But, she mentions how the goals and worldview they had going in as a couple were the same as when they left. She also talks about how Obama kept an even keel when hurtful coverage threatened to capsize her.

If you want to be in leadership, understand that naysayers will attack you, no matter what.

Read Lots of Books

One story that really stood out to me was when Michelle mentioned that Barack had to have a room where he could spread out his reading materials.

When they were first friends and she tried setting him up with friends at a happy hour, Barack was annoyed because of the chit-chat. He would rather read a book then talk about the social ladder of Chicago urbanites.

This is now my favorite thing about President Obama, and if I ever were to meet him, the first question I would ask is what is the best book he has read recently.

Understanding The Other

It was interesting to read about a politician who I mostly disagreed with from the viewpoint of his biggest fan. It was also interesting to see the comments Michelle made in the book about the other side in American politics.

If you have lived under a rock as far as social media, news, and modern politics, you might have missed the fact that America is deeply divided. As a conservative constitutionalist-libertarianish-almost-anarchist biblically-submitted white boy from a lower income family in rural Idaho, I tend to fall pretty heavily on the “other side” from the Obamas.

That’s why I love true reading.

Reading gives you a viewpoint you might never have. I am 100% certain that I will never ask the Obamas what they thought about the racism of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, even if I met them.

Why am I so confident?

Because Michelle talked about how a news media put together a timeline of racist sermons and it struck them to see from an outsiders point of view. Everybody puts up with their crazy uncle unless it’s someone else’s crazy uncle.

When I read her comments on that, I put the book down and cried. Why? Because I have felt judged because of my race and never before have I even heard someone acknowledge that my feelings are OK to have. Michelle Obama did in her acknowledgement that some of Rev. Wright’s speeches are vitriolic and racist.

valso helped me understand where I consumed news content, and probably shared, that was not political discourse but prejudiced crap.

Understanding the other requires that we listen, and books are one of the best ways to listen, and take the time to truly see where we can come together and where our disagreements can be made with politeness but firmness.

Understanding the other requires that we don’t give up our principles, but relish the discussion.

Whether you loved the Obamas and want a fun look back at their ascendency and time in office or you think almost all of Obama’s laws should be repealed, I highly recommend that you read this book, apply some of President Obama’s habits to your own public presence, and engage in the process of Becoming.

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SBR – Jack: Straight from the Gut

Jack: Straight from the Gut is the memoir of Jack Welch, the CEO of the General Electric Corporation from 1981 to 2001. During his tenure as CEO, General Electric was included in the 1990’s business book Built to Last as a visionary company.

5 Lessons I Learned from Jack

Jack Welch had an amazing career in a period of intense change. When he started his career at GE, it was at the tail end of the Mad Men years, in 1960.

His first break came as a leader for a small plastics research team in GE. His team was able to drastically improve the quality of GE’s plastics manufacturing and keep them competitive in a technological revolution many people do not know happened. The advancements in plastics that have happened since 1960 are incredible, and Jack Welch was at the forefront of the research for it when he started his career.

Be Willing to Experiment

The first lesson I learned from Jack Welch’s autobiography was that we need to embrace learning while realizing that principles continue working even in major technological shifts. Jack Welch was so frustrated with the bureaucracy at GE when he started that he nearly quit.

It was only the intervention of a manager over him who ensured that he would have freedom to work and experiment that convinced him to stay at GE.

When he was the CEO, he kept an agile focus even while growing one of the largest corporations in the world.

Business Leaders Build People

The second lesson I learned from Jack:Straight from the Gut was that to be a great business leader, you have to focus your creativity in building people and culture. Although he received bad press in the 1980’s for hundreds of thousands of layoffs, the book really communicated that he did not want to do layoffs but saw it as the only way to keep GE competitive and enable better paying jobs.

Throughout the entire book, he discussed the people that he worked with, the people he promoted, the people who left GE to lead other companies. Another issue, that I disagree with him on, was his review and reward process. He fired the bottom 10% of managers in every business in GE every year!

Even though he made choices many people do not agree with, I found it very educational to read how the choices impacted the culture of GE during his 20 years as chairman. I was also interested to discover how much the culture he built impacted growth in manufacturing, expanding into services, and globalization.

The Importance of Family

I always read biographies of rich or famous people with an eye towards their families. It is incredibly difficult to be successful at work and successful in your family. Although this book was mostly about his time as CEO at GE, there was some information about how his lower income mom and dad impacted him, especially how his mother gave him a competitive spirit.

Also, he talked briefly about his divorce from his first wife and subsequent remarriage. He mentioned that when he got remarried he purposefully looked for a woman who would be able to spend time with him in traditional business settings like golf. I think this is a key part of any type of leadership and familial success. Bring your family with you.

Think Long Term

This book focused on the period of Jack’s life from 1960, when he started at GE until he retired in 2001, 41 years. During that time, he built businesses within the company, patented new technologies, succeeded one president and brought in another to replace himself.

He oversaw the growth of GE capital, the globalization of the company and using quality control to keep competitive in a more competitive world. It is so easy for people starting a business or career in the fast-paced online world and we forget that the most successful people always take time to build culture, to cultivate the process, and to become experts in what they do.

Careers are Not That Bad

If you have ever read or heard about Robert Kiyosaki’s Cash-Flow Quadrant, you have probably heard that you want to be an investor or business owner in order to be wealthy.

Jack Welch spent his entire life as an employee. He had to learn how to balance career and family life, he had to learn how to manage people and time. And, at the end of that amazing career, he retired with 100’s of millions of dollars.

You don’t have to be a business owner to retire with incredible wealth in this country, and that was one of the inspiring things I read in the book.

Jack, In Conclusion

Although you can read some of the heated debates that have and continue to surround this man, his autobiography is an interesting look at one of America’s most memorable careers. It is highly worth reading if you are interested in leadership, in building a business, or in the history of American business.

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Saturday Book Review: Developing the Leader Within You

It’s Saturday, and it’s time for another Saturday Book Review on Paul Davis Solution’s Writer’s Cue. (Say that 10 times fast).

This article is about the book by leadership speaker, John Maxwell called Developing The Leader Within You.

Introduction to John Maxwell

If you have never heard, read, or watched anything by John Maxwell, you can read more about him at his website. John Maxwell is an influential thought leader on leadership, and this book, Developing the Leader Within You is one of the first books I read on my entrepreneurial journey, 16 years ago.

Maxwell has many different books on leadership, and I recommend reading at least a couple if leadership in business and life is interesting to you.

How to Grow from the Book if You are a Solopreneur

This book is great for someone who is just starting out on their leadership journey because it is about self-development. Much of the principles in the book are applicable whether you are leading a multi-person team or just disciplining yourself to get things done.

Influence

The first attribute of a  leader that Maxwell talks about is influence. While it is not the most important ingredient in learning and developing leadership, it is a defining element. If you do not have influence over others, you are not a leader. But, if you do have influence, you are a leader. Understanding influence and how to use it in life and in business is a key part of leadership development.

Priorities

Pareto Principle? Check. The Urgency/Importance Quadrants? Check.

This section of Developing the Leader Within You delivers enough gold in prioritizing and time management that the book is worth this chapter alone. Also, if you have no idea what the Pareto Principle is or what the Urgency/Importance Quadrant is, Google is your friend.

Integrity

Leadership books that do not talk about Integrity are not worth your time to pick up. According to the decades of extensive research by Kouzes and Posner, Integrity is the most desired trait people look for in their leaders. One of the more important parts of this chapter for people starting an online business, or any business for that matter, is the charts on how the more of a leader you are, the more responsibilities you have and the less rights.

Creating Positive Change

If people want their leaders to be people of integrity, followers want their leaders to do positive changes for the organization and community. One of the more powerful parts of this chapter was a paragraph sandwiched in between a section on changing yourself and changing an organization.The paragraph stated that you start with a certain amount of “change” or permission from your followers. If you work well in relationship and produce positive changes, that “change” in your pocket increases. This increased “change” gives you permission in the minds of your followers to do more significant changes.

Problem Solving

Maxwell quotes his mentor, Fred Smith, who says that a problem you cannot do anything about is not a problem, it’s a fact of life. Learning problem solving is a key part of developing leadership within you.

Attitude

Attitude is the most important attribute for continued growth in leadership, and John Maxwell illustrates this point with a story from visiting his then 70 year old father who had motivational books in his briefcase. John asked his dad why he still read motivational books at 70 when he has had such a great attitude for so many years. His dad told him “I have to keep working on my thought life. I am responsible to have a great attitude and maintain it. My attitude does not run on automatic.”

This quote is important for people starting their own business because we have to commit to having continually better attitudes no matter how long we take.

People

A good leader cares for people. Your most important attribute in building a business is how you treat people: your customers, your employees, your family, and your friends.

Vision

Corporate ownership of a vision is important and a difficult part of leadership. Even if you are a solopreneur, you have family and friends to share your vision with. You have to convince your customers of your vision; and, this chapter deals with much you will need to know to share the vision with others.

Self-Discipline

Maxwell’s advice on self-discipline is a great bookend to this book on developing the leader within you. Self-discipline is important and part of building integrity, crafting habits necessary for success, and convincing your followers that you are worth following. There are methods for working on self-discipline, setting and tracking goals, and more in this chapter.

Staff Development

By this time in the book, the last chapter feels almost like an epilogue, but an important one. As you develop the leader within you, you will build and lead teams of people. This last chapter helps you understand how to build, train, and motivate a team of people who are working with you on your vision.

Conclusion

Developing the Leader Within You is a great book for studying some of the basics of leadership and a good opening for more in-depth leadership resources.

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Saturday Book Review: The Merchant Bankers

The Merchant Bankers

The Merchant Bankers, by Joseph Wechsberg, had a tremendous impact on the way I think about my business. Because it is written well before the housing crash of 2008 that sullied many merchant banker’s names (notably Lehman Brothers), like 42 years before, it does not address many of the issues regarding modern business and political processes.

But, what was it that inspired me and I think will inspire others by reading this book?

5 Things to Learn from The Merchant Bankers

Learn to Trust Your Intuition

Although much banking is based on numbers, Wechsberg interviews and studies multiple houses of merchant banking families (3 in England, 1 each in the United States, Italy, Germany, and then he covers the Rothschilds). Through interviews and research, he tells about how much of a merchant banking operation is based off of the intuition that comes from many mistakes combined with an innate sense of relationships. Whether building a business or teaching a classs, writing a book or digging a ditch, I think that we can learn to treat our mistakes as necessary parts of learning a business and learn that the people we interact with are more important than the numbers on a spreadsheet.

Never Forget Your Core Values

Wechsberg mentions in the chapter on Lehman Brothers how they loaned money to a company that lost their Chief Administrative Officer. Lehman Brothers sent one of their managers to work without charge to the company until a replacement could be found. Contrast that to the attitude of unbridled greed selling bad loan certificates in the 90’s and 00’s and you will see that when a business or group of individuals forgets what made them great in the first place, they will cause catastrophes.

The Rich Are People Like Us

Reading the history of some of the most elite families in the history of humanity in terms of riches and power associated with those riches, I was struck with the fact that they really are not that different from us. People who take a risk, make mistakes, and grow something of value can be found on any corner of any street throughout this world. Some may say the rich are just lucky, but as I read the stories of these families and individuals, I realized that the rich generally do certain activities to get rich, and avoid activities which don’t increase their income and profits.

In the same manner, many people I know consistently choose activities which will increase the value of their friends and family over the value of their wealth. I have many poor friends who are surrounded by richer culture and relationships than any of the merchant bankers I read about. On the other hand, I know people who are rich in computer games and poor in just about everything else.

History is a Valuable Study

Do you read historical books? Do you understand who the major players were in world history? Your nation’s history? The merchant bankers Wechsberg studied were well versed in their respective histories; they were steeped in it. Even the West German merchant banker, Abs, who lead the way to economic recovery after the devastation of World War II, made a purposeful choice to acknowledge the history of his people that lead to the rise of the German Reisch and then depart from that history.

Other merchant bankers would tell stories of the time their ancestor ran supplies through the lines in this war or that one, and all the time, they reinforce the values and strategies that made their homes great.

Free Market Capitalism Has Nearly Died Out

I know that people talk about how capitalist a society we are, but reading the analysis of a dying breed of business in the 60’s that has become almost extinct today, I was reminded that our modern society is more socialist than not. Because the government controls the money supplies and the private banks, the type of entrepreneurial spirit and desire for return on capital that we saw in the past has been nearly regulated out of existence.

It is a sad thing, but many people say it is a necessary thing.

If you want an interesting look at bygone eras in western finance and European culture, I highly recommend reading through The Merchant Bankers.

 

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Saturday Book Review: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)and the entire Chronicles of Narnia are worth reading. They impact my life every time I read them, and they can change your life, too. That is my review in a nutshell.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Review

If you want a little more information on the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, including how it can impact your entrepreneurial journey, read on.

Plot Summary

In case you have not read the books, or watched the movies, the plot of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is as follows.

Introduction to Narnia

  • 4 Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are sent to live in a large house in the countryside. This is during the Battle of Britain in WWII. They have some grand adventures there.
  • While exploring the house, the youngest, Lucy, wanders into the land of Narnia through a Wardrobe.
  • After meeting a Faun, her older siblings do not believe that she actually went to Narnia. Edmund teases her mercilessly until he stumbles into Narnia after Lucy. In Narnia, he meets the White Witch who realizes that the four siblings may be the cause of her downfall. She slips Edmund some enchanted food that causes an addiction so that he will betray his siblings to get more.
  • When the children are trying to hide from the housekeeper, who gives tours of the home, all 4 children stumble into Narnia. There, they discover that Lucy’s Faun friend has been captured by the secret police. In an attempt to find out more information, they get lost in the woods and find a Beaver who says he is a friend of Tumnus.

Edmund’s Betrayal and Rescue

  • After dinner with the Beavers, Edmund sneaks off to betray his brother and sisters to the White Witch and Peter, Susan, Lucy and the Beavers head off to meet Aslan, the Lion.
  • Edmund is captured by the Witch, realizes he is a fool, and she prepares to kill him to prevent a prophecy from coming true. The others meet Father Christmas, trek to the Stone Table and meet Aslan. Then Peter kills Maugrim the wolf chief of police.
  • Aslan sends some Narnian creatures to rescue Edmund, the Witch demands his blood, and the two of them come to some agreement. Aslan and company leave the Stone Table.

Aslan’s Sacrifice and the Conclusion

  • Susan and Lucy cannot sleep because they are worried about Aslan, so they find him walking back to the Stone Table where he offers himself for Edmund. They mourn all night, and he is resurrected with the morning light.
  • Susan, Lucy, and Aslan head to the Witch’s castle where Aslan frees the Witch’s captives who were turned into stone, and they all come back to save Peter and Edmund’s army as they fight the Witch and her army.
  • The children are crowned kings and queens of Narnia where they reign for a period of time before they accidentally stumble back through the Wardrobe and discover that they arrive precisely when they left.

How The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Impacts My Life

It seems silly to say that this series remains a significant influence in my life, but it is true. Written words have a way of transporting me to new places, and helping me see new ways of looking at our own world. Narnia may not be true, but then again, it might. You never can tell.

But, Narnia is a hope for me, a reminder of the idea of happy endings. Each of the books in the series, including this one, end with the main characters learning from their adventure but also coming out ahead on the other side of it.

Key Business Take Aways

Business is hard. Some days it feels like overthrowing a 100-year-old curse and defeating the powerful enchantress might be easier than doing business. Narnia reminds us that we can keep our chin held high. (When you walk through a storm…. sorry, different review)

Narnia also reminds me to enjoy life as it comes. If all we focus on is winning the game of business, we will be miserable old gits. Even in the midst of an adventure seeking to free Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, the children enjoy a great meal and friends. And C.S. Lewis delights in telling us there is nothing quite like fish caught half an hour before and just coming out of the frying pan.

I happen to agree with him. But, if food is not your thing, it is important that you take time to rest and enjoy the company of others. Especially when you are pulling 80 hour weeks trying to get your business off the ground.

When business gets overwhelming and I get in the feels, it helps me to remember the middle of the book. When Edmund is being driven on the sleigh for hours or Susan and Lucy are weeping at Aslan’s deathbed, there is no hope. But, the story has a different ending.

Your life can be that way, too. Hope is a powerful remedy.

In Conclusion

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) is an inspiring tale of adventure and overcoming hardship. As a father, I love reading it to my kids. As a businessman, I love reading it to remind myself that there is hope in the most difficult days.

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Saturday Book Review: Screw Business as Usual

After a small hiatus, SBR (Saturday Book Review) is back. Short and to the point, I read and review business, fiction, self-help or other works of information and show how they can apply to you as a business owner, entrepreneur, or marketer.

Today’s review is about Richard Branson’s book Screw Business as Usual.

One thing that always amazes me when I read things by or about Richard Branson is how much I resonate with him on a personality level; this book was no different.

The following are points in the book that really resonated with me:

  • As a young entrepreneur, RIchard Branson gave a homeless man the clothes off his back and had to stand wrapped in a blanket while selling his blanket. That is an attitude that great business owners have: compassion for those who are less fortunate.
  • Branson integrates teamwork in all the aspects of his businesses. If it was all about Branson, the Virgin Group would not be significant, but he makes it about his team members and praises them throughout the book.
  • Branson is willing to listen to others and act on the information they give him. Whether its environmental issues, AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, or his business processes.

These are some of the many great stories and points that Richard Branson mentions in the book. That said, there is one issue that Branson focuses on that I do not really resonate with, although many people will, and that is climate change.

Since this is a business blog, I will not go into more detail on a political issue like climate change, but I would like to point out that most of the extreme climate issues Branson brings up in the book are not provable, and are so sensational that any amount of common sense demands that we question the bearer of that news rigorously and check their predictions.

Will all life end on the earth if we don’t stop producing CO2? Is Global Warming really a worse problem than World War II?

I’m not so certain, and since this was an assumed point of much of the book, there were many premises and conclusions that I disagreed with.

But, Screw Business as Usual is an excellent look at one of the 20th Century’s greatest entrepreneurs (yes, he’s still alive and growing his businesses, but Branson earned his first million in the 70s.

 

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Saturday Book Review: Entreleadership

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches was a great book to read the second time around, and I learned more now than I did then. I marked it up thoroughly so that I can use it as a reference guide for building Paul Davis Solutions, and hope to give you enough of an idea in this review to decide whether you want to buy it yourself.

Good Content for Various Stages of Business

In fifteen chapters, Dave Ramsey covers everything from defining a term he coined (combining entrepreneur and leader) through all the fundamentals of running a business. It is an ambitious project to include sales and marketing, accounting, human resources, strategic planning, business launching, decision making and more in one book, and Dave Ramsey does an admirable job.

Whether just starting or celebrating 30 years, EntreLeadership is a great tool for refreshing your understanding of the fundamental principles to running a business. If you have ever listened to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, you might have heard he gives the same advice your grandmother would give you, he just keeps his teeth in.

This book is no different. It has some solid, common sense principles for running a business and these are 3 key takeaways I got from the book (that will probably change the next time I read it).

Total Surrender

“My total surrender following my failure is at the root of our tremendous success today.” – Page 2

Personally, this was a significant quote for where my business is at right now. I find it comforting, because PDS is being built on the backs of many part-time businesses. In the first two chapters, Dave Ramsey offers his significant history as a business person as the reason and the method behind writing this book. The sub-title gives it away: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.

This is one of the most inspiring parts of the book for a business person facing tough times; it reminds us that we are not alone and in every failure is buried the seed of success.

Selling Matters

Chapter 8, Death of a Salesman, is Dave Ramsey’s explanation on sales. Knowing his history with and love of selling from the introduction and chapter 1, I am surprised he waits until Chapter 8, but he had many prerequisites to cover. This chapter has some excellent points including the fact that everyone is in sales.

If you are asking someone out on a date, you are selling your prospect as a suitor.

If a child tries to convince their parents to buy something, they are selling the need for that toy to their parents.

This is a good reminder for any business person or employee: if you are not actively involved in getting and keeping customers for your business, there will eventually be no business.

Another good point to remember from this book is the sales cycle. Different from the inbound marketing cycle, the sales cycle involves qualifying a lead, building rapport with the lead, providing education/information to the lead, and closing the lead to a customer. As Dave Ramsey points out, if you have done the steps properly, people tend to close themselves and at that point you will be merely an order taker.

I would recommend this book just for the chapter on selling.

Back to the Basics

In 305 pages, Dave Ramsey “spanned high-level leadership philosophy all the way to the daily mechanics of starting a business in your living room.” In order to cover so much in one book, he has to provide basic, common sense answers to most people’s questions. If you want a primer on the different types of social media, their market demographics, and how to reach them, this is not the book for you. If you want a reminder on how to find that information, this book is right for you. If you want a legal primer on contract law and human resources, you should not be reading a blog on marketing, AND this book is not right for you. If you want an overview of all the aspects of your business that you might be overlooking, including contracts and human resources, this is the book for you.

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches provides some common sense thoughts and guidelines to grow a business by and helped me remember some areas in my business that need improving.

So, on to the next step!

If you need help with your basics in marketing, creating content, or building inbound funnels, please contact me today to see if we would be a good fit.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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Saturday Book Review: The Foundation Series

Sci-Fi on a marketing blog?

Yes, because content marketing seeks to understand content of all genres, even if that content style may never be used.

Foundation Series

One of the more popular novels by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, the Foundation (7 Book Series) is a complete saga regarding the end of a galactic empire and the beginnings of a new one. Known for his psychological theories and imaginative surprises, Asimov’s novels have withstood the tests of time fairly well.

The plot of most of the books is not as important as the intricate philosophies Asimov portrays, taking sociology and psychology and theoretically applying them on a galactic scale.

Non-Evergreen Content

This is a marketing blog, so one marketing issue you will note if you read this series is that, like most sci-fi, the technology the author imagines becomes obsolete by modern standards. In marketing, you often want evergreen content that you can keep referring to over time, but you do need to realize that technology is rarely ever long-lasting.

Something Asimov wrote in the 1950’s (people flying around the galaxy using slide-rulers), becomes completely obsolete by the time he finished the series in the 80’s. In the same manner, if you are writing a blog on best SEO techniques, you need to realize that any technical gimmicks included in the blog will likely become obsolete in the next Google update.

Are Humans Predictable?

The most interesting part of the series is the idea that one person was able to take sociological data from the millions of human worlds and the billions of people on each world to predict the course of galactic human history. For a marketing professional, this philosophy is very tempting to embrace wholeheartedly.

  • We predict conversion rates.
  • We determine Return on Investment.
  • We plan marketing strategies, product releases, and more based on statistics.
  • We forecast sales, income, and more.

And yet, this series shows that humans love change and create change so much that you cannot predict anything with accuracy. By the third book of the series, Asimov introduces mutants who change his core operating timeline. He then introduces an organic world in which all atoms and groups of atoms (including humans) are part of the whole.

This reminds a savvy reader of why marketing will always be part art, as well as science.

Humans love unpredictability. Asimov knew that if he wrote a series of books that were completely predictable, they would not have continued selling.

Should I read the Foundation Series?

Do you enjoy classic sci-fi or philosophical inquiries into modernistic thought?

If so, then yes, you should read the series.

If the very question sets your teeth on edge, skip the series and rest assured.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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Is MOBE A Scam? A Product Review of Matt Lloyd’s “Limitless”

I am going to be providing reviews of books I read and the lessons I learned from them, but my most recent marketing book is the subject of so many poor review sites on the internet that I wanted to take some time to review the actual company before I dove into the book marketing the company.

MOBE stands for My Online Business Education and this is their website:

MOBE sells educational products on how to build a business and uses an in-house affiliate network to sell those products.

Up to this point, I have partaken in a local event that offers some education on business and MOBE in particular and read Matt Lloyd’s entire book Limitless. I do not have the experience or the knowledge to judge whether any other level of their sales funnel is legitimate so will base my entire review on what I do know.

  1. MOBE is an MLM business. Since this is a touchy subject, let me be clear in my definitions. MLM, Multi-Level Marketing, is a system of marketing that uses the consumers as a significant part of their sales funnel. That means they can sell products, like Melaleuca (which I am a marketing executive in) or just financial services like Primerica (which I dabbled in 5 years ago).  MLM is not a scam, nor is it a pyramid scheme, nor is it a Ponzi scheme, etc.
  2. MOBE is not, to the best of my observations, a scam. Business opportunities are never guaranteed sources of income. If you go into MOBE thinking you will try it out to see if their make money guarantee works, then you are scamming yourself. There is no guarantee in life, in business, or anything else. MOBE presents itself as it is, a high ticket marketing system that educates you on on the process of creating a business. Whether you keep those principles and build a MOBE business or turn around and apply them to your own business is up to you.

Now into the review of the actual book.

Seven Lessons I Learned from Limitless

  1. Earn Cash Now – To be fair, I actually first was exposed to this idea in Built to Last, but Lloyd reminded me of its importance. As a business owner, your most important activity each day is that which will bring you in income. When you are starting out, that means a significant portion of your energy will go into little tasks that bring in enough money to survive. As you grow, you outsource the little tasks, but you still focus on doing activities that bring in your desired income to your business.
  2. The Value of Paid Marketing Online – I probably could have learned this in other locations but I have been so focused on building a business organically that it hit me upside the head like my flying two-year-old: paid advertising scales. You can start with nothing and build to hundreds of thousands of dollars a month quickly with a paid advertising campaign for a product that sells. Organic is much more difficult to do that with.
  3. Focused Attention Brings Great Results – Whether it was committing to creating 10 blogs a day at the beginning of his experience or taking 3 days to write out the book Limitless, Lloyd presents a lifestyle of dedicated single-tasking. This is something I need to remember in my time management and create time for specific activities so that I am not falling behind on everything.
  4. There Are Many Ways to Present Urgency – An important part of closing a sale is presenting urgency to take action now. This item is actually something I learned by comparing Lloyd’s techniques with those of Niel Patel. They are different: Lloyd is focused on communicating the urgency and moving on, while Patel created urgency by offering a $1 month-long free trial for his software. One is high energy and the other is low but they both demonstrate the urgency of making a decision now.
  5. You Don’t Have to Be Everything to All People – Lloyd has made a cool $100 M in marketing his business and education products by focusing on creating really big sales. His HTAM method (High Ticket Affiliate Marketing) method focuses on those accounts which will go big and creates products for them. This is quite different from Wal-Mart, whose business model is Everyday Low Prices.
  6. The Value of Targeting – I understand targeting; I do not understand targeting like Lloyd understands targeting or anyone else earning large amounts in his organization. When you are focused on high-priced ticket sales, you must be able to find the right target audience or all your work is in vain.
  7. All Online Marketing Needs to Convert – This is a variation of point number 1, but it is significant enough in my business thought processes that I want to rephrase it. If your activities online are not geared towards creating an income within a certain timeframe, you are not going to be successful as a business.

There are 7 things I learned from reading Matt Lloyd’s book Limitless.

A final note on the company: I have decided not to purchase their product at the moment for two reasons: 1. I am not yet their ideal customer because there is no way I could purchase the higher paying products if I wanted to. 2. I need to be more confident in my own sales and marketing style before I learn from a high energy sales team like MOBE because my personality and commitment to service are at odds with much of the high-pressure attitude of their products.

Finally, if you are considering buying a product from MOBE, understand that they are selling an entire system. You can learn from any product they sell, but they will be teaching you alot about how to do things at MOBE. The system is designed to turn customers into brand advocates. If you want to become an affiliate marketer for MOBE, I encourage you to do so, but with the caveat that there will be substantial investment required on your part.

 

EDIT: MOBE is Declared a Scam by FTC

When I wrote this review, it was based on my experience of reading a book and attending a free seminar. I had no experience of the higher ticket systems and whether they were worth the money being paid. On June 11, 2018, the FTC released a notice of action against MOBE as a scam. So, I bow to those who are charged with enforcing anti-pyramid laws in our country and am editing this post to let any who are still curious know that this organization seems to be a scam, according the FTC.
While the case is going to be determined by a court and I believe in innocence until proven guilty, I also firmly believe in Caveat Emptor, or let the buyer beware. If anyone attempts to still sell you MOBE products after their American assets have been seized pending criminal and civil proceedings, DO NOT BUY them. You have been warned.

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