52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #38 – Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg @cduhigg

I love the title of this book. Doesn’t everyone want to be Smarter, Faster and Better? I know I do. I read this book and pulled some smartergreat habits out of it. I found the writing reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell who I also enjoy and I liked the case studies that were used to illustrate points.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #38 – Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg @cduhigg

 

It’s tough to not like a book that was so well thought out and researched. I liked the use of case studies and they all illustrated the issues very plainly. The content and style did indeed remind me of Malcolm Gladwell (apparently i read his Blink in week 5 of this year) which isn’t a bad thing, the use of case studies seems similar, however I prefer how Charles would introduce the case study but not revisit it until he had made his point. He often dives right into the case study without much setup and then once I’m engaged in the case study’s narrative he pulls out to frame the rest of the story within the story. It’s a good trick, it kept my attention and even though I knew what was happening I still looked forward to understanding what would happen in the case study.

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52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #31 – Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

Do you have a story? Is it well thought out and ready to go? Is it practiced, polished and perfected? Have you wondered what happens at a Toastmasters group? Lead with a StoryNever heard of Toastmasters, but you’d like to be able to captivate a crowd? This is the book for you.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #31 – Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith

 

I’m not an outgoing person yet, I frequently am called on to speak in front of groups. I need to give presentations, speeches, motivational messages, heartwarming calls to action and convey very straightforward information without putting the audience to sleep. I’m also in sales and I’m a leader. This means I take groups out to award dinners, outings and work functions like mixers. I also talk to customers, both internal and external and I have to often find a way to make the mundane interesting, or to convey complicated financial information over the phone in a way that makes sense and spurs action. I have learned to do this in part because of the principals in this book, plus I just winged it.

On a grander scale, your story or your companies story can be crafted in a way that can be told in one of these encounters. Your Story is the reason you are in business, it’s what brought you, your business or company into being and it’s what made you, You. There is a formula to crafting a story and keeping attention. I wish I had read this book sooner, I had to use trial and error over the years and even then this book probably doubled my Story I.Q. and made me that much better. You can use the ideas, methods, and suggestions in this book to increase sales, increase your employee buy-in, boost morale and raise your visibility in all social settings. Good story tellers are remembered and identified with. Great opportunity often arrives from people we are barely acquainted with, but through the power of a story a connection was made and you became memorable.

This all boils down to communication. I’ve said before that I now hire communication students and look for strong communication skills from employees and colleagues. How a message is percieved is how you are percieved. Can you craft a message that is received by a large audience and in a way that motives, inspires or impacts them all? Can you also communicate in a 1:1 setting or a small group and get the same response? It’s a tall order, but those that can deliver are coveted.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #26 – The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

We are all way less important than we think we are, but way more important than we give ourselves credit for. 51OWc0PhNqL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Tim is all about living the experiences and managing cash flow. He’s the exact opposite of many money strategists out there, but he makes a ton of sense in today’s world.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #26 – The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

 

You don’t need to do 80% of the things you are doing right now. You could drastically cut down on the needless activities and zero in on the 20% of your daily and life activities that really matter. Think about it really hard for a few minutes. Could you just stop doing 80% of the things in your life? What if you outsourced 40% of your activities and just eliminated another 40% of your activities? Could you get by? Tim believes 100% that you can not only survive, but you can thrive in that kind of scenario. The biggest trick here, is to ignore or delegate. The goal is to ignore or delegate 80-90% of your daily activities, by doing that you’ll free up almost all of your time for the few things that absolutely have to be done by you, AND for whatever you actually want to be doing with your life.

We are indeed way less important than we think we are. We could delegate a TON of things that we do, others can complete the tasks just as well as we can, sometimes better. We often keep doing tasks because we feel as if nobody else could accomplish the task at the same level of competence that we can. This is a false assumption that we tell ourselves so that we feel successful at our jobs and tasks. We long to feel useful.

The amazing thing about this book is that if everyone who read it actually did the things inside of it, there wouldn’t be anyone left to actually do the work. What stops the majority of people from following through on the tips and guidance provided in this book? There are many types of jobs and professions in the world today, they don’t all lend themselves to this type of lifestyle. Like many changes, the biggest and hardest step is the first one. You have to be willing to change your profession significantly in order to apply the methods in the book. I choose to work in an office where I manage people and I need to be present to do so. I have learned though, that often I can delegate or just plain ignore many items that don’t actually NEED my attention. This frees me up to complete tasks that are important, but not-urgent that will actually impact the people I lead and serve.

I’m a fan of Tim Ferris’ and I believe in many of his suggestions. Switching to a cash flow model for your life could be a little shocking at first, but also invigorating and thrilling. I reviewed a book earlier this year called “You are a Badass” and the author had decided to make this switch to cash flow management and to extensively travel. I haven’t taken a poll, but I’d say that most people die with “I wish I would have traveled more” thought in the back of their mind. Make that first step and change your life. I have feeling it’s like cliff jumping, once you take that first step it’s too late to go back!

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #23 – The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick

Wow! I consider myself to be a Nerd, Egg Head, Geek or whatever you call a smart guy who likes dorky stuff to be these days. I like a combination of weird things, I keep thinking about the ultimate poster that would be Chewbacca holding a sonic screwdriver sitting on Captain Kirk’s chair saying “Up, up and away!” TheNerdistwhile wearing a 49er’s football helmet. If someone wants to Photoshop that together it would awesome, plus you can give yourself +10xp because it’s probably something you’ve been meaning to do anyway. After that, ready this book for unique take on self help and will power.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #23 – The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick

 

This book is entertaining. Chris is witty but for my sense of humor I could only take him in short bursts. He’s snarky and tends to have conversations with himself which can indeed be endearing, it also lends itself to the playful nature of Chris’ delivery. The book attempts to make success a game and to trick yourself into feeling those same endorphins as when you play a video game and just want to keep going.  I can remember telling my dad that I just needed one more minute to defeat whatever level I was on in Super Mario Bros 3. I’d spend every minute I could trying to beat that game and every level felt like a major accomplishment.

I see the allure of giving yourself that feeling when you master a real life event or hit a real life milestone. That feeling encourages you to push further, to do more, to try one more time. Chris has a unique blend of tactile and tech solutions to the issue of translating video game success to life success. He recommends a regular old science notebook and a hand scoring method in order to make this work. I’d assume that there would be an @Nerdist app he’d be pushing. There very well may be that app available, but if not someone should make it. Just input your goals and track them on your phone. Brand it as Nerdist, partner up and you’ll have some loyal followers who will automatically download.

Chris also talks about calendars and email maintenance and there is a lengthy section on personal training and health care. I get it. Whenever New Year’s resolutions roll around there are always a multitude of exercise and personal weight goals. Your body is important so make it a priority, it just doesn’t resonate with me right now. I like the book, but it wasn’t my favorite. I’m a geek but I haven’t gotten the bug to micro track my progress and make mini goals. I do see the value of habits though and if these small habits create long term change for the better in people, then this book has achieved a victory.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #21 – The Sales Bible, New Edition: The Ultimate Sales Resource – by Jeffrey Gitomer

I read the Little Red of Book of Sales, but hadn’t read the book that put Gitomer on the map. The Sales Bible is a TOME of information tSalesBiblehat just doesn’t quit. I did the audio book version, but there were so many lists that now I’ve got to go back to the physical copy and even check out his website and use the various GITBIT’s that he mentions.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #21 – The Sales Bible, New Edition: The Ultimate Sales Resource – by Jeffrey Gitomer

 

There are sales books and then there are Sales Books. Gitomer wrote the little red book which was just about the first ever sales book that I ever picked up. I’ve been reading his stuff for a long time, but for some reason I never read his first book. By all accounts, it’s a massive amount of information and it’s full of additional info and references updated for today’s world. Gitomer is always straight forward and to the point. I enjoy his bullet points and lists, sales people are often short on attention spans and lists are a great way to get across a lot of info in a short amount of time.

This book almost has too much info in it, we move so quickly from list to list that this is really a book that should be used a reference, and not a book to be read from cover to cover. The volume should definitely sit on every salesperson’s library shelf, it can be perused and looked at for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, it’s all up to you. You don’t always have to agree with Gitomer and whether or not cold calls are dead or a way of life, but you should be thinking about your career and studying the various ways that people have been successful. You can learn from Gitomer, I guarantee it.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #18 – The Richest Man in Babylon & The Magic Story: Two Classic Parables about Achieving Wealth and Personal Success – Napoleon Hill Foundation

A few weeks ago I read the Napoleon Hill classic, “Think and Grow Rich” and i can’t get enough of this stuff. These are a couple of short stories in the same vein as that BabylonNapoleon Hill classic. Both of these seem like great stories and similar messages. Everything you really need right now to be successful is already within you.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #18 The Richest Man in Babylon & The Magic Story: Two Classic Parables about Achieving Wealth and Personal Success – Napoleon Hill Foundation

These 2 stories follow similar paths. The truth about success is that it comes from within, what you have inside is enough to win, you just need to know a few things. Everyone wants to win. Everyone really wants to win. Everyone deep down inside hates losing and wants to be a winner. The difference is that not everyone knows how to do that, how to make that change or how to keep winning and not everyone knows what actions are needed or has the will power to keep up with those actions. Winning isn’t just about winning on the tax return at the end of the year, although wealth and prosperity can and do facilitate a healthier lifestyle. Winning is also about those small moments where you make choices, do I watch TV right now or do I go read a book? You body and your brain will tell you that watching TV feels better in the moment and you are “winning” when you make that choice to take the easy route. Your brain will tell you that you are winning when you stop at the Fast Food place instead of going to the Gym. The truth is that we are all winners, we are just winning at the wrong things.

When you take a bite of that Cheeseburger and you make that “Mmmm mmmm mmm” sound you are choosing to give yourself positive feedback for your choice. You want to tell yourself that you worked hard for that bite and that it was your reward and you deserved that option. It’s much harder to deprive yourself of that instant gratification time and time again so that you can have that same feeling 3 months from while looking in the floor to ceiling mirror. The feeling you get from biting into that cheeseburger is eerily similar to the feeling you get when looking at yourself in the mirror and appreciating the grind you’ve gone through to get to where you want your body to be. The different isn’t that feeling in the moment, the difference is the feeling AFTER the moment. after you eat the cheeseburger you feel guilty and try to justify the choice you made, possibly by making the choice more often to prove a point. On the other hand you when you walk away from the mirror you are encouraged to keep driving past the fast food places and you carry more confidence with you in other social and business situations because you are confident in your life choices.

The man who makes bad decisions and then has to justify them will play the victim and blame others for his situation. He will do this while continuing to make even more bad decisions just to justify all of the previous choices and then proclaim, “Why does this keep happening to me?” The man who breaks the cycle and begins to make good decisions in confident enough to ask for help in order to keep making good decisions and has a track record to rely on for positive reinforcement. The Magic Story breaks down positive and negative in all of us and let’s us know that both possibilities live within us. The Richest Man in Babylon breaks down a few basic rules of wealth such as not living above your means, paying yourself first, don’t invest in anything you don’t understand, ask for advice and learn about your options and if it seems too good to be true it probably is but you need to invest your money and make it work for you. These both seem like very basic stories, but basic structure to your life will bring vast improvement over time as long as you have the will power to always follow the rules. Buy the book and remind yourself of what you need to do.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 13 – Pitch Perfect – How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan

Funny story, a buddy of mine recommended this book but he actually recommended the wrong book. He meant to recommend Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, instead I sPitch Perfecttumbled onto this gem. I’m not mad at him, I’ve got 39 more book to go this year and I’m only reporting on the business focused books here. I actually do read more fiction than non and I’m probably averaging 2 books a week this year. I just finished the Novelization of the newest Star Wars movie and I’m on book 10 of the Wheel of Time fantasy series. My friends ask how I find the time to read, but I’m actually shocked at how easy it was to create and maintain the habit of carving out time to read. First I listen to at least half of the books on Audible @ 125% or 150% speed depending on the narration. I find that the faster speed doesn’t degrade the information and in fact I find that I have to pay more attention to the narrator so I retain more of the knowledge. I also learned to speed back in college. I don’t speed read Fiction, I like to slow down and enjoy those books, but i definitely speed read business books, speaking of books, let’s talk about this one.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 13 – How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Mike Weinberg by Bill McGowan

 

This isn’t a sales book, it’s a communication book, which if you think about it is pretty much about sales. The author is well established and the entire book seems to be an ad for his consulting services, I’m not actually mad at him about that. I appreciate his balance of knowledge, but not too much that we don’t need some professional assistance. The knowledge given in the book is pretty basic, I think it’s designed to take us from blissful ignorance about our communication styles to a place where we are aware of what we don’t know. It’s like communication 101 for real world applications.

Bill McGowan drops a few names here and there of clients and I’m fairly impressed. The art of communication has changed in the last 2-3 decades but I’m not sure that is because the tried and true methods were false, I think the topics we speak about and the world we live in has changed. I speed read books and want people to talk as fast as my audible account. The mind still picks up on the nuances and gets the gist of what you are saying, if it’s vital information say so.

I had a college professor who had a belt buckle that said “Bull Shit” on it. We asked him why, and he said it’s the key to any great English paper. Start with a ton of Bull Shit and refine it down until you’ve got what you want to say. In today’s world we want you to refine more and more and get to the essence faster. We read faster than we speak so when conducting complicated business transactions we either want to be left alone to read ourselves or we want a customer service agent to summarize everything quickly. I have no idea what the Apple Agreement says. No one does, I bet the guys that wrote it only summarize it as a party trick.  Did you ever try to send out a meaningful message via Twitter? Sometimes it takes me 5 minutes just to get my message down to 140 characters, but I’ve done it every single time. The point is, we could all be more specific in our communication, not just the words we choose, but the way we say it and the message we convey with out bodies.

This is a good book to open your eyes to that world. It’s not going to change your world, but it’ll open your eyes and make you aware.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 12 – Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg

Do not go quietly into that good night, do not silently accept anything that isn’t right. SalesManagementI promise that if you do have the items listed in this book, you wouldn’t be worse at your job.

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 12 – Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg

 

I’m not sure if Mike Weinberg ever talks about silent acceptance in this book specifically but it is definitely a thread throughout the entire work. All it takes for a good sales team to turn into a disaster is for one good sales manager to silently accept something that shouldn’t be allowed. Most of us know what we should be doing, we just don’t do it all the time, we get by without being consistent or expecting more. If I’m right, you need this book to refresh on what you should be doing, and then take action. If I’m wrong and you have no idea what you are doing, then shame on the person that put you in that position but kudos’ to you for trying to research and find some help, you need this book yesterday.

One thing I really appreciate is Mike’s respect for the bottom line. His takeaways are strong. He gives very specific advice on how to structure sales meetings for teams or 1:1’s for example and I found myself pulling over on the road (I listened to this on Audible.com) and I hit the rewind button and took notes on his specific structure or requirements. I may listen to the book again in the future, there are several chapters that are great reminders for any manager once per year, but I’d recommend buying a hard copy of the book in order to takes notes in the margins. Every chapter has a very specific end game, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author didn’t have twice as much material and really parred down the subject material to the bare necessities. The book feels very refined, not a lot of what I’d consider to be fluff pieces. There were some solid examples and case studies which were entertaining and very illustrative of particular points. There is nothing self serving or distracting from the advice in the book, we know Mike’s a coach but he’s not pitching his service and trying to sell something with his fame. I think he genuinely cares about the condition of industry and the livelihood of every single road warrior, pavement pounder,  door knocker, call center agent and all of their customer’s. All of those Sales Professionals in the industry deserve to have a strong leader, mentor and coach to lead them to success.

If you are a leader, want to become a leader you should take a look at this book. It’s straight forward in it’s content and will give you cause to question where you want to go and make you put together a plan to get there.

 

 

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 9 – Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There by Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz

KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. This book is a nice spin for the classic Hard Work Beats Talent when Talent doesn’t Work Hard. There is a giant fear of failure in most sales repsGoForNO and it limits the amount of risk that they will take. This is a classic mind flip that creates the scenario where NO is Good.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 9 – Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There by Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz

 

I’m a strong believer in the SweatAbility factor (Effort X Skill = Success) and typically in my own experience the hustlers are the ones that put in the strong effort. They work harder, longer and have strong visions of what they are working towards. Those guys are the ones that often get the trophy’s at the end of the month, but sometimes it’s someone who just has to struggle to stay at par. I try to take those guys and increase their skill level, I work on their closing skills, listening skills, mirroring skills and general sales I.Q. I stand by that assessment, if someone’s work ethic is already a 9 out 10 and I double their sales skill, they will double their income.

This book focuses more on the Effort piece of the puzzle, which is something the 10X Rule by Grant Cardone does as well, but I think this book might be more dangerous in some industries than in others. There is a message in the book that encourages massive prospecting, which I am on board with, but the book initially also seems to reward a low conversion ratio or at least it could be interpreted that way. The surface message would seem to just take massive leads and get through them and you’ll probably find a few “lay down” deals and out perform your competition by just sifting through your leads faster.

The hidden message is in the last chapter. The No’s that you get don’t all get thrown away. The same leads can and should be reused and in fact most customers will say No 5 times before saying Yes. That means that by prospecting more often and calling on your own sales leads multiple times you’ll increase the number of times you are told No, but eventually your conversion ratio of sales calls to confirmed clients will actually improve. Let’s face it, everyone you talk to buys from someone right? If you are persistent enough that person can be you.

Talk to more prospects. Get to the point. Don’t burn bridges. Follow up relentlessly. Ask for the business so you always know where you stand. You will both outwork AND out smart your competition by following these rules. The Author’s might disagree, but I think a salesman’s favorite word is still Yes, but I’ll concede that the second favorite word is No. Look for the No in every sales call and you won’t be running away from prospects with fear of rejection, you’ll wear it like a badge of honor on your way to the bank.