March 30th 2015

Everyone Loves You When You Are Dead. Neil Strauss

English: Neil Strauss speaking in January 2009.

Everyone Loves You When You Are Dead. Neil Strauss. 2011 ISBN 9780061543678.  I admit that a huge hole in my upbringing is no knowledge of current or past pop cultures/music performers. I had zero interest in the lives and antics of singers and actors, but I listen to music and watch performances oblivious of who was performing.   Strauss  wrote for the New York Times, Rollin Stones  and more for years on all these folks and more. He has pulled out from his archives snippets of interviews that show the best and worst of these people as people, living and dead.   I found it a trudging read due to my non interest, but if you have any interest at all you will likely find these insights fascinating

March 23rd 2015

Hooked. How to build habit-forming products. Nir Eyal

Hooked (Great White album)

Hooked. How to build habit-forming products. Nir Eyal. 2014. ISBN 9780670069323.  The book is very good. Using four stages the author shows you how the user moves from Trigger, to Action, receives a Variable reward and Invests into the product.  Clearly written and easily familiar to any of us with addictive tendencies,  the book is a welcome addition to the literature of making compelling products.  The author makes a clear distinction between products that make the users life better and all the others out there.  A good addition to the work documented by Dan Ariely.   A four hour well written read.

March 16th 2015

Unselling. The new customer experience. Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer

Cover of "UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. St...

Unselling. The new customer experience. Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer.2014. ISBN 9781118943007. . A pair of almost zany Canadians that write about recent classic sales fails (Unmarketing talked about marketing fails) .  Well written in a jocular style.  Don’t expect a deep analysis , but read this to enjoy the clear joy in learning about obvious dumb moves that many people and companies did with the best of intentions.  A good book for that next boring AirCanada ( Poor you )  flight you find yourself on.    They have an unpodcast and it truly is…a conversation that might say something on topic

March 9th 2015

Global Catastrophes and Trends. The Next fifty Years. Vaclav Smil.

English: Photo of Vaclav Smil Français : Photo...

Global Catastrophes and Trends. The Next fifty Years. Vaclav Smil.. 2008. ISBN  9780262195867. At first this seems like a weighty book to go through. However the widely read, and acknowledged expert author  ( Resident of Manitoba)  has just the right style to weave anecdote, research and analytic data together to create a compelling read.  It may be more for the Economist vs People magazine reader, but if you care about the planet and what may or may not occur bases on the numbers and the trends, a very needed read.   E.g. 9/11 killed about the same numbers of people as those who die in the  every two weeks because of medical  errors in the hospital, or every four weeks from car accidents.  Extrapolate what would happen if the money spent daily to  ”prevent” another 9/11 addressed hospital error? And  car accidents and medical error continue. while 9/11 happened once.   Or that Russia kills so many adult makes due to chronic alcoholism and related events ( car crashes etc)  that their population will decline by 25% by 2025?  Read this book and you will have a completely different view of of the 6 pm news broadcast.

March 1st 2015

Value Proposition Design. How to create products and services customers want. Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda & Smith

Business Model Canvas Poster download (http://...

Value Proposition Design. How to create products and services customers want.  Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda & Smith. 2014. ISBN 9781118968055. A textbook, workbook and piece of graphic art all in one.   In our practise we help companies discover their value proposition and it is quite a bit of hard work for them.  This is a thorough look at the process with a terrific front end explanation as to why this is so important.   the book is a significant contribution to the field.  It should be required reading for all technology companies ( and more) . Clearly written , but you will need a lot of thinking time as you work through this process.

February 23rd 2015

Amp Up Your Sales. Powerful strategies that move customers to make fast, favorable decisions. Andy Paul.

English: Empty seats Sales man seats sit empty...

Amp Up Your Sales. Powerful strategies that move customers to make fast, favorable decisions. Andy Paul.2015. ISBN 9780814434871.  Andy Paul ( Zero Time Selling) is a very insightful sales guy for today’s markets. He invariably hits it out of the park in writing well , with content that is “monday morning  ready”.  He will show you how to truly differentiate and stand out in your market. The focus is on how you sell , not what you sell,  with a clear distinction between process and method.  His insight into value is fresh and what you need. Its early in 2015 but this will be another top line book for salesmen this year!.

February 20th 2015

Thoughts on Costa Rica Jan 2015

A beach in the Guanacaste Province.

Costa Rica (our most recent trip)  is the belly button of the Americas, it encompasses just 0.03% of the world’s land mass (total area is 51,100 sq km) with over 500,000 plant and animal species. Any animals & plants that are traveling north and south have to go through CR. CR has 10 climatic zones and more flora & fauna than any place in the Americas. Eco-tourism is extremely important because tourism is CR`s largest industry. Not only are the Costa Ricans very proud of their country they are also very careful about the ecology.  CR has no mineral or oil & gas industry ( this despite having many great mineral deposits), so their major exports are fruit & vegetables. Therefore each climatic zone has their own specialties. Guanacaste is the area where they grow most of their melons, guavas, papayas, and pineapples. The climate ranges from dry tropical forest to lush jungle in the south. Costa Rica’s terrain varies between coastal plains and rugged mountains with three mountain ranges and over 100 volcanic cones, several of which are major volcanoes. For expats living in CR the only tax is on income earned in CR. Your international income is tax exempt, no capital gain taxes. Property taxes are very low, but there is a 13% sales tax on products and a 10% service charge in restaurants.

English: Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Ri...

Unlike Mexico, the prices are higher (similar to Canadian prices), there are limited amount of fresh fruit stands and open markets where one could purchase fresh vegetables, meat and seafood BUT the water is drinkable in CR which is a big plus.  Lessons learned, book your rental car before you arrive.  No deals once you are in country. Lots of import duties make most things you would buy about the Cdn prices.

Our condo is the Bougainvillea Condominiums situated on the grounds of the all-inclusive five-star Westin Golf Resort & Spa. The resort is situated in the Guanacaste Region of CR’s North Pacific Coast and nestled between 2400 acres of lush forests and the beautiful Conchal Beach (Playa Conchal) with its sparkling azure waters. The condo overlooks the beautiful 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Championship Golf Course which surrounds the hotel. Conchal Beach, a two and a half mile crescent of white sand was named for the tiny crushed shells from which the beach is formed. This idyllic stretch of beach overlooks the Catalina Islands, a popular spot for diving and snorkeling.

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February 16th 2015

Duct Tape Selling. Think like a marketer- Sell like a superstar. John Jantsch

English: John Jantsch

Duct Tape Selling. Think like a marketeer- Sell like a superstar.  John Jantsch. 2014. ISBN 97811591846338.  I have been a fan of John’s work since Duct Tape Marketing first came to market. Now John has built up a substantial sales and marketing consultancy based on his work helping companies build up their programs. John is a customer oriented marketeer/writer and his material reflects this new reality for  sales and marketing.  Much of what we find/use in our practise aligns with John’s point of view.  His sales and marketing hourglasses approach is invaluable.  This is a must have book for the 20% of the salespeople/sales managers who want to grab 80% of the market.  It is not an easy task, what you learn in this book is so valuable that I say just get over it and get to work.   Kudos to John for making this book a thorough, well researched yet easy read.  I suggest this book for a 4 hr round trip air flight.

February 4th 2015

Destress To Success. Solving stress and winning big in relationships, wealth and life itself. Leo Willcocks.

English: Flowchart for problem solving.

Destress To Success. Solving stress and winning big in relationships, wealth and life itself. Leo Willcocks. 2013.  This book surprised me. It was well written, clear with a delightful non judgmental tone to it. I thoroughly enjoyed it  to the point that I read it in two sittings. The author is able to take any example and make a very clear learning point out of it.

Lately I am measuring authors how much depth they bring to the topic,  how clearly they articulate their points and the applicability to real issues.  I am just tired of convoluted prose that in the end makes me feel stupid.

This book is a real star and one I highly recommend.  Its useful in your personal and professional life.  I just wish I had read it 35 years ago.  Great for a 3 hr plane ride – read it twice – ire also on the return trip.

January 19th 2015

In the Beginning…Was the Command Line. , Neal Stephenson.

Cover of "In the Beginning...was the Comm...

Cover of In the Beginning…was the Command Line

In the Beginning…Was the Command Line. , Neal Stephenson. 1999. ISBN 9780061832901.  A short pithy and often hilarious essay by one of our eras better science fiction writers, coders and journalists.  I discovered that Neal had released quite a lot of his material into the public domain and in my searches found this essay.   Written about the time Apple was in a decline, Microsoft in the midst of antitrust suits and Linux was in a heyday, it is a great history lesson and guide for future programmers.   As an old UNIX programmer I know exactly what he is saying about its robustness and have at times decried that IOS is just a version of Linux, completely locked away from the bulk of the users.  This not a Cathedral vs Bazaar argument, but a simple story about how to get utility and usage out of what is available these days, if you want to.

A great comment, ” Apple has always been a hardware company first, using its software to protect the walled system system.  While Microsoft has chosen to be a software company,  using the cheap hardware out there, and forcing hardware manufacturers to write the code/drivers to work with Windows. , which extends Windows at no cost. ”

It will be interesting to see if his predictions play out – that OS  prices may inevitably  drive to zero.   Well written and useful if you like this kind of material.

A montage showing author Neal Stephenson and f...