November 14th 2017

The Sales Survival Handbook: Cold Calls, commissions, and caffeine addiction. Ken Kupchik

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The Sales Survival Handbook. Ken Kupchik. 2017, ISBN 9780814438657. A hilarious book for the newbie ( to find out whats in store for you) and the old timer (to relive some of those tougher days).   Joking aside, the books content is bang on and useful.  The humour allows the learning to go down very smoothly.  His Facebook page SalesHumor is a resource. He is also a regular poster on LinkedIn.  I recommend this book , first as a do not let yourself get down tool. as well as providing some levity for your sales calls and meetings.

November 6th 2017

The rule of Five ( Or Six)

The rule of Five ( Or Six). While chatting with a young entrepreneur I remembered something my son told me. As a software guy he had made the comparison between how  software packages ( Adobe and  Microsoft for example) worked and how vertical businesses worked. Once he learned the  basic five (or six) rules of the Adobe environment, it became easier to learn individual Adobe products . The same was true for  Microsoft products like Office. Of course the rules for Adobe were not always reflected in the rules for Microsoft.

He took the same view with him as he built businesses in various separate verticals like gaming, music, on line services and food . Once he learned the basic industry rules for success, it became easier for him to pick a business, measure his success and head off potential issues.   Eg. In food he said , a bakery faces having to throw out 30-60% of its fresh stock at the end of every day.  So it makes sense to also have products with a longer shelf life, eg add a patisserie, or a chocolate based business with a bakery since chocolate has a much longer shelf life.

For entrepreneurs I always ask them what are the rules of the vertical that they are working in?  How do successful companies smooth out the normal ups and downs in their business cycle?

Eg Lululemon founders learned the retail business through successfully operating Westbeach.  By cannily creating/nurturing a distinct vertical , yogawear ( or athleisure) , they built up momentum ( and a loyal following).  By using and driving fashion trends they were able to build a commanding market position.

On the other hand for Recon Instruments  rules cut both ways.  They could not create a commanding position through failing to understand early enough how eyewear/goggles was mostly a fashion industry, which their manufacturing partners relied on for annual sales growth.  Faced with growing  returns of unsold product  Recon had to pivot its business model.  This eventually lead to the successful technology sale to Intel.  But this involved a lot of hard work.

So what are the rules of success for your vertical?

October 30th 2017

The Store. The store is always watching. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo

The Store. James Patterson & Richard DeLallo. 2017. ISBN 0316395455. What if “Amazon” was not just a retailer , but became so much more in our lives?  Well “The Store” is that and more in a not so distant future.  A family decides to go undercover in a store managed town to discover the full story.  If you have a slightly dystopian view of the future, seasoned with conspiracy theories then you will really love or fear this book. A nice easy read yet it is pretty close to what could be truth if we get really lazy!

October 23rd 2017

Malcolm McDonald on Key Account Management. Malcolm McDonald & Beth Rogers

By June of 1948 Sanders Aviation Company had t...

Malcolm McDonald on Key Account Management. Malcolm McDonald & Beth Rogers. 2017. ISBN 978 0 7494 8077 6.  MacDonald is a giant in the field of marketing  and is one of Rocket Builders goto authors when we need to really dig into a topic. This co-authored book is very readable, current and immediately useful to enterprise sales and marketing teams who wish to look at their markets strategically.  I liked the entire book as it did a very clear job on describing and using the three levels in ABM and then how to id where to use and apply KAM. The liberal  use of case studies and experienced practitioners to describe how to use all this was excellent.   I really appreciated the work in Chapter 3 on auditing how you were doing and mapping out where you could go. The author is diligent at asking you to use measures and metrics that can be used and are useful.  As well Chapter 5 is good at mapping value, how to apply measures and package it so it can be taken to your clients.   Well worth the modern sales and marketing executive and strategic practitioners time to read and use this book

October 16th 2017

The Sky Below. A true story of summits, space, and speed. Scott Parazynski cw Susan Flory

English: STS-120 mission specialist Scott Para...

The Sky Below. Scott Parazynski cw Susan Flory.  2017.   The author is a medical doctor, mountaineer, astronaut and free diver.  He grew up living around the world and became very adaptable. His life story is thrilling, historic, and encouraging.  Its also an easy read. There are similarities to books written by other mountaineers, who are also driven black and white people.   A good four hour flight book.

October 2nd 2017

Kitchen Confidential. Adventures in the culinary underbelly. Antony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain being interviewed in the WNYC...

Kitchen Confidential. Adventures in the culinary underbelly. Antony Bourdain. 2008.  Hilarious, cutting, pithy and all too true sounding this a book that rips the covers off kitchens and those who work there. The author makes no bones about his generations of obnoxious, dissolute, atrocious behavior. It seems to be all there.   You will come away with a new insight into the industry.

September 25th 2017

The Next Factory of the World. How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa. Irene Yuan Sun

The Next Factory of the World. How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa. Irene Yuan Sun. 2017.  ISBN 9781633692817.  A thoughtful analysis of the similarities of Africa and China in how Africa could replicate China’s jump from an agrarian to a manufacturing country in a very short order.  The author makes some very good , logical points as to how this could be achieved. IN many ways Africa is exactly like China was just one generation ago.  The same Chinese businessmen who made this jump in China are now doing the same in Africa.  And Africa does have the poverty level farmers who would see a low wage industrial job as a step up. Plus by working for these Chinese businesses the Africans can learn how to do run a factory and eventually have factories of their own. The Chinese have recent experience with corruption at home so they know how to deal with African corruption.  I was interested to read that the bulk of investment is from private Chinese firms, not the famous Chinese zombie state enterprises.   From a Western perspective we may be losing sight of how simple this could be as we are too far along the technology path. A delightful and useful read.

September 11th 2017

Use of Force. Brad Thor.

Use of Force. Brad Thor.  2017. ISBN 9780476789385, To the Cussler fans comes another author in the thriller, special forces genre. fast paced, recognizable characters and topical this is a decent book for your summer reading.  The research seems germane and the pace does not let up.

September 5th 2017

Rethinking the Internet of Things. A scalable approach to connecting everything. Francis daCosta

Rethinking the Internet of Things. A scalable approach to connecting everything. Francis daCosta. 2013. ISBN 978043025740053999.  This book won the 2014 Jolt award. It is available as a free download from Springer.    A proposed architecture of the Internet of things based on the sheer numbers of the sensors that are and will be available being not suited to a traditional TCP/IPv6 architecture. The author sees a tiered collection approach. Sensors  ( some to many ) that “chirp” connect to collectors  ( usually one way) to propagator nodes (with IPv6)  to and then on to integrator/analyzer functions.  Its a fascinating read that makes some good arguments for this type of architecture.  Does this match with the growing push for the Iot to be a bottom up, open architecture that is not tied to any vendor cw proprietary  technologies remains to be seen.

August 28th 2017

Smart Cities. Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Anthony Townsend

Smart Cities.  Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Anthony Townsend. 2013.  Slate magazine says,  “Townsend has collected fascinating stories of urban renewal and innovation from around the globe and packaged them into lessons that are neat and digestible”. Our City is pursuing an Intelligent City initiative and I found much useful information that applies in this book.   I especially found his views of bottom up initiatives  useful as that is the model my City is using.  He references many organizations and website that have some valuable ideas and programs for any City to investigate. Very much worth the read and this is an author to follow.

The introduction is available at