Archive for May, 2010

The Design of Design. Essays from a computer scientist. Frederick P. Brooks

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The Design of Design. Essays from a computer scientist. Frederick P. Brooks. 2010. ISBN 9780201362985. The author of the Mythical Man-Month, the Father  of the IBM 360 hardware and software, Brooks is a giant.  He has put together a series of essays  that give any designer serious insights into the process.  Regardless of what you work in, architecture for homes or cathedrals,. OS for RIM, Linux modules,  web pages or wooden picnic tables, there is something for everyone on these essays.  From the book , “The author tracks the evolution of the design process, treats collaborative and distributed design, and illuminates what makes a truly great designer. He examines the nuts and bolts of design processes, including budget constraints of many kinds, aesthetics, design empiricism, and tools, and grounds this discussion in his own real-world examples—case studies ranging from home construction to IBM’s Operating System/360. Throughout, Brooks reveals keys to success that every designer, design project manager, and design researcher should know.

He points out that you study history to find out what works and how in order to learn from others.  His chapter Constraints are Friends is worth the price of the book.  He is veru harsh on himself for the errors that occured on his watch.  He also advocates that good design requires much more  planning and research than people are giving it.  If a company is always in a hurry to get to market, then it is not committed to good design. If you consider yourself a designer – you have read this book.  If you love computers you will cherish this book.

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A booklist for someone very new to sales

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A list for someone very new to sales

Reg Nordman

Last week I had two requests (Thank you David and Michael), for very different reasons, asking me what books would I recommend for someone new to sales to help get them quickly up to speed. I get this question often and never felt I had my “best’ answer. So I finally:

  • laid out a selection process,
  • set out the requirements (Easy to read and digest , did I mention real short,  proven in the trenches, only a few, and seriously effective),
  • then looked at my 800 plus  reviews

So,  in May 2010 I have made the inaugural , just add water and stir,  list of Getting Started in Sales books. I make no guarantee that I have not missed your gems, hurt many writers feelings (but being sales people they have tough skins) and I could change my mind tomorrow if a new book comes across my desk. So drum roll please:

2010 Getting Started in Sales book list:
1. Art Sobczak has been at this the longest – he calls it Smart
Calling- but if you read very carefully it is much much more- sales efficiency tag

2 The Leaky Funnel – Hugh Macfarlane – sales effectiveness tag

3. It’s Not Rocket Science – Mitch Gooze  – sales effectiveness tag

A serious student of sales success (desire to be a top 5%er? ) understands that this is a continuous journey of learning. These books just get you started.


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Thoughts on hiring a sales person, what companies forget about

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Thoughts on hiring a sales person, what companies forget about.

Reg Nordman

We have had numerous discussions about how companies seem to hire the wrong sales people.  This comes up so often that I feel the need to comment, since it is done so regularly.

Usually the situation comes up because a company exec believes they need to add new sales DNA into their company. They may have been doing all or most of the selling up to now, and feel that they need to go onto other things. These are all good things. But the symptom that it is about to go wrong is the implied or expressed belief that once they add a sales person, the problem is resolved. In our experience the problem is about to be exacerbated.

Rocket Builder has heard many common myths about sales people, here are just five

  1. All salespeople are the same.
  2. All selling is the same.
  3. Any salesperson can fit in any company.
  4. Being sales driven means I can do things the same as always.
  5. Getting out there and selling is the only sales training needed.

Beliefs like this usually lead to this profit killing sequence:

  1. Placing a general ad for sales people – “lets just put it out there”
  2. Changing the candidate requirements mid stream – “no one met what I wanted”
  3. Accepting candidates at random – “they worked for a really big company and did well”
  4. Making the wrong hire – “Seems the best of those I talked to, I have a feeling about…”
  5. Wasting six months of effort, wages and profits before firing the new hire – $$$$
  6. Return to step one.

To help you make your “better” choice for adding sales people to your mix you need a process.  You certainly have a product development and bug fixing process.  Why not a sales hiring process for something this key?A  logical process like the one Geoffrey Hansen, Rocket Builder has. He says:

  1. Select your market
  2. Select your requirements for that market
  3. Deliberately target candidates who meet the requirements.

Sounds like it would be a good coding practise. Of course,  in using this process effectively there is much well thought out detail involved, which is where Rocket Builders helps companies. It is in the execution and details that you find the secret sauce.  If you do this right, then you, Mr/Ms. C- Level,  can:

  • add new sales DNA to your company,
  • go on to doing those 101 other things you want to do, and
  • know that your money machine is working away.

In this business,  prevention is so much cheaper than rework. It just might save your company.  Comments?

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The Design of Everyday Things. Donald A. Norman

The Design of Everyday Things. Donald A. Norman. 1988. ISBN 9780465067107. This is the classic text on design. All players in the tech industry need to read this.  An early quote,”  Each time a new technology comes along, new designers make the same horrible mistakes as their predecessors. Technologists are not noted for learning from the errors of the past. They look forward, not behind, so they repeat the same problems over and over again.

Norman spent a lot of time in Apple’s early days as VP Advance Products Group, and the rest is history.  A fascinating easy to read writer, he fills the book with concrete examples of horrid mis design, drawn from all around us.  And he is right, present wireless devices are horrid.  While reading this you will become sensitized as to how bad design permeates our life.  From the huge (Chernobyl and Challenger) to the almost trivial (bathroom taps), you will start to see what he sees. Computer programs of course come in for a lot of abuse. (My favorite is the brutal treatment we receive from telco and Revenue Canada voice mail systems.  Enjoy. (He has other  books , Emotional Design, The Design of Future Things and Living With Complexity)  By the way his website is a bit of a surprise.   a sample of his writing

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A Walk in the Woods. Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods. Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Bill Bryson. 2007. ISBN 9780307279460. Bill Bryson can write about pimples and make it hilarious.  This 2000 plus mile trail was the object of his romantic desire to hike the length. Along  the way of his hop scotch coverage of under 900 miles you enjoy the breadth of his humour and travails.   Good four hour read, very enjoyable.

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Top Dog Recession -Busting Sales Secrets. 50 experts show you proven ways to sell more in tough times. Michael Dalton Johnson ed.

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Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets. 50 experts show you proven ways to sell more in tough times. Michael Dalton Johnson ed. 2010 . ISBN 9781934346150.  This is Volume II and it carries on with the high quality ideas of Volume I . Johnson has done an outstanding job of getting these seasoned sales experts to write short , immediately useful sales tips. Because of the plethora of experience these experts bring to bear on the topic, there is lots for every type o sales person. Thorough, entertaining and meaty, this is a book that seasoned sales guys can put beside their telephone – and the successful ones will use it daily.  Its a must have.

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The Secret Life of France. Lucy Wadham

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The Secret Life of France. Lucy Wadham. 2009. ISBN 9780571236114. This book was a delight.  The author has a wry self deprecating way with words that captivate you.  If you have ever wondered about what, to us Anglo Saxon Protestant work ethic driven planet dwellers, is going on in the minds of the French   (And so some extant French Canadians, this is the book that will give you a lot of answers.  Any summary will not do justice to how she argues:

The French (Chattering classes ) love the idea, but not often the implementation There is liberty – except if you transgress the unwritten codes:

  • All French are created equal – except if you are an immigrant who is unfortunate enough to love in a ghetto
  • We are all equal , but I will fight to the death my particular perks that I enjoy that you do not have.
  • Working for the State is the highest form of service – but that means I am better than you and I can be rude
  • Team play takes a distant second seat to me winning
  • France remains a patriarchal society- feminism did not take root, men run the country and women wait for men to make their move.
  • To be seen is to be better than to do.
  • You can divorce, but why not have affairs- changing husbands is just moving t e furniture in ten years.
  • All are allowed their secret garden and the press will not inquire into your private lives – at least not until Sarkozy made it a celebrity life.
  • The press is free , but the government really interferes, and most French people do not read it anyway
  • The Republic is not a democracy – it starts as a Socialist state and then pushes left
  • Only the govt can get in debt – it is frowned upon with regular folks, just try to get a loan.
  • All are equal but a sub current of racism means Sarkozy talks about his Hungarian fathers roots, but not his mothers Jewish roots.
  • Parisian views are diametrically opposite to the views of the country people (who  eschew capitalism)
  • You  have Liberty but Muslim women can not wear the head covering etc, because displays of ethnic, religious difference are not allowed.  You are all free to look the same – perfect French, perfect French people.

A good coast to coast airplane read- Very useful if you ever have to deal with The French. You will understand your lack of success better.

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Making Things Happen. Overcoming obstacles between vision & reality. Scott Belsky

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Making Things Happen. Overcoming obstacles between vision & reality. Scott Belsky. 2010 ISBN 9781591843122.  In our daily work we meet very creative people. And. like the author found , many of these have trouble getting things started and completed.  The book contains methods and approaches to help creative types get more “done” . But, the real value in this book is the depth of insight it brings to the wide range of creative people and how they cope with  and succeed in life.  It is not a hard facts book but rather a softer exploration of creativity, full of insightful case studies and examples. I read it in almost one sitting as it held my interest from page to page.  A quiet easy read, it will be of value to anyone who is creative or works with creative people. visit

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Smart Calling. Eliminate the fear, failure and rejection from cold calling. Art Sobczak.

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Smart Calling. Eliminate the fear, failure and rejection from cold calling. Art Sobczak. 2010 ISBN 9780470567029.   Art has been doing this for a long time and I credit his materials with helping me be a much better sales person over the years,  his stuff is timeless.  Some of you may know that as I read a book, I attach post it flags to areas that I find very valuable.  This book  is full of flags.  Art’s previous books really help sales people with what to do. This one is, IMHO, his best yet. It includes the why, what, when and how of telephone selling in an  up to date style. If you need to talk to prospects and leads on the phone, this book will make you so much more successful, that you will be thanking Art until you retire.  As an old sales dog, I learned lots of new tricks from this book.  Buy it, read it, and keep it close to your phone. check out and

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The Zero Turnover Sales Force. How to maximize revenue by keeping your sales team intact . Doug McLeod

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The Zero Turnover Sales Force. How to maximize revenue by keeping your sales team intact . Doug McLeod. 2010 ISBN 9780814415603. This is the best sales management book ever. It is also a tremendous guide for anyone on the sales field, old dogs through to the bright newbies.  In one well written, easily read volume reside the truths about high revenue sales management and what to do, step by step.  This book reflects generation five of selling.  Such things as :

  • No more cold calling ever since cold calling immediately puts the sale person at a disadvantage and loses the firm big money
  • Dump the 100 % commission selling and never try it again, unless you love to lose money
  • Its all about the customer now – never about you and your company
  • Be honest and forthright – like the best sales people have always been
  • Create your numbers in the real world – not wishful thinking
  • Do not waste anyones time – especially your sales forces
  • Zero turnover in salespeople makes you  huge big bucks
  • The right training matters

Do not wait, buy this book right now – it is a key weapon in your sales arsenal. A bonus is the list at the end of important other books to read.

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