Archive for April, 2011

What the Dog Saw and other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell.

Cover of "What the Dog Saw: And Other Adv...

Cover of What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw and other adventures. Malcolm Gladwell. 2009. ISBN 978031607620.  I have finally read all of Gladwell’s books and I remain a fan.  These are a far reaching collection of New Yorker articles written as ever in his quixotic style. I was reading the one the analyzed the “choke” of professional athletes ( Golf and tennis) while the Vancouver Canucks were ‘choking” in round one of the hockey playoffs vs the Chicago Blackhawks.  The topic was completely relevant and I did not hold out that much hope that they could rise above it.   Like all his books this one is very hard to put down.

The Micro-Script Rules. It’s not what people hear . It’s what they repeat. Bill Schley

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The Micro-Script Rules. It’s not what people hear . It’s what they repeat. Bill Schley. 2010. ISBN 9780982694114.  With our current push into Content Marketing ( i.e. inbound marketing) this book is a terrific resource. No matter if  its writing the killer tweet, top notch Google summary, headline or tagline; shorter is better.  I loved the examples of micro-scripts he has taken from all over  (ads, trials, politics, salesmen, authors like hemingway, even comics). Then he goes on to show how and where to use them. Finally he ends with a great course in how to create the best content ever.  This ties into the trend for web materials requiring much more compelling copy, that can be digested very quickly. Thanks to Anne Miller for suggesting this book.  Its a must buy and must read.Check out

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Oskaloosa Moon. Gary Sutton.

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Oskaloosa Moon. Gary Sutton. 2011. ISBN 9780975962534.  A piece of very disturbing fiction that I read in one sitting. The story of a  intelligent young boy with a disfigured face who received the butt end of bigotry and ignorance in a small town from many folks and the help of a few. He created a life despite this and did not let go his optimistic (and simplistic) view of life through much of it. The writing is clear, compact and compelling. Very enjoyable and human.

Limitless: A Novel. Alan Glynn

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Limitless: A Novel. Alan Glynn. 2011. ISBN 978-0312428877. A thriller that is a now a movie.  Chemical addiction to a “be smarter” drug that has some deadly implications.  I read this on a North – South flight and it held my interest all the way. Good tight gritty writing.  Could be a killer movie if done right.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Guy Kawasaki

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Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Guy Kawasaki. 2011. ISBN 978-1591843795. I willingly buy and read all of Guy Kawasaki ‘s books.  This one has the feel of more crowd sourcing than his others. However it still contains some pure Kawaski that you may or may not have received thru his blog.  Eg how to set up a pro LinkedIn pp, why and how he used a Facebook product page vs a website for this book, tips on best uses of Youtube and Twitter.  He is a pro communicator so this is all useful stuff.

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

In the Beginning... Was the Command Line

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In the Beginning …Was the Command Line. Neal Stephenson.1999.ISBN 0380815931. Stephenson, often called the Hacker Hemingway, is noteworthy for his well written science fiction these days. However this little book is a treasure.  ( I found it on a dusty shelf in the local Mexican library)  It relates to the computer industry in 1999, when Microsoft was bad, Apple was good and Linux was an upstart.  This was after the time of The Cathedral and the Bazaar . What sets the book apart is his gift for metaphor and analysis of how things came to be.   Just a few pearls that you can glean.Microsoft grew with out any real need to address `the user interface` because it made good financial sense to do so. Apple went for the walled garden because it had to remain a hardware company and this took on a certain mindset. MSoft as owning huge mindshare did not have to write drivers for all the peripherals ( the manufacturers did that for free) .  Both vendors were facing massive rewrites to their OS, which were tried in fits and starts, but users were met with lots of buggy software, but the two OS’s could not acknowledge how cludgy the OS’s were. Fascinating to see how things have played out in 11 years, and what residual thinking still prevails from that time.

Different books for your Mexican trip. Stones for Ibarra, A Trip to the Light Fantastic, Mexican Days.

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Different books for your Mexican trip. Not your normal travelogues.  I discovered a few off beat books on Mexico from the eclectic folks who have found their way to this tiny non gringo part of S. Mexico. Part of the attraction of Cuyutlan is that you need to integrate with the Mexicans here, they really have not needed to learn much english (if any ) to have their life go on as before, since the place is popular as a Mexican resort.  Thus the reading material here tends to explain life more from the Mexican point of view.

I especially enjoyed that these books reflect the authentic (non tourist) Mexico vs what the fear mongering US press is making us read. The normal US resident is fearful of venturing to Mexico, when what is being reported goes on in most large US cities every week.  A good way to keep the US tourist dollars in the US. (If one subscribed to conspiracy theories)

Stones for Ibarra, Harriet Doerr. 1984. ISBN 0140075623.  What would possess an average American couple, Richard and Sara Everton, to sell everything they had to move to a tiny village in Mexico to re-open a mine owned by Richard’s deceased grandfather. They had never seen the mine, house, or village ever.  However the story unfolds around stories of the locals and what has transpires in their lives for the eight years the Everton’s stay.  The stories are clearly written, with good local flavour.  I enjoyed the humanity of the lives, without pandering to politically correct language.

A Trip To The Light Fantastic. Travels with a Mexican Circus. Katie Hickman. 1994. ISBN 0006377157.  The author specializes in offbeat travel (that you would likely never do) that she will write about and her husband does photo journalism around the travels.  For this one, she literally joins a Mexican circus in Mexico city and travels, initially as a spectator then a performer as the troop moves slowly around the countryside. Since circus performers are not highly regarded she sees the country from the bottom up. Interspersed with the circus performers personal stories, she adds some side trips to very offbeat spectacles that would be very hard for the casual visitor to even know about.  She struggles with what appears to be magic (and it may be that) and the juxtaposition of Mexicans unique Catholicism with long standing Indian beliefs.   Clearly written, and not your normal travel guidebook.

Mexican Days. Journeys Into the Heart of Mexico. Tony Cohen. 2006. ISBN 0767920901.  The first book I read down here on what has turned into a fascinating learning experience ( which I have just touched) on what it is like to “live” in Mexico (vs translating the US amenities lock stock and barrel to a different geography). The author has found peace  for years in a small Mexican village with his artist wife ( A  Japanese textile specialist) when he arrives back to find the town invaded with the likes of Johnny Depp, Selma Hyack, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffiths and Edward Norton.; plus all their hangers on.  The noise and hubbub  drives Cohen to take an extended trip  through many different parts of Mexico to sample life there  as well as write about it (This just after 9/11 , so the travel editor suggests Americans will be less likely to travel outside the continent and interest in Mexico will rise – which was true) .  Each town visit is  richly described with great detail so you feel the damp , cold or heat and learn what each location brought to the mexican experience through history and culture. His descriptions reminded me at times of  DH Lawrence, they were so clearly.  thought through.  It feels like you are really seeing Mexico through his eyes.

So lesson learned- do not take everything you read in the press to heart- they never venture away from the main resorts anyway.There is way more to Mexico than resort visits!

Rethinking the Sales Cycle. How Superior Sellers Embrace the Buying Cycle to Achieve a Sustainable and Competitive Advantage. John R. Holland & Tim Young.

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Rethinking the Sales Cycle. How Superior Sellers Embrace the Buying Cycle to Achieve a Sustainable and Competitive Advantage.  John R. Holland &  Tim Young. 2010. ISBN 9780071639798.  This book has been out awhile, but it is light years ahead of any sales book on the market today.  The treatise is, buyers have  aken full control of the buying cycle through becoming much more aware of what they want and how they want to be engaged.  Sellers who have not adjusted their methods to these buyers who are fully engaged in researching and contacting other users of products are now stuck in a very old paradigm.  Sellers have no control and if they attempt to manipulate buyers they will suffer dearly.  Most sales loses are due to now being outsold.  If you are being forced to sell on price, it likely reflects on poor salesmenship, lack of good sales training, and a lack of sales ready messaging from marketing.  And it seems  like 90% of sales  and marketing organizations  (and training programs) are way behind the ball.  Marketing is charged to now come up with much more relevant content for the interested buyer as well as sales ready messages/materials (for many different players and verticals) for the sales team.  Every page rings so true that I literally could not put this book down , since it directly applies to content marketing.  I shared so many items from it that Facebook said I was sharing too frequently!!!  If you are a CEO, in Sales and/or  Marketing this book is a must buy and multiple read.  The authors have a training program at

Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers. Josh Bernoff & Ted Schadler

#Empowered on iPad

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Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers. Josh Bernoff & Ted Schadler. 2010. ISBN 9781422155639.   The authors are Sr employees at Forrester, and Bernoff wrote Groundswell, which I liked.  if you are looking for one book that does show you how B2B companies are successfully implementing social media, this book is for you. From insurance (Aflac, Sun Life), through Cisco, Best Buy, Dell  and companies (medical devices, pharma) that you would not expect the book is full of good case studies.  They present good rules of thumb as well as guides when you may not want to take the plunge.   Some pretty good slams at Tim Horton’s among other things here,. I especially liked their simple ways of presenting guidelines for employee behavior that anyone could understand.   Well written, well organized and a worthwhile addition to your library!

Dr. Neal Barnard`s Program for Reversing Diabetes. Dr. Neal D Bernard.

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Dr. Neal Barnard`s Program for Reversing Diabetes. Dr. Neal D Bernard. 2007. ISBN 9781594865282.  I am always trying to hack my body to beat back diabetes.  So far I have had lots of success.  However Bernard talks about reversing diabetes without using drugs, which really piqued my interest.  He is the first for me to have made a compelling argument as to why pre- diabetics  like me can plateau. He advocates for those who are still having a struggle with diet and cholesterol etc to adopt a more aggressive vegetarian approach.  He wants us to eliminate dairy and meat protein., since even lean chicken and fish still contain fat, lots of it = cholesterol .  I have been moving along with the low GI  starch complex foods, eating more beans, vegetable protein and lots of fruits & veggies.  So to quit meat, eggs & dairy etc was not a big step.  The benefits of doing this while in this  really warm climate is that I immediately stopped heating up after meals and feeling so stuffed for hours, plus fruits and veggies are really cheap and plentiful.  I feel great.  I have been eating my face off with fruits, beans, veggies, corn tortillas etc, along with beer and have lost weight, without having access to my daily at home weight and aerobics regimes ( Its too damn hot, anyway) . The book is a bit repetitive , but it contains some good recipes and tips on where to get stuff.  All in all, I am enjoying the change.