Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

I discovered Seth Godin on the Web and began reading his blog. I then participated in the launch of Linchpin in New York.

What is the definition of a linchpin?  According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a linchpin is “one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.” In this case the term refers to person and their company who becomes indispensable to their customers.

I chose to review the book Linchpin for my first review because it:

  • Focuses on the customer, the most important person in my business.
  • Helped me get more things done.
  • Consistently offers a different, creative, innovative viewpoint.
  • Expresses in words my thoughts about becoming indispensable to my customers.

To be a linchpin, according to Godin, you need to be able to do the following:

  1. Provide a unique interface between members of your the organization and your customers organization
  2. Deliver unique creativity
  3. Manage a situation or organization of great complexity
  4. Lead customers
  5. Inspire staff
  6. Provide deep domain knowledge, a subject matter expert
  7. Possess  a unique talent

While I always think about how I can add value to my business relationships. However like other sales professionals, I tend to focus a little too much on calculating what I will get in return. This is a mistake, according to Godin.

Godin talks at length about the concept of the unreciprocated gift—that giving a gift without expecting something in return will make you indispensable. An example of an unreciprocated gift is to offer your customer a workable solution to a complicated problem or issue and expecting nothing in return.

I agree 100% with the concept: that giving an unreciprocated gift will make me indispensable. On the flip side, focusing on a reciprocal gift could make me dispensable , disposable.

All I need to do now is give more unreciprocated gifts. And so my work continues!

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin , published by Penguin Group, 2010.

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Book Review – Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Andrew McAfee

Andrew McAfee coined the term “Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0)” to describe how Web 2.0 “technologies could be used on organizations’ intranets and extranets.”

I found McAfee’s insight into best practices to be what resonated most with me when I read Enterprise 2.0 .

I have been studying the way in which organizations leverage best practices for nearly 30 years, and strongly believe that doing a better and faster job of sharing best practices would generate a measurable and significant ROI. Enterprise 2.0 explains how organizations can do just that. ( See further discussion on the subject of best practices .)

This book really helped me to understand why some organizations do a poor job of tapping into the talent they have in-house. It explains how Web tools can help an organization get smarter faster and lays out a road map for successfully implementing enterprise 2.0 projects with steps such as:

  1. Turn off the old or legacy communication systems to communicate, an example is sharing best practices one to one, via email.
  2. Support, encourage, promote and reward believers in E2.0
  3. Design technologies by starting with the users requirements.
  4. Be prepared for the implementation of E2.0 to take longer than you ever imagined. Be in it for the long haul.
  5. Communicate
  6. Celebrate small wins
  7. Measure progress at first and ROI later
  8. Integrate E2.0 within existing communication software and processes

McAfee observes: “One thing that’s clear from a large and growing body of research is that IT as a rule significantly enhances productivity. Technology helps a company do more with less. What’s more, IT helps companies keep doing even more with even less, year after year.”

Agreed. And, moreover, rapidly evolving technology needs to be more effectively leveraged in the sales and marketing functions. At the same time I believe that rapid implementation of technology with little consideration of the user needs and whose underlying intent is to generate management reports is a mistake.

Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges by Andrew McAfee , published by Harvard Business School Publishing, 2009.

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Book Review – eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale by Ardath Albee

I first learned of Ardath Albee by reading her blog , and it was obvious she understands the full implication of Web 2.0 and the interconnection and alignment between sales and marketing.

Albee’s book is full of great suggestions; here’s the best of what I read:

1. Customer synopsis: A four–step buying process

What most impressed me about this process is that the steps were very specific to the customers’ needs and tying into the changes in the customer needs through their buying stages.

2. Nurturing track

Albee laid out six steps to help you to create a nurturing track with your customers.  The strength of the steps lies in the interrelation of the content you deliver to your customers relative to where they are in the buying cycle.

3. Competitive differentiation through content structure

Albee talks about “three types of contagious content, which are fundamental for establishing competitive differentiation: educational, expertise, and evidence-focused content.” I find this viewpoint convincing because of its complete focus on the customer, not on one’s products and services.

eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale , by Ardath Albee , published by McGraw-Hill, 2010.

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Book Review – Inbound Marketing: Getting Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

This book provides a complete guide to for creating an inbound marketing strategy.  I identified five factors that are critical to my company’s success:

1. Content Strategy

Create a strong, compelling, interesting strategy and make sure your content addresses the most relevant topics for your audience.

2. Web 2.O

The marketing environment has changed tremendously, especially the last five years.  The three major buckets of change are search, blogs and social media.  Each one of these buckets must be explored, examined and considered in depth by sales and marketing executives to help build a successful competitive strategy.

3. Hub

Create a user-friendly Web site making it a single source that simplifies your customers’ efforts to find information.

4. DARC

This acronym represents the skills and network that marketing and salespeople need to have to be successful in a Web2.0 world. I recommend using DARC as a guide when hiring and promoting, especially for positions in marketing, PR and sales.

D igital citizens: people who were born with or are very familiar with the Web

A nalytical skills: people who can crunch data and uncover insights

R each on the Web: people with connection in their industry via the Web

C ontent creation: people who have writing skills, like journalists looking to make a career change

5. Expertise

As a result of reading this book, I knew I needed to hire a firm to help me develop my inbound marketing strategy. I hired a partner flyte new media that helped me do just that.

Inbound Marketing: Getting Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs , by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, published John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

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Book Review – The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett

Kathleen and I first worked together at Wilson Learning Corporation back in the ’90s.  Since that time we’ve gone in different directions, and Kathleen has pursued her passion for coaching by becoming certified in the coaching process and philosophy, launching a successful coaching practice and becoming a certified master trainer of other coaches.

In addition to providing the tools, and processes needed to be an effective coach, this book provides insights and solutions to the problems that coaches and their coachee’s face. It lays out a simple and compelling coaching framework referred to as FUEL exploration and provides key questions the coach can ask.

This framework covers four major elements as follows:

F rame the conversation: agree on the purpose, process and outcomes.

U nderstand the current situation: from the coachee’s point of view.

E xplore the desired state: articulate the vision of success.

L ay out a success plan: including specific, time bound steps including milestones.

Another useful tool is the “Coaching: the 6 Stages of Change.” The authors remind us that, “No matter how much one person needs to do something, he is unlikely to do it until he wants to.” This awareness and approach helps managers to better understand individuals’ motivations for change and how those goals can be obtained.

A framework for managers, aka the coach, is a description of the experiences that the manager goes through while coaching their associate. This awareness will help the manger be more effective at every step of the coaching process and ensure the amount of energy invested is equal to the outcome.

The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow , by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett, published by McGraw-Hill, 2010.

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