5 Books for Business-Starters

I’m about to hand over a book to someone I’m coaching on his career direction. This made me think: if someone was considering starting their own business, what books would I recommend as “required reading” before taking the plunge?

Here’s a handful:

BooksPurple Cow, by Seth GodinDifferentiate, or don’t bother

Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki - Develop yourself and your people skills above all

The Entrepreneur Equation, by Carol RothDelineate how your idea will actually turn into a successful business

Amazing Things Will Happen, by C.C. ChapmanDream and then do

The $100 Startup, by Chris GuillebeauDon’t wait: opportunity surrounds you.

Each of these books is practical, straightforward, and approachable. In combination, they provide an excellent mix of the idealism and realism that are both required for entrepreneurs.

>>Your turn – what would be on your recommended reading list for new entrepreneurs?

(note: links to book titles above are Amazon affiliate links – which means if you buy from Amazon through following this link, I might earn a few shekels!)

Is This the Future of Knowledge-Sharing?

I love books.

I also enjoy magazines and newspapers. But we’ve all known for quite some time that the publishing world is changing rapidly, and a lot of our knowledge-sharing would be digital.

Despite that, I have not invested in a Kindle or iPad, nor am I reading books on my iPhone, because the idea of a simple porting of text to (smallish) screens isn’t compelling enough for me (yet).

Maybe that will change. For a long time, I’ve had the notion that the whole way we go about publishing “books” (static bodies of content that are obsolete the moment they’re published in a rapidly-changing world) needs to undergo a revolution.

We need to have multimedia, mobile, update-able knowledge-sharing. Perhaps even subscribe to people and knowledge-sharing projects over time (“progressive publishing“), not just buy a “book.”

Seth Godin wrote this post today. I promptly downloaded the Ideavirus iPhone app (worth the 99 cents just to evaluate!) because perhaps this is starting to approach the new way of knowledge-sharing. Video tied to abbreviated text. Potentially update-able. Looking ahead, all sorts of on-line community-building bolt-ons could be integrated.

I think we’re getting there. I’d urge you to invest the 99 cents and think about the possibilities. Because this looks to me like just a first-inning single, with plenty of power hitters in the on-deck circle….

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Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

This is part 2 of the Death of Social Media™ (part 1 is here, wherein we recount how the doomsayers are predicting the demise of SocMed, and the haters are rejoicing). Alan Wolk and I were exchanging. via Twitter, ludicrous traffic-inducing blog headlines about this doomsday scenario, which is how this 2-part “series” was birthed.

For those of an earlier generation, the lyrics and melody of Don McLean’s “Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie” will remain forever embedded in perma-memory – if you’re not familiar with it, here’s a performance on YouTube, and here are the original lyrics.

Now, onto the show…

Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

A short, short time ago
I can still remember how that Twitter used to
Make me smile
And I knew that if I had my chance
I could make those people tweet
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

Did you write a blog for nerds
And do you have faith in Zuckerberg
If the Scoble tells you so
Now do you believe in baiting links
And can Brogan save your blog that stinks
And can you teach me how to Plurk real slow

Well, I know that you’re in love with Guy
‘Cause I saw you tweetin’ on the fly
You both linked up your tribes
Man, I dig those linkback vibes

I was a lonely soc med guru schmuck
With a pink MacBook Pro and a rubber duck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the Soc Med died
I started singing…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

I clicked an URL whose link was blue
And I pinged it for some happy news
But it just crashed my Chrome and went away
I scanned my feeds as I had before
But all I got was 404′s
I couldn’t even read Olivier

Well now, at their desks the tweeters screamed
The bloggers cried, and the spammers schemed
But not a word was written
Not even by Laura Fitton
And the gurus I admire the most
Loren, Ev and Kevin Rose
They made a name, then it was toast
The day the Soc Med died

We started singin’…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

(do I really think Social Media is dying? Of course not. Here’s how I see the evolution unfolding…)

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Five in the Morning – Finale

swbeard1Yes, it’s true. Today, after nearly 100 Five in the Morning posts (including guest posts by other bloggers), I’m bringing the series to a close.

Why? Well, mainly it’s a matter of time – there are some other priorities that now require more of my attention. Creating Five in the Morning posts, as fun and fulfilling as it is, can be quite time-consuming. Plus, there is that existential sense that “it’s time” – major goals have been met of exposing people to a variety of great bloggers and resources, and other creative ideas are striving for attention.

Of course, the StickyFigure blog will continue on, as it did before Five in the Morning, so you can expect my usual brilliant insights and world-changing ideas right here – just not daily, perhaps.

A big part of the fun of Five in the Morning has been the interaction with you, the audience, and the participation of other bloggers who have guest-hosted. We’ve enjoyed guest entries from Cam Beck, Mike Sansone, CB Whittemore, Olivier Blanchard, Tom Clifford, Connie Reece, Chris Wilson, Lisa Hoffmann, Arun Rajagopal, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Becky Carroll, Matt J McDonald, Ken Burbary, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, and Doug Meacham.

And while we’ve pointed to plenty of posts from “name-brand” bloggers like Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, Jeremiah Owyang, Doug Karr, David Armano, Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Ann Handley, Valeria Maltoni, Shannon Paul, and other luminaries, I hope you’ve subscribed to some of the very smart, but lesser-known lights after seeing their posts featured.

If there is to be a “legacy” to this little series, my hope is that some of you with particular areas of expertise (PR, Design, Writing, Branding, Non-profits, etc.) would become consolidators as well, pulling together great posts (maybe on a weekly basis) for your audiences. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, and, done rightly, it can drive more traffic to your blog over time. I will happily link to others who pick up the torch and become info-scouts for the rest of us.

OK, so for your Friday, here’s a Fabulous Final Five. OK, Six. I never was great at math.

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Kiss the next hour good-bye. 2009 ReBrand Winners. Sweet bunch of links showing before/after. Seriously – your day of planned productivity is over. You are GND.

Using Twitter to land a job. Who doesn’t like a success story like this? With a nice passing mention of @prSarahEvans.

How do you keep customers happy? Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy, says to focus on the experience. And at the Brains on Fire blog, here is a fabulous example, with the spotlight on a local Whole Foods store.

[this space reserved for a designated non-mention of Skittles]

How much Money is $1 Trillion? The Anatomy of a Sticky Illustration. Nicely done. Hat tip: Cam Beck.

Give First. Amen. From Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixes of Separation blog.

PLUS: Tabasco advertising. No words needed. Hat Tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog.

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Thanks for tuning in for these 5 months of fun and experimentation. Oh….and I really don’t get up at 5 am most mornings. It’s really 5 (posts) delivered (early) in the morning. But while sipping my first cup of coffee between 5:30-6:00 am, I still get a chuckle out of all of you  thinking I actually get up early…!

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Five in the Morning 022409

Seth Godin, on the milestone of his 3,000th blog posts, considers himself the “luckiest guy” – and, lets everyone know that the first 2,500 are the hardest! If you like what he does, send him a note of congratulations (seth at squidoo dot com).

Marketing Basics: Conversation. An excellent summary and set of links from that folliclly-challenged Texas marketer, Jay Ehret.

Top Documentary films – an interesting on-line resource for your viewing pleasure. Hat tip: Director Tom Clifford.

Your Pitch Sucks? An interesting service provided by Jim Kukral and a team of PR pros. I like this business model – using on-line tools to rapidly offer distributed, scalable, on-demand expertise. In this case, in the much-needed area of creating GOOD press releases! My question for some of you: can you create a similar business model in your niche area of expertise?

Tom Peters. From Action to Excellence. 57 very pithy points.

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(Image credit – created via Spell with Flickr)

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Five in the Morning 020509

Wired interviews Seth Godin at TED – Tribes, timing, and people (not ads). Classic Seth stuff. And, here’s a interesting thought from Seth’s blog, about “solving a different problem.”

Razorfish data tying consumer social media activity to purchase behavior“there are significant differences in both engagement and spend between those who discovered the application or widget through media, versus those who were referred by friends. ..those who discovered the application via a friend were almost four times more likely to download the applicationThey were also more likely to spend money on the client site and spent much more on average.”

From Derrick Daye at Branding Strategy Insider (Hi Derrick – long time no e-contact!), something we really shouldn’t have to say: When Naming turns Deceitful. Some classic examples here.

John Moore riffing on Ted Mininni riffing on coffee…follow the links for some good discussion. My take – it’s not all about coffee taste. It’s also the experience. Getting a cup of coffee at home (8 O’Clock), or at McDonald’s, or at DD, is…well, boring, compared to Starbucks. Starby’s not only has to preserve their unique taste position, they have to make sure that having coffee at their destination is qualitatively different. But you all knew that…

A Fast Company article that you simply have to read, for its throught-provokingness…

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PLEASE NOTE: There is reason to believe that the Google/Feedburner changeover has created “issues” with RSS feeds for my blogs (and others). Here are the feeds for my three blogs; if you’re a reader, would you please re-subscribe just to make sure? Thanks!

:: Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog (that’s this one!)

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Five in the Morning 112008

Has your company’s social media cat meow’ed yet? The glass-half-full guy, Terry Starbucker, has some valuable thoughts on this.

Is There a Hierarchy in Social Media? (as in: where should you start?). Nice overview of the basics from Jeff Paro, over at Small Business Branding blog.

Seth Godin has a free download for you – the Tribes Q&A book.

Brian Clark over at Copyblogger talks about strategic collaboration. I include this because I think it is the most important emerging business model for talented entrepreneurs to tap into. Many new businesses, and business models, are waiting to happen…

Socially fatigued? Interesting thoughts (that we can all relate to!) from Karen Swim.

PLUS – Andy Nulman having a little fun priming the market for his upcoming “Pow! Right Between the Eyes!” book.

(Image credit)

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Five in the Morning After, 110508

It’s over. And I’ll bet a lot of folks aren’t getting up anywhere close to 5 in the morning!

Truth be told, I wasn’t up then either. Closer to 6 am. But here are your 5 fresh posts to start the day…

MarketingShift brings us two interesting lessons. British Airways finds out about the power of social networking (and not in a good way). And, by seeking to “do good” with free election day giveaways, did some companies “do wrong”? Didn’t see this one coming…(I did get a free cup of Starbucks yesterday…does that make me and a few million others accessories to a felony?)

Rohit Bhargava gives us a nice visual on how one Obama branding strategy was quite effective. I agree with him, though I am usually more of a branding/logo “purist” – what do you think?

Rick Turoczy drinks some Juice. Have you tried it yet? I plan to!

Seth Godin summarizes some interesting marketing lessons (yes, with “tribe” angles) from the U.S. election.

The speed of Twitter. An interesting example from Mack Collier, along with a link to a good post from Mike Sansone.

PLUS: The power of a simple graphic. Really neat. From Todd And’s blog.

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Five in the Morning 102908

From John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing: Customers are your most effective sales force.

Chris Wilson (Mr. Fresh Peel) on the Rise of Personal Branding. An interesting book is recommended.

Seth Godin ‘fesses up to some pretty spectacular failures. Lesson: keep going!

What was the most effective channel for getting birthday wishes? David Berkowitz discusses his experience. There was one clear, dominant, unquestioned leader!

Matt Dickman presents some very interesting data about the relative preference for IM/SMS/Email among different age groups. Neat stuff!

BONUS: Kill the Buzz. Now! Read the Comments – that’s the best part!

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Five in the Morning 102808

Chris Brogan with some tips on Reaching outside your Fishbowl to Build Community.

A series of video snippets (of Seth Godin and Tom Peters) commenting on social media. Courtesy of Doug Karr.

Beth Harte gets even more passionate. Good for her (and for you)! Similar thoughts from Amber Naslund.

Start buying! The Age of Conversation (2) is here. David Reich gives a plug.

The problem: Defining the problem. So says Tom Clifford – and this principle applies for many areas beyond creating a video!

PLUS – Do some people still have a heart, even for a stranger? Wow.

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Five in the Morning 102008

Rebuilding Brand America – a thought-provoking piece by Derrick Daye over at Branding Strategy Insider blog.

She Said. He Said. You just have to read it. From the Diva herself, Toby Bloomberg.

Is your marketing touching on What Motivates People to Buy? Drew McLellan with some great thoughts, and a nice “List of Eight.” From the Small Business Branding blog.

Jay Ehret assembles a list of four great posts from last week giving solid marketing advice. From The Marketing Spot (small business marketing) blog.

From Louis Gray5 family-friendly iPhone apps. I immediately went over to the iTunes store and downloaded three of them (my 7-year-old loves playing this kind of stuff!)

PLUS – from Jackie Huba, an offer for a free conference call with Seth Godin tomorrow. Sign up at the link! (Church of the Customer blog)

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Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

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Five in the Morning 100608

From Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs), on her personal blog A N N A R C H Y – a very bittersweet birthday story. Profoundly touching.

TechCrunch points out a new and improved AlertThingy coming up…this appears to be another step in the evolution toward MetaMee. Can’t wait to try it out!

It was the beautiful photo that first drew me into the post, I confess. But anything from Valeria Maltoni is worth reading, and this is no exception: The Distance between Avoidance and Attention in Customer Service.

Speaking of customer service, Doug Meacham is no longer Expect(ing) Great Things from Kohl’s.

Seth Godin gives 9 SOLID Steps to Powerpoint Magic. Seriously, if you do any presenting whatsoever, you need to read and apply!

PLUS: Congratulations are in order for Douglas Karr, who is starting a new position in social media, and Greg Verdino, whose blog just transitioned into the terrible two’s.

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Irrational Brand Attachment

For years, I’ve thought about – with a combination of amusement and amazement – the incredible, and irrational, attachment people have to sports teams. Never have gotten around to writing a blog post about it, until I read Seth Godin’s post this morning about Irrational Commitment.

Seth talks more about the irrational commitment of parents and entrepreneurs, but from a marketing and branding point of view, the perspective applies to sports teams.

Now I consider myself to be a pretty rational and pragmatic sort – perhaps overly so. I am not a season-ticket holder for any team, I do not glue myself to the TV for every game, I don’t go around wearing uniform shirts for any sports team. Yet, growing up in central Connecticut, I was a Red Sox fan (baseball) and New York Giants fan (football), and still, to this day, there is an irrational attachment to those teams. And, I am really happy that Vanderbilt’s football team cracked the Top 25 this week!

Here’s the thing: there’s really no reason for it. It’s a bunch of overpaid guys (well, the pros anyway), who really have no necessary regional attachment, whom I don’t know in the least – but because they happen to have a home stadium somewhere in an area meaningful to me (I live there, or used to, or went to school there), there is attachment. And for the fanatic, that can mean shelling out hundreds of dollars to attend games, buy swag, wear shirts and hats with the gang markings, etc. etc. And, in some cases (especially soccer in other countries), getting into serious and even deadly fights.

It makes no sense. Yet those logos, those uniform colors, that team name, somehow become an extension of us, even when all the faces have changed.

Talk about marketing nirvana! If only we could have customers with THAT kind of fanatical, even irrational attachment!

There, I finally got that out of my system. What do you think? Why do we get so irrationally attached to teams in this way??

(image credit)

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Well-known Blogger Demoted to “Q List”

In a surprise move that has echoed across the blogging world, highly regarded Ann Handley (of Marketing Profs fame) was today demoted to the “Blogger Q List.”

“This is an outrage!” spewed Ann, fresh off a victorious B2B Summit that she hoped would finally elevate her to the “A List” along with other blogging luminaries. “I worked hard to move from Beta to Alpha, and to be relegated to “Q” status along with such long-tail bloggers as Steve (Stickyfigure) Woodruff and Charlie the Tuna is simply not acceptable!”

The mysterious Blogger Pecking Order Consortium (Blo-POC), which officially classifies bloggers into their respective ranked orbits, was cagey when asked about the demotion of Ann to the equivalent of blogging Siberia. “Look,” said the pseudonymous Seth Scoblecanis, spokesavatar for the group, “ever since she launched that annhandley.com thingie, with its tales of ancient slights and teenage angst, we’ve had to re-consider her semi-prominent place in the blogospheric echo chamber. We felt that a period of exile might be the best thing to help her shape up until she plurks more like, say, Mack Collier.”

“This will make quite a case study for my next monthly book, ‘Tangerine Spell-Checkers,’” stated Seth Godin, who analyzed Ann’s dilemma between bites of a meatball sundae. “It may lead to her subscriptions taking the dip, but small is the new big, and survival just isn’t enough. As long as she doesn’t self-promote, by offering a free prize inside or some other liar/marketer scheme, she should do fine. Maybe I’ll send her a bobble-head or a purple cow or something.”

Fellow A-lister Steve Rubel (Micropersuasion blog) had a similar reaction. “I was looking forward to Ann joining us on the A-list, and especially, of course, on FriendFeed. Not many Q-listers make it to my FriendFeed, but Ann will be an exception. I hope all my subscribers (on FriendFeed) will Twitter Ann’s plight and grab her FriendFeed.”

As of this writing, it is not certain what the “Q” in “Q List” stands for. Quiescent, Quack-ish, Quibbling, Quizno’sUmmUmmGood, and QuitNow have all been suggested. You may vote for your favorite using the QArmano widget on Facebook.

The demotion actually occurred yesterday, but was announced on Twitter, and therefore no-one knew about it until today, when that feature was enabled.

(Unhappy Ann Image credit)

UPDATE: After a blogstorm of protest, Ann has been re-instated to the B-list of marketing bloggers, with an “on-deck” status for the A-list in case Copyblogger or Problogger drop out. Ann also retains her membership on the Z-list, and, in Greece and at GE, she is on the “six-sigma” blogger list.

“Outstanding!” exclaimed Tim Jackson (Masi Guy) from a Medevac helicopter after tumbling off of a Big Wheels tricycle. “I give her one bionic thumb up, since that’s all I have left.”

(Happy Ann image credit)

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Marketing: a long-term, steady commitment

Seth Godin nails it, right here.

Why blog, Twitter, and otherwise communicate over time? Because trust takes time to build. Ad campaigns tend to aim at the short-term. Those of us seeking to create a robust and bond-building brand over time see the long-term benefits of social media tools.

It ain’t a whole lot more complicated than that…

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