I love reading. The wealth of concepts seem endless, and I wish I had the time to read even more than I do. Here are twelve books, the ideas and the inspiration they gave me.
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I decided to collect all my favorite quotes and highlights from these books and queue them up on Twitter. Just follow @BondsaiApp on Twitter to receive daily quotes from these and other books. If you like a quote, you can click the attached link to read more about the book. Neat!
Books on This Page
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber (@MichaelEGerber)
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (@vossnegotiation) and Tahl Raz
- Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi)
- The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dibb (@successwise)
- Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing by Rick Webb (@RickWebb)
- The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly (@RobertBly)
- The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman (@JoshKaufman)
- Insight Selling by Mike Schultz (@mike_schultz) and John E. Doerr (@JohnEDoerr)
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek (@SimonSinek)
- Confessions of the Pricing Man by Hermann Simon (@HermannSimon)
- Rules of Thumb by Alan Webber (@MayorWebber)
- To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink (@DanielPink)
- Madison Avenue Manslaughter by Michael Farmer (@madaveslaughter)
- Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg (#marshallrosenberg)
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (#davidogilvy)
- Impact Pricing: Your Blueprint for Driving Profits by Mark Stiving (@markstiving)
The E-Myth Revisited
by Michael E. Gerber (@MichaelEGerber)
A true a classic in the world of small business. Gerber has been advising companies for decades. This book is a republished edition of the original from the ‘80s. While I’m not too fond of Gerber’s campfire storytelling writing style, the ideas are explosive when used in the right context. This book requires patience, but it’s worth it.
The main takeaways from this book, for me, were 1) that a successful company is fundamentally about repeatable processes and systems, 2) entrepreneurship requires a commitment to predictability, excellence, and experimentation. The challenge is to balance all three. 3) We can be our own worst enemy in our attempt to build companies to improve our lives, companies that do the opposite and leave us worse off due to poor execution.
“Think of your business as something apart from yourself, as a world of its own, as a product of your efforts, as a machine designed to fulfill a very specific need, as a mechanism for giving you more life, as a system of interconnecting parts, as a package of cereal, as a can of beans, as something created to satisfy your consumers’ deeply held perceived needs, as a place that acts distinctly different from all other places, as a solution to somebody else’s problem.”
“The idea the Boss expressed to me was broken down into three parts: ‘The first says that the customer is not always right, but whether he is or not, it is our job to make him feel that way. ‘The second says that everyone who works here is expected to work toward being the best he can possibly be at the tasks he’s accountable for. When he can’t do that, he should act like he is until he gets around to it. And if he’s unwilling to act like it, he should leave. ‘The third says that the business is a place where everything we know how to do is tested by what we don’t know how to do, and that the conflict between the two is what creates growth, what creates meaning.’”
“Your business is a means rather than an end, a vehicle to enrich your life rather than one that drains the life you have.”
Never Split the Difference
Chris Voss (@vossnegotiation) and Tahl Raz
If I were to pick one book on negotiating, this would be it. Voss is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI and has worked on cases all over the world. You might think that working to release kidnapped aid workers has little to do with getting a better lease for your company. Well, I have to admit, I was skeptical too. I was proven wrong. Voss delivers tenfold. This book is packed with practical advice and makes negotiating something we can all practice and prepare for. This book offers the kind of recommendations that most books on the topic gloss over and instead go on and on about “strategy.”
“When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist). It applies to the smile-er as much as to the smile-ee: a smile on your face, and in your voice, will increase your own mental agility.”
“One group of waiters, using positive reinforcement, lavished praise and encouragement on patrons using words such as “great,” “no problem,” and “sure” in response to each order. The other group of waiters mirrored their customers simply by repeating their orders back to them. The results were stunning: the average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement.”
“‘He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation.’”
Epic Content Marketing
Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi)
It’s an ambitious title, but it offers content to match. This book offers useful and practical tips on what it takes to implement inbound and content marketing. The book is a compilation of a series of blog posts which means the chapters aren’t as wordy as other literature. Each chapter covers actions you can take right now to implement content marketing.
It’s a much-appreciated antidote to the books and articles that talk about lofty ideas but never get down to what to do. As with everything, half of the victory is starting. Even a lousy start takes you further than no start at all. I credit Pulizzi for giving me the tools and inspiration to start this blog.
“Good content marketing makes a person stop, read, think, and behave differently.”
“The goal of the storytelling strategy is to create better customers.”
“Think about the problem you are solving for your customers. Then tell that story in different ways everywhere your customers seek out authoritative information.”
“On what topic can you be the leading informational expert in the world?”
The 1-Page Marketing Plan
Allan Dibb (@successwise)
To many companies, marketing seems like an impenetrable problem. It’s just too large to comprehend, so they don’t even try. Alan Dibb, an Australian business advisor, sets out to fix this in this relatively short book full of actionable advice.
This book makes market messaging and lead generation useful and practical, even for freelancers. It touches on many topics, from the marketing to managing client relationships. There are just so many great ideas in this book. Its best feature is the 1-page marketing plan worksheet that I recommend every small to medium business to fill out.
“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday,’ that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales. And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.”
“So figure out the one thing your market wants a solution to, something that they’ll pay you handsomely for. Then enter the conversation they’re having in their mind, preferably something they go to bed worrying about and wake up thinking about. Do this and your results will dramatically improve.”
“Two great questions to think about when you’re crafting your offer are: Of all the products and services you offer, which do you have the most confidence in delivering? For example, if you only got paid if the client achieved their desired result, what product or service would you offer? Phrasing it another way—what problem are you sure that you could solve for a member of your target market? Of all the products and services you offer, which do you enjoy delivering the most?”
“Fixing legitimate complaints from customers can strengthen your relationship with them and makes your business more robust. A customer who sees you responding to, and resolving their genuine complaint is far more likely to buy from you again and recommend you to others. They feel validated, respected and taken seriously.”
Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing
by Rick Webb (@RickWebb)
As a former agency co-founder, I can verify there isn’t much information out there on how to build an agency. Webb’s book is one of the few titles that agencies and freelancers with the ambition to grow can turn to.
The book combines practical advice on the realities in the life of an agency with the author’s personal anecdotes. I found Webb’s ideas interesting and useful and I heartily recommend this book to freelancers and agency leaders who are looking for how to do it.
“The same vision that drives you should be the vision that you claim drives you to your clients.”
“Says entrepreneur Brett Martin, ‘Think of culture as a cofounder that is present when you are not. You are decisive, communicative, and respectful but it’s your culture that helps everyone know how to act when you are out of the room.’”
“When considering crafting a process around creativity, tread with caution. It would be wiser to foster an environment conducive to individual creativity, exploration, and learning, than to attempt to apply the personal techniques that work for you on the individual level.”
“It is vital that you institute a culture of personal learning. This should be a criterion for hiring. Beware anyone who does not express a desire to learn.”
The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
Robert Bly (@RobertBly)
This compact book explains the fundamentals of copywriting, whether it’s to communicate, sell or inform. It has some stellar advice that never gets old despite chapters on direct mail marketing which is, thankfully, a dying breed.
If you want to improve your copywriting skills, this book is an excellent starting point. However, I recommend substituting the parts on writing for the web and email marketing (sic) with a more updated source since much has happened since the early ‘2000s.
“Instead of creating aesthetically pleasing prose, you have to dig into a product or service, uncover the reasons why consumers would want to buy the product, and present those sales arguments in copy that is read, understood, and reacted to—copy that makes the arguments so convincingly the customer can’t help but want to buy the product being advertised.”
“Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears, and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already-existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire—but to channel and direct it.”
“To draw the reader into the body copy, you must arouse his or her curiosity. You can do this with humor, or intrigue, or mystery. You can ask a question or make a provocative statement. You can promise a reward, news, or useful information.”
“Freelance copywriter Sig Rosenblum explains: ’One of the rules of good copy is: Don’t talk about yourself. Don’t tell the reader what you did, what you achieved, what you like or don’t like. That’s not important to him. What’s important to him is what he likes, what he needs, what he wants.’”
“In other words, successful salespeople empathize with their customers. Instead of launching into a canned sales pitch, the successful salesperson first tries to understand the customer’s needs, mood, personality, and prejudices. By mirroring the customer’s thoughts and feelings in their sales presentations, successful salespeople break down resistance to sales, establish trust and credibility, and highlight only those product benefits that are of interest to the customer.”
The Personal MBA: A World-Class Business Education in a Single Volume
Josh Kaufman (@JoshKaufman)
If there ever were a controversial business book, this would be a strong candidate. Quite a few MBA graduates raised their eyebrows and more when this book came out. Kaufman makes a rather bold claim in its introduction, and I paraphrase: an MBA degree is a big waste of money.
I’m not arguing either way. However, I do say that this book is a fantastic resource for those of us who didn’t go to business school. It consists of a series of mental models or concepts which aid in learning as well as heaps of helpful advice. Even if business management isn’t your passion, chances are you’ll pick up something useful from this title.
“I’ve long believed that a certain system—which almost any intelligent person can learn—works way better than the systems most people use to understand the world. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition.”
“Every business is a collection of processes that can be reliably repeated to produce a particular result.”
“Every business or offering has a set of Critical Assumptions that will make or break its continued existence. The more accurately you can identify these assumptions in advance and actually test whether or not they’re true, the less risk you’ll be taking and the more confidence you’ll have in the wisdom of your decisions.”
“Good books, magazines, blogs, documentaries, and even competitors are valuable if they violate your expectations about what’s possible. When you discover that other people are actually doing something you previously considered unrealistic or impossible, it changes your Reference Levels in a very useful way. All you need to know is that something you want is possible, and you’ll find a way to get it.”
Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently
It’s been a few years since I read this book but its ideas have stayed with me since they resonated deeply with my sense of effective selling. I’ve honestly never connected with the concept of the hustling and bustling salesperson. This book offers a different view of what effective sales are.
The authors have based this book on a survey and interview study, which asked the question: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than the sellers who come in second place?” The book describes its results along with a wider discussion of the implications. The findings were that sellers who connect and build relationships, convince buyers, and collaborate, close more business. Successful sellers provide value at all points throughout, and buyers frequently credit them with “showing them new perspectives” and “listened to me.”
If you’re reading two books on selling this year, make it this one and “To Sell is Human” (see below).
“Change a buyer’s perception of what’s true and what’s possible, and sellers can influence the buyer’s agenda for action because they can influence the buyer’s success. This is what insight selling is all about.”
“Today few customers have the time or the inclination to build relationships before the sale. Instead, the relationship is the reward that customers give to salespeople who have created value for them. So, the sale comes first and the relationship building starts from there.”
“Sellers who focus on aspirations as well as afflictions are able to influence the buyers’ agenda directly by inspiring them with possibilities they hadn’t been considering but should.”
“When buyers perceive sellers as providing new ideas, sellers have a huge advantage. By bringing the right new ideas, sellers can shape buyer belief systems and approaches to action. This gives the seller tremendous influence.”
“The value used to be in the products and services. With products and services commoditized, the seller becomes the value. This is a massive shift.”
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek (@SimonSinek)
Some books are hidden gems, collecting dust in obscurity, while others get their very own star on the bibliographical Walk of Fame. Sinek’s “Start With Why” is in the latter category. I was debating whether I should include it at all, considering its popularity. Still, for those who aren’t familiar with the concept of “why,” this book is a must-read.
The idea is that at the core of everything is purpose and meaning. Organizations and brands are lead by serving a higher purpose (WHY), whether it’s Apple’s “think different” or something else. Successful businesses act consistently with their WHY, i.e. the HOW and WHAT follow from the WHY. To put it in other words, Sinek has made integrity the sexiest term in marketing strategy.
Here’s a visualization:
You can also watch Sinek’s blockbuster Youtube video from 2009:
”It is not just WHAT or HOW you do things that matters; what matters more is that WHAT and HOW you do things is consistent with your WHY.”
“When a company clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives.”
“Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe.”
“Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.”
“Companies with a clear sense of WHY tend to ignore their competition, whereas those with a fuzzy sense of WHY are obsessed with what others are doing.”
“For a message to have real impact, to affect behavior and seed loyalty, it needs more than publicity. It needs to publicize some higher purpose, cause or belief to which those with similar values and beliefs can relate. Only then can the message create any lasting mass-market success.”
Confessions of the Pricing Man: How Price Affects Everything
Hermann Simon (@HermannSimon)
In this, something of a professional autobiography, German pricer Hermann Simon introduces us to the world of pricing. His interest in pricing began as he was growing up on a farm after the Second World War. Those early years taught him his first lesson: “never run a business in which you have no influence on the prices you charge.”
I picked up this book to learn more about pricing, but it gave me so much more than just that. In relatively few pages, Simon manages to explain pricing in a readable and sometimes entertaining way. He covers more advanced concepts such as marginal utility and price elasticity with ease, illustrating them using anecdotes and examples from his career as one of the world’s first pricing consultants.
You should read this book if you run a business and you charge for what you do. Your time spent reading this book will be paid back, many times over. Plus it’s a great read!
“In every market there are two kinds of fools. One charges too much, the other charges too little.”
“People have asked me thousands of times to name the most important aspect of pricing. I answer with one word: ‘value.’”
“I learned that good advice is not expensive. It is quite affordable, if you can recognize its value.”
“Two of the most powerful intangible benefits we willingly pay for every day are convenience and peace of mind.”
“The less a buyer knows objectively about the quality of the products and prices in an assortment, the stronger the pull of the ‘magic of the middle’ will be.”
Rules of Thumb: How to Stay Productive and Inspired Even in the Most Turbulent Times
Alan Webber (@MayorWebber)
This book of 52 rules of thumb is based on a stack of cards that Webber used to carry around (and perhaps still does). He used the cards to write down rules of thumb he picked up over the years, from the ‘70s and onwards. Over the course of those years, Webber has worked in political administrations as well as co-founded a magazine you might have heard of. In other words, there’s no lack of experience behind the rules he humbly proposes in this book. These rules, Webber suggests, offer guidance and a way forward in our times when much conventional wisdom is being turned on its head.
This collection of anecdotes and associated “rules” is just brilliant. It can be binge-read in a go or as individual chapters. As I open it up now to write this summary, I can’t help getting sucked in. If the 52 rules aren’t enough, people have submitted their own 53rd rules.
”Rule #1. Don’t let fear undermine your chance to do that one thing you’ve wanted to do. Rule #1 touches every other rule. Take a second and smile. Enjoy the trip.”
“It’s not enough to be against something that’s bad—you’ve got to be for something that’s better.”
“Much of business is like much of school: the way to get ahead is to make other people think you’re smart. The best way to make other people think you’re smart, researchers have found, is to make fun of other people when they ask questions. That’s also a good way to stop people from asking questions. Over time the purpose of asking questions changes. Instead of looking for new insights, business leaders only ask questions when they already know the answers. Serious questions morph into rhetorical questions designed to reinforce an existing bias or preconception. And it’s not just inside companies. Much of what passes for journalism and news analysis is an exercise in asking questions to score debating points.”
“Success is built around finding what works and why. It comes from empirical evidence, not theory. Success comes from having answers you can trust and believe in—and to get those answers you have to go beyond just knowing. You have to go to just doing.”
“Diversity isn’t a matter of ideology or morality. It’s a pragmatic survival strategy, a sensible response to dramatic change. Companies that resist embracing diversity do so at their own peril—not only because it puts them on the wrong side of society, but also because it puts them on the wrong side of nature. Diversity as a matter of survival traces back to the deepest reservoirs of our human experience, all the way from Olduvai Gorge to the corporate boardroom.”
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Daniel H. Pink (@DanielPink)
I once did an experiment during a talk I held. I asked people in the audience to write down on sticky notes their perception of “selling.” Then I asked them to write down what came to mind when thought about “buying.” Not surprisingly, the audience associated selling with negative words and feelings. They perceived buying much more positively. Curious, since both usually taking place at the same time, but in different minds.
In my talk, I went on to borrow some numbers from this book that show that we spend 40% of our time moving others. Or, in other words, selling. In “To Sell Is Human,” Pink dismantles much of the mystery around selling by showing how selling was always everyone’s job. The sales profession is changing fast, and we need new rules since the old ones are “constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that has crumbled.” In the book, Pink redefines the classic acronym ABC (Always Be Closing) to a new definition of Attunement (seeking harmony with others), Buoyancy (stay afloat when the going gets tough) and Clarity (finding direction in complex situations).
This is one of my favorite books on selling much because it’s not classical sales technique literature. Instead, it explores selling from more of an anthropological point of view and does so in an entertaining and engaging way. I recommend it to everyone who does any form of selling.
“‘It’s about leading with my ears instead of my mouth,’ Ferlazzo says. ‘It means trying to elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and having the flexibility to frame what we do in that context.’”
“’The most common thread in the people who are really good at this is humility,’ she told me. ‘They take the attitude of ‘I’m sitting in the small chair so you can sit in the big chair.’ That’s perspective-taking through reducing power, the first rule of attunement. Martin also said that top salespeople have strong emotional intelligence but don’t let their emotional connection sweep them away. They are curious and ask questions that drive to the core of what the other person is thinking. That’s getting into their heads and not just their hearts, attunement rule number two. Most of all, ‘you have to be able somehow to get in synch with people, to connect with them, whether you’re with a grandmother or the recent graduate of an MBA program,’ she told me. How does she describe this capacity? ‘This might sound strange,’ she said, ‘but I call it the ability to chameleon.’”
“According to a large study of European and American customers, the ‘most destructive’ behavior of salespeople wasn’t being ill-informed. It was an excess of assertiveness and zeal that led to contacting customers too frequently.34 Extraverts, in other words, often stumble over themselves. They can talk too much and listen too little, which dulls their understanding of others’ perspectives. They can fail to strike the proper balance between asserting and holding back, which can be read as pushy and drive people away.”
“When something bad occurs, ask yourself three questions—and come up with an intelligent way to answer each one ‘no’: 1. Is this permanent? Bad response: ‘Yes. I’ve completely lost my skill for moving others.’ Better response: ‘No. I was flat today because I haven’t been getting enough sleep.’ 2. Is this pervasive? Bad response: ‘Yes. Everyone in this industry is impossible to deal with.’ Better response: ‘No. This particular guy was a jerk.’ 3. Is this personal? Bad response: ‘Yes. The reason he didn’t buy is that I messed up my presentation.’ Better response: ‘No. My presentation could have been better, but the real reason he passed is that he wasn’t ready to buy right now.’ The more you explain bad events as temporary, specific, and external, the more likely you are to persist even in the face of adversity.”
“People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain, the researchers argue. That uncertainty can lead people to think more deeply about the person they’re evaluating—and the more intensive processing that requires can lead to generating more and better reasons why the person is a good choice. So next time you’re selling yourself, don’t fixate only on what you achieved yesterday. Also emphasize the promise of what you could accomplish tomorrow.”
“The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you. In a world where buyers have ample information and an array of choices, the pitch is often the first word, but it’s rarely the last”
“Upserving means doing more for the other person than he expects or you initially intended, taking the extra steps that transform a mundane interaction into a memorable experience. This simple move—from upselling to upserving—has the obvious advantage of being the right thing to do. But it also carries the hidden advantage of being extraordinarily effective.”
Madison Avenue Manslaughter
By Michael Farmer (@madaveslaughter)
Advertising agencies aren’t what they once were. Why and how that is, is the topic of this book by management consultant Michael Farmer. While my background isn’t in traditional advertising, I found this book fascinating. Much of what Farmer covers holds true, for agencies of all kinds. I recommend this book to all agency leaders who want to understand where their business is heading.
“Agencies are being squeezed, caught between reduced client fees and growing workloads while having to deliver growing margins to their owners. The only way agencies can handle this conflict is to downsize or otherwise adjust their headcounts and costs. This enfeebles the agencies at a time when clients’ expectations for more creativity, increased digital and improved results are at a feverish pitch. Client dissatisfaction with their agencies appears to be at a high if we judge this by the rate at which they fire their current agencies and search for new ones.”
“Agencies and their clients need to recapture some of the respect, fun and profitability of working in what was once one of the most fulfilling and glamorous of industries but has become a grim sweatshop for the people who do the work.”
“Aggressive procurement practices will continue, and fees will be cut accordingly. Procurement departments live and breathe cost reduction. They’re inclined to see marketing expenditures as costs rather than investments.”
“Clients are viewed as unmanageable constraints on agency performance, like spoiled children. Client heads are like nannies or babysitters who believe that the brats are beyond saving. It’s easier to give in than to fight. It’s also less risky. Who wants to lose a client over an argument? Who wants to lose a job?”
“Traditional agencies (in particular) continue to highlight creativity as their most distinguishing characteristic. Since this speaks less to client concerns, their bragging about creativity is really an inwardly-focused narcissistic exercise that distracts agencies from more relevant client priorities.”
“Agencies need to initiate the creation of marketing and strategic performance partnerships that see themselves and their clients as co-equal partners, each with specific responsibilities and roles, each of them committed to finding successful, results-generating marketing paths for the advertisers’ brands.”
By Marshall B. Rosenberg (#marshallrosenberg)
If I were to summarize Nonviolent Communication (NVC) using one word, it’d be empathy. Rosenberg, the creator of NVC, referred to it as the “language of life” and an “approach to nonviolent living.” This might sound abstract and esoteric, perhaps something a hippy would say. It’s far from. This isn’t a new age religion. NVC has effective and concrete applications in our personal and professional lives.
The fundamental idea of NVC is that everyone has a capacity for empathy and compassion. It’s by expressing our needs, and recognizing the needs of others, that we can achieve harmony in our relationships. NVC shares Gandhi’s theory of violence: that physical and verbal violence are causally linked. The only way to reduce physical violence in the world is by nipping it in the bud, that is, talk to one another in an affirming and empathic way and recognizing each other’s needs. Conflict occurs when needs clash, often without those involved being aware of it.
I discovered NVC in 2012 by coincidence. To me, it offered a toolbox for communication that was honest, empathetic without the manipulation that many do completely unawares. Here was a framework that offered a highly practical way to express one’s needs without assuming the guilt of the other party.
A typical application of NVC is how we behave in response to criticism or conflict. According to NVC, we’re all responsible for our emotions so expressions like “you make me feel” are considered harmful. Instead, NVC recommends that when you hear something that makes you upset, you first reflect over how it makes you feel. Then you try to understand why that is. Finally, you make a request that doesn’t pass guilt to the other person but focuses on what they specifically did. This puts the focus on their behavior. The issue isn’t how we feel or what we assume was intended, but the action itself and how it clashed with our needs.
NVC is useful for resolving conflicts in the home, as well as in the workplace. It has also been used successfully in negotiation talks to help opposite parties recognize each other’s needs. I’ve found it to be an invaluable way to think about social interactions and to approach it with empathy, not judgment or assumptions, whether in the role of leader or friend.
“A basic premise of NVC is that whenever we imply that someone is wrong or bad, what we are really saying is that he or she is not acting in harmony with our needs.”
“When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion.”
“The objective of NVC is to establish a relationship based on honesty and empathy. When others trust that our primary commitment is to the quality of the relationship, and that we expect this process to fulfill everyone’s needs, then they can trust that our requests are true requests and not camouflaged demands.”
“Most of us have never been taught to think in terms of needs. We are accustomed to thinking about what’s wrong with other people when our needs aren’t being fulfilled. Thus, if we want coats to be hung up in the closet, we may characterize our children as lazy for leaving them on the couch. Or we may interpret our co-workers as irresponsible when they don’t go about their tasks the way we would prefer them to.”
“For those of you wishing to apply NVC, especially in challenging situations of anger, I would suggest the following exercise. As we have seen, our anger comes from judgments, labels, and thoughts of blame, of what people ‘should’ do and what they ‘deserve.’ List the judgments that float most frequently in your head by using the cue, ‘I don’t like people who are … ‘ Collect all such negative judgments in your head and then ask yourself, ‘When I make that judgment of a person, what am I needing and not getting?’ In this way, you train yourself to frame your thinking in terms of unmet needs rather than in terms of judgments of other people.”
Ogilvy on Advertising
By David Ogilvy (#davidogilvy)
If you’ve ever watched Mad Men and its leading character Don Draper, then you know the world of David Ogilvy. Whether Draper and Ogilvy do in fact have much in common, I cannot say. Though they say Ogilvy was a man with a flair for the dramatic and a source of inspiration for the character of Draper.
In the world of advertising, Ogilvy was, and still is, a giant. While he built his legacy during the “golden age” of creative print advertising in the ‘50s and ‘60s, this book has much to offer even the digital natives of today. Ogilvy was a staunch believer in research-backed marketing and in advertising producing measurable results.
Though this book’s age does show, in the technology as well as in the latent sexism underlying some of Ogilvy’s thoughts, I’ve found “On Advertising” to be an inspiration. Many of the ideas related to marketing, advertising and copywriting still hold true. Some things just never change.
“When faced with selling ‘parity’ products, all you can hope to do is explain their virtues more persuasively than your competitors, and to differentiate them by the style of your advertising. This is the ‘added value’ which advertising contributes, and I am not sufficiently puritanical to hate myself for it.”
“The hallmarks of a potentially successful copywriter include: Obsessive curiosity about products, people and advertising. A sense of humor. A habit of hard work. The ability to write interesting prose for printed media, and natural dialogue for television. The ability to think visually. Television commercials depend more on pictures than words. The ambition to write better campaigns than anyone has ever written before.”
“The kind of photographs which work hardest are those which arouse the reader’s curiosity. He glances at the photograph and says to himself, ‘What goes on here?’ Then he reads your copy to find out. Harold Rudolph called this magic element ‘Story Appeal,’ and demonstrated that the more of it you inject into your photographs, the more people look at your advertisements”
“Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell, yet the majority of campaigns contain no promise whatever. (That is the most important sentence in this book. Read it again.)”
Impact Pricing: Your Blueprint for Driving Profits
By Mark Stiving (@markstiving)
If you follow this blog then you know that I love pricing. My interest in pricing began when I realized how ridiculous, and even unethical, it is to charge for time. I knew we, in order to create more value for clients, needed to focus on the value we created and capture that, not just billing what was easy to measure: time. An agency that bills for time will end up wasting just that, time. Value-based pricing is in the interest of buyers and sellers.
Over the years I’ve read many books on pricing, not just value-based. “Impact Pricing” is one of the most practical and helpful I’ve come across. If you’re new to pricing, Stiving’s book is a great introduction to the topic.
“The basis for your strategy can be product features, it can be location, it can be marketing, it can be breadth or focus of offering. It can be many things, but it shouldn’t be price.”
“Your job, when determining the pricing strategy for your startup company, is to charge a price low enough to capture enough customers to prove to potential investors the idea is a great one. And, at the same time, you need to keep prices high enough that your investors see the idea is or will be profitable.”
“Pricing is not a sustainable competitive advantage. Prices can change almost instantly. Your competitor can change prices just as quickly as you can. What if you find that optimal price, that psychologically perfect price that magically makes all customers want to buy from you? Your competitors will copy it—immediately. Any competitive advantage you may gain with pricing is not sustainable.”
“First, the act of putting a dollar value on your differentiable features emphasizes that your value comes from your differentiation. Second, the act of doing this step, of having all the marketers do this step, motivates everyone to start thinking about how they can add value. Finally, even if the results aren’t perfect, as you set prices and talk with more customers, you will discern what’s really important to your customers and how they’re making their decisions. You’ll be able to tweak your prices and, more important, your product offerings to better meet your customers’ desires and create more value.”
“Using value-based pricing you must identify and place a value on your differentiation. Differentiation creates value.”
“Pricing captures value. Everything else either creates value or destroys it.”
“You don’t have to win a price war; you have to survive it. To survive, simply get out of the way. This doesn’t mean quit the business or leave the market. It means differentiate your products and segment your customers. If you create products that are truly differentiated, you will still be able to sell them at a premium. The overall price may be forced down by your aggressive competitor, but you can still capture some share at a price premium simply due to your uniqueness.”
Which are your favorite business books?
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