The Lean Startup – Book Review

9/10

Eric Reis

Elevator Pitch – How to successfully build a innovative and successful business through thinking through normal business applications but with a focus feedback for better decision making.

Favorite Quotes –

1. New customers come from the actions of past customers.

2. If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.

3. Remember, if we’re building something that nobody wants, it doesn’t much matter if we’re doing it on time and on budget.

4. The problem with most entrepreneurs’ plans is generally not that they don’t follow sound strategic principles but that the facts upon which they are based are wrong.

5. It does not matter how fast we can build. It does not matter how fast we can measure. What matters is how fast we can get through the entire loop.

Thoughts –

This book was really good. This is another book for the entrepreneur or the head of a department in charge of product development. The main idea is that you HAVE to have feedback to build the product the right way. Innovation, or product development, is a consistent march of learning, building, and then measuring, repeated at infinitum.The more feedback and more systematically you can develop the product by changing the unit of measurement to the right one, the better your decisions, and the more sustainable your growth.

Eric does a great job of leveraging his experience to give examples of how this looks in the “real world”. If I had a complaint for this book though, it is that it is too long. (almost 300 pages) If you skim the examples, you can get the point, without getting bogged down. (My favorite chapter was on growth, and it is all the way in the back… keep pushing through to get there)

Hope you enjoy!

#leanstartup

 

Brains On Fire

Brains on Fire

8/10

Phillips, Cordell, Church, Jones

 

Elevator Pitch – Word of mouth is the only way to build a brand by creating a community of loyal, passionate, and raving fans. Also, social media sucks.

 

Favorite Quotes –

“Your ultimate goal should be to ignite something so powerful that if your marketing and PR departments or, God forbid, even your entire company got hit by a busy, your fans would pick up the banner and march forward with it.”

 

“Participation does not equal engagement.”

 

“Listen closely to what we’re about to say: 90% of word of mouth interactions happen off-line.”

 

“Companies are made up of people, and people are fallible. The ones that admit this win.”

 

 

Thoughts –

This book is brilliant. It is a very convicting book to read because it makes you feel really dumb for any attempt to build a brand or market your product, in a way that is even the slightest bit authentic. The stories they tell about creating, mobilizing and unleashing movements is so inspiring, and yet completely daunting.

You should read this book and immediately realize the huge difference between marketing/advertising your company, and having a product that is remarkable enough to the point where your fans do all of that for you. They can’t help it. It is a similar idea to Godin’s Purple Cow, but with more focus on how to start, build, and maintain a movement of your raving fans, where Godin focuses more on innovating and building a truly remarkable product.

Pick this up if you have any control in the story telling process in your organization. It will hone your skills, and hopefully inspire you to do something bigger than just push your message louder and to more people. It will help you inspire your fans.

 

And big thanks to @bretttrapphis blog for allowing me to pillage his bookshelf to borrow this one.

Also, if you don’t follow @spikejones, you should…

 

enjoy

 

Photo Cred – Brains On Fire Website

 

Some of my favorite tweeters

We all have had the day when you let the day slip away from you and before you know it, it is 12:00 and you haven’t checked twitter once. Oh the humanity…

On those days, there are people that you always read, and those that you skip. Most of the time I read my friends, and skip the more business-ish tweeters, but wanted to share some of the ones that I always read. I say these are my favorites, but before you get your feelings hurt, this is a list of complete strangers, and none of my friends, not even the really talented and interesting ones, have been listed. (you know who you are…)

So here you have it, my list of some of my favorite tweeters.

Obvious ones:

Harvard Business Review: Good tips for managers. Better management is the goal. Not sure I always agree with what they say, but from time to time, you can get some good nugets.

Bloomberg News: Bloomberg is a new one for me, but I am really enjoying it. They keep up with what is going on in the headlines with politics and the economy, but mix that in with a healthy dose of the startup world.

Garden and Gun Magazine: Inspiration. Good food, drink, and travel.

Fast Company: Good updates on all things business/innovation/trends. I screen this one more than all of the others, but it normally has some interesting/thought provoking reads.

Inc Magazine: Slightly more technical and helpful than Fast Company, but the same spirit. Where Fast Company is more popular news, Inc is more practical tips, information, and resources.

 

And for the slightly lesser knowns:

Lee Clow’s Beard: Great reminders/ kicks in the butt in the marketing and branding worlds. This one will keep you from being too impressed with yourself.

Vivek Wadhwa: Entrepreneur and professor at Duke and Harvard. Very sharp guy when it comes to all things start ups, venture capital, and globalization. (often linked to by Bloomberg)

Spike Jones: This world would take itself more seriously if not for Spike Jones. He is a great reminder that Social Media doesn’t matter, and would probably make fun of me for writing this blog. Oh well…

Richard Florida: Author of “The Great Reset” and all around master of macroeconomics as it relates to the recession. Read that book, and follow this guy. He is smarter than I am.

 

Enjoy…

Classic Drucker

7/10

Peter Drucker

“Classic Drucker”

Favorite Quotes:

“knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers.”

“The key to greatness is to look for people’s potential and spend time developing it.”

 

Thoughts:

I decided to start reading some of the “old school” books on business and management. I feel like I have been reading a lot of new thoughts on how to manage in the new world, and to pay the old fellers their proper due, I thought it would be good to understand what got us to where we are now. Hopefully this trend will continue a bit longer. It has been valuable perspective.

Classic Drucker is a great book if you are in the business world, inside a medium to large organization, or do any work consulting with them. This is not a great book for an entrepreneur since the perspective is written for larger organizations. It spends a lot of time discussing how to make your departments, and people more productive, and help them develop into highly skilled executives. Very useful information if you are in that position, but for the rest of us.. not so much.

If you are at the executive level of a small business and looking for a highly technical resource to get you thinking about how to improve your organization, this is a good one. Just make sure you are ready for small type, lots of pages, and prepare yourself with plenty of caffeine. This was a tough book to work through on the beach this summer. (hence I am just now posting about it)

 

Check it out at Amazon

 

 

Good enough to share – Saturday edition

I don’t know about you, but for me, Saturdays are about rest and refueling. I would hate to imply that I don’t work some on Saturdays.. far from it. But, I have found that if I don’t get some inspiration, and some refueling on the weekend, then it kills my Monday and Tuesday productivity.

With that in mind; here is my list of what worked today.

 

People doing remarkable things:

1. Imogene + Willie – http://www.imogeneandwillie.com/
2. Falcon Motorcycles – http://www.falconmotorcycles.com/gallery.html#0
3. Confederate Motorcycles – http://confederate.com/motorcycles/existentialist/
4. The Forgetful Gentleman – http://forgetfulgentleman.com/home

Beautiful things:

1. Stag – (great men’s retailer in Austin, TX – Tumblr) – http://tumblr.stagaustin.com/
2. A continuous lean – http://www.acontinuouslean.com/

Thought provoking:

1. Bearings Guide – http://www.bearingsguide.com/
2. Advice to Entrepreneurs – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbfscLCOuW8
3. Amy Poehler’s Harvard Speech – http://jezebel.com/5805927/amy-poehlers-awesome-harvard-commencement-speech
4. Triangle Startup – Pitches from the weekend event – http://triangle.startupweekend.org/

#enjoy

Up the Organization – A Book Review

9/10

Author – Robert Townsend

Title – Up the Organization

Elevator Pitch – 26 topics, one starting with each letter of the alphabet, of problems that occur when a company starts to suck… and how to fix them.

Favorite Quotes

“Fire the whole advertising department and your old agency.”

“And God created the Organization and gave It dominion over man.” – Genesis 1 30A, Subparagraph VIII

“If you can’t do it excellently, don’t do it all all. Because if it’s not excellent it won’t be profitable or fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here?”

“Promises. Keep them. If asked when you can deliver something, ask for time to think. Build in a margin of safety. Name a date. Then deliver it earlier than you promised.”

Thoughts –

My father actually let me borrow this book, and if I am being honest, I was pretty skeptical about this one. I am always leery of books written by CEOs of big business, but after reading this I have to admit that I was wrong. This is an amazing book.

This once again proves the “don’t judge a book by its cover rule” which I more and more seem to be ignoring. This also proves the “just because they are old doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they are talking about rule”. While reading this book, I kept finding myself amazed at how much this guy, a man who ran a huge organization, was trying to run it as much like a start up as he could. There are multiple chapters about trimming the fat and firing unnecessary departments that are fronts for bureaucracy.

Pick this one up. You can find new additions from Amazon. You will enjoy it.

James H Kunstler – TED Talk

9/10

This TED talk has been really blowing my mind recently. It has both made me care more about where we live, and at the same time dislike the places that as James describes them, are the places that aren’t worth caring about or fighting for.

Just to be clear, this isn’t always a, downtown = good, suburbs = bad. The goal is meaningful places. Places that create citizens and not consumers. Places that create neighbors.

Please excuse the foul language in the video.

The grid


I shared this with someone recently and thought it would be good to post here as well. DISCLAIMER:: I don’t remember where I heard this first but it is definitely not my own…

There are three types of goals when looking for a career.

1. Doing something you love
2. Doing something the world will pay for (that they value)
3. Doing something you can become the best in the world at

Most people accomplish one of these, and land in a career for the rest of their life, but the people that you know that are really happy have found the magic place where they are doing all 3.

It is tough to find, but if you ever do, hold on.