Category Archives: Required Reading

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer {Comment to Win!}

youtilityThe difference between helping and selling is just two letters

If you’re wondering how to make your products seem more exciting online, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products. You’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?”

Jay Baer’s Youtility offers a new approach that cuts through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

Drawing from real examples of companies who are practicing Youtility as well as his experience helping more than seven hundred brands improve their marketing strategy, Baer provides a groundbreaking plan for using information and helpfulness to transform the relationship between companies and customers.

Tell us why you want to upgrade your marketing. Comment to win a copy of Jay Baer’s Youtility.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Big Bang Disruption by Larry Downes

bigbangIt used to take years or even decades for disruptive innovations to dethrone dominant products and services. But now any business can be devastated virtually overnight by something better and cheaper. How can executives protect themselves and harness the power of Big Bang Disruption?

Just a few years ago, drivers happily spent more than $200 for a GPS unit. But as smartphones exploded in popularity, free navigation apps exceeded the performance of stand-alone devices. Eighteen months after the debut of the navigation apps, leading GPS manufacturers had lost 85 percent of their market value.

Consumer electronics and computer makers have long struggled in a world of exponential technology improvements and short product life spans. But until recently, hotels, taxi services, doctors, and energy companies had little to fear from the information revolution.

Those days are gone forever. Software-based products are replacing physical goods. And every service provider must compete with cloud-based tools that offer customers a better way to interact.

Today, start-ups with minimal experience and no capital can unravel your strategy before you even begin to grasp what’s happening. Never mind the “innovator’s dilemma”—this is the innovator’s disaster. And it’s happening in nearly every industry.

Worse, Big Bang Disruptors may not even see you as competition. They don’t share your approach to customer service, and they’re not sizing up your product line to offer better prices. You may simply be collateral damage in their efforts to win completely different markets.

The good news is that any business can master the strategy of the start-ups. Larry Downes and Paul Nunes analyze the origins, economics, and anatomy of Big Bang Disruption. They identify four key stages of the new innovation life cycle, helping you spot potential disruptors in time. And they offer twelve rules for defending your markets, launching disruptors of your own, and getting out while there’s still time.

Based on extensive research by the Accenture Institute for High Performance and in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs, investors, and executives from more than thirty industries, Big Bang Disruption will arm you with strategies and insights to thrive in this brave new world.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

startupofyouA blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley’s most innovative entrepreneurs.

The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.

Here, LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.

Why? Start-ups – and the entrepreneurs who run them – are nimble. They invest in themselves. They build their professional networks. They take intelligent risks. They make uncertainty and volatility work to their advantage.

These are the very same skills professionals need to get ahead today.

This book isn’t about cover letters or resumes. Instead, you will learn the best practices of Silicon Valley start-ups, and how to apply these entrepreneurial strategies to your career. Whether you work for a giant multinational corporation, a small local business, or launching your own venture, you need to know how to:

* Adapt your career plans as you change, the people around you change, and industries change.
* Develop a competitive advantage to win the best jobs and opportunities.
* Strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships.
Find the unique breakout opportunities that massively accelerate career growth.
* Take proactive risks to become more resilient to industry tsunamis.
* Tap your network for information and intelligence that help you make smarter decisions.

A revolutionary new guide to thriving in today’s fractured world of work, the strategies in this book will help you survive and thrive and achieve your boldest professional ambitions. The Start-Up of You empowers you to become the CEO of your career and take control of your future.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

thinkingIn the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

longtailWhat happens when the bottlenecks that stand between supply and demand in our culture go away and everything becomes available to everyone?“The Long Tail” is a powerful new force in our economy: the rise of the niche. As the cost of reaching consumers drops dramatically, our markets are shifting from a one-size-fits-all model of mass appeal to one of unlimited variety for unique tastes. From supermarket shelves to advertising agencies, the ability to offer vast choice is changing everything, and causing us to rethink where our markets lie and how to get to them. Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it, from DVDs at Netflix to songs on iTunes to advertising on Google.

However, this is not just a virtue of online marketplaces; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for business, one that is just beginning to show its power. After a century of obsessing over the few products at the head of the demand curve, the new economics of distribution allow us to turn our focus to the many more products in the tail, which collectively can create a new market as big as the one we already know.

The Long Tail is really about the economics of abundance. New efficiencies in distribution, manufacturing, and marketing are essentially resetting the definition of what’s commercially viable across the board. If the 20th century was about hits, the 21st will be equally about niches.

Required Reading for Entreperneurs: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

cheeseWith Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change—an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable.

Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.

When the Y2K panic gripped the corporate realm before the new millenium, most work environments finally recognized the urgent need to get their computers and other business systems up to speed and able to deal with unprecedented change. And businesses realized that this was not enough: they needed to help people get ready, too.

Spencer Johnson has created his new book to do just that. The coauthor of the multimillion bestseller The One Minute Manager has written a deceptively simple story with a dramatically important message that can radically alter the way we cope with change. Who Moved My Cheese? allows for common themes to become topics for discussion and individual interpretation.

Who Moved My Cheese? takes the fear and anxiety out of managing the future and shows people a simple way to successfully deal with the changing times, providing them with a method for moving ahead with their work and lives safely and effectively.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Rework by Jason Fried

reworkMost business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.

Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.

What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

jabjabNew York Times bestselling author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk shares hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition.

When managers, marketers, and small business owners outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next campaign that will produce profits. Even companies committed to “jabbing”—creating content for consumers and engaging with customers to build relationships—still desperately want to land the powerful, bruising swing that will knock out their opponents or their customers’ resistance in one tooth-shattering, killer blow. Right hooks, after all, convert traffic to sales. They easily show results and return on investment. Except when they don’t.

In the same passionate, streetwise style his readers have come to expect, Vaynerchuk is on a mission to strengthen marketers’ right hooks by changing the way they fight to make their consumers happy, and ultimately to compete. Thanks to the massive change in and proliferation of social media platforms in the last four years, the winning combination of jabs and right hooks is different now. Communication is still key, but context matters more than ever. It’s not just about developing high-quality content; it’s also about developing high-quality content that’s perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms and mobile devices. It’s about truly engaging with customers, not by shouting at them over social media but by using new narrative forms particular to each different media platform—especially, though not exclusively, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really work.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Choose Yourself! by James Altucher

chooseThe world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government. It’s all crumbling down. In every part of society, the middlemen are being pushed out of the picture. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

New tools and economic forces have emerged to make it possible for individuals to create art, make millions of dollars and change the world without “help.” More and more opportunities are rising out of the ashes of the broken system to generate real inward success (personal happiness and health) and outward success (fulfilling work and wealth).

This book will teach you to do just that. With dozens of case studies, interviews and examples-including the author, investor and entrepreneur James Altucher’s own heartbreaking and inspiring story-Choose Yourself illuminates your personal path to building a bright, new world out of the wreckage of the old.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Built to Sell by John Warrillow

builtA business parable about how to create a start-up that won’t trap you when you want to sell it.

According to John Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. Thus, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren’t confident that the company-even if it’s profitable-can stand on its own.

To illustrate this, Warrillow introduces us to a fictional small business owner named Alex who is struggling to sell his advertising agency. Alex turns to Ted, an entrepreneur and old family friend, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable:

• Teachable: focus on products and services that you can teach employees to deliver.

• Valuable: avoid price wars by specializing in doing one thing better than anyone else.

• Repeatable: generate recurring revenue by engineering products that customers have to repurchase often.

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