Archive for the ‘book’ Category

Book Review: “Linchpin” Our Needed Wake-up Call

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Way back in December 2009, Seth Godin offered his blog readers a chance to get an advance copy of his new book, Linchpin. The first 3,000 folks who were willing to donate at least $30 to one of his favorite causes, the Acumen Fund, received a book. I jumped at the chance to do so, both because I enjoy Seth’s books and I wanted to participate in this novel form of meaningful book marketing.

Godin’s plan was to get a flood of positive reviews and word of mouth in time for Linchpin to hit bookstore shelves. He even followed up a few weeks later by sending an additional book to people who accepted the original offer. I’m a little more than a year late to the party with my own blog review of the book, but I would be doing my readers a disservice by ignoring the positive impact of reading Linchpin—and I hope Seth benefits from new long-tail sales.

Simply put, Linchpin is a motivational tool for businesspeople who are seeking a new path and need a loving kick in the pants. For years Seth Godin has given us books to help us think about marketing and business positioning in a different, evolved way. But this time he sets his sights on providing individuals with the mentality they need to become “linchpins” in whatever they do. Here are a few of the key points that I underlined in my copy of the book:

  • The “factory contract” of the economy is going away; we can no longer expect to plug into a job, follow the rules, and be taken care of. The future will belong to artists who create something original, interesting, and meaningful. “…History is now being written by the artists while the factory workers struggle. The future belongs to chefs, not to cooks or bottle washers.” “Art” can mean whatever you uniquely bring to the world—a skill, knowledge, experience. It can come to life in a painting, a business idea, or a blog like this one.
  • Education is ripe for an overhaul. “The launch of universal (public and free) education was a profound change in the way our society works…. We trained millions of factory workers.” We need to transform education to teach children two things: (1) Solve interesting problems; and (2) Lead.
  • We must think differently in how we look at success in the workplace or hunt for jobs. “The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable…. A resume gives the employer everything she needs to reject you…. Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine.” It is your visible results that matter in today’s economy: “Projects are the new resumes.”
  • “Real artists ship.” (‘Nuff said.)
  • We must continually learn about the world and ourselves, and have strong opinions but be ready to shift them. “It’s not an accident that successful people read more books.
  • “One of the fascinating aspects of business and organized movements is that there’s some correlation between the passion and effort that people bring to a project and the outcome…. In great organizations, there’s a sense of mission.”
  • A new model for success is to create valuable art and share it broadly (especially thanks to the power of the Net), and if helps others they will repay you in many ways.

Even if everything here seems that it has been said somewhere before, it’s worth the time to read Linchpin. I know you will find something that inspires you, gets you out of bed in the morning, or refocuses your best efforts. I personally was most moved by Godin’s ability to distill the work I have done around the concept of Marketing with Meaning for nearly three years. It is my passion to help others succeed, and by giving  knowledge and assistance away as much as possible, I have benefited from seeing our company enjoy better business results—but I also get the pleasure of hearing how a blog post, book chapter, keynote speech, or email with advice has helped others.

Sometimes it is difficult to trust that “giving the gift of your art” will allow you to continue to grow your business and yourself. I thank Seth Godin for giving us the manifesto we need to keep creating a new and better future of work.

(Glowing) Book Review: The Personal MBA (Buy it today!)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Around eight years ago when I was working in marketing at Procter & Gamble, we welcomed a new member to our Mr. Clean brand team. Josh Kaufman began working for me as an Assistant Brand Manager after graduating from the University of Cincinnati. Early on, I recall talking with him about his side hobby: a website called, where he maintained a list of business books for people who wanted a self-education without the $100k or more price tag. I loved the idea at the time, and I’ve been following Josh’s progress since he left P&G to follow this opportunity full time. Today I am thrilled to talk about his first book and offer a glowing, well-earned positive review. Please buy this book this week and let’s send it to the top of the best-seller charts.

Overall, The Personal MBA is a rare combination of “engaging airplane read” and “must-have desktop reference.” Josh has spent years pulling together a best-of business education, and putting it into easily digestible chunks. His book is both a needed refresher for what you know, and the missing key to what you never learned but need now.

My Take on the Value of an MBA

Before I give too much more information about the book, let me quickly address my take on the value of an MBA. I do have an MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU. For me, attending NYU for graduate business school worked out very well. I was able to hit the career reset button, escape a job in banking that I did not love, and get on the radar of a great company such as P&G. My wife and I got to experience life in New York City for a few years and I met many fun and smart classmates and professors. I also “sucked the marrow” out of my MBA experience by pushing myself to earn high grades and lead a handful of student organizations.

That said, there are many drawbacks, such as the cost and the time away from drawing a salary, and, frankly, I did not retain a lot of the information from the classroom—I find that binging on lectures and case studies for two years is not the best way to learn. I would not change my choice, but I certainly have warned many people that an MBA should not be pursued without careful, realistic consideration. If you can get the job you want by simply showing results in your current and previous jobs, skip the MBA and keep self-learning from books such as The Personal MBA.

The Personal MBA website and book have caused some controversy over the years as people debate the ever-growing cost of the degree, with Josh providing a much-needed challenge to established thinking. In fact, Josh discusses Controversy as a marketing model on page 102 of his book. But this book really has little to do with the MBA question—it’s just smart writing on a topic we all could stand to learn more about.

The Book Review

Josh has spent several years crafting this book and it shows. The concepts are well-organized into linked chapters and one- to two-page sub-chapters, each with references to other books and helpful links for sharing. He shares stories of his own life and others to keep the material engaging and relevant. His writing is clear and understandable—making the knowledge of business accessible for people with little or no education in the field.

For me, The Personal MBA was a great book to read to refresh myself on concepts that I had learned and forgotten long ago. It also helped me identify some new tools that I can put to work in my role in analyzing clients’ businesses and markets. In the handful of days since finishing it, I have already gone back to Josh’s book a few times to look up something he covered.

What I like most about The Personal MBA is that it does not simply cover the class structure of today’s master’s of business program—instead, Josh provides new, more relevant material that MBA programs still don’t teach. For example, he includes a chapter on how the mind works, which is incredibly useful for understanding our customers no matter what our business is. And he sprinkles the book with concepts from the self-improvement world. Josh understands that those of us who work in business also live in business. Our minds, bodies, emotions, relationships, and personalities come into play on the job every moment we are there, and we need to look inside to be more effective in the outside business world.

I noticed that The Personal MBA is already around #300 on the Amazon charts, which suggests that this book is quickly resonating with a wide audience. I can think of nothing more rewarding than seeing a good friend find success in writing a book that has a chance to positively impact so many people. My kudos to Josh for his hard work in creating something important for our field. I hope you buy Josh’s book today and begin benefiting from his knowledge!

Book Review: The Ubiquitous Persuaders

Thursday, February 11th, 2010


I will always remember the day I was most nervous about the launch of my book. It wasn’t the first day of sales on Amazon or my interview on ABC News. Rather, it was the day George Parker said he would review my book. In case you don’t read AdScam or haven’t grabbed a pint with him after one of his many conference appearances, George Parker is the man in the advertising industry who is most likely to say your work sucks. He is a lifelong advertising veteran, but no longer has to kiss clients’ and bosses’ asses—and he regularly uses his wit and stage to tear down the worst of our industry. But we decided to send him a copy of my book anyway. We figured that he and his audience would agree with our book topic, and, frankly, I wanted the Simon Cowell of our business to tell me whether I have any talent. Luckily, he gave my book a very positive review. And now I want to return the favor.

George’s most recent book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, is a must-read for anyone who works in the world of advertising agencies, or wants to learn how this business really operates. Not only does he help us laugh at the worst parts of being in this business, but he takes us on a journey through the struggles to figure out what to do now. He hits topics ranging from the rise of ad-agency conglomerates (we’re a member of one of them, WPP) to pharmaceutical marketing to the politics of political advertising. Throughout the book, he brings in countless anecdotes from his long career on the front lines.

It is truly refreshing to read the completely honest opinions of someone in the ad business. We do not see this very often—mainly because all of us working in advertising are afraid to burn bridges with past, present, or future clients. One of my favorite lines, for example, is something none of us would dare say:

“As anyone who’s been in advertising for any length of time knows, it is quite possibly the dumbest business in the world.”

I have to admit that “advertising” as an occupation can be pretty dumb—especially when you’re doing things the interruptive way and in those times when you are forced to give your client what they want, rather than what they need.

But Parker goes on later in his book to suggest that meaningful marketing is the path to success for those of us who don’t want to do things the dumb way:

“Successful practitioners of the advertising arts will be those who can create effective communications without obvious intrusiveness.”

So give George Parker’s latest book a read. I guarantee that you will laugh out loud for a few hours—and you just might discover some smarter ways to survive this crazy advertising business.

Why Write a Book? For This Guy

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

open letter

This week I had lunch with an old friend who had not yet heard that I recently wrote a book. His first question was: “Why did you write a book?” It’s actually a question that I get a lot. It’s not that people believe that writing a book is a dumb idea. Rather, most people understand that it is a huge investment in time and energy on top of a day job, so they wonder what motivation drove me to make it happen. There are many answers that I give to this question. I usually talk about how I grew up with a father who wrote several books and his experiences struck a chord with me. I mention that it is a chance to help grow the profile of our business and serve as a point of pride for our agency, Bridge Worldwide. But at the end of the day, the reason I wrote the book was for people like Jason Sokol, who last week wrote “An Open Letter to Bob Gilbreath.”

In a post on his blog (please read it above or at this link), Jason shares the story of working at a large company and working to make changes in how the business does its marketing and sales. He writes about how the book was an inspiration, and he used it to craft a manifesto email for his senior leadership. The ideas in the book gave Jason “the leverage [he has] needed to make a difference.”

For me, this story represents the absolute height of personal satisfaction. When I got up at 6 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday for months to write the book, I was always thinking about people like Jason. I remembered being in his shoes, struggling to make changes in a big company that had been doing the same (broken) things for so long, and drawing on the words and suggestions of authors such as Seth Godin. I wanted to write a book that brought great ideas, along with tips on how to convince an organization to go along with them. My goal was not to sell a bunch of books, or even to have lots of people talk about it. I knew that I would fail if the book was unable to actually effect change in how companies work.

Ironically, last week Seth Godin wrote a post titled “Why write a book?” In this post he writes about the many reasons to write a book, and mentions that articles, blogs, and even tweets can all have some power to benefit others. But books can do something more:

“The goal isn’t always to spread an idea. Sometimes the goal is to make change happen…. If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.”

Godin’s point is that books are powerful tools that give great leverage to ideas. A book takes time to read and absorb; it is a journey into the mind of the author. The publishing process helps ensure that only a relative handful of the best ideas make it to the shelves. This power of a book is that it gives ideas more leverage to impact people’s lives and make change happen. Jason takes the idea of “leverage” further, by showing how a book can serve as the leverage he needs to make change.

This really represents the Purpose of my life: I want to figure out how the world works, and give as many people as possible ideas and tools to make positive change. I know that more than 10,000 people have purchased and read the book so far, which is great sales-wise for a marketing book after only a few months. But now I know that at least one person has been able to use my book to make positive change. That alone is worth everything that I put into it. My thanks to Jason for sharing his story—and I hope many more readers write their own meaningful marketing stories in the years to come.

Update on Marketing with Meaning Coverage

Monday, January 25th, 2010


I’ve been lucky enough lately to have some very nice coverage of my book and want to share what’s new in the past week or two.

First, I wrote a guest blog post for 1to1 Media, a division of the Peppers & Rogers Group. I can think of no organization that has supported meaningful relationship marketing for longer, so it was a real treat to be featured there. I chose to tackle the issue of “scale,” which continues to bedevil big, traditional marketers. Check it out here.

Second, David Kinard invited me to join him in a podcast interview about my book and the Marketing with Meaning concept. That’s available at this link.

Finally, Ambal Balakrishnan published her e-book of trends and predictions from content marketing thought leaders last week. I am very honored to be included in her collection and encourage you to take a read here.

So the next evolution of marketing rolls on…. Thanks, dear readers, for supporting us from the very beginning.

Book Review: “Adland”

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010


Just before the holiday vacation, I had the chance to attend a four-hour dinner with a diverse group of about 80 people who all happen to know our host and have some job in the fields of investing, advertising, teaching, writing, or other “new media.” I was lucky enough to be joined at my table by James Othmer, author of the new book, Adland. Interestingly, Adland was already on my shelf and in queue for holiday reading. Meeting James in person gave me more evidence that my book selection was strong and his written work certainly lived up to my positive impression in chatting with him.

Overall, Adland is a very unique and additive perspective on the future of marketing and is definitely worth your money and time. As a movie pitchman might say, it’s In Search of Excellence written by a David Ogilvy who has actually lived in and writes about the dirty trenches of the ad-agency business. Othmer tells his own story of a guy who somehow wound up in the advertising-agency business, learned how to thrive amid its crumbling, gradually discovered that it is not his calling, and escaped to a career as an fiction author (see his first book, The Futurist). Othmer returns to his old industry home in this book to share his experience with those of us still figuring out how to stick with it, and he shares insights from discussions with the leaders of some of the newest, most successful companies that are winning as the traditional-agency model falls apart.

One of the most enjoyable and cathartic elements of the book is Othmer’s stories from his work with some of the biggest advertising agencies and clients in the world. We laugh and/or cry with him through horrible bosses, time-churning pitches, and arrogant clients on million-dollar commercial shoots. Those of us who have seen this dark side of the business will enjoy Othmer’s biographical romp. But all is not dark; for example, I loved Othmer’s musings on the creative brainstorming process, and how it creates “intellectual adrenaline” that is hard to find in any other kind of business. This alone is worth the book price.

But Othmer’s book is really about the future of the advertising-agency business, as he weaves in stories of visits to and discussions with upstart agencies such as Droga5 and Fahrenheit 212—as well as old-school ad firms that seem to have crossed the chasm into new media success, such as Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. One of my favorite passages comes from Othmer’s discussions with the leaders of The Barbarian Group, who set the world on fire with Subservient Chicken in 2004. Co-founder and COO Rick Webb was asked, “Isn’t all this digital work actually more intrusive and dangerous than ‘traditional’ ads? Isn’t the Internet just another pipe through which marketers can pump more insidious, nuanced, and targeted messages?”

“On the Web, aside from banner advertising, I pretty much have to decide to experience a marketing message. I have to click on that banner, I have to visit that Web site, I have to add that Facebook app or watch that viral video. I have to start the engagement. And therefore advertisers have to incent me to do so, the same way they incent me to visit their showroom. Think of VW ads—jarring, in-your-face, edgy. They have to be, because they have to catch my attention. Now think of their showrooms. Clean, friendly, inviting, with nice couches and coffee. Because they have to be, because they have to convince me to come in. Interactive advertising is the showroom.”

Of course, it’s a perfect fit with the gospel we’re trying to espouse around Marketing with Meaning, and it’s what I talked about in a blog post here a few months ago about how digital agencies fundamentally think differently. The best line of the book comes soon after this passage, delivered by Barbarian co-founder and President Ben Palmer: “I see the Internet as a way of taking advertising back from the evil assholes.”

At the end of Adland, we see a survivor of some of the bloodiest battles in the business escape to a new career as a fiction novelist. Reading this, I felt as though I was cheering the hero, but it also left me acknowledging that I’m still knee-deep in the business that Othmer found mainly meaningless. I and many others do not necessarily have the will or means to escape. So we must try to find a way to make a living and make a difference in “adland.” For me, that’s by creating Marketing with Meaning.  I hope you do, too.

10 Books You Should Have Read in 2009

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

ad age 10 books

Every year I genuinely look forward to reading the lists of best and worst of the past year from media sources ranging from ESPN to The Wall Street Journal. Advertising Age, my favorite work-related read, takes it to the next level with its “Book of Tens.” This year I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled to have my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing, named as one of the “10 Books You Should Have Read in 2009.”

Making this list is a great wrap-up to only the third month in publication for the book, and represents a promising start to 2010. Every day someone stops me in the hallways or pings me on various social media to ask me how the book is selling. I don’t get a lot of information other than checking where it ranks on, so I usually answer that “it seems to be going well” based on a solid ranking and comparisons to other well-known marketing and advertising books.

When I look back on the three years it took to get this book to market and reflect on results so far, I look less at book rankings and think more about the people it has touched. Overall, I am most proud of the reaction of individual readers—the comments from old friends/clients such as Kevin Doohan who have watched this project from the beginning, to industry players/bloggers as diverse as Jim Tobin and George Parker, and especially the people around the world who have emailed or Twittered me out of the blue with glowing comments. I loved the book when I finished writing it about this time last year, but getting great feedback from others and hearing that you are influencing their thoughts and actions is priceless for anyone who creates content.

Every day I remind myself that the goal here is not to just sell books, but rather to be a catalyst for the next evolution of marketing, and to turn marketing into a noble profession. Through the work of our team and many others I genuinely feel that this is happening. We’ve got some big plans ahead in 2010 and I believe word of mouth about the book and the overall concept of Marketing with Meaning is only just getting started.

And as I look back at where we’ve come, I have to take the opportunity to thank you, dear readers, for being early adopters and incredible supporters of this movement. You are responsible for its success to date, and will lead the progress in 2010 and beyond. Let’s make it a great year, together.

Seth Godin Again Defines Book Marketing with Meaning

Monday, December 7th, 2009


I’ve been a Seth Godin fan long before he was kind enough to endorse my book. In fact, the first and best innovative marketing book I can remember reading was his Permission Marketing, a little more than 10 years ago. Not only is Godin an inspirational author, but his choices in marketing his books have been quite remarkable. Examples include the limited-edition copies of Purple Cow that were sold in actual milk boxes (I’ve got one), and his recent limited-membership community to support the launch of Tribes. In the three years from concept to shelf for my own book, I often went back to an old blog post he wrote about book publishing and marketing. Godin inspired me to practice innovative marketing that I was preaching in my book, and he’s got another new trick up his sleeve with the launch of his newest book, Linchpin.

Godin announced on his blog that he would provide an advance copy of Linchpin to the first 3,000 people who contributed at least $30 to the Acumen Fund, which is “a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.” I immediately made my donation for a chance to be one of the first to purchase a book that I knew I would pay about $30 for anyway. And it didn’t surprise me at all that the 3,000 copies were snapped up in just 48 hours. That generated $108,000 for the Acumen Fund. Wow!

It might seem odd for Godin to give up the first 3,000 in book sales and cover the cost of the book printing and shipping himself on top of it. But the reality is that after many successful books, Godin fully understands that the best way to sell a lot of books is to get a lot of books in the hands of people who are likely to spread the word of mouth. Books are nothing but ideas, and ideas have to spread from person to person.

One of the things I think about when giving away copies of my book is that one reader has the potential to create five to 10 readers. This comes from people reading on planes, keeping the book out on their desks, giving a copy to friends—and I haven’t even mentioned tools such as Twitter and Facebook where people love to share what they’ve read recently. That’s why I go out of my way to personally hand copies to friends and clients, and why I offered early advance copies to members of our Marketing with Meaning community. We’re also working our way down the Ad Age Power 150 list of marketing blogs, offering a free copy to people in hopes of getting reviews.

Not only do free, advance copies help get the word of mouth going, but the people who receive them often feel like special insiders that are, in a way, part of the book itself. Godin’s tie to a worthy charity makes the marketing even more meaningful, and helps ensure that his book-marketing effort doesn’t just feel like an obvious grab for more money.

It’s a lot harder and more complicated for marketing like this. Most books might get a few copies to overwhelmed editors and maybe a print ad in BusinessWeek. But in a world where lots of authors are competing to spread their ideas, Godin shows how to win by giving.

ABC News NOW Features Marketing with Meaning

Friday, October 16th, 2009

abc interview

Last Friday I had a spur of the moment opportunity to be interviewed by ABC News NOW for a segment promoting my book, The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning. I believe it aired live on some ABC stations, and of course the video segment is available online at

I’m pretty happy with how the interview turned out. (My wife says I need to smile more.) I got to hit most of the key points I hoped to, and was able to pull out a wide range of examples. I have to say that the experience of interviewing via satellite like this was very odd. I was basically sitting in a dark, empty studio in Cincinnati, staring at a TV camera lens and listening to an audio feed of the ABC News show in my ear. You have to make it look like you’re in the middle of a real, face-to-face conversation but it couldn’t be further from that. Anyway, check out the video by clicking here and let me know what you think!

More Coverage of the Book Launch

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

extra extra

Before I get into the subject of this post, let me say a giant THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our “Hack Day” company project yesterday. I know that we got a little bit over-competitive and probably hit you with too many messages in one day, but the day was a huge success and we owe you many thanks. Next week I promise to share a full wrap-up of the event and results.

The purpose of this post is to share some of the great media coverage that The Next Evolution of Marketing is getting this week. As you can see from the list below, it is getting attention from a wide variety of sources and the response has been outstanding. Check out some of the things that have popped in just in the past 48 hours or so:

So things are off to a great start, as witnessed by the book sticking in the #2,000 ranking on Amazon, and #3 or #4 in Advertising books. My many thanks to the people above for their kind words and actions. It seems as though The Next Evolution of Marketing is well on its way!