Just read: Brand Revitalisation

images.jpgWe get involved with many different retail group.  Through this I have developed an interest in retail brand management. Six Rules for Brand Revitalisation by Larry Light and Joan Kiddon is one of the best books I have read on brand transformation. It tracks the journey of the turnaround of the McDonalds brand from inside out, their menu through to their customer service.

While the key takeaway messages from most business books can be distilled down to a few pages, this book is worth a considered read.  I took my time and digested each of the six rules one at a time.

There are many books about brand management and related topics on the shelves.  This one is difference.  Its unique story about McDonald’s makes it stand out as does the author’s accessible approach to the vital topic.

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Just read: Reality Check

reality_check.jpgGuy Kawasaki’s book Reality Check is strange business book.  It does not follow the traditional formula of taking too many pages to fill out a simple theory or business principle which could be covered ina fraction of the space.

Reality Check is a bunch of short chapters on a diverse range of topics.  Since I’m not in start-up mode I skimmed much of that content.  It was the chapters on the workplace, social entrepreneurship and the no-asshole and similar chapters which I found most interesting. I also liked the chapter on the art of innovation – short yet packed with valuable wisdom.  That’s what I like about this book – short chapters, to the point and no wasted ink.

Guy is a smart thinker and an even better communicator.  This is the kind of book to use as a reference or reminder when needs arise.

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Just read: In Search of the Obvious

trout_obvious.JPGJack Trout’s In Search of the Obvious has the subtitle – The Antidote for Today’s Marketing Mess. While it is that, it is much more. This is a book about much more than marketing, it is about how we make decisions at all levels in business. Unlike the books from self proclaimed gurus who chase fame on the next big thing, Trout takes us back to basics, back to reality in many respects. He calls on us to stop over thinking and to chase what is obvious – for their is no shame in simple business ideas or simple marketing strategies.

Regulars here will know that in addition to my software company I own several retail businesses and am involved in a couple of other services related businesses. I have found that In Search of the Obvious speaks to each of these businesses and many others I am sure.

This is a book I want to keep close by – plenty of pages have been marked for future reference. I highly recommend it.

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Just read: Differentiate or Die

differentiate.JPGI read Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout years ago when it first came out. My second read, over the last few weeks, was better, more useful, than the first for me.

Accessible in language and themes, Differentiate or Die is relevant to businesses of all sizes. This is a book to keep close by. I especially like the discussion about the term Unique Selling Proposition – first introduces by Rosser Reeves in his 1960 book Reality in Advertising.   Understanding the term from its inception helps in our pursuit of this. Trout in this book explores the USP concept thoroughly and usefully presents many differentiating strategies.

Like any business, we strive to be different in our products and our services. Being competitive comes down to differentiating your offer from others with whom you compete – so much so that they are no longer the competition.

Besides differentiating our business, we strive, through our software, to provide our customers with tools which make it easier for them to differentiate their businesses.

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Just read: How Starbucks Saved My Life

how_starbucks.JPGHow Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill could easily be one of those syrupy feel-good quasi-business books you finish in the blink of an eye. I bought it through Amazon when buying some other books and left it on the shelf for too long. I read yesterday How Starbucks Saved My Life when I sent eight hours flying. I couldn’t put it down. Michael’s very personal and honest story touched me. His story of what he learnt in his first year at Starbucks is inspirational. Buried Michael’s personal story in an excellent business book about business processes, communication and leadership. I highly recommend this book to any business owner.

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Just read: What’s your story

yourstory.JPGRyan Matthews and Watts Wacker hit the nail on the head with their book What’s your story, storytelling is important in business as well as in personal life. Truthful storytelling that is, even though some facts shared in some stories may not be true – they cover that in some details. I found the book eminently readable.

In our business we have found storytelling to be a good way to train small businesses in processes related to the use of our software, to illustrate the value of what can be achieved. However, we have not trained our team on storytelling as such. Having been in business since 1981, we are fortunate to have many stories of different circumstances on which to draw. Part of our own internal training, over time, is the sharing of stories.

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Just read: The Last Lecture

tll.JPGThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (with Jeffrey Zaslow) is a book which has nothing to do with business and yet everything to do with business. Randy, a computer science Professor at Carnegie Mellon University was told in August last year that his pancreatic cancer had spread and that he only had a few months to live. This book is about what led to and followed a Last Lecture Randy gave at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007. Sure there are sad moments, but the enduring takeaways are positive, tremendously positive.

Randy’s Last Lecture and book are about following your dreams – and here is the business connection. Most of us go into business because of a dream and sometimes, along the way, some of us in business lose sight of our dreams. Randy’s words demand to be listened to. His book is a call to action to reconnect with and embrace our dreams. It is moving and inspirational.

You can watch Randy’s lecture at YouTube. almost 3 million have viewed this already.

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Just read: The Big Switch

big_switch.JPGThe Big Switch by Nicholas Carr is a big book, big on ideas. It takes us beyond individual, personal, computers on which we rely in our homes and at work, to a collective, less personal maybe?, technology. Carr’s thesis, as I understand it, is that as technology advances and our personal computers become more connected and or are replaced by more global computing resources serving much of our lives, we will lose some of the personal and creative experiences we have today. He uses the electric light to illustrate the point – we can still see objects but they are flattened compared to when seen in candlelight. Carr also suggests that power and wealth become more concentrated. The Big Switch is a fascinating read both as a history lesson an to stimulate thought about the changes ahead.

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Just read: Flip by Peter Sheehan

flip.JPGFlip by Peter Sheehan is a book about how businesses are using counter-intuition to change the way they operate and, in some cases, break free from the competitive pack. It speaks as much to the small business constituency of Tower Systems as it does big business. Sheehan challenges the reader into action by looking at our current business model and considering how we would react if it all went pear shaped tomorrow. He tries to get us into the mindset of a world where all the rules we operate under today are gone – for it is through the freedom of such a scenario that we are likely to find decisions we might otherwise ignore and opportunities we might not otherwise see.  Flip is a book worth reading.

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Just read: The Halo Effect

halo.JPGI have just finished reading The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig. Unlike many business books, this is, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb says on the cover, “One of the most important management books of all time”.

What I like is that The Halo Effect debunks the usual approach of business books. It seeks truth rather than spin, deals in facts and not press releases. It analyses the analysers, debunks some books which were, at the time, regarded as ground breaking. Rozenwig’s book is reminder to deal in facts and care less for hype. Now, if only business book publishers would heed that advice.

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