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Until You Ship, Communication is the Deliverable

I’m a big fan of the Heath Brothers (Chip and Dan) who co-authored Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, each one a fun and highly useable book on an interesting topic: Marketing, Behavior Change, and Decision Making, respectively. They have an email list where they very occasionally share updates on their work, ask questions, and offer up awesome nuggets.

Some time earlier this year they shared a list of seven books that they recommended. These books had to be well-written, provide some kind of useful / practical knowledge, and not be very widely-known – a great combination. Continue reading…


“This Book Could Have Been a Long Magazine Article”

A claim leveled against business books sometimes is that the book repeats the same concept over and over again and could have been better served as a long magazine article.

And indeed many books start out as long magazine articles. Hoffman, Yeh, & Casnocha published a 4.5k word article: “Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Contract” in Harvard Business Review in June of 2013. A little over a year later, the 224 page book, The Alliance (my reading notes on that), was published. The article lays out the primary ideas behind the book:

  1. Engage employees on a “tour of duty” basis
  2. Support, and even fund the development of your employee’s networks
  3. Foster alumni networks for former employees

The same thing is true for Amabile & Kramer’s Progress Principle: HBR Article (2011) and Book (2013). So what’s the need for the book then if you can “just” read the magazine article? Heres why:

The goal of a book is not to inform, it is to persuade.

Because a book is longer, you are spending more time thinking about the idea. Because a book is physical (most of the time) you see it on your table, on your shelf. Maybe people ask you about it. As you go through example after example and additional data points around the ideas, you start to notice how those ideas fit into your world and you start imagining how you might implement those ideas in your life.

That’s why book summaries and even magazine articles are good if you want to “get the gist” of it. But the value of an idea is not in knowing it, but in acting on it. Books are more likely to drive action.

[1] Props to Seth Godin because I’m almost positive I got this idea from him somewhere, even though I couldn’t find it while doing research for this article

Take More Naps and Other Talent-Building Ideas

Five years ago, I stood in a bookstore for about an hour and read half of a wonderful book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyne. It had come out around the same time as a few other books in a similar vein of developing expertise and 10,000 hours etc but just grabbed me and didn’t let go.

Part of it was that Coyne went out into the field and visited “talent hotspots” that developed elite performers across many disciplines: soccer stars, violin prodigies, chess champions, etc. The stories he came back with are concrete, have a human element to them, and deeply resonate with my own experience. Continue reading…


My Reading Notes on Elements of Content Strategy

In my final Your Turn Challenge post, and part of the #WkofBks series I did this week, I’m going to look at a fantastic book on creating, organizing, and managing the words, images, and media of our world. It’s called The Elements of Content Strategy.

9815847The Book in a Nutshell: Content strategy is a discipline that stems from a family of fields including marketing, editorial, and curation, and requires analytical, organizational, and creative skills to successfully execute.

About the Author: Erin Kissane is an editor for Contents magazine and Source, a community site for journalists who code. She was previously a content strategist for Brain Traffic and edited A List Apart magazine. The book is part of the A Book Apart series, which includes many concise books that are densely packed with wisdom. Continue reading…


My Reading Notes on The Success Equation: Untangling Luck vs Skill in Business, Sports, and Investing

Today’s reading notes, as part of #WkofBks and Day 6 of the Your Turn Challenge is The Success Equation, Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.

I think this is a fascinating topic because we all know that both factors are highly relevant for a lot of high performance activities, but they are not easy disconnected. I’ve won a NCAA championship, started and folded a venture-backed company, and invested money in various asset classes so there’s a lot of personal interest here.

These reading notes began life as an “Ignite-style” 5 minute presentation with slides automatically progressing every 15 seconds — which I gave on a Monday morning presentation for Percolate. The words below are essentially what I said during that talk.


My book presentation is on The Success Equation, by Michael Mauboussin, who’s Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse. The book is about understanding and managing the role of luck vs skill in complex activities. We’ll start off with a quick quiz. Continue reading…