Book Review

Book Review: “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Like many of the other titles in Ken Blanchard’s The One-Minute Manager series, Raving Fans (co-written with Sheldon Bowles) is written as a business fable to illustrate some basic, common-sense methods.

The lesson in Raving Fans is how a manager can lead his division or company to deliver consistently exemplary customer service.

The fable involves Area Manager, who is charged by the company President to improve the company’s customer service reputation, a task which the two previous managers tried and failed (and, it is implied, were subsequently fired). As Area Manager contemplates his challenge, he is helped by a golf-obsessed Fairy Godmother named Charlie, who takes him on a journey to meet other business people who Charlie previously assisted. Along the way, Area Manager learns the three secrets of converting customers to not just satisfied, but Raving Fans.

As with many of The One-Minute Manager books, Blanchard’s and Bowles’ secrets are not so secret, but are often overlooked. Blanchard has a knack of identifying and articulating lessons that on reflection should be obvious, but if they were, everyone would be successful and there would be no need for his books. On that level, Raving Fans succeeds.

The book ultimately fails, however, because the (fictionalized) companies Blanchard and Bowles use as examples of exemplary customer service that are simply not financially feasible. For example, a grocery store offers personal shoppers and a computer system that allows for no checkout lines; a gas station has a team of attendants to service a car while charging the same as the self-serve station up the block. The assumption is that the stores provide such incredible customer service that customers buy enough, often enough, to allow for a reasonable profit. That, however, is not addressed in Blanchard’s and Bowles’ fable.

I can believe the truth of the Three Secrets. I wish, for the sake of the book, that Blanchard and Bowles had chosen more believable examples. As it is, Raving Fans would have been better delivered as a blog post.

Blanchard, Ken and Bowles, Sheldon. Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993. Print.

"Raving Fans" by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

“Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

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Book Review: “The Networking Survival Guide”

Diane Darling, Founder and CEO of Effective Networking, Inc., wrote The Networking Survival Guide for publication in 2003, before the advent of Twitter, LinkedIn, and social media as we know it.

Which is why I like and recommend The Networking Survival Guide, because it is old-school.

Darling teaches, and pre-supposes, that the purpose of networking is to develop, strengthen, and maintain real one-on-one relationships with real people; ideally face-to-face, but when that is not practical, then one-on-one by phone and/or email.

Darling teaches:

  • Have a plan (know what you want to accomplish when attending a networking event)
  • Work your plan (prepare, prepare, prepare – leave nothing to chance)
  • What to do, and what to avoid, at a networking event
  • The all-important follow-up to maintain your network
  • Where to network (networking events, job fairs, anywhere there is a second person!)
  • How to network when you don’t feel like networking

There is a brief discussion, which Darling ultimately dismisses, about using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs; anyone remember the Palm Pilot?). Otherwise, everything in the book is face-to-face, handshakes (dry palms), business cards, and if necessary, telephone. Old School.

It’s not as if Darling doesn’t understand LinkedIn. There is a Second Edition, published in 2010, with 40+ additional pages. I haven’t read this edition, I suspect there is at least a chapter talking about social media.

Still, I suspect that Darling agrees with me: Social Media, including LinkedIn, is a tool to help you manage your network, and is not networking in and of itself.

The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know

The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know

Darling, Diane.The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print.

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Book Review: “Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter”

The challenge of writing a book on social media is that at least some of the book becomes obsolete by the time it is published. And so is the case with Sarah-Jayne Gratton’s (@grattongirl) Follow Me!

My purpose for reading the book was to find tips on how to maximize my Twitter experience without spending all my time on Twitter. Follow Me! was written for those who extensively use Twitter for their professional marketing experiences.

The practical section of the book, Part Two, includes chapters on:

– Defining your brand,

– Creating a great profile

– Building your Twitter followers without falling prey to spam, bots, and multi-level marketers.

The chapters I found most helpful described:

– The four-types of Tweets (Share, Inform, Thank, Engage, or SITE)

– Creating a “Twittertorial” Calendar (how to curate and pre-schedule tweets for maximum impact)

– Thinking of Twitter as your own personal broadcast show (what to schedule, when to schedule, and repeating the schedule).

The second-half of the book is where it starts to show its age. Chapters are devoted to:

– Twitter Branding Showcase Stories, nine Twitter feeds that (as of 2012) author Gratton found particularly descriptive;

– Twitter Toolkit, descriptions of particularly helpful Twitter tools. Some, however, no longer exist (bye-bye, TweetDeck).

If your interest in Twitter is non, or low, or only for interacting with friends and family, then this book probably will not appeal to you.

For those who care about their personal or professional brand, Twitter is a key component of the social media strategy, and Follow Me! has a lot of good advice.

Gratton, Sarah-Jayne. Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. Print.

Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter

Follow Me! Creating a Personal Brand with Twitter

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Book Review: “Get a Job! How I Found a Job when Jobs are Hard to Find, and So Can You!”

Author Dan Quillen was enjoying his career as an executive recruiter for a law firm when, like so many of us, he was laid off. Drawing on his experience as a recruiter, Get a Job details how he was able to secure an astounding 34 invitations to interview before landing a new position to continue his career.

In addition to detailed advice about resumes, cover letters, interview prep and the interview itself, Quillen includes chapters on:

Plan to Stay (make yourself important to your company), Prepare to Leave (continual professional development – finish school!)

First Steps After a Layoff (make a plan, work your plan)

Staying Positive (take care of yourself, ask for and accept help, realize you are not alone)

After You Land Your Job (an often neglected but vitally important aspect of career management – don’t get fired for silly mistakes!)

My only quibble, but not Quillen’s fault because it is not his experience and not his focus, is that Get a Job focuses on mid-level and above career transitions; there are no comments on the barriers that many of my clients face (challenges that come with job searching while experiencing homelessness, returning to work after long absences, or criminal background issues).

That aside, I recommend Get a Job because Quillen’s advice is spot-on, advice I coach my clients to consider. And you really can’t quibble with 34 invitations to interview!

Quillen, Dan. Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You. Cold Springs Press, 2013. Print.

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find - and So Can You by Dan Quillen

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You
by Dan Quillen

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Book review: The Subversive Job Search

"The Subversive Job Search," by Alan Corey

“The Subversive Job Search,” by Alan Corey

After reading the first chapter of The Subversive Job Search by Alan Corey, I wanted to hate it. Corey’s first book, A Million Bucks by 30 (which I haven’t read), detailed how he earned over $1Million by age 30 in real estate. Apparently, he had his own reality TV show (which I never saw) and restaurant, and as he says in Chapter 1 of Subversive, he though he had it made and would never have to work again.

Then came the Great Recession, combined with poor spending habits out of boredom, and before he knew it, Corey was broke and jobless with no source of income. By now he is married with a family, and to provide for them, he decides he is going to earn a six-figure income within 18 months.

This seemed a bit shallow (totally money driven) and presumptuous (that he could pull it off), and I was prepared to quit reading after the next chapter.

However…

I was pleasantly surprised, and I ended up pulling for him.

I don’t think I would call Corey’s job search “subversive.” Instead, he did everything absolutely right. He exhibited two traits that every successful job seeker and career changer must have:

  • An unwavering commitment to a goal, and
  • The ability to sell the skills and qualifications that meet the needs of an employer.

How he went about his quest is quite entertaining, and quite informative for all job seekers. I recommend this book, and hopefully it helps other job seekers to have the courage to figure out what you want, and to go for it with unwavering focus.

My apologies to Mr. Corey for my initial reaction! And congratulations and best wishes for your continued success.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Corey, Alan. The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career. Pompton Plains: The Career Press, Inc., 2013. Print.

I want to know what you think. Please connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Book review: “Guerrilla Networking”

"Guerrilla Networking" by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann

“Guerrilla Networking” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann

Jay Conrad Levinson (@JayLevinson) is the author of Guerrilla Marketing and the founder of the Guerrilla Marketing method. but Guerilla Networking is really Monroe Mann’s (@MonroeMann) book and is largely written from his perspective. According to Mann, the genesis of Guerrilla Networking was when he sent an email to Levinson just before he was deployed to Iraq. Levinson had read Mann’s earlier book, The Theatrical Juggernaut, and was therefore interested to meet.

Mann wanted to meet Levinson because he admired the Guerrilla Marketing method. Levinson wanted to meet Mann because he admired Mann’s book. This illustrates the premise of guerrilla networking, which is to stop trying to meet people, and instead work on being the person that others want to meet.

Guerrilla Networking is divided into four sections:

Section 1 details why, in their opinion, traditional networking (meeting lots of people) doesn’t work.

Section 2 lists 50 ways you can make yourself “cool,” including “Write a successful book,” “Offer investment capital,” “Get media exposure,” and “Hire a publicist.” There are also several suggestions (send an email, make a phone call, leave a voice message), which I suggest fall into “traditional networking,” which they had just dismissed.

Section 3 offers testimonials, mainly from friends of Mann, of the effectiveness of Guerrilla Networking.

Section 4, the most useful section, gives practical steps on how to launch a guerrilla networking campaign. Basically you identify whom you want to meet, and how you can make yourself cool enough to make that that person want to meet you. For example, to get Jack Nicholson to want to meet you, you might win an Academy Award. To do that, you might write an Academy Award-caliber screenplay. To do that, you might take a class on screenwriting, and so on until you break down the steps enough that you can do the first (or next) step immediately. Then, do it.

Networking is adding value to the people you meet. Mann tries too hard, and does a disservice in trying to redefine Networking. That said, I like the idea of not trying to meet people just to meet people, and instead try to become “cool.” In other contexts, this can make you a subject-matter expert, and a well-rounded and more interesting person. The world will be better for it.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Levinson, Jay Conrad and Mann, Monroe. Guerrilla Networking; a Proven Battle Plan to Attract the Very People You Want to Meet. New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2008. Print.


I want to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

Book review: “Our Iceberg is Melting”

John Kotter is a professor at Harvard Business School, specializing in leadership and change. Our Iceberg is Melting is a fable in the vein of Who Moved Our Cheese (whose author, Spencer Johnson, wrote the forward for Kotter’s book), meant to illustrate Kotter’s eight-steps of effective change in businesses.

Curious penguin Fred deduces that the iceberg on which his community of penguins live, is melting and in danger of breaking apart during the upcoming winter season. But what can he do about it? He’s not a scientific expert on ice melt, he is just observant. Why would any other penguins listen to him?

Penguin Fred confides in a trusted official who has the ear of the penguin Mayor. But still, there is the challenge of convincing the rest of the penguin population that there is a problem and a need to change, especially when there are penguins invested in the status quo, who do not want change.

Without giving away the entire plan, the basic idea is to continue to draw in those who see the need for change, give them tasks to enact the change, and let them be the ambassadors of the change.

One wonders: if Jor-El had read this book, Krypton still would have exploded, but perhaps there would have been more survivors and we would have been spared the incredibly boring first twenty minutes of Man of Steel.

At fewer than 150 pages, including several full-page penguin illustrations, Our Iceberg is Melting is a quick read (I read it in a single sitting over a Chipotle burrito). It shows that if you see the need for organizational change, whatever your role in your organization’s hierarchy, there is a role for you to play.

I joined my company just over a year ago, at about the time that we began talking about the need for significant differences in the way we operate. I came in with no preconceived prejudices, but many of my colleagues have had difficulty digesting what their new roles and responsibilities might include. Our Iceberg is Melting gave me some things to consider to aid some of my colleagues through the inevitable change.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Kotter, John and Rathgeber, Holger. Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. Print.

our-iceberg-is-melting

Agree? Disagree? I am interested in your thoughts and opinions! Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter and let me know, or leave a comment below.