Filed under: Innovation
With the recession hanging over our heads in the U.S., everywhere people are looking for ways to make money. On the individual level, folks are trying to figure out how they can turn their skill sets, talents, and even hobbies into money. On the larger, organizational level, companies are busy looking for new, cost-effective products to create to fill the current and future demand for consumers. Sure, if the application you developed for the iPhone fails to sell well on iTunes it’s a bummer, but there’s a good chance that on the individual level it will not break anyone financially. However, on the organizational scale, a product design miss can prove fatal to the bottom line. And in this recession, no organization can afford a miss.
Enter to the scene Phil Baker, who has been involved in product development for the consumer tech market for his entire career. Baker is certainly a smart guy, hailing a B.S. in physics from Worchester Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in engineering from Yale, and an M.B.A from Northeastern University. And did I mention he holds more than 30 patents?
Baker is also the author of From Concept to Consumer: How to Turn Ideas Into Money, published by FT Press. In the preface, Baker writes, “One thing I’ve learned is that creating a successful product is much more than coming up with the idea; in fact, that’s usually the easiest part. It’s much more about what happens after. It involves a wide range of activities that bring together all sorts of disciplines, everything from engineering to product management to distribution to marketing. Each of these activities is much like a link in a chain. When one link fails, the entire endeavor can fail. … This book covers the new rules that have resulted from how quickly products are developed, their shorter life cycles, the use of outsourcing, and the Internet. All these factors have changed how things are now done.”
This is a truly exciting book to share with you; look for it in our upcoming selection.
Approximately 40 percent of salespeople miss their targets every year. As a sales manager, you want to draw this percent down as much as possible, challenge your sales force effectively, and bring home the bacon—figuratively speaking.
Lucky for you, the co-founder and CEO of Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) Greg Alexander and SBI cofounders and executive vice presidents Aaron Bartels and Mike Drapeau have teamed up and produced Making the Number: How to Use Sales Benchmarking to Drive Performance, published by Portfolio. According to the authors, sales benchmarking takes the guesswork out of sales and turns the sales function into a highly predictable, dependable engine that ultimately increases shareholder value.
Alexander, Bartels and Drapeau walk the reader through their five steps to sales benchmarking—metric identification, data collection, comparing and contrasting, focused action and sustained improvement—however, what might be the book’s real gem is the inclusion of case studies. Reading about how Discover Financial Services and Covad Communications Group used sales benchmarking can give sales managers a better idea if this is a practice that will work with their sales force.
If you’re interested in other good sales books to read, be sure to look into the following:
Exceptional Selling by Jeff Thull: Thull shows readers how to create a different kind of relationship with the customer and use powerful diagnostic principles to reframe the typical sales conversation.
Published in late December, just in time to ring the New Year in, comes personal finance expert and bestselling author Suze Orman’s Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan from publisher Spiegel & Grau.
Orman has a huge following, writes a Q&A advice section in Oprah Winfrey’s monthly magazine O, has penned multiple bestsellers and hosts The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. Quite frankly, she definitely seems to know her stuff when it comes to personal finance. And according to Orman, 2009 is the year that none of us can afford to make mistakes with our money.
From the book’s Amazon.com page: “The nation’s go-to expert on financial matters, Suze Orman, believes that 2009 is a critical year for your money. There are safeguards to put in place, actions to take, costly mistakes to avoid, and even opportunities to be had, so that you are protected during the bad times and prepared to prosper when things take a turn for the better. No matter what situation you’re in, you will find a plan of action and the answers to your questions about: credit, retirement, savings and spending, real estate, paying for college, and protecting your family.”
As additional help for readers, Orman has a page on her Web site for online updates to her 2009 action plan. On the same page, readers can find useful 2009 action plan resources, such as a “debt eliminator, an expense sheet, and several more.
Filed under: Personal Development, Uncategorized | Tags: business books, Career Skills, Personal Development
Do you remember the movie Six Degrees of Separation, with Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing, and a young, pre-Independence Day Will Smith? The concept of six degrees of separation is that “if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is no more than six ‘steps’ away from each person on Earth.” Phew, that was a mouthful!
In January, Soundview offered The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies by Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D. and Michelle R. Donovan as one of its 2009 Best Business Books of the Year.
Well, according to Misner and Donovan, the six degrees of separation isn’t actually applicable for everyone; however, according to the authors: “…with reading, training, and coaching, people can develop their networking skills, increase their connections, and become part of roughly 29 percent of people who are, in fact, separated from the rest of the world by just six degrees.”
We all know how important networking is to our personal success in the business world. We gain friendships, partnerships, and so much more. With The 29% Solution readers learn that in 52 weeks they can pace themselves to become solid, master networkers, ensuring success in their career and personal lives. If you’re looking for more resource tools to boost your success consider our Personal Success Collection.
While perusing some customer relationship management (CRM) titles—because all companies must strive to strengthen relationships with their customers—I came across Abaetê de Azevedo and Ricardo Pomeranz’s Customer Obsession: How to Acquire, Retain, and Grow Customers in the New Age of Marketing, published in mid-October 2008 by McGraw-Hill.
Azevedo, the CEO of Rapp Collins Brazil and Latin America, and Pomeranz, the global chief digital officer of Rapp Collins Worldwide, are both experts on CRM. Rapp Collins is one of the premier worldwide direct marketing agencies, and an expert at relationship marketing. Customer Obsession is hailed as “invaluable hands-on guide to the next generation of customer relationship marketing,” and the book’s chapter nine is solely dedicated to case studies form a variety of product and service companies across the world—all clients of Rapp Collins. I find case studies to be highly useful, and Azevedo and Pomeranz provide some of the graphics and figures from the campaigns for the increased comprehension of the reader.
Though direct marketing may not be your company’s key marketing method, I feel Customer Obsession is still a worthwhile read. In the current economic times, customers want the companies they interact with to go the extra mile—otherwise, they can just take their money elsewhere. Not only do these consumers want lower prices, but also they want value and customer service. Anyone can be a discounter, so make yourself stand out.
In October 2008, Google came to a settlement with authors and publishers who had brought two copyright suits against the search engine giant, making it possible for individuals to read a large collection of books online, including many that are still under copyright.
According to a New York Times article by Motoko Rich published in early January, due to the agreement not only will people be able to read these books, but both sides—Google and the authors/publishers—will be able to make a profit from the digital versions of the books (note: this part of the agreement is still pending approval by a judge, but it looks hopeful). According to the article, “The settlement may give new life to copyrighted out-of-print books in a digital form and allow writers to make money from titles that had been out of commercial circulation for years. Of the 7 million books Google has scanned so far, about 5 million are in this category.”
Now, all parties involved may not make money hand over fist, and Google’s president of technology Sergey Brin even stated, “We did not think necessarily we could make money … We just feel this is part of our core mission. There is fantastic information in books.”
The article quotes the chairman of the Association of American Publishers and president of the digital media investments group at Bertelsmann, Richard Sarnoff: “[For the average author] this is not a game changer … They will get paid for the use of their book[s], but whether they will get paid so much that they can start living large—I think that’s just a fantasy.”
Nevertheless, it could be a very good thing for publishers who own the rights to thousands of books, as well as researchers looking for that hard-to-locate book. Google once again gives us a helpful push forward into the future.
“If I announce my successor in advance, isn’t there a danger that I will just become a lame duck? I certainly wouldn’t want that to happen.”
This is the kind of reaction Marshall Goldsmith hears as he coaches top executives around the world. And in his upcoming book Succession: Are You Ready? he gives us the answer.
Dr. Goldsmith cuts right to the chase by counseling CEOs to “make peace with being a lame duck before it actually happens.” He notes that it’s inevitable that you will become a lame duck as people begin to shift their attention to your successor. So instead of fighting this, Goldsmith recommends that you shift your attention to the future. Among his recommendations:
- Coach your successor behind the scenes.
- Begin the transfer of power before you have to and support him or her in any way you can.
- Involve your successor in all important decisions.
- Make the tough, unpopular decisions that are for the good of the company instead of worrying about finishing on a good note.
- Be a happy lame duck – go home a little earlier, spend more time with your family, go to your grandkid’s baseball games.
This is great advice not only for CEOs, but also for any leader who is handing over job responsibilities. Wouldn’t our lives be less stressful and more enjoyable if we could be of help and focus on the future? But this is the advice one would expect from Marshall Goldsmith, whose motto is “Life is good.”