Soundview Executive Book Summaries


The Myth of Multitasking

Recently, I was on a conference call with my office and on the other line was a room full of people. As I listened, my email alert popped up and I clicked over to see what it was about. A minute later I realized that I hadn’t heard what was being said on the call. I quickly focused back on the meeting, only to be distracted again by the headline of the Wall St Journal lying open on my desk.

Then the dreaded question could be heard on the other side of the phone, “What do you think about that?” Oh, they’re talking to me and I have no idea what was just said. With a quick “I didn’t quite catch that last part, can you repeat it?”, I caught back up with the conversation while moving the newspaper out of view.

Multitasking is a myth for most of humanity. Our minds are designed to focus on only one thing at a time, and what most of us refer to as multitasking is actually linear-tasking, moving our focus quickly back-and-forth between several tasks. But our mind is focused on only one at a time.

A Utah researcher found that only about 2.5% of the population can actually multitask, a rare group of “super-taskers.” The rest of us can only truly multitask with activities that don’t require our mind to be fully engaged, such as knitting or working out. Such automatic tasks allow us to focus our mind on something else like reading or watching TV.

In The Age of Speed, Vince Poscente says that multitasking can actually slow us down. He points out that brain scans reveal that if we do two tasks at the same time, we have only half of the usual brain power devoted to each. Can we really afford to be only half there for an important activity?

Poscente believes that we should embrace speed. What he is suggesting is that we should use every technology at our disposal to speed up the unimportant tasks of our lives – the minutiae that we just need to get through. Then we can take our time with the important tasks, those things that really matter to us.

What does this look like in daily life? Well, it means that we must always be making evaluations of the tasks we’re performing. Is this a task I just need to get through as quickly as possible, and if so how can I make it more efficient? And on the other hand, if a task is important and valuable, how can I hold back the interruptions so that this time has my full attention?

An example that most of us can identify with is setting a rule of no mobile devices at the dinner table. Interaction with our family is essential and should not be interrupted by anyone’s cell phone. We draw a line here – this is not the time for speed.

In the corporate world, this concept is leading to what is called a “values-based time model.” Poscente uses the example of Best Buy and its Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). This initiative has led to a 35% increase in productivity.

So the bottom line is that multitasking is not the solution to our time pressures. Instead we need to make value-based decisions about what to focus our attention on and what to speed up with the technologies at our disposal. So when I’m on the phone with the main office I need to put aside the distractions!

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Content: The Currency of the Web
March 9, 2012, 11:00 AM
Filed under: Internet, Marketing, Soundview Live | Tags: , , ,

Build it and they will come. That’s what some companies believe about websites. All you need is a snazzy website and a Google adword account, and everyone will flock to your site and spend their money. But there’s much more to it than that.

Google has so designed their search algorithm that a website really needs to provide relevant content in order to rank high in search results. And this relevancy is factored into their adword program as well. So how to you create a site that will be found?

Jon Wuebben is a search expert who has the answers. In his new book Content is Currency, Wuebben explains the importance of content marketing, which he defines as “the act of sharing tips, advice, and other value-added information as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into loyal, lifelong, repeat buyers.”

Here are Weubben’s eight steps to content success:

  1. You learn who your customer is and where the pain points are.
  2. You develop consistent, relevant content in multiple channels.
  3. You let go of all control, and let your ideas spread.
  4. People share your ideas and link to your content.
  5. People find your content through social media and search engines.
  6. Prospects and customers start relying on your expertise—the relationship begins.
  7. You become the trusted solutions provider in your industry.
  8. Your customers tell others about you.

To really understand how content and search relate, I would invite you to join Soundview and Jon Wuebben on March 15th for our webinar Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile. Wuebben will also be taking time to answer participant’s questions. Invite your whole marketing team to sit in and see what you can do to strengthen your website.



How Businesses Are Using Video

I recently ran across a great article written by Jimm Fox of One Market Media on the many business uses of video. I’ve listed his main categories below, and you can check out the full article for more details.

  1. Customer Reference – video helps with collecting and showing customer testimonials, case studies and interviews.
  2. Product & Service Promotion – companies use video for product presentations, demonstrations and reviews.
  3. Corporate – corporations provide their company overview, executive highlights, facility tours and more with video.
  4. Training & Support – video is the latest thing in employee training, sales presentations and maintenance support.
  5. Internal Communication – video is now being used for business plans, company achievements, event coverage, employee orientation and health & safety education.
  6. Marketing – video promotions can take the form of commercials, viral video, content marketing and landing pages.
  7. PR/Community – video press releases are becoming more popular, along with video PR materials and community relation pieces.
  8. Events – at an event, presentations, roundtable discussions and Q&A with experts can all take place in video.
  9. Other – videos are also being used for recruitment, vlogs (video blogs) and research/surveys.

On the internet search side of the equation, research shows that a webpage with video is 30% more likely to end up on the first page of search results in Google then the same page without video. Google is now giving preference to video content in their search algorithm.

At Soundview, we are following this trend carefully, and have expanded our own offerings to include video. Our iPad format of each business book summary includes a video introduction from our Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dayton.  We now produce Executive Insights, a series of videos which interview active executives regarding key business skills. And we’re developing additional video content to be released soon.

Video increases engagement time, deepens emotional connections, and gives your company more trust and credibility with your customers and other stake-holders. And the cost of entry is becoming less every day with new technologies and web tools. If your company or organization is not currently using video, now is the time to jump in.



What Are Your Favorite Resources?

In a given month I look at a lot of resources to improve the way I do my job, and to provide content for our various social media outlets. Here’s a partial list:

My #1 resource is of course Soundview’s stable of content: business book summaries, author webinars and interviews, Executive Insights videos, and our Executive Edge newsletter. I realize I’m biased but I don’t know how busy executives get by without this resource.

  • I subscribe to a few excellent book- and publishing-related newsletters like Publisher’s Weekly, Publishing Business Today and Mediabistro’s GalleyCat.
  • I still like to get magazines and currently receive Fast Company, Inc magazine, Fortune and Wired to name a few. I learn as much from the ads as from the article as to what companies are doing and what content is important. I also refer to their corresponding websites as needed.
  • The Wall St Journal is a great resource at many levels and again I use their website when it suits my needs.
  • I watch the Tweets of over 150 business authors and publishers, although it’s difficult to keep up. You can see the complete list of who I follow @BusinessBooks. In addition I receive newsletters and emails from several of our frequently summarized authors to stay attuned to what they’re doing.
  • Because we’re on the mailing list of all major book publishers, we also see what’s coming up for new books so that we can spot trends and choose upcoming titles to consider for summarization.

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting, but you get the idea. What do you use for resources in your position? Our readers would love to see your list and perhaps I’ll pick up a few more for myself as well.



What You’ve Been Missing …

Have you heard recent editions of Soundview’s Author Insight Series? If not, you missed some great conversations with today’s best business authors. Each month, Soundview features downloadable interviews with an array of best-selling business authors. These 10-minute audio clips make a great companion to Soundview’s 30 Best Business Books summaries. If you’re a Soundview subscriber, now is a great time to catch up on what you’ve been missing. Here’s a sampling of some of the most memorable quotes from recent guests:

“Clearly you want to know what your core competencies are but if you stick solely to what those competencies are, it’s like driving by only looking in the rearview mirror.” – Stephen Wunker, author of Capturing New Markets.

“The dialogue around innovation has been way too skewed toward differentiation, as if that were the only problem to solve and the answer to all problems, which just isn’t true.” – Geoffrey A. Moore, author of Escape Velocity.

“If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.” – Jim Kouzes, co-author (with Barry Posner) of Credibility.

“Part of the curse of knowledge [carried by] senior executives is that they will be deeply familiar with ‘the numbers,’ but the numbers just won’t resonate with the rest of the organization.” – Colin Price, co-author (with Scott Keller) of Beyond Performance.

“We have it in our heads that technology distances people … I completely disagree. I think that things like e-mail and Twitter and Facebook have enabled me to have many, many more relationships all over the world.” – Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment.

You can hear more from the best business authors by visiting Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



Mobile Business Book Summaries

In August I blogged about Chuck Martin and his book The Third Screen, which discussed the enormous effect mobile devices and m-commerce are having on all aspects of business.

Martin states, “The third screen, the mobile device, is a game changer. It enables customers to communicate directly with each other and share information and opinions in real-time and on location. The third screen revolution is about dramatic technological and behavioral change.”

In Soundview’s ongoing pursuit to provide our content in the most effective and convenient forms possible for our subscribers, we’ve been adding additional mobile formats as demand dictates. So I thought it might be helpful to provide an overview here for those that are looking for business content for their smartphone, e-book reader or tablet.

Currently we provide our summaries in eight formats:

  • PDF – for computer’s and e-readers. This is the best format for printing summaries as well.
  • Kindle – obviously for the full series of Kindles®.
  • ePub – this is great for e-readers like Sony®, Nook® and iPad®.
  • Mobile – this is a simplified PDF for BlackBerry®, Android®, iPhone® and iPod Touch®.
  • LIT – this works on Pocket PCs and PCs that use Microsoft Reader®.
  • Palm – for those still using the Palm Pilot® devices.
  • MP3 – audio summaries and author interviews are in this format.
  • iPad – this works on iPads, PCs and Macs and includes our text and audio summaries, author interviews, and video content all in one package.

Because of the many variables in using these devices, we also provide a complete guide to viewing and downloading our content on all devices. This is organized by operating system and device. If you’re looking for business content for your mobile device then you’ll definitely want to check us out. Here’s a link to a free sample summary in all eight formats to try out for yourself.

Enjoy, and let me know how you like the sample.



Apple vs Google vs Amazon vs Facebook

This month Fast Company published an issue with an extensive article on the competition between Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, and they did it in an innovative way. They actually published four separate covers, each one declaring why one of the companies will win. I got the one declaring Google the winner, perhaps because I’m on the east coast (if the cover distribution was geographical). The latest Fortune magazine issue also depicts Larry Page of Google and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fighting it out martial-arts-style on the cover.

The competition between these four companies is definitely heating up as each reaches more and more into the others’ traditional territories. The lines are now blurred as all four companies fight for a larger share of the dollars and time of the world’s population.

In celebration of this epic battle, I thought it would be enlightening to look at the business books being written about each company and its founders.

Apple – we should begin with Apple because Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is projected to be the best-selling book on Amazon for 2011 even though it was just released in October. Jobs has had many books written about him – in fact my count shows as many books about Steve Jobs as have been written about Google, or about Amazon and Facebook combined. We just published the summary of The Steve Jobs Way by Jay Elliot, a Senior VP under Jobs at Apple. And Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney has received a lot of attention as well. Really, Apple can’t be separated from Steve Jobs when it comes to covering their success over the years and probably well into the future.

Google In the Plex is the latest book about Google, and was written by Wired’s technical journalist Steven Levy. This book is on Amazon’s top 10 list of best sellers for 2011 as well. Among the other top books is The Search by John Battelle, and of course the obligatory The Google Way by Bernard Girard. You haven’t really made it until you have a “The ____Way” book written about you or your company.

Facebook – We get a little thin here with only a handful of books about Facebook or its founder Mark Zuckerberg. There is The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick and The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. But Zuckerberg makes up for this poor showing by being the only one of the four company founders to have a movie made about him called The Social Network. Note: there is no The Facebook Way book yet, which may or may not be a prediction of their future success.

Amazon – For a company that started out selling books, they haven’t had much written about them or their founder Jeff Bezos. One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon by Richard Brandt describes the basic and simple premise of the company – make it easy for people to buy. Other titles about Amazon include Amazon.com by Robert Spector and Inside the Giant Machine by Kalpanik S., a pen-name for a former employee of Amazon.

So if you’re watching this tech battle and would like to read up on the companies, I hope this will get you started. I’m sure there will be many more books to come in the future as the fight continues.