Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

New York Times bestselling author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk shares hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition. A mash-up of the best elements of Crush It! and The Thank You Economy with a fresh spin, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really works.

When managers and marketers outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next sale or campaign that’s going to knock out the competition. Even companies committed to jabbing—patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns—want to land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow. Right hooks convert traffic to sales and easily show results. Except when they don’t.

Thanks to massive change and proliferation in social media platforms, the winning combination of jabs and right hooks is different now. Vaynerchuk shows that while communication is still key, context matters more than ever. It’s not just about developing high-quality content, but developing high-quality content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms and mobile devices—content tailor-made for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.

MY REVIEW:

If you use social media to promote a business or a product, this book is a great resource for you as you develop your social media strategy.  Gary Vaynerchuk covers just about everything you need to know about marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, and he provides examples of good and bad marketing attempts on each of these networks.  He also briefly covers what he calls "emerging networks" - LinkedIn, Google+, Vine and Snapchat.

Vaynerchuk mentions a few times how quickly things change in the world of social media, so it is no surprise that some of the things he talks about are already outdated just two years after publication.  This is a reality when it comes to social media marketing, but it does not affect the overall points he makes about presentation on each individual network.

My only criticism of this book is that I don't like the two column layout on each page.  It is pretty, but I found it a little awkward when reading.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Platform by Michael Hyatt



ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Michael Hyatt, one of the top business bloggers in the world, provides down-to-earth guidance for building and expanding a powerful platform.

To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. He shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. Hyatt speaks from experience. He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice.

In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform. It has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now. . . The book includes:

  • proven strategies
  • easy-to-replicate formulas
  • practical tips

Social media technologies have changed everything. Now, for the first time in history, non-celebrities can get noticed―and win big!―in an increasingly noisy world.

MY REVIEW:

I have been a fan of Michael Hyatt for many years, so I already knew before reading this book that I was going to enjoy it.  Every time I visit his blog (www.michaelhyatt.com), I get sucked in and want to read post after post after post.  He writes on topics like productivity, leadership, social media and personal development, and every post is inspirational in some way. 

When I think of a "platform," I think of a comprehensive presentation of a person or brand, particularly online, that is constantly growing and adapting.  When I think of Michael Hyatt, two things typically come to mind: blogging and Twitter.  Not surprisingly, those were the two biggest themes in this book.  He does talk about Facebook, which he admits that he doesn't really like, and some other things, but I felt the book could have been a little more comprehensive.

Despite that minor critique, this book is a must read for anyone who blogs or wants to develop their online platform in order to promote a particular product, service or message of some sort.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:
  • How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
  • How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
  • How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
  • How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
  • How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”
The new expanded edition of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek includes:
  • More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point
  • Real-world templates you can copy for eliminating e-mail, negotiating with bosses and clients, or getting a private chef for less than $8 a meal
  • How Lifestyle Design principles can be suited to unpredictable economic times
  • The latest tools and tricks, as well as high-tech shortcuts, for living like a diplomat or millionaire without being either

MY REVIEW:

First things first -- I want to make it clear that I didn't totally know what this book was about before I started reading it.  I swear. 

I don't remember how I first discovered Tim Ferriss, but I think I had read an article or blog post by him a couple years ago about delegating work to a virtual assistant.  I thought this book would be similar - a business book about working smarter and delegating.  When I received the book, however, there was a sentence on the back cover that said something like "Do not read this book unless you want to quit your job." [I've already returned the book to the library, so I'm not sure if that was the exact quote, but it was something like that.]  I was immediately embarrassed that I was going to be writing this review and you all would think I was having a mid-life crisis.  Rest assured I am not. And, despite that sentence on the back cover, this book is actually what I thought it was about in the first place.

In the first portion of the book I started to get the feeling that Tim Ferriss is a genius and at the same time must be completely off his rocker.  He begins by telling us that we can all live an exciting life of adventure and travel right now and we don't have to put everything off until retirement when it might be too late.  In order to do this, we must give up the idea that we need to do the daily 9-5 grind for 40 years with the house and the cars and all of the stuff that ties us down in the process. Ferriss explains how travelling the world is much less expensive than people think and how anyone can do it, even those of us with children.  Totally crazy idea, right? But genius from a marketing perspective (who wouldn't want to buy that book?) - cha-ching for Ferriss!

I almost stopped reading, but I kept on and I'm glad I did.  This book is not about quitting your job (or delegating 90% of it), selling everything you own and travelling the world.  Unless you actually want to do those things, then I guess it is.  But to me this book was about learning to work smarter, focusing on the things (i.e. customers) that are most profitable for you, firing those customers who drain your time and energy (and, therefore, are not profitable for you), and delegating the work that can be done by others.  Ferris reminded me to think about work with this perspective: "Am I being productive or just active? Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?"

Sure, he's probably sold a lot of books because his marketing tactics are brilliant, but this is definitely one worth buying (or just get it from the library like I did!).





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Foul Play by Janet Evanovich



ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

When Amy Klasse loses her TV job to a dancing chicken, handsome veterinarian Jake Elliott rescues her with an offer to be his receptionist. Jake just can't resist a damsel in distress, and Amy certainly doesn't mind Jake's charming sincerity.

Then suddenly the job-stealing chicken disappears and Amy is suspected of foul play. Amy and Jake search for clues to prove her innocence. But will Jake be able to prove to Amy that love, too, is a mystery worth solving?

MY REVIEW:

I'm kind of new to romantic fiction.  I typically read non-fiction (various categories), but I recently read Home and Broken Home by Rachel Smith and I enjoyed them so much I wanted to read more in this category.  I picked out a Janet Evanovich book because that was a familiar name and I've never read anything by her before.

Foul Play is an easy read with an interesting balance between silly (the whole story is based around a job-stealing chicken after all) and slightly risqué.  The risqué part is probably normal for romantic fiction, but new for me.  I found the story light-hearted and fun.  If you're a fan of romantic fiction, you will probably enjoy this book. I will definitely read more by Janet Evanovich.




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris



ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based-life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, and make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

MY REVIEW:

I've loved Neil Patrick Harris ever since his Doogie days. His autobiography is classic "NPH" (as he often calls himself):

1) it's creative - written in a "choose-your-own adventure style"
2) it's unique - written in the second person
3) and it's fully entertaining!

Neil talks about his Doogie days, getting cast as and playing Barney on How I Met Your Mother, meeting his partner David, coming out in Hollywood, having twins, his experience on Broadway and much more!  

If you've loved NPH as Doogie or Barney or any other role, this book is a must-read!