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Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki: A Review

I’ve been a big fan of Guy’s for years, but I must admit this is the first of his books I’ve gotten around to reading.  And I’m glad I did.

His latest, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions(affiliate link) is a breeze of a read and one that I found delightful and, well, enchanting.

While some might be quick to simplify the book’s advice  to nothing more than good ol’ common sense, I would argue it is much more than that.  Think of a great mentor you’ve had, or one you hope you might one day have.  If he or she were to put every ounce of advice into one tome and attempt to do so in a way that is relevant in an always-connected-world, well, this might be the book they’d write.

Along the way, Guy references the dozens of books he read and researched while in the process of writing Enchantment.  Many of them I wasn’t familiar with and I plan to dig into several of them soon, as if my list of must-reads wasn’t already long enough.

The single biggest takeaway for me were the two chapters outlining what Guy refers to as “push” and “pull” technologies where push technologies are your presentations, e-mail and Twitter, for example.  Examples of pull technologies on the other hand would be your website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube pages, though I think Facebook and LinkedIn could also fall into the “push” category.

In these two chapters, he outlines some best practices for utilizing each.  Some of them I’ve seen from Guy before and have actually implemented and used with great success.  While, again, some points made are arguably common sense, I suspect many individuals and organizations still aren’t implementing them.

Throughout, the basic and on-going theme of the book, for me at least, was the idea of altruism.  I could invoke biblical concepts and verses here, as Guy does: put the needs of others before you own, treat others they way you desire to be treated, not only in the real world, but in the virtual one many of us spend so much of our time in these days.  Additionally, Guy’s desire is that this book remain relevant for decades to come, regardless of the inevitable technological changes ahead.  I believe he has succeeded in making it so.

Lastly, I thought I’d take advantage of a couple of resources that might help you in determining if this is a book that is right for you.  Below, you’ll find a relatively short video as well as an infographic.

This video is an abridged version (about 11 minutes) of Guy’s Enchantment speech.

 

 

This infographic does a fine job of summing up the book’s main ideas.

 

Enchantment Infographic

Something I didn’t expect to get out of the book was this little gem (a concept that Guy initially applies to your relationship with your boss):

If your wife asks you to do something, drop everything and do it.  You may not think it’s important, but you aren’t juggling four kids, a career, and several charitable causes.  You may see the big picture, but you don’t see her big picture.

Worth the price of the book, as Guy argues?  I think so.

What are some ways you inject altruism into your daily projects, communication opportunities and the like?  Do you think you’ll pick up this book?

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Portfolio / Penguin Group (USA).  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

LinkedIn’s Search Options Just Got a Shot in the Arm

I was in the process of cleaning up my LinkedIn inbox (we have so many boxes, don’t we), when I noticed they’ve recently added some new and stronger search features. I also like the ability to save searches.

I honestly don’t spend enough time on LinkedIn to know which of these features are new and which are not, or whether they’re all new but, none the less, I like what I see and felt it worth passing along in case you missed it.

What do you think? How will use these new features? Can you see yourself taking advantage of LinkedIn during your next job search? How, and in what ways?

If You Still Text and Drive, You’re Now Out of Excuses: Vlingo to the Rescue

I’ve been the proud owner of an Android smartphone for about 7 months now, and in that time I’ve road-tested roughly 300 apps.  Of those, about 120 or so remain on my phone.  But if I had to pick just one app that stands head and shoulders above the rest, my vote would have to go to Vlingo hands down.  Or more specifically, Vlingo InCar (currently in beta), a feature within the Vlingo app itself.

 

I’ll admit, before Vlingo, I was as guilty as anyone when it came to occasionally shooting off a quick text while driving.  While I usually made it a point to use my phone’s native voice-to-text features – features I argued made it safe to text and drive – I still had to manipulate the phone’s touch screen, requiring me to take my eyes off the road every time.

But Vlingo InCar, put simply, is as-good-as-it-gets, 100% voice-command-on-steroids goodness and, in my opinion, puts and end, once and for all, to the need for you to so much as touch your phone while in the car.  Don’t get me wrong, you can still touch all you want.  The great part is, you don’t have to.

Whether texting, placing a call, updating your Facebook or Twitter status, searching for a local business or figuring out how many miles it is from the earth to the moon, Vlingo can find the answers simply by following your voice commands.  Heck, the female voice even greats you with the exact words you put in her mouth.  I’m currently addressed as “Grand Poo-bah.”  Check out this quick video to see what I mean.

Got a teenager whose promise not to text and drive is one you’re not confident she’ll keep?  Make sure she downloads Vlingo from the App Store or Android Market today.  Ever catch yourself originating texts or responding to incoming texts while on way into work?  Feeling guilty about it?  Ever slammed on your breaks to avoid the car in front of you after taking your eyes off the road for a split second too long?  Get Vlingo.

I not only feel better about being a more responsible driver, I’ve just plain had fun using the darn thing.  But what’s really exciting is what the folks at Vlingo have on the horizon for 2011.  The video below offers a conceptual look at some pretty exciting stuff.  According to the Vlingo blog:

Some of this Vlingo already does, some is coming really soon, while some will take a little longer, but it’s all coming.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. What functions in the video would you like to see next?  Have some ideas of your own?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

The Butterfly Effect: A Book Review

How significant is my life?  Do I make a difference?  When I move…when I act…when I do something…does the universe notice?  Do I really matter?

Thus begins the new book from Andy Andrews called The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters.

Few books of significance are as brief as this one.  Totaling a little over 100 one- or two-sentence pages, Andrews attempts, in true story/parable form, to illustrate how easily one’s actions and decisions can have an impact for years to come, not just on those in your immediate sphere of influence, but on people all across the globe.

The true story of union soldier Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a thirty-four year old school teacher, is alone worth the price of the book.  I’d be willing to wager it is a part of our nation’s history about which you’ve never heard.

While reading through The Butterfly Effect the first time, I couldn’t help but think how powerful a book it could be for the parent of a young child.  I could see myself reading it out loud to my nieces and nephews.  The potential impact it could have on young, developing minds cannot be overstated, in my opinion.

The underlying message is simple.  Everything you do matters to all of us forever.  This is best illustrated in the second story Andrews shares.  I won’t give anything away, but I liken it the AT&T commercial where you see an elderly couple clapping and all smiles as their son is being introduced as the president of the United States.  You’re then taken back in time as the spot reveals that first chance meeting between the president’s parents.

If not confined by the 30- and 60-second nature of television advertising, it would be easy to carry that story even further back in time to reveal each person who, with one decision or action, impacted the future outcome.

In the words of Andrews, “There are generations yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take today.  And tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.”

“Your life…and what you do with it today…matters forever,” Andrews says.  And I’m inclined to agree.

What are some things you can do to ensure the impact you make is a positive one?

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Portable Patriot: A Book Review

While Independence Day may be behind us, that doesn’t mean we have to put our patriotism on the shelf until next year.  A recent e-mail I received from a PR agent tipped me off to a new book from Thomas Nelson Publishers called The Portable Patriot: Documents, Speeches, and Sermons That Compose the American Soul and edited by Joel J. Miller and Kristen Parrish.  It is one I recommend highly.

If you, like me, are fascinated by stories of our country’s origins, especially when they come straight from those who lived them, then this is definitely a book you’ll want to consider reading.  From the first settlers in the early 1600s to our country’s founding, the stories recounted here are remarkable.

I found the book thought-provoking and a definite page-turner, especially when engaged in stories like the one early in the book from late 1600s settler Mary Rowlandson as she harrowingly recounts having been taken captive – a three-month ordeal – by Native Americans and the many losses suffered along the way.  Still, her faith gave her the strength to push on in the face of innumerable obstacles.

Faith is the common strand that threads these many stories together.  In each of them, you see what was once commonplace in our communities: a complete and natural reliance on God for our future.  Or, as our forefathers put it, “…a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”

The Portable Patriot is my own “little library of foundational documents” and a welcome addition to my bookshelf.

__________________________________

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Organize and Find Everything in One Place with Springpad and Evernote

If you’re like most people, between shopping, eating, surfing the net, conversations with friends and basically just living your day-to-day life, you constantly come across products, web pages and ideas you want to remember.  However, if you’re like me – and I hope for your sake you’re not – it can be a real challenge as to how to organize it all.

Chances are you’ve at least heard of Evernote.  With Evernote, you can save just about anything you want to remember in the cloud.  I’ve been using it extensively the last few months, mostly to organize others’ blog posts I want to refer back to, though there’s a lot more to it than that.

Unfortunately, for me at least, Evernote has slowly become yet another place to store my bookmarks, along with my Firefox browser and Delicious, giving me as many as three places they might be (to be fair, I’ve been using Evernote mostly on my desktop and long before I acquired my first smartphone a few weeks ago).

Recently, though, I came across a similar, free service called Springpad.  While Springpad mirrors Evernote in many ways – helping you save ideas, things you see, things you like, etc. – it does add a couple of new dimensions that I find intriguing.

First, the similarities:

  1. Both allow you to save just about anything you come across.  This could be a photo you’ve taken, a website or article you come across, an idea, any number of things.  Let’s say you’re planning a wedding and want to have one place to save dress photos, venue options, guest lists, whatever.  Instead of lugging around that three-ring binder, access everything you need right from your smartphone.
  2. You can save items independently or tag and categorize them in folders.  Either way, finding them later is as easy as entering a keyword or selecting the folder (say, “XYZ Project) that contains the items you’re looking for.
  3. Both offer their own smartphone app.  Likewise, I use an Evernote Firefox add-on and a Springpad (Spring It!) bookmarklet when surfing the web.
  4. Both are free.  Evernote does offer a paid version, but I’ve found the monthly 40MB offered with the free version  to be more than enough for me.  For $5 a month, you’ll get a total of 500MB of space that starts over every month.

Beyond that, there are several key differences:

  1. When it comes to how you save what you find, Evernote adds the option of saving audio notes on your app-enabled smartphone.  This feature, on the surface at least, seems to be one of the few advantages Evernote has over Springpad.
  2. Conversely, Springpad enables you to barcode searches.  You can even “search nearby.”  This might come in handy when, say, you see a restaurant or store you want to remember to visit later.  Save it and Springpad automatically pulls in the phone number and address of the business, even a Yelp review if applicable.
  3. Snap a photo that includes handwritten or printed text and Evernote makes it searchable.  Very cool.
  4. One key difference is Springpad adds social sharing to the equation.  You can choose what items, or categories of items, you’d like to make public. Others can follow what you’re sharing and, likewise, you can follow others.  Want to know about great wines Gary Vaynerchuk is discovering?  Just follow his Springpad feed.
  5. The web interface also allows you to add apps to your Springpad experience.  For example, my Springpad includes a blog post and date night planner among others.  Last week when I had an idea for a new blog post I wanted to remember, I noted it in Springpad and was able to even set a reminder e-mail for the day I wanted to work on it.  One drawback though is interfacing with these apps does not appear to be an option within the Springpad smartphone app.
  6. Lastly, when you save something, Springpad automatically curates relevant links, notes and other media (as in #2 above).  Spring a movie you want to check out and Springpad will include a link to Fandango so you can buy tickets whenever you’re ready, or maybe even the latest Trailer, reviews, or a link to purchase the DVD at Amazon.

I’ve only being using Springpad for a short while.  I can say for sure that the lack of a desktop app (versus Evernote which offers both a web and desktop version) is a big deal for me.  I use the Evernote desktop app virtually everyday.  However, I really like the additional features, like social sharing, that Springpad offers.

For more on both services, check out the respective videos below.  And let me know in the comments section which one you use, how you use it, and what you do and/or don’t like about it.  Do you use both?  Which do you prefer?

Have I missed any features?  Differences?  Similarities?

Photo credit, Franck-Boston on iStockphoto.com

No Size Fits All: Video Book Review No. 2

I first became aware of this intriguing new book at Mark Ramsey’s blog Hear 2.0.  If you’re so inclined, I highly recommend you take some time to read his analysis of what the book has to offer.

If you’re in the business of figuring out your industry’s or company’s digital future, and are fascinated by the psychology behind the popularity of social networking – or for that matter, why some marketers are welcomed to otherwise closed communities with open arms while others aren’t – then I highly recommend you give it a go.

There’s a bit of nostalgia where this particular video is concerned.  It was shot at my parent’s home in the room I grew up in as a boy.  Unfortunately, the Farrah Fawcett posters are no longer a part of the room’s decor.  What a shame.

The Only Book on Social Media Marketing You’ll Ever Need

Several months ago I promised Tamar Weinberg I’d do a video review of her book The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web.  My apologies to her for taking so long to get around to it.  After all, how hard can a video book review be, right?

After being sidetracked with other projects shortly after reading the first two-thirds, I finally got around to finishing it recently.  If you buy one book on social media, do yourself a favor and make it this one.

For the ultimate review of Tamar’s new book, check out this video from Polar Unlimited.

Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham: A Review

fysl_cover_fullOkay, I’ll just come out and say it. It’s been really hard to Find My Strongest Anything lately.  There have been two deaths in my family in the last week,  yesterday my one and only laptop hard drive crashed (I’m on a borrowed one now) and, I realized just moments ago that this review is actually due today, October 5th, and not tomorrow, October 6th, as I’d thought.  Me, strongest life?  Hardly.

On the other hand, one could argue the timing of this book in my life couldn’t be better.  In a moment, I’ll tell you how you can get a free copy all your very own.  But first, my impressions of the book.

The complete title is actually Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book that was so obviously not geared to me.  Despite this though, I found it to be quite fascinating.  Here’s a quick 90-second video intro to the book from the author:

What the book ultimately tries to do is to teach you to identify your life’s “strong moments,” those moments that really get your juices flowing.  Sounds pretty remedial, right?  But, for me at least, it’s so easy to let these moments go by unnoticed.  Reading the book, I realized I’d been doing exactly that for a long time.  Even as I thought about the last couple of weeks, as Buckingham suggests doing, and tried to pick them out, I kept coming up empty. 

What Find Your Strongest Life helped me to do was pinpoint them so that I can now, going forward, focus my attention on them.  I discovered, for example, that my Lead Role is as an “Advisor” (You’ll learn where you fit after taking the simple test at StrongLifeTest.com.  The questions are geared to women, but I didn’t find it difficult to think of each one in terms of my male role in life).  I must say that, as I read the “strongest moments” associated with this trait, I became really excited.

One of them – someone calls you up out of the blue and relies on your opinion – reminded me of two real-life examples from just a few days ago.  When I thought back to these two moments, I was instantly reminded of how much I enjoyed these conversations.  Is it possible, I thought, to make a living advising people?  Duh!?!  Of course it is you dolt.  People do it every day. 

But other than a few brief flashes, I hadn’t much thought about my desires in this area.  Find Your Strongest Life helped me understand the importance of not treating these flashes so lightly.  In short, I came to realize there’s nothing I enjoy more than being relied upon for my opinion.  In other words, as Marcus writes, to clarify a complex issue for someone who acts upon what I’ve told them and to see them succeed upon doing so.   

Whether you find you’re an Advisor, a Motivator, a Weaver, a Care-Taker, I think you’ll find new motivation and the direction you’re looking for in this new book.

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Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers, I have four (4) copies of Find Your Strongest Life to give away.  For a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you’d like this book.  I really want to know.  I might even get to know you better.
  2. Fill out this special form. I have set up a separate form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address.  Please do not include your address with your comment.  This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.  Please copy and paste the following into your tweet/update:

Reading: A book review of Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham. @THEjeffbrown is giving away copies! http://wp.me/poeTz-mR

Yes, I know if more people read this, it will hurt your chances of getting a copy yourself.  But the only incentive the publisher has to provide books to giveaway is the free publicity you and I collectively provide.

On Thursday, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of the comments, I will select the winners. If you are selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do want a copy of this book?  What do you hope to get out of it?

Whether you win a copy or purchase this book from one of the above links, I thought you might enjoy sampling a few pages first.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller: A Review

Don Miller Book CoverIf you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers.  You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen.  The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back.  Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful.  The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.

And so begins the new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like JazzIn a moment, I’ll tell you how you can get a free copy. For a taste of what’s in store, as well as information on Miller’s 65-city speaking tour, interviews and more, see my previous post.

Miller asserts that a big part of living a better and more rewarding and fulfilling life is about creating meaningful stories within which to live it.  He cautions though that, The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.  The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.

If you’re like me, you find it difficult to be motivated by words written on a page.  I don’t know why I’m wired that way.  It may explain why only in the last several years have I become an avid reader.  But despite this personal quirk, I found A Million Miles to be filled with thought-provoking and motivational moments.  One of my favorites:

I’ve never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless.  I only thought the movie I walked out on was meaningless.  I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they’ve chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us.

If you’re aware change is needed but are struggling with the motivation to make that change, you might appreciate this:

Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life.  It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it.  It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life.  People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.  But joy costs pain.

He goes on to write that, because of this, we often have to force ourselves to create these stories:

We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river.  We have to write the poem and deliver it in person.  We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill.  We have to put on our suits, we have to dance at weddings.

As I read the book during a recent trip to visit my ailing grandfather, I couldn’t help but think about how little time we all have to create meaningful stories.  My grandfather, at 91, was facing the end and I, if fortunate enough to live as long, was nearly half-way there myself, I thought.  What was I going to do differently?  What changes would I make?

That was three weeks ago.  Since that time I’m glad to say that, while probably considered baby steps, I’ve begun a few new stories in my life.  Both my wife and I, if we’re not careful, can make a weekend of laying around and doing nothing (me much more so than her).  Already, we’ve discussed the need to change this habit along with specific goals toward which to shoot.  Just one example, but there are others.  Like I said, baby steps.

Meanwhile, my grandfather’s funeral is tomorrow.  And while he may be gone, I’m glad to have shared a few meaningful stories with him along the way.  The stories he fostered are what will live on beyond tomorrow.  Your meaningful stories and mine, if we choose, can begin today.

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Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers, I have a copy of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years to give away.  And if Chaffee Management comes through, I may even have several more (Update: 5 more copies for giveaway have just been made available).  For a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you’d like this book.  I really want to know.  I might even get to know you better.
  2. Fill out this special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address.  Please do not include your address with your comment.  This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.  Please copy and paste the following into your tweet/update:

Reading: A book review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. @THEjeffbrown is giving away copies! http://bit.ly/oju0P

Yes, I know if more people read this, it will hurt your chances of getting a copy yourself.  But the only incentive the publisher (or author’s manager) has to provide books to giveaway is the free publicity you and I collectively provide.

On Thursday, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of the comments, I will select a winner(s). If you are selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do want a copy of this book?  What do you hope to get out of it?