Your computer is a factory for ideas. Go build something.

Month: November 2012

Heck of a Good Deal on Dan Pink’s New Book

If I read a book that cost me $20 and I get one good idea, I’ve gotten one of the greatest bargains of all time. –Tom Peters

I quoted Tom Peters just the other week and here I am quoting him again. What gives?

As a reader and recommender of good books, I’m “all in” with this notion. Any money I spend that will help me improve, whether personally or professionally, is like money in the bank.

Seven years ago, for example, I attended a photography workshop that helped me better understand lighting. Between travel, food, hotel, and the workshop fee, I spent probably $800. Oh–and I had to buy and replace a belt for my stupid Le Baron because it broke during the trip, but that’s another story.

$800 isn’t cheap; was it worth it?

That workshop has paid for itself multiple times over in client bookings because it helped me learn to define a style that sets me apart from other photographers in my area. So, yes, it was a great investment.

By comparison, dropping $20 on a book–from which I’ll most likely get not just one but a bunch of good ideas–is a no-brainer for me. It should be for you, too. Lifelong learning is the best investment you can make in yourself.

Are you in sales? Yes.

Bestselling author Dan Pink has a new book coming out at the end of December. It’s entitled To Sell is Human, and he’s making the case that EVERYONE is “in sales,” whether or not you’re “in sales” for a living. Here’s a two-minute trailer for the book:

I’ve been reading and sharing insights from Dan’s books for several years. They always make my “short list” of recommended reads–see, for example, here, here, and here. And I’ve been giving copies of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko as gifts to the high school seniors I’ve photographed this fall.

Dan writes smart books that are intended to promote change: change your thinking, change your behavior, change your organization. I expect his latest book will deliver on that promise.

A good use of your next $20 book investment

Dan Pink - To Sell Is Human - preorder recommendation from Michael GowinYou could easily argue that a book that helps you learn to persuade others, pitch your ideas, or even actually make sales (if you’re in it for a living) is worth $20. Heck, just one sale recovers the cost of the book. But Dan and his publisher have something special planned for the earliest of the early adopters.

If you preorder To Sell Is Human before the December 31, 2012 release date, you can get a raft of FREE goodies–what Dan’s calling the First Mover Package:

  • Exclusive New Year’s Day webinar with Dan where you can ask him anything
  • To Sell Is Human Workbook
  • Signed Book Plate – a hand-signed sticker that you can put in your book or anywhere else
  • Field Notes First Mover Edition
  • Interview with the master of influence, Robert B Cialdini, Ph.D.
  • Interview with Adam Grant, Ph.D., associate professor of management at The Wharton School

Dan just announced all of this today–you can learn more about the book and the preorder details over at his web site.

Is this a good deal? Amazon currently shows the preorder price at $16.71–that’s $3.29 less than even Tom Peters’ benchmark for a single good idea, not to mention all of the bonuses in the First Mover Package. Don’t you think you’ll find at least one idea that would benefit you, your team, or your organization? Thousands of preorders have already been placed; don’t miss out.

I’m receiving an advance reading copy and will have a review posted as soon as I can. If I weren’t receiving the review copy, though, I’d have already placed my order for the book–even without the goodies. Dan’s established a strong track record and I’m sure many folks will find this book useful. Preorder and learn how to get your free stuff.

Full disclosure: I’m a member of the To Sell Is Human launch team and will be receiving the goodies above as well as the advance reading copy of the book and a signed copy of the hardcover. I’m not being paid for my review (good or bad) or receiving any other compensation. I’ve paid for all the other copies of Dan’s books that I own as well as those I’ve given away as gifts. In other words, I’m not in this for the freebies and accolades of the fawning masses but because I really like Dan’s books and ideas.

Want to Make a Better Presentation? Got 60 Minutes?

Presentation Renovation eBook - Renovate Communication Design, LLC

This week my business partner released an audiobook version of our well-received eBook, Presentation Renovation. In the words of popular speaker Jill Savage, “If you’re ready to take your presentation skills to the next level, you need this book.”

Check it out and start renovating your presentations today.

So did you hear the one about the amoeba salesman?

Single Sale Amoeba - © 2012 Michael Gowin

You’re Not Blogging… Why?

No single thing in the last 15 years, professionally, has been more important to my life than blogging. –Tom Peters

Catch this 90-second conversation between Seth Godin and Tom Peters–it’s money. Should give you all the incentive you need to start a blog for your business or brand.

When you’re ready to get started, go here.

Alan Weiss on Consulting, Entrepreneurship, and Success at Harvard

Alan Weiss, a highly-regarded independent business consultant and one of my favorite authors on the subject, spoke to a class at Harvard recently. This may well be the best hour you spend investing in yourself and your business this week.

Alan is known for being a contrarian. Here are just a handful of the insights that were valuable for me:

  • Consulting is about one thing: improving the client’s condition. Do that consistently and quickly and you’ll have work.
  • Delivery and methodology are not the most important dimensions of consulting. Learning how to communicate well (in writing, in person, and developing a strong vocabulary) makes the biggest difference.
  • Hourly-based fees are unethical: you make more money by staying on the job longer. Offer high value instead and deliver results quickly.
  • Read all the time. Learn, grow, and innovate all the time.
  • Consulting is a relationship business. If you provide value and communicate well, you win.

Take 80 minutes to watch this presentation. I found the best insights in the first 30 and last 15 minutes; your mileage may vary.

Speaking About Adopting Children from Ethiopia

Michael Gowin speaks about international adoption at Lincoln Christian Church - Renovate Communication Design, LLCLast week, Orphan Sunday in fact, I spoke to our friends at Lincoln Christian Church here in Lincoln, IL, about bringing our son Kieran home from Ethiopia. There’s a post up over on my consulting site–check it out at Renovate Communication Design.

Squarespace: Heroic Customer Service

What happens to a business’ customers when the power goes down? For days?

Squarespace, the web hosting service I use for my photography business, has its data center located in downtown Manhattan. When the city got nailed by hurricane Sandy, residents and businesses lost power for days. Squarespace’s customers, however, never saw their web sites go down.

Among other extraordinary efforts to keep the service running, Squarespace employees manually carried fuel up 17 flights of stairs for three days to keep a generator running to ensure that customer web sites stayed online. More details here:

The Data Center Diaries

That’s outstanding customer service, and outstanding business.

Four More Years for President Obama: Now What?

Yesterday America (or at least 51% of the electorate) decided to give Barack Obama a shot at a second term. All of America is concerned about the implications of this president’s next four years. But since “the economy” was the key issue in this election, many who supported Romney at the polls are scratching their heads to understand how Obama won.

James Taranto, a commentator for The Wall Street Journal, offered this contrarian (and darkly humorous) perspective for giving the president a second term:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

Already, The Wall Street Journal reports, ObamaCare is killing jobs: “Some low-wage employers are moving toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones to mitigate the health-care overhaul’s requirement that large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a fee.” And ObamaCare includes an additional massive, job-killing tax increase (on investment income), also scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

That’s the mess a President Romney would inherit from his predecessor. He’d have to spend much of his political capital persuading Congress to undo this legislation, and quite possibly with a Democratic Senate majority.

If Obama is re-elected, he will inherit this mess from himself. There will be no blaming George W. Bush for a two-term Obama presidency. History will hold Obama accountable for the results, and the electorate will hold his party accountable in 2014 and 2016. As H.L. Mencken observed: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

So, that said, the new President Obama has quite a mess on his hands. I wish him the best as he sorts it all out.

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