New Summary: The Spark and the Grind by Erik Wahl

the-spark-and-the-grind-hardcover-whiteWe’ve been conditioned to think about creative genius as a dichotomy: dreamers versus doers, the spark of inspiration versus the grind of hard work. But what if we’re wrong? What if it’s the spark and the grind? Erik Wahl, a visual artist, speaker and entrepreneur, helps us unite the yin and the yang of creativity — the dynamic new ideas with the dogged effort. He shows why we won’t get far if we rely on the spark without the grind or the grind without the spark. What the world really needs are the creators who can hold the two in balance to further innovation. Wahl offers surprising insights and practical advice about how to fan the sparks and make the grind more productive. He deftly synthesizes the wisdom of other artists, philosophers, scientists and business visionaries throughout history, and adds the secrets of his own practice. If you want to ensure constant creativity in your life and produce your most innovative work — this is your guide.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• To discover the creativity within yourself, as well as how to harness and cultivate that creative spark into something tangible.
• To trust the unpredictable nature of the creative process, and then develop a disciplined routine that will strengthen your creative drive.
• To embrace the unfamiliar, take risks and find comfort in being an amateur knowing that the unknown can only fuel those creative sparks.

Guest Author Blog: #1 Strategy for Outsmarting Your Competition by Daniel Milstein

How-to-use-content-marketing-to-outperform-the-competitionWe will all face competitors during our lifetime. If you pursue your most ambitious plans and dreams, you’ll encounter more than most, and they must never be underestimated. There’s an arrogant complacency in thinking your customer or prospective employer will simply believe you’re the best because you’ve said so. Only one company or individual can rightfully claim to be #1. Rising to the top among people with whom you are competing – whether for a customer’s business or a dream job – takes hard work, cunning and determination. Hope is not a strategy. As Vince Lombardi said, the man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.

I found out early on that you can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods or mediocre service and hope to be in business tomorrow. First, determine exactly who and what you’re up against, and then develop outside-the-box methods to infiltrate your enemy’s camp. In my fourth book, Rule #1 Don’t Be #2, I describe a covert tool I developed early on my road to success which I call “mystery shopping”. This strategic recon work involves representing yourself as a competitor’s potential customer to explore and identify what they’re doing differently and possibly more effectively. Every competitor knew something I didn’t, and through diligent research, I was able to visualize their playbook. It’s one of the ways I was able to reach the top of my game in finance and create a “sales call to conversion” rate of 78.5 percent, which is a staggering 75% higher than the average of 3%.

Don’t overlook the many ways to research competitors online. Exploring the social media platforms of both individuals and businesses is a great way to assess their messaging, values and target markets. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn, and you’ll be a far more impressive candidate, presenter or business owner if you can demonstrate topic or market intelligence beyond the norm.

For example, this recon will be essential when you engage in the interviewing process. Prospective employers will dismiss you instantly if you can’t answer questions regarding the company you claim to want to join. Enthusiasm and a slick resume will only take you so far. Demonstrate expertise with regard to their mission and product or service line, as well as more obscure facts not every candidate will have been able to excavate. Don’t leave anything to chance. Choice, not circumstance, determines your success.

Some people have told me they’re not comfortable with researching competition. That sounds like either laziness or an excuse to me, and both must be avoided at all cost if you’re going to distinguish yourself among the rest. Excuses are nothing more than self- sabotage. Think of getting the handle on your competition as an investment in yourself you can’t afford not to make. If you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone, you’re probably not really committed to winning that contract or big promotion you’re dreaming of.  Well, you can sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.

Getting out in front of your competition is only one of the many lessons I share in Rule #1 Don’t Be #2. These are the lessons that have fueled my success. I’ve used them to persevere, and I use them still today. Like anyone who has achieved substantial success despite being tested by failure and adversity, I’ve found that the difference between those who will merely dream of success and those who will successfully reach their dream lies in attitude and action.

Here’s the bottom line: success or failure is only determined by where you decide to stop, and stopping should never be an option even when you do succeed. Whenever I encounter people who tirelessly go the extra mile in their quest to reach their dream, I’m reminded that amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.  My goal is always to be better than I was yesterday. As I always say, success is never owned. It’s rented, and the rent is due every day.

 


Daniel Milstein is the CEO and founder of the Gold Star Family of Companies, operating in over 40 offices worldwide, specializing in financial services, sports management, publishing, and film production. Under Dan’s visionary leadership, Gold Star has been named among Inc. magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America. He is a best-selling author and shares his other strategies for success in his new book Rule #1 Don’t Be #2: You Get What You Work For, Not What You Wish For.  Learn more at DanMilstein.com.

Friday Book Review: Agile PR by Marian Salzman

C08TpwXXcAADpN6Although a familiar term today, “metrosexual” was not heard of until a PR agency used it in an advertising campaign for its client, the Italian beer company Peroni. That agency was Havas PR North America, headed by Marian Salzman, author of a new book called Agile PR: Expert Messaging in a Hyper-Connected, Always-On World. As Salzman explains, when Havas “hijacked” the term coined by English writer Mark Simpson and introduced it into popular culture, Havas was engaging in what she calls “news-fluence.” News-fluence is the art of newscrafting in order to create influence. Newscrafting is what PR agencies have always done: crafting great stories that help their clients to create news. A key component of newscrafting is trendspotting, a term that’s self-explanatory.

Salzman doesn’t waste time. Newscrafting, news-fluence and trendspotting are introduced in the first two pages of this highly readable and comprehensive overview of public relations in the age of social media and the “prosumer” — Salzman’s term for today’s proactive consumers. Readers receive the first list of imperatives — which she summarizes as “grab attention, expect trouble, master the media, know your story and spot trends” — on the third page.

The pace of the book reflects the pace of the world as Salzman describes it in this eloquent overview: “Back before everywhere-all-the-time technology was the norm… communication strategy could be planned in advance. The campaign blueprint plotted out a timeline with a series of milestones to be activated and checked off… The whole thing could be set up and executed more or less as planned, give or take a few adjustments to accommodate occasional unexpected events.”

“But that world is gone,” she continues. “Technology has made…” (click here to continue reading this review)

New Summary: The High-Potential Leader by Ram Charan with Geri Willigan

HighPotentialLeader_3D-838x1024How to Grow Fast, Take on New Responsibilities, and Make an Impact

Companies need a new kind of leader to meet the enormous challenges of today’s fast-moving business world. Whether you have potential to step up and lead or are charged with finding those who can, The High-Potential Leader is your authoritative guide. Known for his coaching work with many of the world’s leading CEOs, bestselling author Ram Charan explains how “hipos” can know who they are, create their individual path and accelerate their growth. The book also helps top management and human resource professionals cultivate in their hipos the skills, judgment and mental capacity needed at the highest levels. This hands-on guidebook contains practical advice for making daily progress toward running a large team, business unit or company, a framework for deciding when and how to make job changes that speed up development and firsthand examples and lessons learned from top leaders around the world in a variety of industries.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• To build the skills and capabilities you need to be a high-potential leader.
• When to make big moves that will get you ready and battle test you.
• How to redefine leadership potential.
• How to rethink your role in supporting high-potential leaders.

Guest Blog: Three Things You Must Tell Yourself Today by Daniel Milstein

Milstein bookIn Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 I share the incredibly valuable lessons I’ve learned on my path to achieving great and lasting success.  Among the most critical, but one I find most people overlook, is the importance of keeping your self-talk positive.

As the sole architect of your destiny, you need to make sure you’re utilizing one of your greatest tools: your own voice. It’s that inner voice that will help you formulate a plan and drown out the external voices of critics and naysayers. Your voice holds the power to boost your confidence and help you both navigate and learn from setbacks when they occur.

Be very honest with yourself. Is your own voice joining the negative chorus of doubters? If the answer is yes, you’ll need to reprogram your thought process by telling yourself these three things today – and every day –for the rest of your life.

  1. Do it Now!

Procrastination is like quicksand. If left unchecked, it will pull you into a quagmire of crippling indecision. You’ll make excuse after excuse that will eventually foreclose on your dream. If you’re continually telling yourself it’s okay to do nothing, then nothing will be what you achieve. Instead, allow your inner voice to motivate you from morning ‘til night, and fiercely commit to your dream with a sense of urgency. Remember, the difference between “could” and “did” lies in planning and action, so become your own greatest coach and advocate for change. Don’t take no for an answer, especially from yourself.

  1. I Deserve This!

Whenever I meet someone who’s allowed their dream to derail, or who appears to be passing up opportunities for personal growth or improvement, I always ask why they don’t deserve their absolute best. If you’re among the folks who are settling for anything less than the success about which you dream, you simply must get out of your own way by escaping your dangerous comfort zone. Whatever your dream may be – whether it’s pursuing a career change you’ve always wanted, or finishing your degree, begin by reminding yourself that you deserve a brighter future, and then invest in yourself by giving your all to you. Never cut corners on what’s most important: your happiness.

  1. I Know I Can!

Fear of failure, including the inability to reclaim your forward momentum after a set-back, is one of the greatest obstacles to success, and one that can often be effectively addressed by empowering your inner voice. We all have fears, but we can’t habitually make fear-based decisions, or we’ll never reach our full potential. If we allow fear to paralyze our progress, we’ll create a blueprint for mediocrity, and miss the priceless lessons only trial and error can reveal. Make sure your self-talk is stronger than your fear, and relentlessly affirm, “Yes, I can!” I understand overcoming fear is not an overnight process, and may also require that you take advantage of additional resources at your disposal, such as individual therapy. I know that it can be extremely uncomfortable to get out there on whatever happens to be your personal “ledge”, but the feeling of freedom is incomparable, and I assure you the view will be spectacular.

As I look back at the journey I’ve traveled to achieving success, I can definitely attest to the power of my own self-talk. There have been fears and set-backs to be sure, but I resolved the first time I met the wake-up call of ground-shaking disappointment to never consider myself as having failed. I either win or I learn. There are times when the road will be steep, challenging and tiring. It is during those especially trying days that you must be able to rely upon your inner voice to drive you on. It will mean the difference between giving up and persevering. The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them.

Start listening to your voice today. What are you saying?  Do you believe you can succeed? It’s true that whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re going to be right.  When you do find yourself achieving success, make sure your self-talk remains positive and motivating. You don’t want to start telling yourself you’ve arrived and become complacent. As I always say, success is never owned. It’s rented and the rent is due every day.”

 


Daniel Milstein is the CEO and founder of the Gold Star Family of Companies, operating in over 40 offices worldwide, specializing in financial services, sports management, publishing, and film production. Under Dan’s visionary leadership, Gold Star has been named among Inc. magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America. He is a best-selling author and shares his other strategies for success in his new book Rule #1 Don’t Be #2: You Get What You Work For, Not What You Wish For.  Learn more at DanMilstein.com.

New Executive Summary: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

bigBookWhat if, rather than you serving your business, your business served you? What if you could turn a profit from your very next deposit? And what if you had the power to guarantee that profitability? It’s possible, and the solution is simpler than you think. Mike Michalowicz, the author of perennial bestsellers The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and Surge, has developed a counter-intuitive cash-management system that has helped tens of thousands of small businesses break out of the doom spiral and achieve instant profitability. Now, you can do it too. Treating profit like an afterthought, secondary to growth, usually has the effect of running your business into the ground. Profit First takes a behavioral approach to accounting and flips the formula: Sales – Profit = Expenses. Just as one of the most effective weight-loss strategies is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Michalowicz shows how to take profit first and spend only what remains on expenses. With this one change, you will instantly transform your business from a cash-eating monster to a profitable cash cow.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• Why following four principles can simplify accounting and make it far easier to manage a profitable business by just looking at bank account balances.
• How taking your profit first both enforces frugality and inspires industry-changing innovation.
• That a small, consistently profitable business can be worth much more than a large business that struggles to sustain itself.

Friday Book Review! Upside by Kenneth Gronbach & M.J. Moye

Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead

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Early in his book Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead, demographer Kenneth Gronbach tells a story from his advertising days — he is now an independent consultant — in which his firm lost one of its biggest and most profitable accounts ever: America Honda Motorcycles.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese motorcycles had enjoyed booming U.S. sales, and there seemed no end in sight. Yet, suddenly and for no discernible reason, Gronbach writes, the bottom fell out of the Japanese motorcycle market. “We ran the television, radio, billboard and newspaper ads for about 180 dealers from the tip of Maine to Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.,” he writes, “and then waited for the usual tidal wave of customers. It never arrived.” By 1992, the era of the Japanese motorcycle was over.

What happened? It was not until 1996 that Gronbach understood the reason for the Japanese motorcycle market’s mysterious disappearing act: It was all about generations.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, baby boomers — those born between 1945 and 1964 — were in the key 16- to 24-year-old motorcycle-buying age. By the mid-80s, boomers had aged out of the market and were replaced by 16- to 24-year-old Generation Xers. And here was the problem, Gronbach writes, a problem that strikes to the core of the theme of Upside: There were much fewer Gen Xers than boomers.

Gronbach explains: “The diminutive Generation X that followed the Boomers simply did not have the critical mass of 16- to 24-year-old men to satisfy the needs of the market left behind by the Boomers.”

Business is a question of supply and demand, and for Gronbach, many businesses are not paying attention to one of the fundamental components of supply: the number of people buying. In the first part of the book, Gronbach lays out the numbers, dedicating a chapter each to the six generations in the U.S. market today, from the G.I. Generation, born between 1905 and 1924, to Generation Z, born (or will be born) between 2005 and 2024.

Gronbach offers some interesting perspectives on the generations. For example…(click here to continue reading this review)

New Executive Summary: MOVE by Patty Azzarello

Move-thumbToo many new initiatives lose drive and direction before they finish. At the beginning, when a team first commits to implementing a new strategy, there is a great energy and enthusiasm — driven by the allure of the end goal. But then comes the long, dangerous part in “The Middle,” where everything needs to get done, obstacles inevitably spring up, and people feel a strong temptation to revert to the old ways. MOVE explains how to keep your team focused, motivated and resilient enough to push through the unavoidable, chronic challenges that derail most change initiatives. Some of the most recognizable brands in the world use the MOVE methodology to ensure their change strategies don’t stall. Business transformation expert Patty Azzarello explains the four components of a prosperous business transformation and exactly what it takes to keep everyone moving the new strategy forward. The MOVE Model will help you make sure that everyone stays engaged, maintains momentum, and that your initiatives succeed.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• The key elements in an execution plan that guarantee accountability and momentum.
• Empowering tools for transforming the team you have into the team you need.
• A powerful new way to think about leading and communicating to genuinely engage people throughout the implementation.
• Using communication to produce results and build trust

Friday Book Review! Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

y648In 1985, the American beer market was dominated by three companies, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Stroh’s. The third may elicit the response, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to them?”

What happened, according to Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein, is that Stroh’s was a “chaser.” As Sonenshein explains in a new book, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, a chaser is a person or company that is constantly chasing more and more resources. In the case of Stroh’s, chasing meant growing ever larger through serial acquisitions, until the company finally crumbled under its own weight.

The opposite of chasing is “stretching”: those who know how to do more with less. During the same period that Stroh’s was on its growth binge, a small company named Yuengling, which had a fraction of the resources that Stroh’s had, was using its limited resources to carefully and incrementally increase its capacity and its market reach. Eventually, the former beer giant Stroh’s would be liquidated, while Yuengling would become America’s largest domestically owned beer company.

According to Sonenshein, stretchers have a completely different mindset and different behaviors than chasers. Instead of constantly undervaluing or squandering their resources, stretchers recognize the value of what they have and act accordingly. For example, Sonenshein tells the story of a store manager stuck with a shipment of poorly made dresses that were not selling. Instead of putting them in the trash, the manager, Ethan Peters, cut off the straps and sold them as “beach cover-ups.” Click here to continue reading this review. 

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Image result for radical candor kim scottFrom the time we learn to speak, we’re told that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. While this advice may work for everyday life, it is, as Kim Scott has seen, a disaster when adopted by managers. Scott earned her stripes as a highly successful manager at Google and then decamped to Apple, where she developed a class on optimal management. She has earned growing fame in recent years with her vital new approach to effective management, the “Radical Candor” method. Radical Candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on one side and ruinously empathetic on the other. It’s about providing guidance that involves a mix of praise as well as criticism — delivered to produce better results and help employees achieve. Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees. Radical Candor offers a guide for those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and anyone who has a boss.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• How to build radically candid relationships with your team members.
• How to get, give and encourage guidance.
• Techniques for avoiding boredom and burnout on your team.
• Things you can do to get stuff done together — faster.
• Understand why radically candid relationships with your employees will allow you to get the results you want.