Book Review: The Thank You Economy

by Gary Vaynerchuk

Upon picking up the Soundview Executive Book Summary of author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s book The Thank You Economy, one concept should leap out at readers. Vaynerchuk wants you to provide one-on-one attention to your company’s entire customer base. This sounds like a considerable challenge to companies whose customers number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The fact that he believes social media is the tool with which to accomplish the task may do little to lighten the burden of this challenge to the reader. However, as the audiences who attend his speeches would likely report, Vaynerchuk is quite persuasive in getting his point across.

The Thank You Economy isn’t a social media primer, for those readers fearing another business book that spends half its pages going over well-tread ground. Instead, Vaynerchuk uses a fascinating array of examples from companies of all sizes to demonstrate the right (and, in some cases, wrong) way to use social media to connect with customers. He also devotes a section of the book to the importance of building a social culture within the organization, a process that begins with executives. Decision-makers quickly realize that Vaynerchuk is arguing the critical importance of connecting with customers is not a responsibility to be passed down the line.

The word to which Vaynerchuk returns time and again in his book is “opportunity.” While he may be referring to social media as the opportunity your business can’t afford to miss, there are those who would point to his book as an opportunity for advancement unto itself. For that, Vaynerchuk certainly deserves a thank-you of his own.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of The Thank You Economy visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

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.

Enchanted to Meet You . . .

Enchantment. When I hear this word, I can’t help but think of fairly tales and Disney movies. In fact, Disney actually has a movie entitled Enchanted. So what does enchantment have to do with business? It just happens to be the title of the latest business book from Guy Kawasaki.

Kawasaki is known for pushing the envelope, with books like Reality Check and How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, and with a following on Twitter of 398,722 (as of today). Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com which he calls an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and is a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Also, not surprisingly, he was previously the chief evangelist of Apple.

In Enchantment, Kawasaki argues that in business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want, but to bring about voluntary, enduring and delightful change in other people. The book explains all the tactics you need to prepare and launch an enchantment campaign; to get the most from both push and pull technologies; and to enchant your customers, your employees and even your boss.

If this is an enchanting idea to you, then please join Soundview and Guy Kawasaki on September 8th for our latest Soundview Live webinar, How to Change Hearts, Minds and Actions. Hopefully you’ll come away enchanted with the idea of launching your own Enchantment campaign. OK, I know I’m over doing the whole “enchantment” thing, but we’d love to have you join us, and to bring your questions for Guy.

You’ll receive our summary of Guy’s book with your registration, or you can purchase the summary here if you’re not sure you can make it to the webinar.

Today at 2 p.m. (Eastern) Soundview Live with Don Tapscott

Greetings from Toronto! Just wanted to post a quick reminder to everyone that today at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern) we will be taking to the online airwaves with the latest installment of Soundview Live. Today, Soundview will be with Don Tapscott, co-author (along with Anthony D. Williams) of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World. In the era of mass collaboration, your company’s future may rest on its ability to connect with a global audience. Find out how a variety of organizations are tapping the crowd and creating change in many of the world’s institutions.

A reminder to everyone if you are already signed up and set to participate in today’s event: please check your system at least one hour before the event begins at 2:00 p.m. Soundview Live is using an updated Webinar platform to enhance your interactive Webinar experience. As a result, you should have received an e-mail with information to help you test your system.

One of the main reasons that Soundview is using the new Webinar platform is the sheer volume of response from participants during the Q&A segment of every Soundview Live event. We want to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to pose a question to our guest. Unfortunately, the 60 minute time limit will prevent us from getting to every question, but we will do our best to make sure that Don addresses as many issues as possible during the course of today’s presentation.

Today’s Soundview Live event with Don Tapscott, like every Soundview Live Webinar, is FREE for subscribers. To find out how you can become a Soundview subscriber, click here! You can also visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com for more information.

Sneak Peek at Potential Soundview Summary

The Associated Press published a story today that international telecommunications equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent SA posted a lower loss in the first quarter. The reason this story is of interest to Soundview Executive Book Summaries‘ subscribers is that it ties in to a potential upcoming summary. While we can’t officially announce it yet, I can tell you that we’re hard at work in an attempt to produce a summary of Robert J. Herbold’s What’s Holding You Back: 10 Bold Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders. Aside from his own highly successful international consulting company, Herbold served time as a top executive with two of the globe’s most profitable companies. He was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft, and he also served at the executive level with Procter & Gamble. Herbold’s astounding resume aside, the content of What’s Holding You Back contains some of the best advice for leaders that I’ve read in recent years.

So, how does Alcatel-Lucent fit into the equation? During our build-up to producing the summary, I had the opportunity to speak with Herbold yesterday. It was an enlightening conversation that subscribers will have the opportunity to hear in the form of a Soundview Author Insight Series interview, our monthly discussion with the authors of each summarized title. One of the issues we discussed is the problem of group consensus at the executive level. Herbold writes that organizations need to return to a practice of single-person accountability. In his book and in our chat, he cites Alcatel-Lucent as an example of what can go wrong when legacy leadership collides head-on with consensus thinking.

To make sure that you’re alerted as soon as the summary of What’s Holding You Back becomes available, check this blog and follow Soundview on Twitter @businessbooks.

Book Review: Real-Time Marketing and PR

As one of the three new summaries available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries, author David Meerman Scott’s Real-Time Marketing & PR is a title that arrives at just the right time. Many business books attempt to take a snapshot of the state of social media during the period in which the book is written. This makes the majority of these titles out of date within the blink of an eye. Scott’s book is one of the best attempts at explaining how to operate in the current climate, rather than rehashing the technology at a business’s disposal. He remarks that this is an era of revolution and businesses that don’t react in the appropriate manner are in danger of being made obsolete in short order.

Real-Time Marketing & PR is a quick read, a quality that is perfect for a book that believes speed is an essential business skill in today’s marketplace. Scott’s strategies emphasize constant and (where possible) instant contact with one’s customers. The customer is the focal point and executives will want to pay particular attention to the case studies Scott provides. The instances where a business takes the wrong action are often more informative than those where the company executes its strategy well.

Leaders of small businesses should put Real-Time Marketing & PR on their reading list. Scott gives examples that demonstrate why a small business’s size can be its best asset in outmaneuvering larger competition. In a business era where the ability to adapt can be the reason for survival, Scott’s book does a great job of giving executives the essential knowledge to gain these skills.

To learn more about this and other great business book summaries, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.

Three Great NEW Soundview Summaries

Subscribers to Soundview Executive Book Summaries already received some great news this week, so I thought I’d share it with everyone else. There are three brand new summaries now available for download in any of Soundview’s eight digital formats. If you’re an iPad user (or iPad2 for that matter), make this the month that you check out Soundview’s new Smart Summary format. It’s the first business book summary format designed specifically for the iPad and other tablet devices.

Here are the new releases:

Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott: In this eye-opening follow-up to The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott reveals the proven, practical steps to take your business into the real-time era. Find out how to act and react flexibly as events occur, position your brand in the always-on world of the Web, and avoid embarrassing mistakes and missteps in this executive book summary of Real-Time Marketing and PR.

You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine: This executive book summary of You Already Know How to Be Great offers a bold new approach to performance by one of the top coaches in the country. Alan Fine, an accomplished tennis, golf, and executive coach and a renowned authority on peak performance, has found the biggest obstacle to improved performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what you already know. Fine reveals his simple and proven approach to achieving breakthrough performance through an amazing process called G.R.O.W. (Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward).

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George B. Bradt, Jorge E. Pedraza, Jayme A. Check: Moving into a new leadership position is one of the toughest challenges an executive can face. Whether you’re a veteran leader taking over a new organization or a novice moving into your first leadership role, this practical guide will help you manage your leadership transition so you can take charge, build your team, and deliver results. This executive book summary of the second edition of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan presents proven solutions and cutting-edge techniques for getting started successfully in your new role.

For more information on these great new summaries, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.

Is Friedman’s Argument as Flat as the World?

The state of imbalance in the Middle East has produced numerous opinions from both sides of the political aisle. There is probably not a single industrialized nation that does not depend on the region for fuel resources. While panic ensues over the potential for rapidly rising oil prices, there is at least one columnist who offers the position that positives may come from this period of tumult.

Whether you agree or disagree, you can read Thomas L. Friedman’s column in The New York Times in which he discusses the ramifications of regime change in the region. Friedman is best known for his two bestsellers: The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century and Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America. The latter book contains some of the sentiments Friedman echoes in his piece for the Times. Friedman is among the more vocal supporters of an urgent and radical shift in America’s use of energy. If you read the Times piece, be sure to take a look at his suggestion of a fuel tax. There are many Americans who probably feel as though Friedman’s suggestion is already in effect based on current prices at the pumps.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to read either of Friendman’s best-sellers, Soundview offers in-depth Featured Book Reviews of both titles. You’ll have the chance to learn the essentials of both The World is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded. Whether or not some of the ideas offered by Friedman will come to pass remains to be seen, but checking out both reviews should give any executive a good working knowledge of Friedman’s ideas. You can find both featured book reviews at Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

Don’t forget to follow Soundview on Twitter: @businessbooks.

Change: The Limitless Horizon

The announcement today that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is stepping down after 30 years in power means a period of uncertainty will commence in the Middle East. Egypt is the latest country in the region to undergo demonstrations and a shift in power. There have been hundreds of media outlets that have pointed out that Egypt will most likely not be the last country to see such change occur. One author who pointed this out shortly before Mubarak made his announcement is Don Tapscott, co-author of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World.

Tapscott made the comment as an aside during an interview with Soundview that took place earlier today. He pointed to the shift in power in Egypt as part of a greater cycle of change that is occurring in every aspect of society. In Macrowikinomics, Tapscott and co-author Anthony D. Williams point out that certain points in history bear witness to periods of radical change. In the same way that the invention of the printing press forever altered education and, as a result, the predominant system of fedualism in much of Europe, so too has the continued development of online applications triggered massive change. Based on some of the ideas Tapscott and Williams write about in Macrowikinomics, it’s the type of change for which no end appears in sight, in my opinion.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Soundview’s summary of Macrowikinomics, I’d highly recommend you put it at the top of your reading list. It’s one of the best books written that attempts to answer the prevailing question about the advancements of technology: “Now what?” Tapscott and Williams provide some suggested solutions and use real-world examples to demonstrate the ways in which the idea of mass collaboration is shaping our economic, educational and governmental futures.

The summary of Macrowikinomics is available at Soundview’s home on the Web, Summary.com.

Commercial Controversy and Addressing Your Audience

The fallout from the Groupon Super Bowl commercial controversy continues to evolve. According to The New York Times, the ads, which attempted to parody celebrity-led charity efforts, have been revised to now include a Web address where visitors can make contributions to help actual causes. This subtle switch came on the heels of public outcry over the perceived insensitivity of Groupon toward charitable causes.

There are two aspects of this controversy that interest me. The first is that Groupon, while not the first, is another organization to yield to the power of what can best be described as a “Tweetstorm.” Several business book authors have written about this concept, but it’s worth repeating that businesses need to be aware of the rate at which a problem can gain momentum. The analogy of a snowball rolling down a hill, increasing in size the entire time, is perhaps best replaced by the image of a volcano whose ash cloud envelops the sky within minutes while lava rolls across the continent. Whether you’re on the ground or in the air, you’ve got serious problems.

The other interesting item from the Groupon ad fallout is the reaction of the company’s CEO, Andrew Mason. Within hours of the conclusion of the Super Bowl, Mason posted on the Groupon corporate blog and attempted to quell some of the furor. This reminded me of author Charlene Li’s profile of computer manufacturer Dell and its efforts to directly engage with its customers. In her book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, Li points out that a leader’s willingness to embrace the technology and use it to be more open can turn even the most dissatisfied customer into an advocate. Debate continues as to whether the commercial controversy will ultimately hurt Groupon, but Mason did his part to turn the tide.

If you want to learn more about Li’s exploration of social technology and its leadership applications, check out Soundview’s summary of Open Leadership. For more great executive book summaries, visit Soundview online at Summary.com.