October 2010, Volume 10 There are 11,000 business books published each year, which represents an overwhelming amount of information for busy business

KeenThinker 590

October 2010, Volume 10

There are 11,000 business books published each year, which represents an overwhelming amount of information for busy business people to sort through. We here at 800-CEO-READ have been selling business books for 25 years and we're happy to share our expertise with you.

The Keen Thinker is your monthly source for information on the newest business books you should be reading (both publisher recommendations and our own), current trends in business thought, advice to make your work life more successful and satisfying, music recommendations to make your work day more enjoyable, and the chance to win free books! Pretty cool, huh?

Your friendly newsletter editor, Sally, and all your friends-in-business-books at 800-CEO-READ.


What's New?

Chris Guillebeau and Sally Hogshead headline 800-CEO-READ's Author Pow Wow!

Making Connections | THE 8CR POW WOW est. 2005

We continue to hear stories about people who met at the first Pow Wow in 2005, and are still working on projects together. Also, their work is better based on the things they learned by coming to the Pow Wow over the years.

It’s about authors on one hand, but on a deeper level, it’s about people with ideas who want to help other people with their work and lives. Publishing plays a role in that, and so does branding, speaking, credibility, time management, media, networking, and many other things. It’s great to have a big idea, but in order to have it do its good work, there’s a lot to know (and people to know), and the Pow Wow has continuously provided that.

This year, we’re adding a bit more to the mix. The insightful panels featuring experts in publishing, marketing, publicity, and speaking will be rounded out with individual presentations by two people who we think have captured the essence of idea spreading:

CHRIS GUILLEBEAU writes for an army of remarkable people at ChrisGuillebeau.com. He is also a regular contributor to CNN.com, Business Week, Huffington Post, and other outlets. His new book is The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World.

SALLY HOGSHEAD helps world-class businesses develop messages that influence and persuade consumers, partners, and employees. Starting out as one of the most award-winning advertising writers in the country, she is today a world-renowned brand consultant and speaker with a dynamic blog. As a creative director, she develops fascinating ideas for both Fortune 500 companies and start-ups. Hogshead and her work have been featured in the New York Times and on the Today show, CBS, ABC, and MSNBC. Her most recent book is Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.

We’re excited to have them involved. It’s hard to imagine the Pow Wow becoming even better, but I think this will do the trick. Check out the full details, and hopefully you can attend. Our special hotel discount ends in a matter of weeks, so take advantage of that by registering soon.

This year’s Pow Wow will be held December 7th and 8th at the national award-winning Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, WI. The Iron Horse Hotel was recently named “Boutique Hotel of the Year” by the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association.

To learn more about the agenda and presenters, and to register, click here.

The Leadership and Influence Summit – A FREE Online Event

We’ve talked a lot in these offices about how the high cost of author events and business conferences makes it difficult for burgeoning leaders, business owners and bootsrappers—those that could really benefit from the ideas, information and insights that are exchanged there—to attend. And, though we’ve tried, we haven’t figured out how to crack that problem.

But Daniel Decker and the good folks putting on The Leadership and Influence Summit have, and we are excited to support them in their gargantuan efforts. So, check out the details of The Leadership and Influence Summit here.

Want to read up on some of the leaders featured? Quite a few of the presenters are authors of one of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, and many of them have published on ChangeThis.

The Rework Event!

Rework: Small Group Problem Solving with David Heinemeier Hansson, co-author of Rework, partner at 37signals, creator of Ruby on Rails, is coming to Milwaukee for a special event co-hosted by TranslatorXD.

Thursday, November 18: 2PM at 800-CEO-READ, Milwaukee

Change is ignited when teams of inspired people come together to solve a problem, brainstorm a solution, craft a strategy, and stay committed for the long haul. But what happens when that process stalls? When a company and client can't get on the same page? Or an internal team keeps hammering away at the same problem but can't get the rest of the company to follow? Or a department's new strategy just keeps getting the same unsatisfying results? You need to rework. And here's an opportunity for your small group to gain insight from the co-author of Rework and partner at 37Signals, an inventive Chicago software company with an incredible success story.

This private event is limited to 8 groups (4-6 people per group) that will have the opportunity to submit a challenge to David Heinemeier Hansson. Each will then spend 20 minutes in discussion with David addressing different ways to approach their challenge. Not only will each group gain insight into their own challenge, but will also learn from the other discussions in this intimate and personalized event.

Illustrator Mike Rohde will "sketchnote" each of the group's sessions, and each group member will receive a customized copy of the book Rework to take with them.

At this time, only select groups are able to participate, no individual registrations are available. The registration fee of $500 covers your entire group of 4-6 people.

Upon registration, you will be contacted to provide information on your challenge, group member names, and will be given the location of the event in Milwaukee, WI.

Sound exciting?? Inspiring? Helpful? We think so. If you are interested in more details, email jon[at]800ceoread.com.


Five Quick Questions with Jack Covert

For the first installment of its Five Quick Questions With Publishing’s Top Leaders series, the wonderful folks of Cave Henricks Communication interviewed Jack this week about the current state of Publishing—and where it’s heading.

Q: You’ve been selling books for more than 25 years. What’s the most radical change you’ve seen in the last year in the way we buy books?

The quality of the self published book has improved dramatically. This phenomenon is driven by the decline in quality business publishing as well as the increased options available to an author who chooses not to have to wait a year or more to see their book in print, as is typical.

Q: What do you think influences people most to buy business books?

This is a hard question. We at 8cr believe that a good idea, told well, will create its own buzz. Now I have been accused of believing in the Easter Bunny also. There is no simple answer. Work and luck rules the roost.

To read the full interview with Jack, head on over to the Cave Henricks blog.

Pecha Kucha #9

Our final Pecha Kucha of the 2010 season is complete, and we had some stand-out presenters. Check out the 20x20s from this event and more on our YouTube video page.

Below is a video from Chris Hallberg reflecting on social entrepreneurship.


Top of the Pile:

We get a lot of books to review. There are piles of books on each of our desks and on tables throughout the office. These are the books that rise to the top; our picks for the don't-miss books of the month.

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down
by John P Kotter, Lorne A Whitehead; Harvard Business School, 9781422157299

Kotter and Whitehead reveal how to win the support for ideas by understanding the generic attack strategies that naysayers and obfuscators deploy, and engaging these adversaries with tactics tailored to each strategy.

Codestiny: Overcome Your Growth Challenges by Helping Your Customers Overcome Theirs
by Atlee Valentine Pope, George F Brown; Greenleaf Book Group, 9781608320530

This thought-provoking book by two global strategy experts delivers a proven approach for solving a company's most difficult growth challenges. CoDestiny goes far beyond theory by presenting unique ideas, approaches, and tools to put a firm on a path toward profitable growth.

Smart Moves Management: Cultivating World-Class People and Profits
by John Thedford, Emerald Book Co. (Greenleaf Book Group), 9781934572290

Everyone knows that employees are at the heart of every successful business. The challenge lies in finding and retaining a hardworking, committed staff. Smart Moves Management provides the framework for finding--and keeping--the right people for a company.

Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses Into Results
by Cy Wakeman; Jossey-Bass, 9780470613504

Equipped with a facts-based, confident approach, you will free yourself from the frustrations you face at work and transform yourself into a Reality-Based Leader, with the ability to liberate and inspire others.

The Power of Co-Creation: Build It with Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits
By Venkat Ramaswamy, Francis Gouillart; Free Press, 9781439181041

From the business visionary who coined the term co-creation comes a groundbreaking guide, The Power of Co-Creation, to creating popular new products and services, rapidly growing market share, cutting costs, and minimizing risks all by opening up a business to input from consumers, business partners, and employees.


An Embarrassment of Riches

Earlier this month, our fearless leader, Jack Covert, wrote this blog post reflecting on his renewed love of reading--in any genre--as a result of three amazing books coming into his life at the same time.

In 1997, Sebastian Junger wrote a great book called The Perfect Storm. The phrase, “a perfect storm” is used when multiple things come together to create an extraordinary experience.

That thought fleeted through my mind last night as I sat reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, because, including Freedom, I’m actually reading three brilliant books in three rather different genres.

I didn’t want to like Freedom, due to the hype, but it is totally worthy of all the praise it has been getting. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction, but this is a brilliant story told brilliantly.

In the biography genre, I am reading Ron Chernow’s fantastic Washington, A Life. I have been a fan of Chernow for years, and in fact, his classic Titan about John D. Rockefeller was included in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

In the business genre, I am reading Steven Johnson’s fascinating book about innovation called Where Good Ideas Come From. Johnson is one of the best writers of “big idea” books, books that look at a common subject and use unpredictable stories combining history and science and the like to illuminate the subject a different way. In the process, we as readers, learn to look at business more holistically…and enjoyably.

In the many years I have been in the book business, I can’t remember a time when I so looked forward to sitting and reading books from multiple genres at the same time. These three books have ignited a passion for reading that I haven’t felt in a long time.

For all the talk of the decline of publishing, this embarrassment of riches reminds me that there is plenty of life left in the industry.


ChangeThis: Issue 75

ChangeThis is on a mission to spread important ideas and change minds by creating a new kind of media. A form of media that uses existing tools (like PDFs, blogs and the web) to challenge the way ideas are created and spread.

Survival of the Simplest: The Micro-Script Rules
By Bill Schley

"I have found out how to simplify the confused and mucked-up world of communications so that your message can penetrate the maelstrom of modern media, whether you are a global corporation, a local politician, a college lecturer, a sales rep or a start-up. I have a magic bullet that will sharpen whatever story you have to tell so that it gets to the heart of the matter, cuts through mental barriers and lodges easily in the mind. As an advisor to companies, politicians and institutions of higher learning, I’ve been thinking about this problem for about twenty years, and have been figuring out the solution for the last two. I don’t know how to de-complicate my cable bill, or untangle the knots in the U.S. Congress, but I do know about this. This is my small part to play in the crusade.

So here’s your answer."

Looking Around the Corner
By Robert H. Bloom

"From the perspective of my corner office and experience in boardrooms, I observed that we business leaders planned our future by using previous years’ financial results as our base line. Today, this relevant but regressive methodology is more-often-than-not still in use, for want of a progressive process coupled with robust software. This fixation on an obsolete planning process guarantees that firms that use it will not keep pace with the rapid, substantive changes in our business world."

How to Be Effective: Structuring Change, Managing Change, Leading Change
By Jonathan L. S. Byrnes
"When I talk to former students, clients, and executives, I’ve found that their biggest concern is being effective—going beyond conceiving great new things and actually driving them into practice.

I’ve also seen that most people make two big mistakes when they think about change:

They fail to realize that managing change requires a really different process from day-to-day management, not harder but very different.
They approach change in a one-size-fits-all way.

Successful change, being effective, involves three things: structuring change, managing change and leading change. I call this The Golden Triangle of Change."

InsideOut Development: Do What You Already Know
By Alan Fine

“If knowledge really were all it took to be a high performer, then all any of us would have to do would be to read that book or take that class and we’d all be winning championships. We’d all be incredible managers, great teachers, phenomenal parents and performance.

But we’re not. Why? Because the biggest obstacle in performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what we already know."

Business Intelligence vs. Human Intuition & Why You Should Welcome The Robot Overlords
By Garth Sundem

“In the weird, wild world outside the Petri dish, the correct decision is not always the right decision. There's disconnect between the robot logic of business intelligence and human intuition of right and wrong. Does this disconnect imply that humans use free will to promote the koombayah ideas of fairness, morality, and goodwill toward men and most charismatic megafauna? Or is the human brain simply a cold, rational, pre-programmed computer that happens to take into account more factors than a Game Theory model?”

Personality Poker: How to Create High-Performing Innovation Teams
By Stephen M. Shapiro

"The desire for equality permeates everything we do and always has, as can be seen in many of our age-old philosophies. For example, we see it in the Golden Rule, which is often interpreted as 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.' However, who really cares what you want? After all, treating people as you want to be treated doesn’t address the needs and desires of others.

Buying into these doctrines, myths, and lies leads to pasteurizing, homogenizing, and sanitizing everyone in order to fit people into one mold and think the same way so they can then gather together in like-minded harmony. There’s a good reason why they call it a company culture, since organizations are, in actuality, mini-cults. Instead, we should consider living by the doctrine:

The person you like the least may be the person you need the most."


Jack Covert Selects - October

jack couch pic

Jack Covert Selects recommends and reviews three current business books a month, books that Jack believes are must-reads.

Follow the links below to read the October 2010 Jack Covert Selects reviews:

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, Viking Books, 416 pages, $27.95, Hardcover, October 2010, ISBN 9780670022151

Business changes. We don’t do business today in the same way we did it at the turn of the century—either 1900 or 2000. And though it’s not specifically about business, the inevitability of change is why you should pick up Kevin Kelly’s latest book, What Technology Wants.

Kevin Kelly has written big idea books before, most notably Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World, which we chose for The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. And like Out of Control, What Technology Wants is vast in scope. It attempts to break down old ways of thinking by clarifying a large, hard-to-grasp-in-its-entirety issue—technology.

You won’t find any immediately applicable business solutions in What Technology Wants, but you will find something that could much more important to your business—a new way of looking at the world.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson, Riverhead Books, 326 Pages, $26.95, Hardcover, October 2010, ISBN 9781594487712

Steven Johnson has written a brilliant analysis of creativity and innovation in his new book, Where Good Ideas Come From. It is no coincidence that this natural history opens with a story about Darwin, the most famous studier of origins. Similarly, Johnson is less interested in presenting a method on how to jumpstart our own ideas than in following the evolution and progress of ideas over time. How do ideas start? How do they grow? How do they become part of the fabric of our existence so that new ideas can be cut from that cloth? He begins to answer these questions almost as soon as the book begins.

Where Good Ideas Come From is a book that requires some investment from the reader because of the complex nature of idea creation and evolution, and the fact that Johnson digs deep into it. But the great research and engaging stories make that investment small compared to the rewards. This is one of the best books of the year.

The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca D. Costa, Vanguard Press, $26.95 Hardcover, 384 Pages, October 2010, ISBN 9781593156053

“This book is the sound of the watchman’s rattle in the dead of night. A summons for help. A plea to change the course of humankind by calling on the greatest weapon of mass instruction ever known: the human brain.”

The Watchman's Rattle is a fascinating study on how the brain works and how, in the face of complex challenges, our society can survive despite our intelligence being outpaced by our problems. Like Jared Diamond and Malcolm Gladwell, Rebecca Costa attacks her subject from multiple angles, using research from unexpected sources to present a compelling argument with memorable examples.

Costa’s recommendations for how to circumvent our hegemonic tendencies aren’t going to be easy to implement, but her assertion that it is possible for us to adapt our brains to a better process of problem-solving is a dose of optimism during tough times.

You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock your Greatest Potential by Alan Fine with Rebecca R. Merrill, Portfolio, 256 pages, October 2010, $25.95, Hardcover, ISBN 9781591843559

Despite being primarily a business bookseller, we recommend and sell a lot of self-help books. But because the phrase “self-help” has been getting a bad rap since the self-help-happy 1980s, we often call this category “personal development.” No matter how you parse it, business is about the people who do the work to help a business thrive, so self-help books that encourage increased productivity or innovative problem-solving are a natural fit.

In You Already Know How to be Great, Alan Fine has written a book that offers help in every area of your life, from work to home to sports. He comes from a sport coaching background and some of his supporting stories revolve around his coaching experience on the tennis court and the golf links.


Who is 800-CEO-READ?

We are business book experts. There is no better way to say it. We sell, promote, read, review, and LOVE business books. For 25 years. And we do it better than anyone else. Our goal, then, is to spread our knowledge to you through as many channels as we can create. Here's a sampling:

Read our book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
Follow us on Twitter @800ceoread and Facebook.
Visit us at 800ceoread: We Sell Business Books and Promote Great Ideas
Download new ideas from ChangeThis: Spreading Ideas, Changing Minds
Win free business books at InBubbleWrap: Book giveaways sent to you in, you guessed it, bubble wrap.
Meet us here.
Drop us a line with comments or suggestions by writing to: newsletter[at]800ceoread.com.

Why beans and brains? Ours is a humble coffeepot to be sure. Not a sexy Braun or Breville, and it doesn't make espresso or froth any milk. Utilitarian works for us, because we drink a lot of coffee around here. Since you can't be here in person to have a cup with us, we're serving up The Keen Thinker, a monthly pick-me-up for your business brain for you to read at your leisure.

What We're Listening To (and you should be too):


What is a business book seller doing recommending music?

The pre-business-book-expert Jack owned a record store, and even though Jack changed careers long ago, it's no surprise that music--both listening to it and making it--is an important part of our office culture. We wanted to give you a peak at what we're listening to so that you can both get to know us better, and learn about some interesting new music to listen to while at work.

Jon recommends: Hildur Guðnadóttir
Roy recommends: Angelo Badalamenti
Carol recommends: Gram Parsons
Jack recommends: Jamey Johnson
Sally recommends: Mumford & Sons
Aaron recommends: The Rachels, The Felice Brothers, Barn Owl
Dylan recommends: CocoRosie


Free Books? Ya, you betcha!


Win FREE business books and prizes, wrapped in --you guessed it-- bubble wrap. Visit InBubbleWrap every Wednesday for a new giveaway.

Adrian Ott's The 24-Hour Customer is primarily about time. As in
"There's no time..." or "I don't have the time..." or "It takes too much

time..." And Ott challenges: if your customers are saying any of the
above about your offerings, then your product or service is about to be left in the dust.

"The most valuable time for everyone--consumers, executives, and marketers--is time where attention is focused. And there truly is less of that for almost everyone. Consider that every aspect of your business impacts your customers' time and attention--from product design decisions to marketing programs to channels of distribution to customer service....Companies that learn how to use limited time and attention to their advantage will gain a huge edge over their competition."

The 24-Hour Customer is a book that gets straight to the matter of compelling customers to use your product. For a small company that is trying to navigate the unchartered waters of a constantly-changing publishing industry, The 24-Hour Customer is a potent reminder to keep the customer experience at the forefront of our change strategy. Time matters now more than ever, and one of the best services we can offer our customers is a little bit extra time, even as we request that they spend that time with us.

Get inspired by Adrian Ott's Time-Value innovation tools and strategies: sign up to win your copy of The 24-Hour Customer this week on inBubbleWrap!

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