Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer Reading List

Following Paul’s reading lead in his post titled Being A “Small Giant” I decided to see if I could get some feedback on my own summer reading list. Like Paul I am constantly trolling online publications and eNewsletters – AdAge, CNET, Austin Business Journal, the IAB SmartBrief, etc., etc. for the latest happenings and breaking news in the industry. Along the way I have come across several book reviews that I thought were worth adding to my list.

As the dog days of summer approach (or are already here in Austin, Texas - I think they said it was going to get up to the 90’s today!) I plan on watching less TV and reading more books. So far on the list I have:

· Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life) – By Cathie Black

Not sure why this made my list (I guess I should start trying to “get ahead” by taking better notes).

Here is a brief synopsis from the book:

Cathie Black is the wise, funny mentor that every woman dreams of having. She was a pioneer in advertising sales at a time when women didn’t sell; served as president and publisher of the fledgling USA Today; and, in her current position as the president of Hearst Magazines, persuaded Oprah to launch a magazine. In 2006 she was named one of Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in American Business” for the seventh consecutive year. Now, in the exuberant, down-to-earth voice that is her trademark, Cathie explains how she achieved “the 360° life”—a blend of professional accomplishment and personal contentment—and how any woman can seize opportunity in the workplace.

A fairly limited web search unearthed mixed reviews on both her book and her character. I won’t make any predications about her character having never met her, but book reviews generally stated that the book only offered limited advice. Publishers Weekly states “While the author’s life is an interesting one, readers looking for tips will do better with a more pointed book” (see entire Publishers Weekly review and others here).

It is always interesting to learn about others’ path in life and business and gauge your own resolutions if put in similar situations. I think I will keep this book on the list for now.

· The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office – By David Norak

Book summary:

David Novak—one of today’s most engaging, unconventional, and successful business leaders—lived in thirty-two trailer parks in twenty-three states by the time he reached the seventh grade. He sold encyclopedias door to door, worked as a hotel night clerk, and took a job as a $7,200-a-year advertising copywriter with the hopes of maybe one day becoming a creative director. Instead, he became head of the world’s largest restaurant company at the ripe old age of forty-seven.

While David never went to business school, he did learn from the greatest of teachers—experience—and plenty of other very smart people as well: Magic Johnson on the secret to teamwork, Warren Buffett on what he looks for in the companies he buys, John Wooden on ego, and Jack Welch on one thing he’d do over. Now he wants to share with you what he discovered about getting ahead and getting noticed; motivating people and turning businesses around; building winning teams and running a global company of nearly one million people; and always staying true to yourself.

I know why this one caught my eye - I can never get enough of the underdog story and am constantly amazed by those that overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Probably has the potential to be a bit hokey, but most reviewers seem to agree that it provides guidance, inspiration and strength to those seeking success in business. Read more reviews here and here.

· What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds – By Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart

Book summary:

What Sticks is the one book that explains exactly how marketing and advertising works today! Based on new insights from analysis of over $1 billion worth of advertising.

Decades ago it was okay to believe, as retail magnate John Wanamaker did, that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” However, today the stakes are much higher. Marketing thought leaders Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart estimate that $112 billion in advertising spending in the U.S. alone is wasted, cutting deeply into company profits.

What Sticks uncovers bold new insights from the largest-ever global marketing research project among 30 Fortune 200 companies, including: Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, McDonalds, Unilever, Ford and others. This is a comprehensive and solutions-oriented book that outlines how any marketer, at any level, can guarantee their advertising succeeds.

This book appears to veer away from the anecdotal nature of the above selections and focuses on more practical applications. AND it is research driven, which mirrors Sentient’s approach of listening to the customer before embarking on a solution path.

Reviews can be found here.

If you have read any of these books or have others to add to my summer reading list I would love to hear from you.

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