Review: Robert Iger – The Ride of a Lifetime (S)

The Ride of a Lifetime
Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
Robert Iger

“In 2005, Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company during a difficult time. Morale had deteriorated, competition was more intense, and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. “I knew there was nothing to be gained from arguing over the past,” Iger writes. “The only thing that mattered was the future, and I believed I had a clear idea of the direction Disney needed to go.” It came down to three clear ideas: 1) Create the highest quality content Disney could produce. 2) Embrace and adopt technology instead of fighting it. And 3) Think bigger–think global–and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.”

I picked up this book as an audiobook to listen to in the car. I didn’t get to it for a while as I had some other books to listen to first. By the time I got up to it I didn’t remember the synopsis of what it was about and had no expectations. As soon as I started listening, I loved it straight away and couldn’t stop listening! The whole book is structured like a memoir of the story of the authors life. I don’t normally like memoirs but this book was amazing. The story was told really well and kept you listening for more.

I’m glad I didn’t have any expectations going into the book as that would have given away a lot of the story. The insights and knowledge gained from this book was through the one long story. It’s not a theory based book, it just lists all the theories and little stories here and there. The business lessons and journey were fascinating and had me wanting more.

I’d recommend it to anyone who wants some detailed insights of the journey of being a CEO or just to leave you inspired. Overall, this book is amazing! I might even read it again! 5 Stars.

Review: Chip Heath & Dan Heath – Made to Stick (S)

Made to Stick
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath & Dan Heath

“In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony–draw their power from the same six traits.”

For a book on how to make ideas stick, and be remembered, I don’t think I remember much at all. It probably didn’t help that I listened to it on and off in the car over a period of time. In saying that, there were only 1 or 2 times when I really just wanted to keep listening to it, so clearly it didn’t hook me in much either.

It wasn’t too bad, there were good pointers, tips and points throughout. Unfortunately, I think nothing is exceptionally great either. The core idea is that: in order for a message to be ‘sticky’ it has to combine these 6 characteristics:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Credibe
  4. Concrete
  5. Emotional
  6. Story

There were some really great in depth sub story case studies in it which I loved. Sadly, not all of them were great and I don’t think they linked well to the overall messages. The message ended up being repetitive but also lost in what the point was. I’m still unsure on who the target market is. Maybe professionals in marketing/advertising?

I don’t think it had a lasting impact for me. A lot of things mentioned here are common sense and repeated in other books. I don’t think there is any extra knowledge in this book that sticks. 3 stars.

Review: Donald Miller – Building a StoryBrand (S)

Building a StoryBrand
Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Donald Miller

“Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses… Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.”

I listened to this book as an audio book. It seemed to take quite a while to get into it. For a book on building a story and getting you hooked into it, it really didn’t at all! It took a bit over an hour before it started picking up. Lucky for it, I was in the car on a long trip so I kept listening to it. The rest of the book was pretty good. There were a few slow points but overall it was really great.

It’s good to take a step back and look at your business and the story you are in with your clients. It helps define roles, where you are the guide and your clients are the heros. It does annoy me though when authors quote their website and market themselves within the book, which he does. This also goes against his own advice, of not making the reader the hero and flogging himself.

Looking beyond this though, the author does have some good points that you can take away and use for your business. It’s nice and short and didn’t drag on too much either. I recommend it to anyone who deals with customers/clients or is in business. 4 stars.

Review: M. Buckingham – First, Break All The Rules

First, Break All The Rules
What the world’s greatest managers do differently
M. Buckingham

“The greatest managers in the world seem to have little in common. They differ in sex, age, and race. They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They do not hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom. They do not believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They consistently disregard the golden rule. And, yes, they even play favorites. This amazing book explains why.”

I picked up this book from the opp shop. It clearly came out quite a while ago but it is a good solid book on being the best manager. Unfortunately I read it over a long period of time, putting it down and picking it up again so it’s hard to review. It’s one of those books that need this though. You need to read a small section and then go away and think about it. I even found myself thinking about it while reading and required pausing a lot. The only issue with this is I need to read it again before I even finished reading it as I don’t remember the start already!

What I do remember is that it had a lot of good practice tips and tricks. The part I most enjoyed was on hiring “for talent”, you can teach skills and knowledge, but hire for their talent. This is something I have always resonated with when hiring staff. This book gives very practical examples and questions to ask in interviews and what answers you should be looking for. I loved the focusing on your strengths section as well.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a manager, leader, or in a hiring team member’s role. I definitely need to re-read it. 5 stars.

Review: Jimmy Soni – The Founders (S)

The Founders
The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley
Jimmy Soni

“Today, PayPal’s founders and earliest employees are considered the technology industry’s most powerful network. Since leaving PayPal, they have formed, funded, and advised the leading companies of our era, including Tesla, Facebook, YouTube, SpaceX, Yelp, Palantir, and LinkedIn, among many others. As a group, they have driven twenty-first-century innovation and entrepreneurship. Their names stir passions; they’re as controversial as they are admired. … The Founders is a story of iteration and inventiveness—the products of which have cast a long and powerful shadow over modern life. This narrative illustrates how this rare assemblage of talent came to work together and how their collaboration changed our world forever.”

I’m a little mixed on this review. There were some good parts and some bad. The book takes you through the whole journey of PayPal. I found it rather slow at the start. It gave the back stories for the main characters but I felt this could have been condensed a lot. The author wanted all of the PayPal employees to have their experience and share their story. At times I felt this wasn’t relevant and whole pages could have been cut out. In saying that, there were some funny parts and parts that you just had to keep reading to know more.

It picked up as it went. The book definitely went into a lot of detail. I felt that it could have ended differently, but it’s not like you can change what actually happened! Regardless, it still ended abruptly after four years had passed from the founding. It would have been nice to hear a bit more in the later years and what it looks like now.

If you are after a business book on the story of any startup in actual detail, this book nails that and is the book for you. The only downside is it drags on at times. 3.5 stars

Allen & Unwin | 1 March 2022 | AU$29.99 | paperback

Review: Seth Godin – Purple Cow (S)

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Seth Godin

“You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice. What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don’t? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last? … In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for marketers who want to help create products that are worth marketing in the first place.”

I can’t believe it has such good reviews and ratings on GoodReads! Honestly, it’s not that bad of a book – my issue with it is that it was written 20 years ago (first published in 2003). As such, it’s very outdated. The companies and examples it uses are very outdated and not relevant anymore. A lot of the companies I think must be in America only and are therefore not relatable to other people in the rest of the world. The style that it’s written in is also very Americanised.

There are some good things. The author has a short but sweet point, and sticks to this same topic throughout which is great. I hate it when an author is trying to say too much and everything gets lost in the end. It’s a nice quick short book and everything is related. It’s not really in chapters, just all mini case studies and topics about the same thing. I just felt a bit lost at some points and not interested and not wanting to keep reading.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, but it didn’t live up to expectations. I also expected the updated version to be a little more updated, but it was pretty much the same with some extra bonus bits at the end. A quick read, but I don’t feel like I came away from this book with anything new. Nonetheless, it’s still a good point to be reminded of, to be a Purple Cow! 2 stars.

Review: Guy Raz – How I Built This (S)

How I Built This by Guy Raz

“Award-winning journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has interviewed more than 200 highly successful entrepreneurs to uncover amazing true stories… In How I Built This, he shares tips for every entrepreneur’s journey: from the early days of formulating your idea, to raising money and recruiting employees, to fending off competitors, to finally paying yourself a real salary. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of starting their own business or wondered how trailblazing entrepreneurs made their own dreams a reality.”

I read this as an audiobook and it was absolutely amazing! It helped that the author read it as the way he told the stories was just brilliant. It’s jam packed full of founder/CEO/business owners stories of how they got where they are today – the good, the bad, the boring and the ugly parts. A lot of business books only tell the success stories. I love that this book didn’t just show the successes but was just the truth of how they got there.

The author did an absolutely amazing job of the story telling, which in itself makes the book. It is structured in chapters where each chapter has a point that those stories relate to, but it’s hardly a theory book. It’s the stories told in really awesome ways that keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are an entrepreneur or in business, you will find something there that is relatable to you.

The author does run a podcast, but is not like other authors that spend half the book selling their business product to you. His podcast business is relatable because he would be unable to write this book without it, but it’s not sold to you.

5 stars normally means a reread. But I’m unsure if I need to hear the stories again. It was totally still deserving of 5 stars though! If business is what you want to do in your life – it’s a must-read for daily inspiration and small business tips that make a difference.

Review: Michael Robert – The New Strategic Thinking: Pure and Simple (S)

The New Strategic Thinking: Pure and Simple
Michael Robert

“Management expert Michel Robert unveils his practical and proven methodology for you to plan and implement effective corporate strategies. Featuring a detailed explanation of how Robert used his approach to turn around Caterpillar as well as case studies of leading companies that utilize Robert’s method, The New Strategic Thinking shows you how to assemble a strategy team, identify your company’s driving force, determine the focus of the strategy (product, customer, or market), and launch initiatives company wide.”

This book was just average and just another strategy management book. The author says they are bringing something different to the business world but it still came across as the same as other similar books on the topic.

On the first page the author mentions the “Decision Processes International” which is from then on referred to as “the DPI process”. DPI is the company the author is from, but he doesn’t actually explain what this “DPI strategy process” is. I guess it’s a secret only for those hiring their company and not to be exploited in a book.

There is then a little more on little tips, but nothing substantial. For the whole second half of the book you get case studies of real examples. Now normally I like the case studies, but this was the worst part of the book. They all started with how they needed help, then they found the DPI company and used DPI strategy and then bam everything was great again. It was in depth in the before and after but only 1 line saying they used DPI strategy and then the switch to it that saved the business. There was no actual explanation of the DPI strategy, what it is, how etc.

There were some tips at the start that I remember thinking at the time were great and I should review them at a later stage, but by the end I couldn’t remember these at all. The book gets too caught up in how awesome the creator is, and forgets that not everyone has the time or inclination to hire DPI. Overall it felt like the author was just promoting their company and not actually having any knowledge explained. 2 stars.

Review: James Clear – Atomic Habits (S)

Atomic Habits
An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
James Clear

“People think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call… These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.”

This book really dives into all the insights of habits and leaves pretty much nothing out. It gives an in depth understanding of how habits are formed and how to start new habits. My only downside was that it had a lot of tips to create new habits but not a lot on changing old ones.

It has a summary page after every chapter – which has at least twice as many on the creating a good habit side then it does breaking an old. The chapter summaries are great to refer back to and the examples throughout explain each concept thoroughly. I would have perhaps liked to see the same example for each step to get more of an idea of how they stack together but otherwise the variety of examples were good.

I loved the advanced tactics section at the end which both summarizes and adds to the book, rather than just the 4 laws and then a conclusion. Overall I would recommend it to someone wanting to change their life by starting a new habit. As this book says it doesn’t need to be a massive change, but an atomic small habit. This is the only book on ‘habits’ you should read. 4 stars from me.

Review: Robert Gerrish – The 1 Minute Commute (S)

The 1 Minute Commute
Robert Gerrish

“Map your path, define your work style and seize your market. From freelancers and soloists to entrepreneurs and micro-business owners, this book will give you the knowledge and skills to shape your professional life to fit your lifestyle. Ditch your job and work for yourself…  Work for your best boss yet – you. What are you waiting for?”

I listened to this as an audio book. It was just average. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I expected a lot more modern tips and tricks such as working from home apps, software, and things to assist in the modern age. I guess the author did have outsourcing in there in a general form which was nice. But instead, pretty much all of the tips and insights have been discussed before and I didn’t get anything new from it. For example, one point was the the urgent/important quadrants of using your time.

It sounded promising at the start, but then went into too much detail in some things that weren’t needed. At the same time there was not enough detail in other areas. It also seemed to just jump around a lot and had no consistency. You could pick it up anywhere and not feel lost. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone that is just starting a business or in the early stages of business. It’s a nice reminder that you’re a solopreneur to work in with your lifestyle. I’m giving it 3 stars.