Currently Reading: The Automatic Customer

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These days it seems like you can get anything on a subscription basis, from razor blades to entertainment. This is the popular business model choice for Netflix, Amazon, and even Microsoft. So I decided to read up on it to see how this would fit with my current company.

I am currently reading “The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry” by John Warrillow. Warrillow is the author of “Built to Sell” and also owns his own subscription company, SellabilityScore.com.

So what is a Subscription Business? Instead of selling multiple items each at one time for a single cost you sell a monthly or yearly subscription where the customer can access the multiple items numerous times.

What makes this better for the business? It creates a recurring customer base and a steadier recurring revenue. It also allows insight into your customer and needs that you wouldn’t normally get.

In the Automatic Customer Warrillow lists nine subscription models that you can incorporate into any business type. He gives examples of companies that currently use those models and how they can be used in various businesses.

Overall I found the book to be very helpful. It not only tells you how to set up a subscription business but how to calculate the cost of it if you are transitioning your business. It gives equations you can use to calculate the Lifetime Value, Consumer Acquisition Cost, and the Monthly Recurring Revenue.

The book gives you that basics on running a subscription business but if you are looking as to how you can acquire subscribers, set up a subscription company, or acquire a mass library like Netflix you’ll have to seek that information elsewhere.

Which is why my next book review will be “Netfilxed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs”. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 

Currently Reading: The Passion Test

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As part of my life coach studies I have picked up a few books about finding your purpose in life and this is one of them. Usually I read these taking on two perspectives: someone who is searching for their passion and someone who is looking to help others find their passion.

It seems that a lot of these books have their own “sure fire” method has to how to find fulfillment in your life. This book is no different.

A lot of this book to me felt kind of like fodder. There is the actual passion test, which was helpful but not really awe inspiring, but there were so many chapter lead ups to it, that I almost put the book down before I got to it. And then when I did get to it I was like “That’s it?”.

Basically you write down a list of ten things that describe what you ideal life looks like then you do this process of elimination to find the top five and those are your current passions. Interesting and perhaps insightful but I felt I could have gotten the information I really needed in this book in like five pages.

The big build up was the author’s, Janet Attwood, story about her enlightened trip. It was a cool story but, again, I felt the build up was a bit much. The rest of it felt like a lot of peddling of their accomplishments and projects.

Unfortunately this is probably the first book I didn’t finish. Once I took the test I basically got what I wanted out the book. Not sure if I would recommend the book but I do think the Passion Test is worth taking.

Currently Reading: Pitch Perfect

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Have you ever had a moment where you said something and wished that it didn’t come out of your mouth? Or have you ever walked away only to come up with the perfect response just a little too late? Or maybe you gave a speech and it turned out horrible? That is what this book, Pitch Perfect is about, those moments.

In this BIll McGowan breaks down the how you can effectively communicate in your personal and professional life. He introduces seven principles that you can apply.

What originally drew me to this book was the fact that my communications skills are somewhat lacking. It is not the fact that I do not communicate, it is more about how I come across. Many times I am viewed as cold or blunt when I don’t try to be. Also I have a RBF. Which essentially means that I always look angry even when usually I am happy. Sometimes I think that if I was just born with a happier looking face things would be a lot easier, lol.

The other thing I wanted to work on is pausing before I speak. I tend to stumble over my words, especially when I am excited. This is covered in his book under the No Tailgating Principle.

The speed in which you talk should be directly proportional to how certain you are about the next sentence coming out of your mouth.

He also covers how your posture, stance, facial expressions (especially when listening), tone of voice, and gestures play a part in how you come off either in a conversation or a presentation. And if you need to know how to graciously turn someone down or congratulate someone you don’t like, the book goes over that too.

Overall I think this is a great book to read. Each chapter is filled with funny anecdotes and real life stories that puts the book’s principles in perspective. The knowledge in it is easy to follow and you don’t feel overwhelmed chapter after chapter.

If you are looking to improve your communication skills this is a great book to add to your repertoire.

 

 

 

Currently Reading: Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

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When I began my new year I wanted to find a book to start off with, something that would get me going and help me to grow. I had gotten a couple of gift cards for Barnes and Noble so I started there. There were two books I got, the One Year Bible (one of my goals is to read it all the way through, so far so good) the other is Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton.

What initially drew me to the book was that I was stuck and I continually get stuck, and I needed to figure out why. It also doubled as a devotional AND it was 50% off, so how could I lose? Turns out I won big time.

You know a book is good when the intro messes you up and calls you out. I was reading it and was like Does this woman know me? How did she get in my head?

“If you ever found yourself avoiding what needs to get done in favor of something-anything-else, even other stuff you’ve been procrastinating on that now seems easier by comparison, then I bet you can relate.”

If that quote sounds like you then you know exactly how I feel. It was like a serious gut check. I ended up super highlighting this passage because it spoke so loudly. In this book Burton breaks down the different ways we can get stuck, in what areas of our life, and how we can overcome them.

She lists three reasons as to why we get stuck: Fear, Overwhelmed, and God’s will and your will don’t match. My reason? I get overwhelmed.

“The project that needs to get done feels so big you don’t even know where to get started–so you simply don’t start. you analyze it, talk about it, and even strategize. But for some reason, you don’t actually do it.”

Boom. That’s exactly it.

The great thing about this book is the realness of it. It has workbook areas where you can apply things learned in the chapter, short chapters so you don’t get bogged down with too much information at once, and scriptural references with prayers.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is stuck and not sure why. This is a great helpful tool and I am sure I will be reading it again and again.

Currently Reading: The M-Factor, How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace

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I am always interested in generational differences between my own generation, millennials, and others and how we can collaborate with each other. I am especially interested in how millennials are viewed in general. So when this book came across my radar I had to read it.

The M-factor shows how each generation, Traditionalist, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials, function in the workplace and how each generation changed the workplace scene. The book explains this by putting it in correlation to the millennial generation and how we function. The breakdown of chapters are: Parenting, Entitlement, Meaning, Great Expectations, The Need for Speed, Social Networking, and Collaboration.

I won’t necessarily cover every section of the book but here are the main points I took away from it:

  • Parenting: the first thing that hit me about this was that I was surprised by my own generation. For millennials parenting is no longer finished when college is done, now it is continuing on into the workplace. They have more of an engrossed and buddy relationship view of their parents which we then take into the workplace, no longer see higher-ups as on pedestals but instead side by side. That I agreed with but then I saw this:

In our M-Factor survey, over 10 percent of Millennials said they would “feel comfortable having my parent(s) call the boss if there is a problem,”

Uh, what?! I didn’t even know that was a thing! I would never have my mom call my boss because I had a problem at work or, like in the book example, have my parent go over my work stuff like it was school work. That is so foreign to me.

The other part of this that was interesting was that Boomer and Xers are confused as to how Millennials got they way they are but don’t realize that they are the ones who raised them that way.

  • Entitlement: Now this is a big push button for me because I constantly see articles about how Millennials think they are so entitled and want the world handed to them on the silver spoon. Often I think we are misunderstood on this and what people view as entitlement is actually something else: no-nonsense.

We’ve grown up seeing our grandparents and parents struggling day-to-day in job they hate, working because they had to, and not being able to do things they’ve wanted to do until later in life. The general notion is to save up now and you can have your reward later. Well we, Millennials, saw what it means to do that and decided, that sucks. So we adjusted accordingly.

This book does a really good job of breaking down the way Millennials think and why that is misconstrued as entitlement to other generations. I could do a whole article on just that one word and I might later but I highly suggest this chapter above all the rest.

  • Meaning:

Sometimes it can feel like providing meaning for Millennials is an insurmountable task…But the costs of not paying attention to meaning are also considerable. Millennials are more than willing to leave a job if they don’t feel fulfilled. 

This is so true. Any time I start to feel bored in a job or no longer feel like my contribution even matters I start to look elsewhere. As Millennials we want to know that what we do has a purpose and meaning behind it, we want to know how our cog fits in the wheel. In that same instance we also want constant feedback. Not because we are insecure or don’t know what we are doing but because we want to be on the same page and know we aren’t wasting time with useless efforts.

We also want to know that our companies are taking a role in helping the community and the earth. Companies that are green and give back to the community are huge factors for us when choosing where to work.

  • Need for Speed: Because we are so used to a constant stream of information and new technologies, Millennials, are constantly moving at a fast speed and look for the better and faster way to do things, which causes clashes when met with the corporate world process.

Millennials… are entering a workplace where decisions work their way through a process so time-consuming it can feel like waiting for a dial-up connection on the internet.

I can’t tell you how many times I just wanted to scream at the pace in which corporations make decisions. On one hand I understand that there is a process and that change is costly but on the other hand it takes so long, for sometimes even the littlest, decisions to be made that you wonder how the company continues to function. This is a very hard thing for us to get.

  • Collaboration

We are a very collaborative generation in that we share practically everything, and in some cases too much. We feel the need to stay connected to peers and to access higher-ups for mentoring. We prefer open spaces to cubicles and corner offices. We like to be able to voice our opinion but at the same time want to hear other’s opinions. When it comes to teamwork or work in general we have no problem admitting our faults and passing the job off to someone who is more qualified because we know they are better at it.

Other generations are sometimes baffled at this as they were taught differently. But we see it as a natural thing.

 

Over all I found this book to be a good read and easy to break down as well as insightful not only as to how previous generations viewed things but also my own. I also think this is a valuable book for anyone to read. That being said I would like to make a few points about it.

  1. They talk about the interview process and how the questions that previously worked don’t really work on Millennials and now some sites are posting interview questions on websites so interviewees know what to expect.  However sometimes I think the questions are so vague and the answers so wide that nobody wins. Perhaps we should look into scenario questions, as in “this happened so you do what”. I also think if it was more staged as conversation as opposed to an interrogation that would be better.
  2. There is constant emphasis in the book about how many Millennials don’t understand dress code, work etiquette, and haven’t had a first job before when entering the workplace after college. I question these notions. I can’t think of a single Millennial I know who didn’t “work” in so some form prior to leaving college. And the whole dress code and work etiquette thing is, I think, more a product of environment/upbringing and lack of knowledge but I don’t think it is abundant in my generation. I don’t know maybe I’m just bias.
  3. There is a sentence on pg 153 that says “But they are expected to be treated like a darling, not a doofus.” I don’t know why but that sentence completely rubbed me the wrong way and almost negated what I previously read. Up until then I felt that the authors were really getting the our generation but the word “darling” gave me sudden images that made me feel like we needed to be coddled and petted. I get what was trying to be said but I would have used another word.

So that is my review on The M-Factor. Hopefully it wasn’t too long. If you read it or have any thoughts about the subject please feel free to comment below!

Currently Reading: You Can’t Fire Everyone

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In this book Hank Gilman, the former Deputy Managing Editor at Fortune, talks about his rise in management and how it was kind of just thrust upon him. He talks of all the mistakes and lessons he has learned since then.

What initially drew me to the book was the title and the cover art both very catchy and of course it is short, which is good because I don’t always have the longest attention span.

In this books he talks about dealing with employees in regards to how you aren’t their friend but their boss, hiring and firing, and dealing with a mess up or crisis.

One of the biggest parts that stood out to me was: Never worry about being fired yourself. This kind of just stuck with me. So many times I held myself back because I was afraid of losing my job and therefore I was taking any of the necessary risks that I should have.

I think the worst thing you can do as a manager is be afraid of being fired. You would never do the things I suggested… if you worried about being fired.

Another aspect was just treating employees fairly; not lying to them, or underestimating them, giving them a chance to grow, and allowing them to put family first.

For the most part the book had a lot of good points when it comes to management and leadership. On the other hand though it was very heavily laden with journalistic examples and jargon, and sometimes conclusions wouldn’t make sense and what the author was trying to convey didn’t come through.

Overall I found this to be an informative book and good for those who have become managers but really don’t know how to be one.

…no matter what what your management style, it will work if you do it well, are honest, treat your employees with respect, and are consistent.

Currently Reading: Midnight Riot

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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Book: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

This book is like crime scene/murder mystery + fantasy creatures + a sherlockian feel to it. I had been reading a lot of fantasy/science fiction type books lately but I was getting kind of bored with the usual fair or vampires, werewolves, and the like. What is interesting about this book is that it is take from the perspective of a cop who isn’t really that great at his job but some how takes a statement from a ghost on his first major case but isn’t bothered by it and things go from there. The character is slowly growing but in a comical and rather human pace.

There is also a good about of references to historical facts and events. The other thing is the characters are very diverse and even though there are the usual fantasy characters they almost take on a new twist with this different perspective. This is the first book in the Peter Grant series and I definitely plan to read more.

Currently Reading: The Beginning of Everything

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Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could only be moments away from disaster. That everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary–a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen.

Initially I wasn’t sure if I would even be interested in this book. Having been out of high school for quite some time, I really have just come to the point where I can’t stand young adult books, especially if they are angsty. However from the first two paragraphs, the first above, I liked it. It seemed to be more about how a single moment can drastically change the direction of your life.

The main character, Ezra, was the popular jock and never really thought about life after high school beyond being recruited for tennis. Then he is in a car accident that shatters his knee and things change.

This book has a feel to it much like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” with cool friends who go out and do outlandish things like silent raves and a floating movie club. In the end you get a sense of how the character has changed and changed for the better.

Of course there is the romance in it and teenage partying but the main aspect is how everything can change so fast and drastically but in the end things will get better and you can survive it.

Currently Reading: Drive

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What is it that drives you to reach a goal or complete a task? Is is a need like food, shelter, or companionship? Is it a reward like recognition, a material item, or an experience? Or is it something more, something intrinsic?

In the book: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, Pink explores what truly drives us to do the things that we do.

Pink questions whether or not being rewarded for a task is enough and if perhaps the rewards themselves are what hinder our work and ability to stay motivated.

The monkeys solved puzzles simply because they found it gratifying to solve puzzles. They enjoyed it. The joy of the task was its own reward.

There were two main studies in the beginning that I found really interesting. One was with monkeys. They gave to monkeys puzzles to solve and changes the variables of how they rewarded them. They found that they performed far getter when there was no reward involved then when there was.

In other experiment there were two group of subjects and they were told to solve certain puzzles. Group A was paid to do it while Group B was not. They found that with the introduction of payment for their work, Group A didn’t hold as much interest in the project a Group B.

So what does this mean? That although rewards are nice, if not done properly they can affect our joy for doing a things, or instinctive drive.

Take away:

This book was very interesting and kind of explains how doing what you love can somehow turn into something that you hate. In that moment when your third drive, passion, gets snuffed out due to a rewards based system suddenly you no longer feel the joy of it.

This is a good book for looking to understand what it is that drives you and makes you want to participate in things. From the standpoint of a boss it helps you understand the perspective of the employee and why certain rewards just don’t seem to hold as much weight as you thought they would.

Although this book has a lot of good information, it is a little dry and is sometimes hard to get through the writing. Another way to get the information that he is talking about is the video below:

Currently Reading: The Four Hour Work Week

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“Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”

How many hours do you work a week? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Sixty? How many would you like to work? What if you could only work four hours a week and make more money than you had in the past and do more things than you could have dreamed of before?

These are the questions that are raised and answered in:

The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

The book covers how to gain a shorter work week through remote working in your job or creating a self-sustaining business.

“The manifesto of a dealmaker is simple, reality is negotiable.”

Points of Interest:

  • Adventure Deficit Disorder: lack of having any sort of adventure in your life. Such as not taking a vacation in years or doing something fun or taking risks. Having worked many years in menial jobs I am no stranger to this. Definitely get up and go on vacation sometimes or just take days off simply because I can’t stand it anymore.
  • Define your nightmare: An exercise where you imagine what worst the could probably happen if you were to take the big leap. You have to face that fear and get over it. What are the outcomes or benefits? What if you were fired? What are you putting off? What are you waiting for? All good question in this exercise about fear.
  • Tool and Tricks: At the end of each section there is a list of useful information like time enhancers, useful apps, programs and companies to help automate your business, and such.
  • Become and expert in four weeks: a section on how you can go from a nobody to a somebody without putting years or ton of money into it. One instance of course is writing a blog!
  • 80/20: learning what makes us the most productive and what customers are the biggest buyers. Loved this chapter in relation to customers and how you should deal with them when it comes to setting boundaries and limiting options.

“Serving the customer is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want.”

Things that didn’t mesh:

  • Questions and Actions: at the end of each section there were a series of question and actions to followup the lessons. The questions were good and took some time, however the actions were odd. For instance you had to lie down in a middle of a walk area for an undetermined amount of time while people stare and walk around you. The point was to get you out of your skin but it was still weird.
  • “Dry testing”: promoting a product that doesn’t actually exist in order to test how well it will do. This was used in the example for building a product based business. Seems simple enough but the method of doing it didn’t really appeal to me. It seemed dishonest in a way.
  • Remote working: although it is a good idea not all jobs can offer this, namely customer service based ones. It is a suggested that you could get a job that does offer this but not sure if that solves the problem especially if you aren’t qualified or interested in those jobs.
  • Although this book comes from the example of Ferriss and his business and how he was able to automate it and create income this method seems to work mostly with product based businesses and not so much creative side ones.

Overall I did find this book engaging and it did help when it came to facing fears about my business and how I want to spend more time doing the things I want and get out of the rat race. There is a wealth of stories and examples that illustrate the lessons.

I recommend this book if you are interested in remote working or wanting to have an automated product business.