Saturday, July 29, 2017

Self-Publishing or Trade Publishing: Which is Best for Your Business Book?

LinkedIn, July 29, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

As a business writer and editor, I talk to lots of people who want a business book with their name on it. CEOs and other senior executives who are transitioning to new careers. Consultants who are establishing thought leadership platforms. Entrepreneurs who are building businesses. Speakers who want bigger audiences and something to sell at the back of the room. At some point or another, they all ask me the same question: Should I self-publish my book or find a publisher?

There is no pat answer. It depends on the book and what you want to achieve with it. But here are the three questions to ask to figure out the right answer for you. Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Moving Sales With Trajectory-Based Mobile Advertising

MIT Sloan Management Review, July 19, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

Tap Book Cover JacketWhat a difference a decade can make. In June 2007, Apple released the iPhone; now, mobile internet usage outstrips desktop usage. In the United States, consumers spend more time on mobile apps than watching television, and m-commerce is rapidly approaching $100 billion annually.

Given the fast rise of mobile, it’s no surprise that marketers are well aware of it as a sales channel. But mobile isn’t just a new channel for reaching consumers with the same old offers. It provides marketers with valuable new sources of information about consumers, and it enables them to deliver new kinds of offers.

Anindya Ghose, Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is one of the pioneering explorers of the intersection of mobile and marketing. In his new book, Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy (MIT Press, 2017), he collects his findings and weaves them together into a set of nine forces that marketers can wield to drive sales via mobile technologies.

One of the forces that Ghose explores is trajectory. “In the online world, it took us only a few years to get accustomed to, and often even embrace, the idea that firms — including e-commerce firms, search engines, and website publishers — can track our browsing behavior and predict our next steps,” he explains. “A similar revolution is about to hit us off-line. The springboard for this revolutionary leap is the individual’s trajectory. An individual’s trajectory is the physical and behavioral trace of his or her off-line movements.”

Mobile devices allow marketers to track a consumer’s walking pattern and predict where he or she will go next. Moreover, they can create and deliver offers based on that trajectory. In the following excerpt, Ghose describes what he and his colleagues learned when they used trajectory-based advertising in one of Asia’s largest shopping malls. Read the excerpt here.

Smart Leaders Know the Difference Between Complex and Complicated. Do You?

Inc., July 19, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

You probably use the words 'complex' and 'complicated' interchangeably. Most of us do. Heck, most dictionaries use complex to define complicated and vice versa. There's just one problem: If you're a leader and you treat a complex problem like a complicated problem, you are setting up yourself and your company for failure.

If that sounds like baloney to you, it might be worth taking a look at Rick Nason's eye-opening new book, It's Not Complicated: The Art and Science of Complexity in Business (University of Toronto Press, May 2017). In it, Nason, a finance professor at Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business, makes a compelling case that understanding the difference between complicated and complex is an imperative for highly effective executives.

Here's the problem:

Leaders, says Nason, tend not to realize that complicated issues are different than complex ones. Thus, they try to address them both in the same way. Want to guess what happens next?

You already know the answer. It's what happens when you try to treat employees as if they were interchangeable robots or when you try to remove a passenger with a ticket from your airplane or when you merge two companies with very different cultures together. The situation deteriorates really fast. Read the rest here.

The Sore Loser and the Supercomputer

strategy+business, July 19, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

In June 1985, Garry Kasparov, the highest-ranked chess player in the world, simultaneously played 32 games against 32 computers. He swept the event, winning every game. Twelve years later, in May 1997, Kasparov played a high-stakes, head-to-hard-drive, six-game match against a single computer: IBM’s Deep Blue. The result? The supercomputer beat the reigning chess champ in regulation play. Artificial intelligence had hit the big time.

It’s taken Kasparov a long time to process his historic battle against Deep Blue. “I’m a sore loser,” he frankly admits in Deep Thinking, which is a meditation on both his personal history and the future of work. A full 20 years later, that characteristic is evident in Kasparov’s description and analysis of the match — and his detailed suspicions about spying and “human intervention” by IBM.

Kasparov clearly didn’t expect Big Blue, led in those days by Louis Gerstner Jr., to play to win. The company invested an estimated US$20 million in developing and promoting Deep Blue, and the win, Kasparov argues, boosted IBM’s stock by $11.4 billion in just over a week — to say nothing of the value that accrued to the brand. Nevertheless, Kasparov appears surprised that IBM treated the match as anything other than a collegial experiment in computer science (even though he had negotiated a guaranteed minimum payday of $400,000 in case of a loss; the Deep Blue development team received $700,000).

Unless you are a serious chess player, however, Kasparov’s account of the match isn’t the best reason to read Deep Thinking. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sheryl Sandberg: Develop Your Voice, Not Your Brand

Insights by Stanford Business, July 18, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

Today Sheryl Sandberg is known as a leading Silicon Valley executive and a champion of working women. But when she arrived in California in 2001, after a five-year stint at the U.S. Treasury, she wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.

“All the exciting stuff was happening out here, so I wanted to work in Silicon Valley,” recalls Sandberg. “Lots of people said ‘I would never hire anyone like you’ to my face. The first tech bubble had just burst. It was actually hard to get a job.”

But Sandberg did get a job — and an impressive one. She served as Google’s vice president of global online sales and operations until 2008, when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg convinced her to join the social networking site as its COO.

In 2013, Sandberg became a best-selling author with the publication of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Since then, its readers have founded 33,000 Lean In peer support circles in 150 countries.

Sandberg’s life seemed charmed until May 2015, when her husband and the father of her two children, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly. “When Dave died, I didn’t think I was capable of anything. I could barely go to work and not cry. I was parenting two grieving children,” she says.

Sandberg channeled her own grief into a second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Co-authored with Wharton School professor Adam Grant, it, too, has found a global readership and, with the support of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, has already attracted a community of 350,000 people.

On May 25, Sandberg described her journey and the lessons she has learned along the way to Stanford Graduate School of Business students at the final View From The Top event of the 2016-17 academic year. Read the rest here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Want to Be a Better Decision Maker? Here Are 3 Timeless Guidelines for Leaders

Inc., July 17, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

Before McKinsey & Company senior partners Scott Keller and Mary Meaney decided what to include in their new book about organizational leadership, they grouped all of the leadership-related articles published by Harvard Business Review from 1976-2016 into 20 topics--culture, change, self-improvement, managing others, etc. Then, they analyzed how the number of articles written on those topics varied over time as a percent of all HBR articles.

"Our logic was that the lower the variance over forty years, the more timeless the topic," write Keller and Meaney in their introduction to Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths (Bloomsbury, June 2017). The most timeless topic of all? Decision-making.

This didn't particularly surprise the consultants. They calculate that there are roughly 400 million decisions made every day in the average Fortune 500 company. Of course, the vast majority of those decisions are inconsequential, but a select few of them could be very consequential indeed.

Like, say, Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin's decision to merge with AOL back in 2000--on the eve of the dotcom meltdown. In 2003, the merged company posted a $99 billion loss on what is still widely hailed as the worst deal ever. The flamboyant Ted Turner, who was Time Warner's largest shareholder before the deal and lost about $8 billion personally, likened it to the Vietnam War on his personal disaster scale.

To avoid disasters like this and hone your decision-making process and prowess, Keller and Meaney offer the following advice: Read the rest here.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Want to Be a Better Salesperson? Start Practicing This 1 Crucial Skill

Inc., July 14, 2017

There are a lot of books that explore the essential traits and skills of highly successful salespeople. You can probably quickly call out a list of the qualities that they endorse--a strong focus on the customer, acute listening skills, the ability to manage the sales process, the credibility of a trusted adviser, accountability for delivering value, resourcefulness, and the list goes on.

But is there one sales trait that rules them all? Or, to put it another way, is there a trait without which you absolutely cannot succeed at sales? Anthony Iannarino, founder of The Sales Blog, says there is. The trait is self-discipline.

"Self-discipline is the difference between success and failure," writes Iannarino in his book, The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need (Portfolio, 2016). "Yes, there are a lot of other components of the salesperson's mind-set, skill set, and tool kit, but without strong self-discipline, those don't matter one whit."

Iannarino's book serves as a "periodic table of sales." It describes 17 elements--nine behaviors and eight skills--that salespeople need to adopt and master to excel at their craft. Of course, the first element in the book is "me management"--the cornerstone of sales success.

"In sales, self-discipline is what separates the great from the mediocre," says Iannarino. Want to be a great salesperson? Here are five techniques that Iannarino says will help you develop the willpower, fortitude, and accountability required by self-discipline: read the rest here.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What a Bestselling Author Knows About the True Genius of Steve Jobs and Ben Franklin

Inc., July 10, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

In May, Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN, came to my hometown to deliver the commencement address and pick up an honorary degree at The College of William & Mary. You probably know him for his best-selling biographies, including Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, 2011) and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Given Isaacson's obvious interest in the personality traits, innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial flair of geniuses, I expected his address to celebrate mavericks or, as Apple put it in the memorable "Think Different" ad campaign, "the crazy ones." But he threw a changeup.

"We taught you here to be individual achievers. We celebrated individual achievement and even singular visionaries," Isaacson told William & Mary's graduating class of 2017. "What we forgot to tell you is that in the real world it's not about singular achievement. It's about teamwork. It's about being able to collaborate. When you get to the real world, you are going to learn that innovation is a team sport and that success is a collaborative effort." Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

'Hit 'em Where They Ain't!' and Two More Lessons in Strategy From General Douglas MacArthur

Inc., July 5, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

Seventy-two years ago today, on July 5, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur officially announced the liberation of the Philippines. It was a triumphal moment for the 5-star general. It marked the ultimate fulfillment of his memorable promise ("I shall return"), and it brought the war in the Pacific to Japan's doorstep.

MacArthur was one of the world's most admired leaders in those days, and although the Chinese and President Harry Truman would tarnish his shining reputation in the 1950s, MacArthur's strategic creativity, agility, and focus in World War II's Pacific Theater remain a high point in military history. They also offer valuable lessons to founders who are searching for innovative ways to gain a foothold in highly competitive markets populated by stronger, more established players.

Here are three of those lessons, drawn from No Substitute for Victory: Lessons in Strategy and Leadership from General Douglas MacArthur. Read the rest here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Spend Your Weekend Like Shonda Rhimes (Studies Prove It Will Boost Your Productivity)

Inc., July 1, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

"You can work long, hard or smart, but at, you can't choose two out of three," asserted Jeff Bezos in his 1997 letter to shareholders. Journalist Katrina Onstad strenuously disagrees: "Actually, you should choose: the last two. The first one is bullshit."

Onstad makes that case in her new book, The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork (HarperOne, May 2017). In it, she cites studies stretching back to the early 1900s that prove that our productivity and effectiveness decline when we consistently exceed 40-hour work weeks. This should give pause to entrepreneurs who think they--and their employees--have to work long hours to succeed.

In fact, Onstad calls out some highly successful founders whose work ethic might give Jeff Bezos pause--like TV producer and showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes gets as many as 2,500 emails daily, but she won't read or respond to them after 7:00 pm on weeknights or on weekends. "Work will happen twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year if you let it," Rhimes told NPR. "It suddenly occurred to me that unless I just say, 'That's not going to happen,' it was always going to happen."

I interviewed Onstad (on a Wednesday during working hours) to learn more about The Weekend Effect and why and how we should reclaim our weekends. Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ethics Should Precede Action in Machine Intelligence

Mathematical Corp Book Cover JacketMIT Sloan Management Review, June 29, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

As analytics and Big Data continue to be integrated into organizational ways and means from the C-suite to the front lines, Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern believe that a new kind of company will emerge. They call it the “mathematical corporation” — a mash-up of technology and human ingenuity in which machines delve into every aspect of a business in previously impossible ways and produce insights that will allow previously unimaginable solutions — new businesses, strategies, products and services, and so on.

Sullivan and Zutavern don’t think the mature mathematical corporation exists yet, but they do have a privileged view of the forces that will produce it. Both are executives at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., where Sullivan organized and leads the company’s data science and advanced analytics capabilities, and Zutavern is developing applications of machine intelligence to organizational leadership and strategy.

In their new book, The Mathematical Corporation, Sullivan and Zutavern explore how company leaders can prepare for and accelerate the transformation to a new corporate model. The following excerpt from Chapter 7, edited for space, examines the inevitable ethical conflicts that will arise — and have already arisen — as the ability of companies to collect and parse personal data explodes. And more important, it points out the need to proactively anticipate those conflicts. Read the excerpt here.