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April 18, 2004

Worthy Reads and Worthless Reads

I’ve been on a business book reading binge of late … some worthy and some worthless. Worthy Reads are those that either: (a) help me generate new ideas ; (b) increase my intellection by giving me a new perspective on a business topic ; (c) maximize my current understanding of a business topic. Worthless Reads are those that do none of the above.

Taking the lead from the Viral Marketing Blog, I’m rating twelve recent reads on a five-point scale based upon the following three categories:

IDEATIONgenerates new ideas
INTELLECTIONgives me a new perspective on a business topic
MAXIMIZE maximizes my current understanding of a business topic

BUSINESS STRATEGY BOOKS

The Visionary’s Handbook (Jim Taylor, Watts Wacker, Howard Means)
The nine paradoxes presented in this book will challenge your thinking. The book asks more questions than answers questions. But, it will arm you with new perspectives to tackle your current business opportunities and challenges.

IDEATION – 4/5
INTELLECTION – 5/5
MAXIMIZE – 4/5

WORTHY READ

Profitable Growth is Everybody’s Business (Ram Charan)
This book is an early front-runner for my best business strategy book of 2004. Ram proposes that businesses should strive to grow by going for singles and doubles and not stretching for hard-to-achieve home runs.

IDEATION – 4/5
INTELLECTION – 5/5
MAXIMIZE – 5/5

WORTHY READ

The Deviant’s Advantage (Watts Wacker, Ryan Mathews)
This serves as a nice companion book to The Tipping Point. Wacker and Mathews articulately describe how truly innovative ideas become mainstream by first emerging on the Fringe then extending to the Edge and if the idea catches on … it will move into the Realm of the Cool then become the Next Big Thing and then make it to main stage of Social Convention (the mass market).

IDEATION – 3/5
INTELLECTION – 3/5
MAXIMIZE – 4/5

WORTHY READ


MARKETING BOOKS

Ten Deadly Marketing Sins (Philip Kotler)
Kotler is a marketing god who is a prolific writer but his latest book is not noteworthy. It’s a crash course on marketing for MBA students or recently promoted Marketing VPs who lack traditional marketing experience. I learned very little from this book.

IDEATION – 1/5
INTELLECTION – 2/5
MAXIMIZE – 2/5

WORTHLESS READ

The End of Advertising As We Know It (Sergio Zyman)
I’m a laggard here ... this book was published in 2002 and I just got around to reading it a few weeks ago. My loss. If you are a marketer who has become cynical of the conventional way to promote a brand … READ THIS BOOK. In step-by-step fashion, Zyman deconstructs meaningless marketing and then shows you how to reconstruct your marketing activities so that they are meaningful. AWESOME READ.

IDEATION – 4/5
INTELLECTION – 4/5
MAXIMIZE – 5/5

WORTHY READ

Cool News about Retail (Tim Manners)
I’ve already raved about this book. Click here to read my praise for Cool News about Retail.

IDEATION – 5/5
INTELLECTION – 4/5
MAXIMIZE – 5/5

WORTHY READ

Call of the Mall (Paco Underhill)
I loved Paco’s first book, Why We Buy. I only liked Paco’s second book. Call of the Mall lacked the retail marketing insight of Why We Buy. I feel this book was written to crossover to the masses and thus it doesn’t hit the bulls-eye for us marketers.

IDEATION – 2/5
INTELLECTION – 2/5
MAXIMIZE – 3/5

WORTHLESS READ

Brand New Brand Thinking (edited by Merry Baskin and Mark Earls)
Eleven marketing experts from the UK contributed essays on a variety of branding topics resulting in a somewhat interesting read. The most interesting essay was from Colin Mitchell and his take on “The Company Brand: Looking inside for the vision.”

IDEATION – 2/5
INTELLECTION – 3/5
MAXIMIZE – 3/5

SOMEWHAT WORTHY READ


CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BOOKS

The Transparency Edge (Barbara Pagano, Elizabeth Pagano)
I’m very interested in learning how to apply “transparency” to marketing messaging. This book is geared more to applying “transparency” to leadership skills than it is to marketing. Nevertheless, I learned a lot that about how open, honest communication can apply to being a better leader and to being a better marketer.

IDEATION – 3/5
INTELLECTION – 5/5
MAXIMIZE – 4/5

WORTHY READ

18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation (Ronald Alsop)
The Wall Street Journal has been pushing this book hard with a feature story and countless display ads. (This book is a Wall Street Journal branded book … hence the push in paper.) Normally, aggressive marketing makes this marketer a tad skeptical but this book is worth the push. The title of the book is a slight misnomer as this book is focused on how to manage, measure, and nurture the equity of brands. This book gave me a new perspective on brand management because it addresses brands from the unique angle of corporate reputation.

IDEATION – 3/5
INTELLECTION – 5/5
MAXIMIZE – 5/5

WORTHY READ


What Matters Most (Jeffrey Hollender)
I wanted to enjoy this book … however, I didn’t. The message of businesses becoming more accountable to society than just being accountable to deliver upon Wall Street’s quarterly earnings expectations is an important message. I didn’t enjoy the book because it is too verbose and too focused on Seventh Generation. What Matters Most would make for a fantastic in-depth Harvard Business Review article. I didn’t feel the message worked as a lengthy book.


IDEATION – 1/5
INTELLECTION – 4/5
MAXIMIZE – 2/5

WORTHLESS READ


MISCELLANEOUS

The Paradox of Choice (Barry Schwartz)
Do we, as consumers, have too much choice? Is too much choice too much of a good thing? Because we have so much choice, do we become paralyzed by choice and ultimately decide not to decide? Barry Schwartz writes his opinion and while I disagree with much of what he thinks … I do think his book is a thought-provoking read. (For more, check out the review in the April 26 edition of Business Week.)

IDEATION – 2/5
INTELLECTION – 5/5
MAXIMIZE – 4/5

WORTHY READ


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Worthy Reads and Worthless Reads:

» Worthy / Worthless Reads from Ensight - Jeremy C. Wright
John over at Brand Autopsy has a great little feature this week, Worthy & Worthless Reads. It covers a variety of books in a variety of subjects including: BUSINESS STRATEGY BOOKS MARKETING BOOKS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BOOKS MISCELLANEOUS I li... [Read More]

» BOOK REVIEW: 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation from 800CEOREAD Blog
Book: 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation Author: Ronald Alsop Reviewer: johnmoore (from the Brand Autopsy blog) In 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation, Ronald Alsop gives sound advice on how to manage, measure, and nurture the reputation o... [Read More]

» BOOK REVIEW: 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation from 800CEOREAD Blog
Book: 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation Author: Ronald Alsop Reviewer: johnmoore (from the Brand Autopsy blog) In 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation, Ronald Alsop gives sound advice on how to manage, measure, and nurture the reputation o... [Read More]

» Worthless Reads? from wantrepreneur
Crap! I purchased this book yesterday! I thought since it was from Kotler, it would be a must read. I wish I'd seen this review at Brand Autopsy BEFORE I bought it. Their review reads: Kotler is a marketing god [Read More]

Comments

Fantastic idea!

I don't suppose if I gave you a list of books that I have been meaning to read for a while, that you could read and review for me :-0

Wayne ... it doesn't hurt to ask. What's on your reading list?

John, well as you asked...

*The Future of Competition: Co-creating Unique Value with Customers - Prahalad

*Re-Imagine - Peters

*A bias for action - Ghoshal

of interest?


Re-imagine cannot be summarized. Its far too dense with far too many ideas and far too many insights to summarize. Its like Tom Peters went through a mind meld with a Vulcan book publisher and the result was an exhaustive 350 pages of everything Tom ever said, thought, or included in a PowerPoint presentation.

I haven't read The Future of Competition: Co-creating Unique Value with Customers and I'm not sure if I will get around to it. Have you consider buying a summary of the book from summaries.com?

I've done these summaries in the past and they are okay. Not the best way to distill all a book has to offer but if you are jonesin' for biz info ... its a quick fix.

Take it from an addict ... you sometimes have to go to drastic measure to satiate your business brain.

Hadn't come across summaries.com, good tip thanks.

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