A voracious reader (as are many women-- in fact, more women than men buy and read books), Jane has a few favorites from her reading list to share with you today. The following books, and mini-reviews, are not all devoted to online business. That is not why Jane thinks you should read them, nor why she predicts that reading them will change the way you think about your business. The books listed today -- and these are only 5 of dozens Jane will talk about as time permits -- are relevant to business online by virtue of the fact that they are people books. They are concerned with the way PEOPLE do business. There is advice on business processes and tips on where success is to be had in the new millennium, but Jane thinks these books are valuable for their focus on how PEOPLE interact with each other and with technology. If you read even one of them, you will start your day with a more thoughtful mindset about what it means to be a businessman or woman today, in a world of on-demand computing, and a marketplace that offers global opportunities.
1. Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter by Shelly Brady. Jane just finished reading this inspiring, first-person account of Bill Porter, the man known today for his tremendous strength of will, and his dedication to his purpose. Shelly Brady has been Bill Porter's assistant for over 20 years. She writes from the heart, sharing intimate details about her employer in a friendly, admirable way. Her fondness for Bill shows clearly in every sentence, but if one reads between the lines, one can learn a great deal about Shelly, herself. This short, 174 page book is overflowing with reasons not to quit -- NO MATTER WHAT!
For those who are not familiar with Bill Porter, those who missed the 20/20 TV special several years ago, which led to a Hallmark movie depicting Bill Porter's life, this is a man who defines the concept of a good work ethic. Bill Porter defines the idea that quitters never win and winners never quit. Bill Porter defines what it means to be a top salesman. In a world that is critical of human beings who are 'different', Bill Porter walked upwards of seventy blocks a day, six days a week, rain or shine, to sell products from the Watkins Company. He did this all while living in a body wracked with cerebral palsey. If nothing else, this book will convince you of the popular sales proverb: Conceive it, believe it, achieve it.
2. Lapsing Into a Comma : A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them" by Bill Walsh (Copy Desk Chief, Business Desk, the Washington Post). For those who would write their own Web site copy, this book is a must read. Published in 2000, the book covers how technology is changing the way words and expressions are written. For instance, Walsh considers the word "Web site" to be written as I have it here; it's actually two words. As time goes on, he predicts, and I agree, that Web site will morph into website, just as e-mail and e-commerce are quickly becoming email and ecommerce. Walsh's experience and professional advice is worth learning, if only to improve your own web content. Jane hopes you will read it before hiring a web content writer -- in order to be fully cognizant of the quality of your hired help. Of course, you must first recognize that good writing is essential to making sales. That good writing is not something you learned in fourth grade. And that good writing is an on-going learning process, as anyone who writes for a living will tell you. Or, should tell you.
3. Powertools for Women in Business: 10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work" by Aliza Sherman. The jacket cover for this book begins with this note, "For many women, their professional and personal lives are intimately entwined." Ms. Sherman presents "10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work" and while the book's target market is women business owners, Jane urges men to pick up a copy for themselves. One constant thread in all of the advice Lip-sticking gives to online business owners is that learning and understand women, will help you build a business that attracts this strong, powerful market. Sherman makes that an easy job in only 177 pages. Named "One of the Top 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet" by Newsweek magazine for her previous book, "[email protected]", she also has the distinction of founding the first three Web sites for women. Learn from the best...as my fiance says, "Why ask another fisherman about the best lures when you can get the fish themselves to tell you?"
4. New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World" by Kevin Kelly. Written in 1998, this book still contains excellent insight into doing business in a world of 1's and O's. Of especial interest is Chapter 4: FOLLOW THE FREE: Why the Net Rewards Generosity. Let me just quote Kelly, "Technology creates an opportunity for a demand, and then fills it." He goes on to note that the supply and demand era of that old Dick and Jane century has become an era of demand and supply. Says Kelly, "In the new order, the law of plenitude kicks in and the nearly free take over." In other words, "the more a resource is used, the more demand there is for it." Kelly advised business owners to "invent new items and services faster than they are commoditized." Chapter 4 also addresses the human factor by saying that, "The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention." So, how well does your customer service department really work?
5. Last, Jane is going to do a short push for a book written specifically to highlight the power of the women's market online; Yvonne DiVita's Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online." This is a guide on marketing to women who shop online. It focuses on "What Women Want", a question even Freud had trouble answering, but which isn't all that difficult to understand (women want the same things as men, but our underlying reasons are different-- at our core, we want to take good care of our friends and families.) Beyond the concept of what women want, this book gets into the details of how women shop online and what will get them to buy from you. It's been said before-- in previous posts-- but this one, valuable lesson is worth repeating: Women buy for OTHERS more often than they buy for themselves. It goes back to the underlying reason we want what we want... to satisfy ourselves that we are, truly, taking good care of our friends and families.
DiVita shows you how the women's market online is growing exponentially, and advises that you take it seriously. Not just because women are uninhibited shoppers most of the time, but because women are also entering the online business arena in droves. And they are looking for products, services, advice, and support. Be prepared to give it to them...it will improve your bottom line before the year is out...if you're smart enough to begin marketing to them NOW...before the Christmas rush begins. (I'm sorry. I had to use the C word. This is business, and Christmas plans should be beginning NOW! If you wait another month, or two, you will be left behind!)
In future posts, we will do full reviews of other valuable books, including conversations with the authors. Stay tuned. Also, stay tuned for this week's Smart Man Online interview. Jane has a surprise for you. A little something out of the ordinary.
What's not to like about that?