The $140 Comic Book

CableBUILT_12_Week_Transformation_Program__Training__Nutrition__Supplementation__–_iambuiltWe all have notions in our heads for how much things cost.

Sometimes, they are right and sometimes, they can be very wrong.

I am a big fan of comic books, so I have a good sense that single issues cost around four dollars and the complied paperbacks are roughly seventeen dollars.

Would you pay $140 for a comic book?

On first thought, you probably wouldn’t.

Or you might if it was issue #1 collector’s edition signed by the artists.

I Am Built created a comic book to illustrate the 12 week training program that Josh Brolin used to prepare for his role as Cable in Deadpool 2. The comic book called CableBuilt covers staged workout routines and diet regiments for the program.

The description doesn’t say how long the book is or show any samples what it looks like inside.

So, would you pay $140 for that comic book?

With the right felt need, you might.

If you live at the intersection of gym rat and cosplay, you might.

P.S. Did I mention it is electronic? So it’s a $140 ebook.

 

My Notes from Grit

My Notes posts are the key ideas I jot down about books after I read them. They capture what caught my attention and I want to remember. I post them here to share them with you.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth
Notes from Sept 19, 2016
  • Consistent theme in success:
    • “In sum, no matter what domain, the highly successful has a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways,. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction.” p8

  • Specific domains need other things –
    • salespeople->prior experience,
    • students->supportive teacher,
    • Green Berets->physical fitness
    • BUT grit still mattered for all of them
  • Talent x effort = skill
  • skill x effort = achievement or talent x effort x effort = achievement
  • Take the Grit Scale Test.
  • From Stanford psychologist Catharine Cox 1926 study of high achievers: key difference of successful “geniuses”
    •  Degree to which one works with distant objects in view (as opposed to living from hand to mouth). Active preparation for later life. Working toward a definite goal.
    • Tendency not to abandon takes from mere changeability. Not seeking something fresh because of novelty. Not “looking for a change.”
    • Degree of strength of will or perseverance. Quiet determination to stick to a course once decided upon.
    • Tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles. Perseverance, tenacity, doggedness.
  • 1 and 2 are passion, 3 and 4 are perseverance
  • Genes predict 37% of perseverance and 20% of passion
  • Experience matters, we appear to get more grit over time, starts on Grit Scale at 3.4 in our 20’s and ends up at 3.9 in our 60’s
  • Interest
    • Before hard work comes play
    • Early Years – relaxed, playful interest, discovery, development
    • See work from Benjamin Bloom
    • Paul Silvia
      • For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn’t been encountered before
      • For the expert, novelty is nuance
    • Angela’s suggestions
      • What do I like to think about?
      • Where does my mind wander?
      • What do I really care about?
      • What matters to me most?
      • How do I enjoy spending my time?
      • What do I find absolutely unbearable?
  • Practice
    • World class people practice more
    • But Anders Ericsson research shows they practice in a deliberate way:
      • They find a specific stretch goal
      • Give goal undivided attention and great effort to achieve
      • ASAP, they gather feedback on how they did.
      • Repeat, repeat, repeat with reflection and refinement
      • Tends to requite more effort and is less enjoyable
    • Connecting to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow…
      • Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow
  • Purpose
    • Gritty people are dramatically more motivated by meaningful, other-centered work
    • The three bricklayers story
    • Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski finds that people naturally split evenly into the three groups
    • Recommends “thinking about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core value.”
    • Teenagers who connect self and others to their future calling are more motivated
  • Hope
    • “Fall seven, rise eight.” -Japanese saying
    • Optimists can find reasons something didn’t work
    • Pessimists blame themselves, the conditions are permanent (learned helplessness)
    • Sales – Optimists outsell pessimists 20-40%
    • Carol Dweck – Fixed vs. Growth Mindset (people can change)
      • Growth mindset people are grittier than fixed mindset.
      • Growth Mindset -> Optimistic Self-Talk -> Perseverance Over Adversity
  • Parenting for Grit
    • Successful (“Wise”) parenting involves being supportive AND demanding
    • Consistent activity outside of class is predictive of grit.
    • This involves multiple years and receiving achievement for success
    • Her family has The Hard Thing Rule
      • Everyone has to do a hard thing
      • You can quit (when the season is over)
      • You can pick your hard thing
  • People are more satisfied with life when they have higher grit.

Try, Try, Try Again: An Essay

 

  1. In the book Gamestorming, Dave Gray and his fellow authors make the argument that if you know Point A and you know Point B, it is very easy to plot the steps necessary to get between the two points. And they ask the more important question – what happened when you don’t know what Point B is? They argue you need a completely different set of tools to make that journey into uncertainty.
  2. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero or “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.” We rarely hear the 2nd half of that.
  3. Daniel Cates is 21 years old and in 2010 he earned $5.5 million playing poker online, a million dollars more than his nearest competitor. Journalist Jay Caspian Kang, in his profile of Cates for New York Times Magazine says ” If an 18-year-old online whiz can play 12 hands at once, then by his 19th birthday, he is no less experienced than a career gambler who has sat for a dozen years at the big-money table at the Bellagio.”

  4. TED conference curator Chris Anderson believes online video is accelerating innovation. He points to Jon M. Chu and his dance troupe Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. “Because of the web, specifically online video, dance [is] evolving in Internet time. A series of challenge videos by rival groups of street dancers had created an upward spiral of invention as they strove to outdo one another. The best videos were attracting tens of thousands of views. Much more than pride was at stake. Chu knew something weird was happening when he saw a YouTube video of Anjelo Baligad, a 6-year-old boy from Hawaii who had all of the moves of a professional.”
  5. The Lean Startup movement, started by Steven Blank and now being taking to a whole new level by Eric Ries, combines the philosophies of agile programming with the methodologies of the Toyota Production System. In relationship to failure, Ries argues that projects that that require extensive specifications, months long development, and follow-on quality checking acquire ever increasing amounts of risk the longer the time between the idea and its release. “Minimum viable product” is the lean startup term for putting out only what is necessary to gather customer feedback. This eliminates the risk early in the process and with frequent iteration the product is never far from the (paying) customer and his wants.
  6. FailCon (yes, this is a real conference)
  7. Cursor founder Richard Nash asked me the other day what the implication of 3-D printing is for publishing. The direct corollary is print on demand. To this point, publishing has looked at POD technology, whether Espresso machines or Ingram’s buildings full of HP printers, as a mechanism to mitigate inventory risk. That is certainly important, but what if these “batches of one” technologies could be used to make publishing more innovative?
  8. In The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, Dan Pink  uses Diana the chopstick evoked genie to deliver  Lesson One : There is No Plan. He distingishes between Intrumental Reasons and Fundmanetal Reasons for career choices. Instrumental reasons are one that imply that it will lead to something else. Fundamental reasons are “inherently valuable, regardless of what it may or may not lead to.”  “[Sucessful people] take a job or join a company because it will let them do interesting work in a cool place–even if they don’t know exactly where it will lead.

  9. Another term from the lean startup methodology is pivoting, the practice of changing a component of your business model to improve your chances of overall success. In the startup phase as a company searches for a business model, a company may pivot several times.  While this might be viewed as failure, the opposite viewpoint would be that this extends the life of a young company as it adapts to better suit the needs of customers. Twitter was a side project after the primary product – a tool for podcasting called Odeo – was made obsolete when Apple added podcasts to iTunes.
  10. US Air Force Colonel John Boyd referred to the iterative process as the OODA Loop – Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. Boyd believe the person who could complete the loop faster and more often would win the battle. Boyd never wrote a book, but many including Tom Peters have seeked to apply his theories to the business setting.
  11. The New York Times Magazine on their September 14, 2011 in their education issue asked “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” According to research- zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity are the keys to success.

  12. Authors are starting to test titles and subtitles using Google Adwords. They create ads with their titling and then test various iterations against keywords that match with the contents of the book. Measuring the click through rates shows which titles produce better response. This ability to acquire feedback instantaneously and in large quantity is changing the way we develop products.

  13. Etsy is creating a marketplace for small batch arts. Kickstarter is funding small projects with patrons acting as investors; projects that couldn’t be created through commercial sources. Startup incubators like Y Combinator and Techstars are combining small sum angel investing, compressed development cycles, and high touch mentoring to produce a whole new set of startups. Grameen Bank has created microloans for people in developing countries to pursuit their dreams. These are all incredible examples of how the scale necessary to launch new products has dropped by two to four orders of magnitudes.
  14. “It’s better to fail spectacularly than to succeed tenatively.” –Roshi Jiyu-Kennett

  15. Derek Sivers, in his new book Anything You Want, says he misunderstood persistence: “Success come from consistently improving and inventing, not persistently doing what is not working.”
  16. Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainity, Create The Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer & Paul B. Brown. The book was originally published as Action Trumps Everything: Creating What You Want in an Uncertain World advocating a simple three step process:

    Step 1. Make sure what you are about to do is something you really care about. It’s silly to launch into the unknown if you don’t.

    Step 2. Don’t over-think. Don’t imagine what might happen. Get started with what you’ve got in hand and take a small, start step toward your goal and find out.

    Step 3. Evaluate what you learn, and if you like the results take another step. In other words: Act. Learn. Repeat.

  17. Paul Graham saysBeing relentlessly resourceful is definitely not the recipe for success in big companies, or in most schools. I don’t even want to think what the recipe is in big companies, but it is certainly longer and messier, involving some combination of resourcefulness, obedience, and building alliances.”

  18. The First Try – Overcoming Fear

    The Second Try – Overcoming Failure

    The Continual Try – Embracing Iteration

Footnotes

1 – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/magazine/mag-27Poker-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

2 – http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/12/ff_tedvideos/all/1

3a – [Blank] – http://www.amazon.com/Four-Steps-Epiphany-Steven-Blank/dp/0976470705/

3b – [Ries] http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/

4 – http://sf.thefailcon.com/index.html

6 – http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/05/features/fail-to-succeed?page=all

7 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop#cite_note-1

8 – http://boingboing.net/2010/10/25/howto-use-google-adw.html

10 – http://vimeo.com/sivers/hit

Suggested Reading:

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (Crown, Sept 2011)  – In my opinion, this is the most important book of the Fall 2011 season.  The idea of iteration is one of several points in the book. I believe this book is the roadmap for how entrepreneurship will practiced.
  • Little Bets by Peter Sims (Free Press, April 2011) – Sims writes a whole book on the idea of making lots of little bets, rather than focusing on a few big ones. He uses stories from Pixar and Frank Gehry as well as research from Carol Dweck and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is a good book that pulls together a bunch of ideas around how it is less risky to more chances.
  • Obliquity by John Kay (Penguin, April 2011) – The subtitle is “Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly.” This book makes the clear case that our lives our full of “pivots.” The book description makes the case very well: “The best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal-from happiness to wealth to profit to preventing forest fires-is the indirect way. As Kay points out, we rarely know enough about the intricacies of important problems to tackle them head-on. And our unpredictable interactions with other people and the world at large mean that the path to our goals-and sometimes the goals themselves-will inevitably change. We can learn about our objectives and how to achieve them only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery-what Kay calls obliquity.” This is fun, big idea book.
  • Do More Faster by Brad Feld and David Cohen (Wiley , Oct 2010) – This is written by two of the founders of startup incubator TechStars. It might be better described as an anthology of writings of startup CEOs, mentors, and other associated with TechStars. This format normally worries me, but in this case the book really works.
  • Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo (O’Reilly, July 2010) – This book is 70+ tools that can be used in group setting for generating and evaluating new ideas. I have not seen a collection of tools like this all in one spot. For the iteration trend, this is a very tactical book for people who are doing the work.
  • Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos by Sarah Lucy – Lucy is a journalist who has written about technology for BusinessWeek and now the website TechCrunch. In this book, she examines what is going around the world in countries like Israel, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Rwanda and why startups are thriving in these developing regions.
  • Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (Wiley, July 2010) – This book is being held up by the leaders of the Lean Startup movement as a critical book for formulating business models. This project started as a self-published experiment that has gone on to be commercial published with great success.
  • SuperCrunchers by Ian Ayres (Random House, 2007) – The argument here was using vast sets of data to make decisions is vastly superior to experts. If you have the datasets, regression is the tool of choice as Netflix does when they make recommendations. If you need to generate datasets, randomization or A/B testing fills in the blanks. The book contains straight forward explanations and examples of both methods.
  • Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (Domino Project, June 2011) – Sivers shares 40 lessons he learned through the creation, growth, and sale of CDBaby, a retailer that specializes in selling music for independent musicians.
  • Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford
  • Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas by Grant McCracken (my review here)

Reduce Friction

What do I see in books?
I think it is a lack of friction for someone who wants to read books.
Meaning my information needs to be empathetic to the way people want to consume.
So,  if there are enough people who want to read a book in hardcover, I don’t have an ideological point of view on how one should consume.
I could give a fuck if you want to listen to it on Kindle or audiobook or read a hard copy.
The greatest job for all of us is to create no friction for somebody who wants it.
So, the place of a book in 2018 is lots of people read books.
So, I don’t have a problem producing my content in that form.

Read The Second Book

Many authors get famous for the first book they write.  There is a great idea that is delivered at the right time. That popularity normally offers them the opportunity to write another book, as publishers clamor for a repeat of their current success.

The second book often doesn’t do as well. There are a million reasons why. Many of those reasons are connected to the next book not being different enough from the first. Authors are asked to write a sequel and it is hard for follow-ons to do well in the non-fiction space. The core of the idea was pored into the first release and as readers, we think there isn’t much to improve upon.

I think that is wrong and that you are missing something.

If the first book was successful, the author is given opportunities to presented those ideas dozens of times to conference audiences and executives boardrooms. The ideas get improved. The language and metaphors shift. You’ll find the author can summarize his main points more clearly in a few paragraphs than when he could across several chapters in the first book.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout is the more succinct version of Positioning.

The Clay Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma is great, but Innovator’s Solution is better at describe the original problem and solution.

So, if you like the first book, consider again picking the second book for the opportunity to get an even clearer sense of what the author has to share.

 

 

Watching World Cup

In the mornings over the last couple weeks, I have been turning on the World Cup.

Seeing the games on, my wife likes to joke with me about why I watch sports that I never played.

It’s a little worse this year because the United States soccer team didn’t qualify for the tournament.

I played in pep bands in high school and college. You have to be a fan of sports to spend time and play music to support teams.

There is something magical about watching Ronaldo bend the ball around a wall of defenders. Watching Steph Curry shoot those three pointers in the NBA finals has the same quality. Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary pass to Richard Rodgers is magic.

I watch because I love seeing the feats that I didn’t think were possible.

I Am An Entreprenuer

Sometimes, the obvious is hard to see.

When I was growing up, I lived in a subdivision of homes built surrounded by Wisconsin farm fields. Half of the homes were lived in year around.  The other half were vacation homes owned by Chicagoians who drove up on the weekends.

My first job mowing lawns was for a family friend who lived down the street.  Their home sat on a small lot with lots of trees. The job wasn’t too hard except they also owned the empty plot next door which was set on a hill. For thirty minutes of work every other week I earned me ten dollars.

With some encouragement from our parents, my brother and I started leaving flyers in screen doors and mailboxes. We quickly found that the owners of the vacation homes loved showing up on Friday evening to a great looking yard.

At our height, we were mowing twenty lawns each week. We bought push mowers, gas powered trimmers, a rider mower, a trailer to haul everything. Just driving around the neighborhood with that whole rig was some of the best marketing we did.

After I got my engineering degree, I went to work for General Electric for almost seven years. I learned more in those years than any point in my life. I learned about leadership and process, politics and status, metrics and change.  I kept learnings things about myself even after I left. I noticed that I always found a way to work in the smallest groups, the ones close to the problem.

My dad is an entrepreneur. He ran his own sheet metal fabrication shop for twenty years. He started the business when I was nine. I worked there during summers while I was in college. After I left GE, I spent three years at the shop with him, working to grow the business. I learned about sales and marketing. Some things we did worked, but not at the scale they needed to for me to continue to work there.

800-CEO-READ had a little more scale and we had a little more luck. It was fun because we tried lots of things. I first got hired to write a blog about business books. We started another website to give away books each day. We took over a site from Seth Godin that published essays each month. We created a conference to help authors have more success with their books. Jack Covert and I wrote and launched a book about business books! All of that was in the service of the core business: helping people gets the books they needed for the work they were trying to do.

When I moved to Portland, there was no job waiting for me when I got here, but by then I had some skills in turning opportunities into business. I turned a tweet into a international literary scouting business. It only lasted about three years, but it was an important bridge.  I taught in the publishing program at Portland State University. I agented a few books (that I still get checks for). I edited books.  In short, I hustled. And all of that lead to see an opportunity to help authors publish books.

One of those clients took off. We started very modestly with The Phoenix Project and each month, the book kept selling. That lead to speaking opportunities for Gene and we turned that into a business. Publishing went from one book to two books to eight books from several outside authors. And all of that interest lead to a conference business with events on two continents. It was amazing what happened in five years at IT Revolution.

When I was hustling, I was worried about whether taking a job with any one client was a good idea. I asked a friend and they said, “How long do you think it will take to get another client if this one falls through?” I said about eighteen months. “Sounds about right,” they said, “and remember you have all the skills to get that next client.”

And now, I am building the next thing and I just signed my first client.

I am an entrepreneur. This is what I am wired for, and it is nice this time around to see it so clearly and be comfortable with that being a part of who I am.

Find The Parade

When Gene Kim approached me with his manuscript for The Phoenix Project, I was skeptical.  He was halfway into writing a novel for technology workers. In our meetings, Gene kept talking about DevOps and how it was going to change large organizations.

I’d never heard of DevOps, so I did some searching. There were articles talking about bringing development and operations together. It reminded me of Lean from the 1990’s when there was so much effort to get engineering on the same page as manufacturing. All of it was interesting but not strong proof of interest in DevOps.

Then, I did a quick search on Meetup.com. There were meet-ups in our hometown of Portland. I expanded the geographic area and found there were over 100 meet-ups already happening around the world. I was amazed. Here were thousands of people who were already self-organizing into groups to talk about DevOps.  When I asked Gene about it, he said, “I had no idea.” Visiting DevOps meet-up groups around the country became a regular activity after The Phoenix Project launched.

Books that do well often arrive in front of a parade that has already formed.  I got that metaphor for Marty Neumeier in his book Zag. Quoting Marty’s mother, the job of a leader is to “…[J]ust find a parade and get in front of it.”

Harry Potter’s popularity rode the largest wave of children reaching middle school in U.S. history. Fire and Fury is the best selling book of 2018, fueled by discontent with the current presidential administration. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In served as a focal point for the conversation that millions of women wanted to have about inequity in the workplace.

The readers are waiting; you just need to write the book for them.

Memo To The CEO Series

IMG_0698

In 2008, Harvard Business Review Press introduced a series called Memo To The CEO and I was intrigued the minute I saw them.

The books were around 100 pages. The trim size was small to signal a short reading time. The topics were specific but highly relevant to leaders, ranging from strategic alliances to lessons from private equity to manage the media. They felt like pithier, long-form articles than what you’d find in the Harvard Business Review. A total of ten books were published over the course of two years.

The series had some branding trouble because readers didn’t know if the books all belonged together and needed to be read in a sequence. Titles were priced was similar to a full-length business book, creating a value question. And though the books’ subtitles pushed utility and takeaways, the topics were still narrow.

Harvard Business Review Press went on to publish other short form books. Their Classics series reprinted articles from the magazine like Blue Ocean Strategy and Drucker’s Managing Oneself. They are simple paperbacks that cost half as much as Memo To The CEO books.

I still feel like there is a place between periodical and book that needs to be filled. We need essays and manifestos that are timely and have enough space to explore the topic. A ten to fifteen thousand word count takes pressure off an author to write more to fit a longer book length form. I wonder if the rise of subscription boxes signals the market potential for an offering focused on original business content, one that combines magazine and book publishing business models.

 

Tower Defense Review: Radiant Defense

I am a big fan of Tower Defense games.

Last year, I wrote a comprehensive review of the best tower defense games on iOS.

Lately, I have been playing Radiant Defense.

IMG_0034

The storyline is that portals are opening outside the planets in your system. Creatures are appearing in waves of ever increasing difficulty. You play both military leader and chief scientist as you build towers and research new ones. There is well placed, snarky banter between “you” and the alien leader at wave breaks.

Radiant TD has a build your path approach to gameplay.  You are given a set of modules for at the start of each level and more for each wave completed.

There is a great selection of towers. More towers become available after you build the research tower. The only paid upgrades are to give you access to the most advanced towers in the game.

The alien enemies number in the dozens. The game also brings enemies at different rates of speed and combinations. That variety keeps the games constantly interesting.

There are points in the game when I wish I could have a little more control over the towers by either setting the direction or being able to target a specific enemy. Lacking those controls you learn how to build routes that minimize the targeting movement that towers make.

My main hint is make sure you use all types of towers. As the difficulty of the levels increases, you’ll need them.

Rating: 8/10

10,000 Copies

Authors, new to the world of publishing, often ask me what sort of expectations they should have for their book.

That is a hard question to answer.

A small pile of books each year will sell a million copies.

The titles that will sell 100,000 copies would fit on a small table.

Almost all books will sell hundreds or thousands of copies.

The math goes something like this:

Anyone can sell 100 copies just through the friends they know. Guaranteed.

If someone is well connected or if their friends share the book with their friends, they can sell 1000 copies.

The third layer is the hard one. The book moves out past the author’s direct influence. Readers need to feel moved to share the book with others. At the same time, the author needs to use the book push out into new areas and extend their network.

I think the magic number is 10,000 copies.  You need to get that many copies into the marketplace to really know if a book is going to be more successful.

If that seems like a big number, think about if your topic has a big enough audience and if your network is big enough to support getting that many copies into the world.

10,000 copies is a good goal to work toward on any book launch.

Best Books For Your Startup

I occasionally get email from Quora asking me to submit answer when people ask about business books they should read.

Today, the query was someone asking – “What are the best business startup books?

quora question

I have been watching this category for almost a decade and in the last couple of months I gone back to many of these titles to research Every Book Is a Startup.

To start, read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. They are two very different kinds of books but they are both general in their approach to the topic of startups. Ries uses a tech approach; Guillebeau uses a lifestyle approach.

If you are working on your value hypothesis (aka is anyone interested in my idea):

If you are working on your growth hypothesis:

If you are working on your business hypothesis:

Other important books in my humble opinion include:

 

Virality in Books

I am starting to hear authors and publishers saying they are going to become experts in paid advertising on Google, Facebook and now Amazon. I certainly think it is something to experiment with around growing your customer base for a book but it should be is a singular activity.

Andrew Chen posted a piece on paid marketing and how it damages many startups:

The key insight here is that Paid Marketing is tricky to grow, at scale, as the primary channel. It’s highly dependent on both against external forces – competition and platform – as well as the leadership team’s psychology when things get unsustainable.

Obvious keywords are quickly bid up by competitors.  Moving into the long tail of terms doesn’t have enough volume to drive real growth.

Chen suggests that virality is the answer.  Build an offer that encourages others to share and engage with it. Dropbox added folder sharing and their affiliate program that let users give and get extra disk space.  Slack pushed team channel creation on their platform. The great thing about these offers is they are built completely with the context of the product.  They are also very hard to replicate.

I wonder what virality looks like in books.

  • You need a book that people are proud to share with others.
  • The book could have an assessment to help me see better how I fit with others (i.e. StrengthsFinder 2.0, How The World Sees You).
  • It needs to be easy to tell someone else about.
  • Available in many format and all the places you would expect to find them.
  • The book pull together a group of people like nothing before it.
  • The unique nature of the book matches conditions in the market and in culture (i.e. Fire and Fury, Fifty Shades of Grey, Purpose Driven Life, Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution).
  • A book being the right way to deliver the idea.

 

Read Books With A Determination

…Often, these impressive-looking women would take out papers or a book from their sleek bags and read them in the bus with an air of purpose, and even if they were reading mere novels. Phoebe could see that they were absorbing the contents of the words the way high-achieving people do, all the time working, working, in a way that was steely yet elegant. It reminded her of a girl at school who always came first in class, the way that girl read books with a determination that no one else had. All the teachers said she would go on to great things, and sure enough, she got a job as a quantity surveyor in Kuantan. Gradually, Phoebe realized that the reason these women looked so beautiful was that they had good positions in life; she could not deny that the two things were inseparable. Which one came first, beauty or success, she did not know.

From Chapter 5 – Reinvent Yourself, Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw