Those of you who know me personally know that I like to read a balance of “business” books and literature. In the past month, I have read two business books that have provided me with differentiating levels of call-to-action inspiration.
Above all, the two have substantiated the claim that with most business books, value exists in the expediency in which they are read relative to their date of publication. As such, one of the tangible calls-to-action that I can take away from this experience is the importance of keeping up-to-date with the most recent business books. If anything, this goes almost directly against the commonly-held adage of reading the “classics” of literature, a statement that I plan on following up on in an ensuing post. Two of this year’s blockbusters, Jeff Jarvis‘ What Would Google Do? and Chris Anderson‘s Free created seismic tremors across the blogosphere around their publication dates, complete with comments and followups by the authors themselves. While reading these books today would still enable you a wealth of additional resources, reviews, and discussions online, the ability to promote your opinions within the public forum has more or less disappeared as the enthusiasm of book’s release and subsequent press dissipates .
Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! reads as a veritable account of one man’s rise to success leveraging the world of social media through passion and hustle. The book reads more like a long blog post than a book: complete with tons of links and references to online tools. This is by no means an insult: Gary Vee will be the first person to tell you that writing is far from his forte, and I’ve gained plenty from my daily Google Reader visits. Obviously, there is no way to currently account for the disparity between the current print market and the ability to hyperlink, an issue that I think is universally acknowledged as something that will be addressed as technology progresses.
Vaynerchuk begins the book by offering readers a history of his entrepreneurial exploits: shoveling snows in his preteen years progressed into selling baseball cards at trade markets, which flourished as he matured into an adult through his undying passion and love for the family business: wine. In doing this, Vaynerchuk has created a legitimacy to his grandiose claims: he truly walks the walk. Gary Vee has an almost intuitive sense of the webspace, providing readers with an elementary blueprint of the world of social media while referencing countless bloggers, whom I imagine have no relationship with the author himself, to bolster his thesis. From the beginning of the book, Gary admits that the purpose of his now infamous website, Winelibrary.tv, was never about selling wine, rather about building brand equity around his love for wine. Crush It! does almost the same thing for social media by exposing the virtues of WordPress, Tumblr, Flickr, and Twitter to unfamiliar readers, giving them the tools to crush it themselves. Amazingly, discussing this book with fellow cohorts, I got the sense that the average college student has no conception of these tools, despite the fact that our generation should theoretically be most in tune with the technology.
Vaynerchuk is a strong proponent of the “death of the résumé,” explaining that your online body of work presents itself as a much greater case for employment than any “tidy list of where you’ve worked and for how long.” I think Gary hits the nail on the head with this assertion. He continues “developing your personal brand is the same thing as living and breathing your résumé every second that you’re working.” Unfortunately, the powers that be within the undergraduate business curriculum continue to exult the virtues of the résumé: they are just as out of touch as the corporate recruiters scrutinizing a stack of uniform CVs . Every potential internship I’m pursuing requires a resume. However, as Gary Vee himself preaches, patience pays, and I will continue to produce content on my blog and elsewhere to bolster my virtual portfolio.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done has long been considered “the” productivity method by respected bloggers and friends alike. Although I consider myself to be a fairly productive individual, I was intrigued enough to pick up a copy of the manual. Allen slowly builds the reader up to implementing his system, encouraging readers to only execute the portions of his method that work for the individual.
The book itself was written in 2001, and shows heavy sign of age as a result. Had Allen written an updated version, I have no doubt that he would update his process to create a more seamless, technology-based system incorporating scanners and one of the many task managing web apps available today . Obviously, neither of these things were fiscally available for the average reader in 2001, and as such, were omitted from the book.
I cannot wholly recommend this book to my generation, as I think that Allen himself would retort that the book is not intended for younger people. One aspect that I took especially to heart, however, dealt with managing long term goals with more dynamic, day-to-day requirements of a student. At one portion of the book, Allen suggests his readers devote a single piece of paper for each “project” you’d like to develop further (whether it be tomorrow, next week, or next year.) After hitting a road block early on, I ended up with somewhere around 50 different, individuals goals and projects on 50 different pieces of paper, all of which I’d like to complete. Allen goes on to provide the reader with a method to categorize the projects, as well as a system for keeping up with them. Obviously, it’s too early to tell if the aspects of Allen’s system I’ve incorporated into my own routine will prove fruitful, but if my frequency of posts suddenly increases exponentially, you’ll know something is working.
 Obviously, there are some notable exceptions: books that have managed to permeate the overarching ethos of business. Of the top of my head, Liar’s Poker, The Black Swan, and The Tipping Point are three examples of this.
 A word to the wise: keep abreast of the waiting lists for new books at your local library.
 Albeit in different shades of white
 Google Tasks does the trick for me, although I’ve heard good things about Remember the Milk.