Tag Archives: The Art of the Start

Here’s The Path: You Read, You Learn, You Do, You Tweak – Start with these Books

Here’s the path. You read, you learn, you do, you tweak.

First, you get the information. You get it in your head, you ponder it, you experiment with it – you try it.  And then, after you try it, you do stuff — and after you do, you tweak, and make it better.  And then you tweak some more, and make it even better.

But, it really can all start with reading.

That is the underlying message in the list of books that the Wall Street Journal compiled in this article by Michael Gerber: The Best Advice Around, From Those Who Took It:  We asked entrepreneurs which self-help books helped them get their businesses off the ground or run them more smoothly.

Here’s the list of books – good ones all:

“The E-Myth” 
by Michael E. Gerber
“Who: The A Method for Hiring” 
by Geoff Smart and Randy Street
“Start With Why” 
by Simon Sinek
“The Art of the Start” 
by Guy Kawasaki
“Little Bets” 
by Peter Sims
“Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” 
by Verne Harnish
“Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs” 
by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham

I have read three of these, presented synopses of two of them, and feel like I know one more (The Sinek book – through his TED talk). Here’s an observation or three: if you don’t yet have an “idea,” then read Little Bets. If you know where to start, but haven’t actually started yet, then read The Art of the Start (this is the book for anyone starting– in any definition of “starting”). And when you start, and you need to establish the disciplines of actually running a company (and you do!), be sure to read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – it will help you establish your rhythm (“rhythm” — a big word in this highly practical and useful book).

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You can purchase my synopses of The Art of the Start and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki, and the Hidden Power of Story – Coming for the May First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a wonderful session for the April First Friday Book Synopsis, with presentations of Practically Radical and Change the Culture, Change the Game.  Those synopses, with audio + handout, will soon be available on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

For May, we have chosen two terrific business best-sellers.

I will present my synopsis of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki.  This will be the third book I’ve presented by Guy Kawasaki, so you can tell I am a big fan.  The earlier two books were The Art of the Start (which is an ideal read for anyone starting – starting a new job, a new major project…  starting anything important).  And later, I presented Reality Check. Enchantment is the first book that I have read “early” in quite a while.  I’ve blogged about it a time or two already.  You can read the review by Bob Morris of this fine book on our blog here.  He ends his review this way:

If asked to recommend one book that should be read by anyone now preparing for a business career or who has only recently embarked on one, I would suggest two: Reality Check and Enchantment.

Karl will present the best-seller Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber.  This book is getting a lot of buzz, and reminds us that story is at the heart of all good communication.

If you are near the DFW area on May 6, I hope you can join us for the May First Friday Book Synopsis – 7:00 am, at the wonderful and beautiful Park City Club.

(Click for full size view). Here's the flier with all of the details.

We’re Awash In Too Many Words — It’s Really Better To Get To The Point

We are awash in too many words.  We need to learn to shorten our sentences, shorten our messages, get right to the heart of our messages.  We need to get to the point, quickly, clearly, and simply.  Because, we all have too many other words to read.

This is the growing consensus of a whole bunch of folks.

For example, Andrew Sullivan’s blogging style is described as a short, to the point, opening sentence and then a pull quote.  (I’m sorry – I do not remember where I read this description his style – but I read his blog, and it is accurate).

For example, many mission statements are too long. Way too long.  So long that no one remembers them, that few actually learn them.  A lot of people are saying this.  Guy Kawasaki, in The Art of the Start, puts it this way:

Make Mantra.  Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant.  No one can ever remember them – much less implement them.  Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.  This will set you entire team on the right course.

In the article, The Eight-Word Mission Statement by Eric Hellweg, Hellweg puts it this way:

To combat this, Starr insists that companies he funds can express their mission statement in under eight words. They also must follow this format: “Verb, target, outcome.” Some examples: “Save endangered species from extinction” and “Improve African children’s health.”

Mulago’s approach is refreshingly sparse, and really helps to clarify the thinking. It’s a great “forcing function” as well. As Starr spoke, you could almost see PopTech attendees workshopping their mission statements, trying to get them down to under eight words in this format. It can be quite hard to do.

How long is your company’s current mission statement? Do you think you could get it down to under eight words using the “verb, target, outcome” format? It’s a good exercise to consider running, if only to start real conversations at your company about what you’re doing, to/for whom, and toward what outcome. Fascinating approach.

For example, consider the “Takahashi Method” for presentation slides.

Takahashi uses only text in his slides. But not just any text — really big text. Huge text. Characters of impressive proportion which rarely number more than ten, usually fewer. The goal, he says, is to use short words rather than long, complicated words and phrases.

There seems to be a growing understanding that we are awash in too many words.  Fewer words, stated clearly and simply, may be a true key to modern communication success.

Two Great Business Challenges – Getting Started, And Finishing What You Start

There are two great challenges to face on the path to business success.  They are:

Challenge #1 – Getting Started.

Challenge #2 – Finishing what you start.

There are mountains of projects/ideas that got started, and were never finished.  There are other mountains of projects/ideas that never got off the ground.  (I have about a dozen really good books in me that I never have actually started.  I suspect you know the feeling…)

So, to achieve business success, you have to successfully face this simple yet difficult challenge:  getting started.  Here’s what Guy Kawasaki said about it in his book The Art of the Start:  The Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything.

Talk and bravado are cheap.  Saying you’re willing do something doesn’t mean that you will do it.

The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.

So – what are you waiting for?  What do you need to start?  Now, get started!

And after you have actually started, you can then focus on finishing.

Coming Soon from Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Enchantment: How to Woo, Influence, and Persuade.

OK – Now we have an outline/complete table of contents (in process) of a new book, on-line, from a terrific author, before it is fully finished, before it is available for sale, asking for input from the entire universe.

It is from Guy Kawasaki, and I have presented two of his previous books, The Art of the Start and Reality Check {Bob Morris’ choice for the best business book of 2008)  at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (My synopsis for The Art of the Start is available for purchase on our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com).  The book title:

The Art of Enchantment:  How to Woo, Influence, and Persuade.

Read the current version of the table of contents here.

This is impressive!

Guy Kawasaki — Fast and Furious, as always

I am enjoying reading the new Guy Kawasaki book, Reality Check:  The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.  

I read his blog regulary, and his earlier book (which I presented in 2005), The Art of the Start, is one of the few books that I periodically go back to to jump start a new project that I tackle.  He is a practical, and valuable writer.  But when you read him, put on your seat belt…

This new book is Kawasaki at his best.  Hundreds of pages, fast and furioius, cajoling us to get to work and beat the competition.  The pace is borderline frenetic, from the opening words:  “Imagine the American Dream on steroids and Red Bull and you have some idea of what life is like in Silicon Valley.  Sure, Frank Sinatra called New York “the city that never sleeps,” but that’s only because Frank never visited the Valley…” 

In his book, he speaks to these business realities:  the reality of starting, raising money, planning and executing, innovating, marketing, selling and evangelizing, communicating, beguiling (what a great word), competing, hiring and firing, working, and doing good.  I’ve got a hunch that we will all learn much from this book.  

If you are in the area, I hope you will join us for the Frist Friday Book Synospis in February.  You will be glad you did.  

(Karl Krayer will present the synopsis of A Leader’s Legacy by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, two fine repeat authors for our event also).