Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book reviews: "Made to Stick" and "Go It Alone!"


All of us Moms have ideas we need to put forward. I want to recommend that you read Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. This is an unusually readable, entertaining and useful business book that has relevance to many fields.

If you are going to write a guide about crafting sticky ideas, your book had better embody your principles. What I love about "Made to Stick" is that it is not merely entertaining (though it is), it provides practical, tangible strategies for creating sticky ideas. Once you understand their ideas, you can boil them down to a set of touchstone points to evaluate your own work. This sets "Made to Stick" apart from the work of Malcolm Gladwell, whom the Heath brothers openly admire. I enjoyed Gladwell's books but could not necessarily apply his ideas to my own work.

My review copy of "Made to Stick" is covered with highlighter. I am reading the book once through for pure pleasure, and then I am going back again to apply the ideas to evaluate the messages coming from a non-profit organization I am working for. "Made to Stick" challenges you to distill the essence of your message, to get back to core principles and to communicate them in a memorable way. Chip and Dan point out that as we become experts, we tend to use abstraction to define our ideas, and we lose our ability to communicate with novices. They teach us how to bridge that gap so that our ideas are once again accessible by everyone.

"Made to Stick" gives you the tools you need to revamp your own messages. It provides "do it yourself" conuslting in book form, which will be appreciated by activists, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes.

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On a related note, for all of you who are solo entrepreneurs or who have ever thought of starting your own business, Bruce Judson's book Go It Alone! will teach you his business model to "do what you do best, and outsource the rest." This strategy can work particularly well for parents who are interested in re-entering the workforce on their own terms.

Bruce provides practical guidance and explains distinctions such as the difference between being a "go-it-alone enterpreneur" and a "free agent." Being a free agent is great in theory but subject to boom-and-bust employment cycles. If you are an underemployed freelancer, he can help guide you toward a more sustainable, expandable business model.

Bruce is a fan of innovative publishing models and he has made the full content of Go It Alone! free on his website, BruceJudson.com

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