Ending 2005 in a book store

We often don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. Today Patrick and I were reading books in Silicon Valley’s Barnes and Noble bookstore. The big one on Stevens Creek. Anyway, while I was looking through a Tom Peters book the lights went out. Total, complete blackness.

“Shit!” a woman next to me said. She wasn’t the only one. There were cheers around the store when the lights came back on after a few very long seconds. People do love their books!

Anyway, I spent most of the time in the business book section. Since our own book is coming out in a few days I wanted to see what the state of business books are.

They mostly suck.

I hate the trend of treating everyone like an idiot. Here’s a book that even teaches you to sell to an idiot. Why would you want to do business with an idiot? They might take their business elsewhere even though you’re better.

And what’s up with the trend that says you have to be a jerk to succeed in business? Here’s a book that tells women that nice girls don’t get the corner office. Has everyone gone all Donald Trump?

What’s the point of getting a corner office if you have no friends and people don’t like you?

I looked through dozens of books and I still love Tom Peters’ books the best. He’s one guy who challenges your assumptions.

Here’s one: he tells Microsoft that we should pay attention to senior citizens in his book “trends.” Huh? They’ll never use a computer, right? Screw that! Actually, he doesn’t specifically point out Microsoft, but talks to all businesses. Why are seniors important? Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, told me a while back that seniors have trillions (and will pass on trillions in wealth over the next couple of decades).

Anyway, another trend in business books is the war metaphors. Winning. And all that. Oh, and branding. Geesh, if all you learn about business is learned from these bookshelves you’d just do Superbowl commercials.

I want books that tell me how to convince people to do strategic acquisitions (Tom Peters says that businesses must do weird acquisitions and not kill the weirdness that is in the new company). I want books that tell how to help a team make a great product. After all, at the end of the day that’s all that matters. To be able to build a great brand like the one Apple, or Google, or the Xbox has (yes, there were Xbox 360s there and, you couldn’t play one without waiting in line cause the machines were constantly busy) you first need a great product. Or a great store. Or a great service. Only then does the brand really matter.

But, building a great product isn’t something that many people know how to do. And, what isn’t often talked about is that building a great product is a messy process. Have you ever talked with someone that Steve Jobs fired from Apple when he got back? Neither have I, but I know they are out there (a former boss used to work with one of those guys).

Anyway, if you want a good business book I’d look to Tom Peters’ new Trends book. It won’t teach you how to be a jerk. Or how to fight a military battle. But, it got me to think in new ways, and that’s just what I needed to go into 2006.

Happy New Years, hope your new year sees great success in life!

Oh, and Tom, I know you love pushing PowerPoint to the edge. Wait until I show you PowerPoint 12. Wow.

Disclaimer, Tom wrote the forward for our new book. Oh, and thanks Andrew Watson for the very nice review!

28 thoughts on “Ending 2005 in a book store

  1. Pingback: tefl
  2. Hey Robert – Don’t judge a book by its cover. You’ve entirely missed the point of “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.” It’s actually a fantastic book … but don’t just take it from me. The author, Lois Frankel, is speaking next week on campus at the Microsoft Women’s Conference. You should check out her presentation before you accuse her of going “Donald Trump.” ;-)

  3. Hey Robert – Don’t judge a book by its cover. You’ve entirely missed the point of “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.” It’s actually a fantastic book … but don’t just take it from me. The author, Lois Frankel, is speaking next week on campus at the Microsoft Women’s Conference. You should check out her presentation before you accuse her of going “Donald Trump.” ;-)

  4. Thanks for a great website Robert. I look forward to more great stuff from you in 2006! Here’s to your book’s (and your life’s) success in the years to come!

  5. Thanks for a great website Robert. I look forward to more great stuff from you in 2006! Here’s to your book’s (and your life’s) success in the years to come!

  6. Before others took the conversation so far afield, Robert, I love the coincidence that both you and I spent part of the last day of 2005 in Barnes & Noble bookstores. I was at the Hillsdale one, looking at the business shelf and wondering–fantasizing about how many copies we would have on that shelf at this time next month. The funny thing, after checking out two existing blog books, I spent my time in the store section where I have done the most buying ver the years–American history. Happy New Year, partner May the next year bring us fame and fortune. Okay, you take the fame. I’ll take the rest of it.

  7. Before others took the conversation so far afield, Robert, I love the coincidence that both you and I spent part of the last day of 2005 in Barnes & Noble bookstores. I was at the Hillsdale one, looking at the business shelf and wondering–fantasizing about how many copies we would have on that shelf at this time next month. The funny thing, after checking out two existing blog books, I spent my time in the store section where I have done the most buying ver the years–American history. Happy New Year, partner May the next year bring us fame and fortune. Okay, you take the fame. I’ll take the rest of it.

  8. Think of Tom Peters as the Corporate version of Esther Dyson (only a tad less spacey). Peters is about Saturn distance-level, Dyson is beyond Pluto.

    Don’t follow rules. But in not following rules, follow these eight rules (add disclaimers years later), waltz along, dance, consult, speech seminar serious, make bold statements, make bolder promises, be superficial, zap up catchy phrases, worship whatever new trend is happening, if some catch on, go back and claim you knew it all along. Make everyone feel good, be generic enough to give yourself wriggle room outs, fudge data (confess later), write trendish books, make Jane Dixon sweeping predictions, fess up 20 years later (umm well, see, well, about Amdahl, Wang, Amdahl, Data General and Atari). Kiss up to bloggers (hey, it’s the hot trend, all the kool kids are doing it). Get smart fast, screw around vigorously. The irrational exuberence bubble fallout, hogwash, 20 years from now no one will care. The information-technology revolution has yet begun. And now about the biotech revolution! Yes, jump in now. It’s not fake made-up data, it’s just an “aggressive headline.”

    Tom Peters is a ready made bubble. Quite fitting for your forward, in an ironic way. ;)

  9. Think of Tom Peters as the Corporate version of Esther Dyson (only a tad less spacey). Peters is about Saturn distance-level, Dyson is beyond Pluto.

    Don’t follow rules. But in not following rules, follow these eight rules (add disclaimers years later), waltz along, dance, consult, speech seminar serious, make bold statements, make bolder promises, be superficial, zap up catchy phrases, worship whatever new trend is happening, if some catch on, go back and claim you knew it all along. Make everyone feel good, be generic enough to give yourself wriggle room outs, fudge data (confess later), write trendish books, make Jane Dixon sweeping predictions, fess up 20 years later (umm well, see, well, about Amdahl, Wang, Amdahl, Data General and Atari). Kiss up to bloggers (hey, it’s the hot trend, all the kool kids are doing it). Get smart fast, screw around vigorously. The irrational exuberence bubble fallout, hogwash, 20 years from now no one will care. The information-technology revolution has yet begun. And now about the biotech revolution! Yes, jump in now. It’s not fake made-up data, it’s just an “aggressive headline.”

    Tom Peters is a ready made bubble. Quite fitting for your forward, in an ironic way. ;)

  10. Tom wrote the forward

    Well that explains your excepting him from ‘biz books that suck’, but with all the blogs, feeds and your impossibly to quantify short attention span, how on earth do you ever make it thru a whole book? But using Tom as a GOOD EXAMPLE? Oh for the LOVE OF GOD, have you no sense of history?

    Tom is a trend whore, he just sucker fishes onto whatever is the hot plate of the day, updating himself as he goes along, and fudging data to support whatever notion comes along.

    But now, the outspoken and flamboyant Peters, 59, shockingly admits that he and his co-author falsified the underlying data in that breakthrough book. In an article in the December issue of Fast Company, Peters writes: “This is pretty small beer, but for what it’s worth, okay, I confess: We faked the data.” Peters may consider it small beer, but this confession is a doozy.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/01_49/b3760040.htm

  11. Tom wrote the forward

    Well that explains your excepting him from ‘biz books that suck’, but with all the blogs, feeds and your impossibly to quantify short attention span, how on earth do you ever make it thru a whole book? But using Tom as a GOOD EXAMPLE? Oh for the LOVE OF GOD, have you no sense of history?

    Tom is a trend whore, he just sucker fishes onto whatever is the hot plate of the day, updating himself as he goes along, and fudging data to support whatever notion comes along.

    But now, the outspoken and flamboyant Peters, 59, shockingly admits that he and his co-author falsified the underlying data in that breakthrough book. In an article in the December issue of Fast Company, Peters writes: “This is pretty small beer, but for what it’s worth, okay, I confess: We faked the data.” Peters may consider it small beer, but this confession is a doozy.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/01_49/b3760040.htm

  12. 1. Yep, Tom Peters writes damn good books.

    2. For some people,, being mean to people for a living is less daunting a prospect than coming up with a great product.

    3. Congrats on the book, Robert and Shel =)

  13. 1. Yep, Tom Peters writes damn good books.

    2. For some people,, being mean to people for a living is less daunting a prospect than coming up with a great product.

    3. Congrats on the book, Robert and Shel =)

  14. How ironical !! Reviewing a TP book and the lights go out !! He wrote the fwd for naked conversations !!!

    I would suggest you get tp-sixty, its limited edition. Well worth a collectors item !!

    Happe new year Scobles and community !!

  15. How ironical !! Reviewing a TP book and the lights go out !! He wrote the fwd for naked conversations !!!

    I would suggest you get tp-sixty, its limited edition. Well worth a collectors item !!

    Happe new year Scobles and community !!

  16. Speaking of your book coming out… What about selling some signed copies on your blog? You could even donate the money to a charity or something if you don’t want to be greedy… :)

  17. Speaking of your book coming out… What about selling some signed copies on your blog? You could even donate the money to a charity or something if you don’t want to be greedy… :)

  18. Good quick review of books. I know that Stevens Creek, I used to study there in college.

    “How to sell to an idiot” Does that mean if you bought it then you’re an idiot?

  19. Good quick review of books. I know that Stevens Creek, I used to study there in college.

    “How to sell to an idiot” Does that mean if you bought it then you’re an idiot?

  20. Robert, did you read Freakonomics? While not strictly a business book, it was thought-provoking. I enjoyed Welch’s “Winning” too. He comes across as a jerk, sure, but he also talks about the value of people and has some interesting things to say about presentations and business meetings.

    Also: I live about four blocks from that store, you could have stopped by. :)

    For 2006, make sure you put Edward Tufte’s Beautiful Evidence on your wishlist. He said it would be out about April. Can PowerPoint 12 do Sparklines? :)

  21. Robert, did you read Freakonomics? While not strictly a business book, it was thought-provoking. I enjoyed Welch’s “Winning” too. He comes across as a jerk, sure, but he also talks about the value of people and has some interesting things to say about presentations and business meetings.

    Also: I live about four blocks from that store, you could have stopped by. :)

    For 2006, make sure you put Edward Tufte’s Beautiful Evidence on your wishlist. He said it would be out about April. Can PowerPoint 12 do Sparklines? :)

Comments are closed.