The glowing face & Ignore Everybody!

Hugh MacLead Cartoon on a business card - gapingvoid.comHere I am again, sitting in front of big square light giving me a glowing face.  I do this a lot- for work, for buying books from Audible and getting them on my Zune, for managing the finances, for social networking, for … the list goes on.

So, how do I feel about buying a book, where most of the content can be found on the authors blog?    I could be sitting here, with my glowing face, piping the same wisdom into my skull!

This thought came to me as I was reading
Hugh MacLeod’s "Ignore Everybody -
And 39 Other Keys to Creativity
"
(and books from Seth Godin and Nicholas Bate for that matter).  Hugh’s route to fame was through his blog gapingvoid.com at which he’s persisted for years – starting sway back in 2001 when he was living in the UK (and when only the cool cats had even heard of such a thing)!  And his ‘cartoons on the back of business cards’.

The book came directly from the blog, in fact it was preceded by an online version called “How to be creative” and today you’ll find the first 12 ‘keys’ as in the book, online.

The thing about the content for me is that it comes from Hugh’s experience… he’s lived the challenges and put his thoughts out there – and the challenges are ones that I can connect with, and Hugh’s responses give me that “oh, someone else feels the same way, and that’s a good point!” feeling.

I loved it.

So, was it worth buying, when most of the wisdom is already online?  Oh yes - for this and all the authors I’ve read who publish their wisdom online.  I’m pleased for the break from the glow and revel in the space to enjoy the words away from the pace of my PC.

 

Title: Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity
Format: Book 158 pages
Author: Hugh MacLeod

-Mark

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

A Whole New Mind I can see it now – mathematicians, accountants, engineers and doctors all sitting around at lunch time in their new careers as petrol pump attendants and hamburger flippers while the artists, designers and outrageously dressed run the corporate world.

Well, perhaps that’s not quite what Daniel Pink was getting at with this book.  In fact the first part of the title does say what he’s getting at and the second part, well that’s the section of the title that makes you buy it.

The book itself is also in two parts – the current problematic situation entitled ‘The Conceptual Age’ and the solution called ‘The Six Senses’.

The current problematic situation…

… is down to three things: abundance, Asia & automation.

Abundance: in the western world we are short of very few things.  In fact for the most part we have an opulent abundance of ‘things’ whether it’s cars, computer mice, orange juice or toilet brushes – the range and choice of options is often staggering.  There is no doubt that we can do mass production.

And in a world of abundance, where you can get a thousand different chairs that all function perfectly well holding you off the floor, a great way to compete, is through design.  Imagine a designer toilet brush!  Oh yes, absolutely – why else would you pay £22 for a 10 pence cents of plastic?

Asia: in countries like India and China, there are millions of people with access to education and skills that match that of the west.  If you pair that with a lower cost of living you can see why outsourcing and off shoring to Asia is a growing trend.  If the skills exist and they are cheaper to obtain, then why not?  OK, I’ve simplified it somewhat but that’s the essence of the Asia part of the argument.

Automation: finally, computers are not sitting on their Loral's, or their chips.  They just keep getting faster and software gets more sophisticated – if your job could be done by a computer, watch out… you may have noticed that they’re happy to work 24 hours a day for very little pay… your job could be automated.

Daniel’s summary about whether your role is safe is in the form of three questions:

  1. Can someone overseas do it more cheaply?
  2. Can a computer do it faster?
  3. Are you offering something that satisfies the non-material desires of an abundant age?

Before tackling the solution consider this.

We’ve come from the the industrial age of factories and efficiency where the individuals were characterised by their physical strength & personal fortitude into the knowledge worker age.  Where we have achieved our current state through our proficiency in L-directed thinking – that is left brain directed thinking.  And now, we’re entering the conceptual age where the individual starts are creators and empathizers with a mastery of R-directed (right brain) thinking able recognise patterns and  create meaning for our fellow humans.

So, what are the aptitudes of this conceptual age?

The Solution…

… is down to six high concept (rather than low level detail), high touch (close to human) senses, where we all need proficiency:

  1. Design – not just function
  2. Story – not just logical argument
  3. Symphony – not just focus.  The ability to see the bigger picture and put disparate things together to form new solutions and products.
  4. Empathy – not just logic
  5. Play – not just seriousness
  6. Meaning – not just material accumulation

Each of these areas has it’s own chapter which includes a handy and extensive ‘how do I improve my ability’ section.  For example, for symphony one of Daniel’s suggestions is to learn to draw - and he recommends a book and course by Betty Edwards called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” (I’ve already ordered my copy).  And under meaning one of the suggestions is to read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” (which is an absolute must-read; I delayed reading it for a few years thinking it would be too morbid – the context is Frankl’s experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp – I wish I hadn’t delayed).

On one or two occasions I thought that Daniel had included too many examples (if I’d been reading the book, rather than listening to the audio I would probably have skipped a few pages) – but even if you don’t read all of the detail in every section, I have no hesitation in highly recommending it – particularly, if like me, you’ve trained yourself well in l-directed thinking!

Format: Book 248 pages, Audio 6hrs 15mins and DVD 55 mins
Author: Daniel H. Pink

Enjoy!
-Mark

The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

The 8th HabitThe 8th HabitWhen terms coined by a writer or a company enter our every day language, you know they’ve had an impact.  The cover of my copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful PeopleThe 7 Habits of Highly Successful People say’s that it’s sold over 10 million copies (and it’s still ranked 9985 on Amazon’s best sellers list, despite being first published in 1989) so you might not be surprised that phrases like ‘sharpen the saw,’ and ‘think win / win’ were made popular from this Dr Stephen R. Covey’s classic.

So, what’s so important about the The 8th HabitThe 8th Habit that it has a book all to itself (and an extra 10 pages ignoring the appendices, and 38 pages more with)?  Dr Covey’s concise description is that The 7 Habits lead to great effectiveness; and in today’s world that’s not enough so the 8th HabitThe 8th Habit builds on the previous seven and leads to greatness.  Which is even move concise in the books title!

One unique element is that it’s accompanied by 15 videos.  You can watch these online or order a DVD and pay the postage (which is $35 for the UK and $7.95 for the USA at the time of writing).  Although the book still works without them, I thought the videos made an interesting compliment.

There are two parts to the book – Find Your Voice and Help Others to Find Thiers.  Which might be broadly summarised as learn to lead yourself - more focused on you as an individual (like the ‘private victory’ of The 7 Habits), and then lead others - more focused on business (the like ‘public victory’ of The 7 Habits).

Then there are four core themes that pervade both parts and I’ve tried to condense Dr. Covey description to give you the essence of if for self leadership:

  • Mind
    • Assume that the half life of your profession is two years – now prepare accordingly.  What is your vision of the future? 
  • Spirit
    • Assume you had a direct relationship with your maker – now live accordingly.  Use your conscience.
  • Body
    • Assume that you had had a heart attack, now treat your body accordingly.  Have discipline.
  • Heart
    • Assume that everything you say about another can be overheard – now speak accordingly.  Live with passion.

This really does only give you a flavour.  Like many good books it’s full of stories and fitting with Dr Covey’s data orientation there’s plenty of charts, tables and research.

There are parts of the book that I found a little difficult to keep my concentration, but overall it’s worth it.  If the super summary "Live, Love, Learn & Leave a Legacy" sounds good and you want to be a leader, this is one of the books you really should read.

Format: BookBook 382 pages, AudioAudio 14hrs 24 mins, Short video 48mins and WorkbookWorkbook
Author: Dr. Stephen R. Covey

-Mark