book yourself solidNeed to learn how to fill an appointment book?  Michael Port’s new edition of Book Yourself Solid Illustrated might be exactly what you need.

I first came across Michael Port back in 200x when I received a advance copy of the original edition of this book.

I have to say, while I loved the original version and gleaned a great beginning understanding of how to build a professional service business…this new version is so much better!  As I worked through the sections, I remembered quite a bit of the basic concepts I learned several years ago.  Still, I noticed right away that studying this version is a vastly different experience.

Hard to believe, but seeing Book Yourself Solid Illustrated makes quite a difference in terms of readability, comprehension, and just plain enjoyment.  I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that the illustrations enhance the experience.  After all, there’s been quite a buzz in the last few years about visual thinking/learning.  Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin, Sunni Brown’s GameStorming and others have beaten this drum loud and clear.  Still…flipping through the pages of this new version of Book Yourself Solid was quite striking!

Laid out in a very easy-to-follow way, Book Yourself Solid Illustrated takes you through four key modules.  Developing your foundation, building trust and credibility, understanding pricing and selling, and developing expertise in promotion.  As I worked through the new edition, I was struck by how much I remembered from the first edition.  I was also really aware of how much easier it was to follow along and how much more effectively the illustrated version held my attention.

One of the best aspects of Book Yourself Solid Illustrated is the inclusion of worksheets and exercises that help guide through the process.  I found the genuinely step-by-step approach very helpful as I worked my way through.  And, I have to say, I rediscovered some aspects of the Book Yourself Solid strategy that are more meaningful now than they were several years ago.

This is really a soup-to-nuts package.  Now that I’ve spent a little time reviewing, I can see that I need to slow down and really engage with what’s here.  An ingenious design, I can see it redirecting quite a bit of what I’m currently doing.

If you have a consulting or coaching business, Book Yourself Solid Illustrated ought to be on your radar.  I’m finding it very helpful and I think you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

manage your day to dayPicked up your copy yet?  I poured through Making Ideas Happen in 2010 and became a real fan of 99u over the last year or so.  When the first announcement hit about Manage Your Day-To-Day, a new resource assembled by Jocelyn Glei (editor-in-chief of 99u), I knew I had to get my hands on it.  So glad I grabbed a copy!

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind is a thought-provoking collection of insights by 20 “leading creative minds.”  Along with many familiar names (Seth Godin, Scott Belsky, Todd Henry, Steven Pressfield and Cal Newport), there are contributions by a striking set of thought leaders that are perhaps less known but with very impressive bodies of work in the fields of productivity, creativity, mindfulness, and time management.

More thought-provoking than how-to, I found myself personally challenged by a number of the essays.  Recognizing my own struggles and challenges, I came away from sections with a renewed commitment to practice unplugging, to be aware of my surroundings, and focus on a few complex projects.  I even came away with an entirely new awareness of my physical posture and breathing patterns and how that might affect my productivity…not to mention life-span!

Although Manage Your Day-To-Day is less how-to than Making Ideas Happen or The Accidental Creative it is still packed with great takeaways that deserve immediate application.  My copy is pretty marked up with notes to digest and figure out how to implement.  Like these other favorites, this one will be re-read many times.

If you’re on the lookout for ways to increase productivity and creativity…Manage Your Day-To-Day needs to be on your stack right now.  More than inspirational, this is a book that has the potential to pull you out of the status quo and change your day-to-day patterns.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

do more great workPicked up a book a couple weeks back that I just know is really going to have a big impact on my work.  I heard about it on the Accidental Creative podcast (an essential part of my toolkit).  So glad I ordered it!

Do More Great Work: Stop the Busywork, Start the Work That Matters is by Michael Bungay Stanier, the founder and senior partner of Box of Crayons, a company that works with organizations and teams around the world to help them do less Good Work and more Great Work.

Do More Great Work is a collection of fifteen key tools–conceptual maps–that Stanier uses to help identify “what matters to you, what drives the choices and the actions you take, and how to get onto a path to more creative, motivated and inspired work that’s good for you and good for those you work for.”

Way more than skim and put away collection, this is a pull it out and look at it daily kind of resource.  I love the way Do More Great Work is designed and have already made great use of many of the maps.  I can definitely see that with a little persistance and the right application this book will make a huge difference in my work.

If you’re interested in upping the ante personally (or if you lead a team that needs motivation and inspiration), don’t miss this resource.  Do More Great Work is now an essential part of my toolkit!  I love it and I bet you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

playing to win largeOne of the most important reads I’ve worked through lately is Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin.  If you can base the value of a book by the amount of underlining, starring, and dog-eared pages…this is a very valuable book!

I first discovered Roger Martin a few years ago when I tripped across The Design of Business.  Easily one of my top 5 reads in the area of design-thinking, it included several key questions and concepts that I use almost daily.  Very, very good stuff.  So, when I saw the announcement for the upcoming release of Playing to Win…I had to have it.  And I was not disappointed.  Playing to Win is literally jam-packed with great content and is very transferable to what all of us do!

A.G. Lafley is the former Chairman and CEO of Proctor & Gamble and the strategic concepts in Playing to Win in many ways form the playbook that orchestrated one of the most significant business turnarounds of the last century.  When Lafley was elected CEO in 2000 “most of P&G’s businesses were missing their goals, many by a wide margin.”  What happened over the next decade?  I found this quote to be very instructive:

“I was determined to get P&G’s strategy right.  To me, right meant that P&G would focus on achievable ways to win with the consumers who mattered the most and against the very best competition.  It meant leaders would make real strategic choices (identifying what they would do and not do, where they would play and not play, and how specifically they would create competitive advantage to win).”

Think about that in our context!  Winning with the consumers who matter the most.  See where that is going?  Making strategic choices.  Very helpful.

I also found Lafley’s definition of strategy very helpful: a “coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to-win, core capability, and management system choices that uniquely meet a consumer’s needs, thereby creating competitive advantage and superior value for a business.” (p. 50, Playing to Win)

Playing to Win is a fantastic read.  Packed with insights and transferable concepts, it has vaulted to the top of the list of books that I recommend for strategists.  If your organization needs to rethink and clarify strategy, Playing to Win is an absolute must-read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Need a creativity injection?  You might want to take a look at inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig.  The Executive Director of Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program, Seelig’s course on Creativity and Innovation is one of the most popular classes in Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design or “”  With its provocative collection of ideas, inGenius provides a taste of the course for the rest of us.

Packed with tools and techniques along with stories that illustrate their use, this is both a down-to-earth practical and imagination sparking book.  Seelig explores and explains “ways to increase your ability to see opportunities around you, to connect and combine ideas, to challenge assumptions, and to reframe problems.”

InGenius explores a model created by Seelig to explain how a variety of factors fit together to become an innovation engine and enhance creativity (p. 15):

  • Your knowledge provides the fuel for your imagination.
  • Your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of knowledge into new ideas.
  • Your attitude is a spark that sets the Innovation Engine in motion.
  • Resources are all the assets in your community.
  • Habitats are your local environments, including your home, school, or office.
  • Culture is the collective beliefs, values, and behaviors in your community.

There’s a lot to really like about inGenius.  Several of the chapters are pretty marked up, starred and underlined.  There are several ideas that will get immediate use and absolutely make it into my bag of consulting tricks.  I particularly liked the chapters on paying attention and leveraging constraints.  So many great takeaways make this is a book I’ve already recommended several times.  If you’re in the market for a creativity boost, inGenius ought to be on your radar.

Gary Hamel is one of my favorites authors.  Anytime he comes out with a new book, I want to get into it right away.  His latest, What Matters Now, is no exception.  “Noted business thinker and strategist, he’s been on the faculty of the London Business School for many years and is the founder of the California-based think-tank The Management Lab (from the jacket).”

The subtitle of What Matters Now is a great hint at its contents: “How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation.”   You may be tempted to think this newest book will not apply to your field.  Don’t.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Whether you’re involved in leadership of a non-profit effort, an entrepreneur, a C-level executive or a mid-level manager, What Matters Now will matter to you.  I have no doubt that your copy will be as marked up as mine.

In some ways the next piece in the puzzle to The Future of Management, What Matters Now serves as a guide through five of the key underlying issues for many organizations.  Values, innovation, adaptability, passion, and ideology are all right at the heart of what leaders are struggling with in almost every organization.  Like me, you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement in some sections and shaking your head in others, but that’s one of the very best things about Hamel’s writing.  Packed with eye-opening insights and memorable quotes, this is a book that will inform lots of conversations that lead to new trajectories.

Every one of Hamel’s books (The Future of Management, Competing for the Future (with C.K. Prahalad), Leading the Revolution, and Strategic Intent) have been both thought-provoking and insight-generating to me.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to certain concepts and quotes sprinkled liberally through his books.  What Matters Now is no exception.

If you read, hear me speak, or arrange a coaching call, you”re very likely to come across some of Hamel’s unmistakeable thinking.  I loved What Matters Now and I bet you will too.

Looking for new innovation ideas?  I’m really looking forward to reading Gary Hamel’s newest book, What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation.  Want to join me?  You can order your copy right here.  Need a preview?  Watch this short video from Hamel for a taste of the books contents:
Gary Hamel: What Matters Now

Can’t see the video? You can watch it right here.

If you’re like me, few things are as appealing as a book about the creative process.  If it’s a book that helps unlock creativity…it’s even better.  That’s why when I heard about Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio…I placed the order that day!  And I wasn’t disappointed!

Created by artist and designer Noah Scalin, Unstuck isn’t really a book.  It’s actually more like a set of 52 creative projects or assignments that prompt the creative process…in surprising ways.  It shouldn’t be a surprise, I guess.  Scalin is perhaps best known for his skull-a-day project (sounds weird…really more of a creativity driving process).

The projects are designed in such a way as to allow for very quick implementation (30 seconds to two minutes, medium engagement (2 minutes to 30 minutes) and longer involvement (an hour or more).  Beyond a range of time involved, the projects also can be done in a variety of locations (home, work, anywhere).

There’s a wide variety of projects, too.  Some involve basic drawing, others are word projects, and some involve creative assembly of some kind.  For a creative wannabe like me…it’s a great set of exercises.  My favorite (and yet still in process)?  The Creativity Shrine!  Trust me…it’s on the way!

This is a great little creativity booster.  Can’t wait to work my way through it!  You can order your copy right here.

One of the most powerful sources of creativity is exposure to the best ideas from a broad range of industries.  More often than not, the idea that revolutionizes isn’t actually a new one.  Not in the sense that it’s an idea that’s never been had before.

Ideas that revolutionize are more often ideas that already exist in another industry and are simply borrowed and customized to fit.  Need an example?  Henry Ford visited the meat packing plant and observed the assembly line.  Prior to that aha moment, automobiles were put together, largely start to finish, individually.

I’ve found reading broadly is a great way to be exposed to ideas that I’d never have if I just read within my field.  Here are five books that deeply influenced me this year:

Bill Taylor’s Practically Radical: Not So Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself  is an absolute must read.  Very much like my reaction to his previous book (Mavericks at Work), this one is so marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared…it’s obvious just from a quick glance that it was a powerful read.

One of the co-founders of Fast Company, Taylor is always an easy read.  Liberally sprinkled with stories and interviews, the pages fly by.  So many times though, I come across profound principles that must be digested.  Flip back a page or two.  Re-read a section.  And savor the principle.  Write it out on a post-it.  Carry it around in my wallet.  Repeat.

Practically Radical was easily the best book I read all year.  Loved it…and you will too!

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry was a close second to the best book I read in 2011.  In the same way that Making Ideas Happen ended up on many reading lists in 2010, this book offers some of the most practical solutions for channeling creativity and doing great work.

If you’re like me, one of the most profound observations in Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen was that enough ideas are rarely the problem.  Starting and not finishing (often because you started another one) is the big issue.  The Accidental Creative is all about developing the practices that will help you start and finish projects and do the kind of work you really want to do.  Brilliant at a moments notice.

You can read my full review right here.

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen is another great read.  A solid addition to the line of thinking that Christensen introduced with The Innovator’s Dilemma, the ideas and principles here are completely transferable to the kind of work you’re already doing.

I think the best aspect of The Innovator’s DNA is that the five skills are so practical and easily incorporated into daily practice.  This is the kind of read that will inspire application.  If you come away with even one or two new practices, you can’t help but increase the innovation happening in your work.

You can read my full review right here.

If you’ve ever read anything by Guy Kawasaki, you know that Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is going to be a great read.  Once an evangelist, always an evangelist, Kawasaki is a very compelling writer.  At the same time, Enchantment is more than just his latest offering.  Like The Art of the Start, this one has the potential of becoming a sort of playbook for merchants of dreams.

Like Kawasaki’s previous books, this one is pretty marked up.  I especially liked the sidebars at the end of each chapter.  Great stories and very applicable practices make Enchantment a book you’ll pull off your shelf again and again for inspiration and next step ideas.  You can read my review right here.

The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make Them Happen by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer is probably one you missed completely.  Continuing the theme that the best ideas are more often discovered elsewhere and then customized to fit, The Idea Hunter is packed with immediately implementable practices.

I loved part one on finding your gig!  The four concepts presented are easily put into practice.  I really loved the Ideawork sections that immediately followed each of their four concepts.  Seriously, this is a book that you probably missed, but ought to pick up.

You can read my full review right here.




Review: The Innovator’s DNA

Mark Howell —  November 7, 2011

If you’ve been following the scene here at, then you know that I’m always looking for resources that help develop disruptive innovation.

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and and Clayton M. Christensen is that kind of resource.  If you recognize Christensen’s name, it is because he is recognized as the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation.

When Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma was first published in 1997, it was clear that he was following in the footsteps of Joseph Shumpeter, architect of the concept of creative destruction.  The Innovator’s DNA moves well beyond theory with a set of five skills that can be mastered.  A key assumption of the book is that while certain innovators clearly have the reputation (Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos, etc.), their behaviors can be learned and emulated.  A comprehensive study confirming this was done by a group of researchers (Reznikoff, Domino, Bridges, and Honemon) who studies creative abilities in 117 pairs of identical and fraternal twins.  The researchers discovered that only 30% of creative performance could be attributed to genetics.

In fact, the authors “describe in detail five skills that anyone can master to improve his or her own ability to be an innovative thinker (p. 11).”  The five skills are:

  • Associating: “Innovators discover new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas.”
  • Questioning: “Innovators are consummate questioners who show a passion for inquiry.”
  • Observing: Innovators “carefully watch the world around them.”
  • Networking: “Innovators spend a lot of time and energy finding and testing ideas through a diverse network of individuals who vary widely in their backgrounds and perspectives.”
  • Experimenting: “Innovators are constantly trying out new experiences and piloting new ideas.”

The promise of The Innovator’s DNA is that you and I can learn the skills to become more innovative.  Does it live up to the promise?  I think it does!  Each of the chapters that dissect and examine the five skills includes a set of tips for developing them.  The best part?  I really think anyone could apply some or all of the tips and begin to develop these skills.

Part Two takes a look at the DNA of the world’s most innovative companies.  As fascinating an examination as it is, the best part is that this section looks at how to put the innovator’s DNA into practice with people, processes, and philosophies.  I have to say, my copy is really marked up, underlined and starred in this section.  There is a lot here that will benefit all of us!

If you want to become a more innovative organization, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of The Innovator’s DNA.  I know I loved it…and I’m betting you will too!