This is a list of books I have read or listened to over the last 15 years and one idea from each.



The Everything Store:
Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

– Brad Stone – 2013

Use data to make customer-centered decisions.

51fOf43trrL._AA300_Ready, Fire, Aim:
Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat

– Michael Masterson – 2008

Waiting until your product is 100 percent perfect before releasing it will prevent you from utilizing customer feedback in the design.

The information you gain from starting something and implementing changes based on feedback can help you get ahead much faster than waiting until you have the perfect and final product. If you put your product out for others to use and experiment with, you may be able to adjust it much faster than you ever could without the user feedback. Real-world user incentives can be valuable and help you stay ahead of the competition.

 Business, Product
Question: What should you do even if you are not 100 percent ready?

The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
– Malcolm Gladwell – 2005

Take both situation and environment into consideration when designing experiments.

The New Coke vs Coke Classic taste test produced positive results for the new formula but, ended up being a flop. People enjoyed the New Coke sweetness after tasting a single shot glass of it but unfortunately for Coke, after drinking an entire can, people preferred the original formula. The experiment was not set up to simulate how people really experience the product. We must remember this when conducting experiments for either commercial or non-commercial purpose. The results of these experiments can have a cultural or financial impact[KH1] and therefore must be done correctly if we want them to be useful.

Business, Psychology, Product
Question: How can I test my product in real-world scenarios?

Things a Little Bird Told Me:download-2
Confessions of the Creative Mind
– Biz Stone – 2014

Adding restrictions can make for a better product.

Constraints in the creative process or what can be produced may help produce better outcomes. Twitter has 140 characters and Snapchat erases the content after it is viewed. These types of restrictions change what we expect the products to do. You do not need to spend an hour writing a full blog post if a tweet can be written in two minutes. The Snapchat app proves you do not need to keep a photo forever. Instead, it can be silly and document your day in a new way without the expectations of a perfect image that will haunt you forever if it looks bad. These limitations free us to use these tools in new and interesting ways.

Business, Design, Product
Question: What constraints can you put on your design to make it better?

Sam Waltondownload-3
Made in America: My Story
– Sam Walton, John Huey – 1992

Use your competition’s good ideas.

“I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America.”– Sam Walton

Sam would go into his competitors’ stores and watch how customers shopped. He used the best ideas found at other stores and tried to come up with innovative solutions for his customers.

Business, Product
Question: What ideas can you borrow from other companies?

The Personal MBA:download-4
Master the Art of Business
– Josh Kaufman – 2010

 Make value for others that they understand.

Make sure you find something people want and will pay for. If you can improve other people’s lives and they recognize this, you may be able to make a business out of it.

The key is to fill a want or need for customers who know they have that want or need. The want or need you are trying to satisfy must match what they believe. You must do more than simply providing a product that is useful.

Business, Product
Question: How can you use your unique skill set to create value for others?

Duct Tape Marketing:download-5
The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide
– John Jantsch – 2007

 Solve a problem for people that they already know exists.

Show your target audience you really understand their issues and have a solution. Focusing on solving known problems is easier than trying to convince them they need your product or service if they do not understand the problem it is trying to solve.

It is much easier to sell people something they want than change their minds. If you sell organic non-GMO dog food, target dog owners that care about organic non-GMO products in general. That is much easier than convincing people that do not buy organic products for themselves that they should buy them for their dog.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: What problems can you solve for customers that are not solved somewhere else?

Growth Hacker Marketing:download-6
A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing & Advertising
– Ryan Holiday – 2014

Build marketing into your product.

People traditionally build a product and then figure out how to market it. You can also build marketing into the product itself. Emails sent from an iPhone include the phrase “Sent from an iPhone”. Hotmail added a line to their email footers advertising “Free Email”, an uncommon practice at the time.

Business, Design, Marketing, Product
Question: How can you build marketing into your product?

The End of Business As Usual:download-7
Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution
– Brian Solis – 2011

Keep up with your customers’ evolving wants and needs.

Customer needs change much faster than they did in the past and your product or service must keep up. We now live in a world where products are plentiful so you need to make sure your current version is exactly what the customer wants.

Business, Product
Question: How have customer expectations changed over the last 20 years?

The Lean Startup:download-8
How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses
– Eric Ries – 2014

Use feedback to help make a product your customers want to use.

We must understand what the customer really wants and is willing to pay money for. Determine this as quickly as possible. Do not worry about all the bells and whistles. Instead, present the minimal viable product to prepare for improving your product. Build, measure, learn, repeat.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: How can you use analytics programs to better understand and serve your customers?

Elon Musk:download-9
Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
– Ashlee Vance – 2015

Elon is driven by missions he believes will come to fruition even if his business is not the one to do it.

Of course, we should not let rockets crash and remake them every time we go into space. Of course, electric cars are better[KH2] .

He may not be sure that his companies will succeed but he is confident that his ideas will be on the right side of history.

Business, Product, Technology
Question: What product or service do you believe will inevitably be produced, even if the related business is not yet here?

The Invisible Touch:download-10
The Four Keys to Modern Marketing
– Harry Beckwith – 2009

People are not only buying a product at your store, they want a remarkable experience.

A product is more than a physical item. It is the entire experience associated with it. This can include how it is made, product hype and the buying experience itself. Apple puts a lot of money into its stores and even has patents for the way the package is designed and opened. While the store and the packaging do not have an impact how well an iPhone works, it is still part of the experience of owning one. When designing a product, designers can create more than just the physical object. They can work on the entire experience associated with the product including how it is purchased, what people think about the brand and how others will react to the item.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: Name a memorable brand experience.

Small is the New Big:download-11
And 183 Other Riffs, Rants and Remarkable Business Ideas
– Seth Godin – 2007

Personalize the experience whenever possible.

In the new world, where consumers—not products—are the scarce resources, products must be more personal if they are to stand out. Do not waste people’s time with generic marketing and product experiences.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: What can you do to personalize your product?

Meatball Sundae:download-12
How New Marketing Is Transforming the Business World (and How to Thrive in It)
– Seth Godin – 2010

Remarkable products and services are easier to market.

By making your product so remarkable that people talk about it, you are building the marketing right into it. Making it stand out from the crowd will save you money on other forms of marketing, promotions, and advertising.

Business, Marketing, Product
What can you incorporate into a product or service you are working on to help it market itself?

The Amazon Way on IoT:download-14
10 Principles for Every Leader from the World’s Leading Internet of Things Strategies
– John Rossman – 2016

 Products are only useful if they solve a problem.

The Internet of things will provide us with diverse types of communication between devices and allow us to do many new and interesting things. As designers build these new devices, they must start with customer needs instead of simply adding features because they are possible. Consider what the users want out of your product, not what the new technology can do.

Business, Design, Product, Technology
Question: Which new innovations are interesting but seldom used because no one wants them?

What Would Google Do?:download-15
Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World
– Jeff Jarvis – 2011

Lowering the barrier to entry can improve networks.

The power of networks is often in the number of people using them, therefore they are more powerful when they are free. Instead of charging for entry, social networks and marketplaces make money through marketing the customer as the product for advertisers, selling other items or premium memberships. Having a low barrier for entry allows more people access to a network often causing the network to be more useful for everyone.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: What can you provide for free while still making money in some other way?

The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations
– Dan Ariely – 2016

We value work that has meaning, not just the financial reward for it.

Dismantling or discarding your work makes you feel bad even if you get paid for it. If your project is scrapped meaning you worked only to receive a paycheck, you may feel unsatisfied even if you were paid well. Many people gain as much satisfaction out of doing a great job, building a valuable product or making a difference as they do out of earning a high salary.

For example, self-assembly tasks such as adding eggs to cake mixes or building Ikea furniture can make us feel good about the products.

Business, Work, Psychology
Question: How would you feel if you were paid a little more than what you were previously paid but you knew in advance that your hard work would be discarded?

Built to Sell:download-17
Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You
– John Warrillow – 2012

Design your business so that you, the owner, are not needed.

If you can clearly define the processes in your company, the owner will no longer be the linchpin of the organization. If you want to sell your business, make sure to remove yourself as a required part of the equation or no one will buy your company unless you come with it. If you are unable to do that, you have a job, not a company you can sell.

Business, Work
Question: What processes can you define from your job and pass on to others?

Zero to One:download-18
Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
– Peter Thiel – 2014

Trust improves business culture.

Co-workers must trust and respect each other in order to build a thriving organization. Taking trust into consideration when building your culture or organization is particularly important in small groups of people that are trying to build a new business or create new industries.

Business, Work
Question: How can I earn trust and respect from others?

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs:download-19
Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success
– Carmine Gallo – 2016

To get people engaged in your ideas, business, or mission, provide inspiration beyond making money.

Steve Jobs believed in his vision and convinced others to as well. He was making money with Apple but his driving force was making great products that change lives by having a positive impact on how people communicate, create and consume content.

Business, Psychology, Work
Question: What mission motivates you?

Lean In:download-20
Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
– Sheryl Sandberg – 2013

Women are often treated differently than men unintentionally, which can still have a negative impact.

One story from the book discussed the idea of a male boss having drinks after work to talk business with a younger female employee. This could be viewed as scandalous for both parties but if it was a young male instead of a female, it would be fine. The same could be said for working late in a co-worker’s hotel room. This would be less of a problem if there was an equal number of male and female executives, but this is not the case for a variety of reasons.

Business, Work
Question: How can you become more aware of places where women are treated differently?

The Start-Up of You:download-21
Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

– Reid Hoffman – 2012

Individuals should have a unique value proposition.

Treat yourself like a partner that your boss chooses to have a contract with. If you can develop your UVP, just like a business, you will be able to demonstrate more value to your employer or those that wish to work with you.

Business, Work
Question: What unique values do you want to develop?

I’m Feeling Lucky:download-22
The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
– Douglas Edwards – 2011

As a company grows, the structure will change but the core values can stay in place.

It is important to establish your unshakable values as well as know what you are willing to change. You may value teamwork, creativity or customer service but implementing these values is much different for a six-person team than for a company with 6000 employees.

Business, Work
Question: What are your core values and what would you be willing to change?

Are You Indispensable?
– Seth Godin – 2010

Anything that involves following specific instructions will eventually be automated.

Try to be someone who does not use exact instructions to solve problems. To avoid your job being automated, become indispensable by focusing on creative thinking and problem solving instead of only following specific instructions.

Business, Economics, Work
Question: What can you do to make yourself indispensable at work?

Jony Ive:download-24
The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
– Leander Kahney – 2013

Minimal workspaces help increase focus.

Clutter can be a distraction and move you away from focusing on your goal. Eliminate or hide clutter or other distractions so it is easier to focus on your main goal.

Business, Design, Minimalism, Work
Question: What can you eliminate in your workspace to help you stay focused?

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace:download-25
Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People
– Gary Chapman, Paul White – 2011

 People express and interpret appreciation in different ways.

Not everyone shows workplace appreciation in the same way. We often expect others to view the world in a similar way or care about the same things we do but this is seldom the case. Understanding what your boss, coworkers or employees care about and how they show or want to be shown appreciation will help make the workplace more enjoyable and productive.

Business, Psychology, Work
Question: How can you show appreciation in ways that others will understand?

Getting Green Done:download-26
Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution
– Auden Schendler – 2009

People have different incentives for implementing sustainability into their business.

Marketing sustainability efforts to others in your organization can be difficult. Each of the stakeholders will have different ideas about what sustainability is, why it is or is not important and what they expect out of it. Make sure to take other people’s ideas and incentives into consideration when trying to encourage your organization to move in a more sustainable direction.

Business, Environment, Work
Question: What are some possible preconceived notions stakeholders in your organization have about sustainability?

The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
– Guy Kawasaki – 2011

Sharing a passion is a great way to bond with others.

One of the easiest ways to encourage others to like you is by demonstrating passion in an area they are interested in as well. This places you in the same tribe and will help them look at you in a positive light.

Business, Marketing, Work, Psychology
Question: How can you find similar interests with others?

The Wal-Mart Way:download-28
The Inside Story of the Success of the World’s Largest Company
– Don Soderquist – 2005

Focus on communication within and between departments.

In larger organizations, it is important that you function within your team but you must remember to work on communication between departments as well.

Business, Work
Question: How can you improve communication with other departments?

Do It! Marketing:
77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition
– David Newman – 2013

 Positioning yourself as the go-to expert can pay off in certain industries.

Expensive equipment, legal terms, items with regulations, complex products or any industry that requires years of training relies on experts to help the rest of us make wise decisions when making related purchases. If you work in one of these industries, it would be beneficial to position yourself as the expert in order to attract people that are willing to pay more to get the job done right.

Customers might pay more for a specialized doctor, lawyer or architect but probably not much more for a pizza delivery guru.

Business, Marketing, Work
Question: How do you prove you are an expert?

The 80/20 Business:
BIG Results from SMALL Changes
– Todd Nuckols – 2014

Rank your work activities by how much they contribute to helping you achieve your goals.

As we all know, every action is not as equally important to the outcome you are after. If you make sure you are working on the most important projects, then you will have a better chance of successfully reaching any goal. To do this, write down the activities you do on a daily, weekly, or quarterly basis and rank them by effectiveness in achieving your mission. This way you will at least know what you should be spending more time on, even if it is not your ideal choice to work on at that moment.

Business, Work
Question: What activities do you do that provide little or no return value?

The New Science of Leading Change
 – Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler – 2007

Make sure you are clear about your goals and how you will measure them.

If you want others to follow your instructions or vision, make sure to give them a clear goal. You also want to have a clear understanding of how you will know if you’ve achieved your goal. Clarifying these will ensure a better outcome and help both of you clarify what outcome you want and how you will know when you’ve achieved it.

Business, Psychology, Work
Question: Which goal could be measured in a variety of ways?

Think Epic. Be Epic.
– Bill Jensen – 2013

Even if you do not own a company, it can be useful to think like an entrepreneur.

It can be useful to think of yourself as an entrepreneur who has a service to sell to your employer. If you become more and more valuable to your employer, they will not be able to function without your service. You must keep up on the types of skills that are important to your boss and your industry as well as understand what changes are coming in order to stay relevant. In a world of continual change and disruption, we must continue to stay on top of the evolving needs of your employer the same way a business owner must stay on top of the customer’s needs.

Business, Work
Question: How would business change if everyone had to prove themselves on a daily or weekly basis?

The E-Myth Revisited:
Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
– Michael E. Gerber – 2004

To enjoy running a business you must enjoy more than the specific industry your company is a part of.

It may not be a good idea to start a bakery just because you love to bake. You must also wake up every day at 4 a.m., take care of finances, business taxes, marketing, inventory and manage people. If making cakes and muffins every day is what you really love to do, owning the bakery may not be the right choice.

Business, Work
Question: What aspects of your job do you enjoy and how can you do more of that?

Boost E-commerce Sales and Make More Money:
Three Hundred Tips to Increase Conversion Rates and Generate Leads
– Alex Harris – 2014

Some simple website design elements can help people feel safe when shopping online.

Predominately displaying a phone number signals that you are easy to connect with. Guaranteeing a secure site, displaying security symbols and ensuring that users won’t be receiving security warnings from their browser when visiting your site helps users feel safe when providing credit-card info. Displaying store reviews, positive press and previous customers can assure visitors that you are trustworthy. These elements are low-cost but effective ways to make people feel safe completing a transaction online.

Business, Design
Question: How can you help people feel safe when shopping on your website?

Mobile Magic:
The Saatchi and Saatchi Guide to Mobile Marketing and Design
– Tom Eslinger – 2014

New mobile devices influence both how we consume content and the types of content that are created.

The places we view content, screen size, expected use case and time available to view the content has changed as mobile phones become the norm instead of the exception for content consumption. Directors must make movies look great on 72” big screen TVs and tiny smartphones as well. People now watch clips of TV shows on the go, such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, instead of on the couch. People read more but in tweet-length segments.

Business, Design
Question: What types of content are popular in the new digital era that would not be popular without mobile devices?

Enchanted Objects:
Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things
– David Rose – 2014

 You can use everyday objects to display new and interesting types of data.

You do not need to look at a screen to receive new and changing information. it’s possible to have a lamp that changes color when you get a text message or a clock that tells you how far away your family is. The possibility exists to transfer some of the data traditionally accessed on screens to other objects used every day.

Data from Twitter and other social media, the news, weather or sports can be processed and used to cause everyday objects to move and light up or change our day-to-day, non-screen-related products to make them more useful, interesting or fun.

Business, Design, Product
Question: What data would be useful if you connected it to your day-to-day objects?

The Mobile Mind Shift:
Engineer Your Business to Win in the Mobile Moment
– Ted Schadler, Josh Bernoff, Julie Ask – 2014

Mobile devices are not just smaller but also used in completely different ways than desktop computers.

Smartphones and desktop computers may have similar functionality but are used in a much different way. While Interface designers need to design for a small screen, they must also understand how and where people choose to use these devices.

Business, Design, Technology
What actions do you perform on a phone that you would not do on a typical desktop computer?

Conversion Optimization:
The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers
– Khalid Saleh, Ayat Shukairy – 2010

Social proof is a mental shortcut that helps people make a decision whether or not to purchase your product.

Adding text or graphics saying “100 shares”, “loved by thousands”, “50,000 happy customers” or “most popular” helps people decide which product to buy.

Business, Commerce, Design, Marketing
Question: What social proof can you add to help others make buying decisions in your favor?

Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion
– Ben Hunt – 2011

Each web page should have a clear purpose and call to action.

Make it clear to the viewer what each web page is about and what steps the user should take next. The homepage of an e-commerce site you will have a different call to action than a product detail page. The homepage should direct the person to the products they want to buy. A product detail page’s main goal is to persuade them to add the items to their cart.

Some clear calls to action include “find out more”, “click here”, “add to cart” or “sign up now”. Make sure you understand the goal of each web page and give your user a clear next step to take.

Business, Design, Commerce, Marketing
Question: Do your top pages have a clear call to action?

Above the Fold:
Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design
– Brian D. Miller – 2011

Keeping your website header consistent will prevent confusion while navigating your site.

Adding a consistent header on your website reassures your audience they are still on your site and gives them a better user experience.

Business, Design, UX
Question: Do your customers feel confident navigating your site?

The Smarter Screen:
What Your Business Can Learn from the Way Consumers Think Online
– Shlomo Benartzi, Jonah Lehrer – 2015

As we gain access to more data, our device must present the information in new ways.

Not long ago, information was a scarce resource. We now have more data available than ever before causing our attention to be the scarcest resource. Because of this, our device must organize what it displays in new ways. Product designers must do a better job of giving people what they want, when they want it, and not bombard them with more than the necessary information.

Business, Design, Technology, UX
Question: How can you create products that deserve people’s attention?

Don’t Make Me Think:
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
– Steve Krug – 2000

Do not stray from design convention when it hurts the customer experience.

It can be fun to experiment with new website designs but people are often familiar with navigating interfaces in a specific way. Users assume the company logo links to the homepage and the left or top of the screen is where the main navigation links will be. It can be fun to get creative from time to time but if it is not advantageous to the user, it may not be worth it.

Business, Design, Marketing, Product, UX
Question: What are some design concepts that may be outdated but persist because they are familiar to users?

Subscription Marketing:
Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn
– Anne Janzer – 2015

Some products are being replaced by services.

It is important to understand which wants or needs people are trying to fill with your product. Do they care about the product or the result? Not all products should be replaced with services, but it is important to understand how your business could be disrupted.

For example, do homeowners want to buy a lawnmower or do they simply want short grass?  Do they want a car or transportation? Do they want a DVD or a movie-watching experience? These questions are answered when customers use a landscaper, get in an Uber or turn on Netflix.

Business, Commerce, Product
Question: What products could be disrupted by services?

Word of Mouse:
101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play
– Marc Ostrofsky – 2013

Our brick and mortar shopping habits are influenced by the internet.

We can now conduct research before we shop at a physical store as well as while we are walking the aisles. Online reviews, price comparisons, and Google maps can each have an impact on where we shop both on and off-line.

Business, Commerce, Marketing, Technology
Question: How do you use the internet while shopping at physical stores?

– Sophia Amoruso – 2015

Think about the shopping experience from the customer’s point of view.

When designing an e-commerce store, or any type of business, it is a good idea to look at the user experience by putting yourself in the user’s shoes. Understanding what they care about and how they interact with your business can help you make a better product.

Business, Commerce
Question: How can you look at your website from the customer’s point of view? What do they care about?

How to Grow When Markets Don’t
– Adrian Slywotzky, Richard Wise, Karl Weber – 2003

Sell your customers new things.

We all know our customers will be buying something else, at some point, and we may as well sell it to them. You have already crossed one hurdle: they know and trust you enough to become a customer. If you sell a specific product, you could start selling additional related items—additional products that complement your current offering—or start selling services as well. A paint store could start offering paint brushes, painting services, or other household items. You can use your own team or partner with someone else to gain maximum profit from the valuable resource you already have, your current customer.

Business, Commerce, Marketing
Question: What items would your customers want that you are not selling them now?

Location is (Still) Everything:
The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One
– David R. Bell – 2014

How we shop online is influenced by our location.

The types of searches we do or items we purchase are influenced by our local culture, options, prices, trends, and norms. Even if the web appeared the same for everyone, everywhere, how we use it depends on where we are. This includes what products we end up purchasing, where we get them and how they are discovered.

Business, Commerce
Question: What are some examples of online shopping that are influenced by location?

Buying In:
What We Buy and Who We Are
– Rob Walker – 2008

Our personal identity affects what we purchase.

Adidas shoes, organic products, BMW cars and leather jackets are all products that send a signal to those around us. We may want to project a certain image or convey our personal identity and this can influence the type and brands of products we choose to buy.

Business, Commerce, Economics, Psychology
Question: What do you buy that is influenced by your identity?

The New Industrial Revolution
– Chris Anderson – 2012

Bits are easily transferable at a low cost and soon we may be able to do this with atoms as well.

The maker movement is being catapulted by 3D printing, services such as Kickstarter, and access to more sensors and components because of cell phone manufacturers. It may be possible to convert some products that were traditionally atom based to becoming bit based, thereby increasing the number of people that can consume these items by providing them at a much lower cost. MP3s and digital videos eliminated much of the market for atom-based CDs and DVDs. More of this type of transition is on the way.

Business, Future, Technology, Commerce
Question: What businesses have been transformed by moving atoms to bits?

Why We Buy:
The Science of Shopping
– Paco Underhill – 1999

Make it easy for customers to buy more items from you.

If grocery stores had a few shopping carts placed around the store, you would not see people walking around with their hands full of items with no way to buy more.

Business, Commerce, Product
Question: How can you encourage your customers to buy more products from you?

100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing
– Roger Dooley – 2014

 Remove the pain of purchasing and people will buy more.

The easier you make it for your target audience to buy from you and reduce negative associations with paying, the more you will sell.

Business, Commerce, Product, Psychology
Question: What are some purchasing pain points that companies have eliminated in the past? What else can be eliminated?

Anything You Want:
40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
– Derek Sivers – 2011

Develop a small group of loyal fans.

Gear your business towards pleasing a small group of people. It is hard to make a product or service that fits everyone, but if you find your niche, you will be able to make this small group of fans happy and loyal.

Business, Marketing
Question: How can you find a small group of fans that you cannot live without your products?

Inbound Marketing:
Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
– Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah – 2009

Make your customers’ needs the center of your marketing messages.

People care about themselves and how your product will help them. The customer should be the focus, not the bells and whistles of your product or service. Create content that convinces your target audience that your product or service will make their life easier, better, or solve a problem they have.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: What do customers in your industry care about?

Epic Content Marketing:
How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
– Joe Pulizzi – 2013

Create content once and deliver it in all the formats your target market uses.

If you write a book on a topic, you can break the content into multiple pieces. You may create a video, blog posts, and podcasts from the content that you previously created for your book. This allows you to create it once but distributes it to your customers in their preferred media format.

Business, Marketing
Question: What content can you re-purpose?

Marketing to Women:
How to Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market
– Marti Barletta – 2003

Women make most household buying decisions and often look for different product attributes than men look for.

Traditionally, marketing norms have been set by men, even if men are not the target audience. Women often make the household decisions and marketers need to take this into consideration.

Business, Marketing, Product
Question: What are some products that men may not be great at marketing?

Hatching Twitter:
A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
– Nick Bilton – 2013

The legacy story of a business can change over time in the perception of the media.

The story involving the founding of Twitter has been shaped over time and in the perception of the public. Individual founders have each told their sides of the story and books, TV, movies and other media have helped shape what people think. What really happens and what is perceived are two different things, and in some cases, perception becomes more important for a brand than what really happened.

Business, Marketing
Question: What founding myths have you heard that may not be accurate?

Brand Real:
How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty
– Laurence Vincent – 2012

A company’s brand is a collection of beliefs that a customer or group of customers hold.

When you think of the company Apple, this single word can trigger multiple ideas and feelings. You may think “innovative”, “cool”, “expensive” or “easy to use”. This collection of beliefs is what the Apple brand stands for in your mind.

Business, Marketing
Question: What collection of beliefs do you want your customers to hold about your business?

Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy
– Martin Lindstrom – 2011

Companies use predictable fears and psychological traits to sell products.

Humans are hardwired to be nostalgic. For example, a simple smell can influence shoppers. Marketing can be directed at new mothers who are worried about their children. These and many other predictable psychological influences are well understood by marketers and are used to help businesses sell products.

Business, Marketing, Psychology
Question: What are some predictable fears that customers may have?

How to Use More Than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone
– Drew Eric Whitman – 2012

Social proof can help people feel they made a smart purchasing decision.

It is not always easy to know whether you are buying the right product. Knowing that other people have purchased it reduces anxiety during the purchasing process.

Business, Marketing, Psychology
Question: Where have you observed social proof being used?

Real-Time Marketing and PR:
How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now
– David Meerman Scott – 2011

The strategies that work in public relations have changed because of new technology and incentives.

The types of stories, their depth and the speed of delivery all have a bearing on how reporters work and what they are looking for in the next article or news piece. If you want to pitch your story to a reporter, you must understand the specific incentives of the organization or journalist and how the traditional rules regarding operations may have changed.

Business, Marketing, Media, PR
Question: What new incentives may journalists have that they would not have had 50 years ago?

Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company, and Your Future
– Patrick Hanlon – 2006

 A brand’s values should match the target market’s values.

It is much easier to find a target audience that appreciates a company’s values than to change the customer’s values with the brand. If you sell organic local produce, it is more effective to target people that also think organic, fresh food is good. This is much easier than trying to change the kind of food people care about.

As you create your business, make sure that you understand what your target audience cares about or find an audience that already cares about your mission.

Business, Marketing
Question: What values does your business have? Does your target audience have these values too?

Brand Warfare:
10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand
– David F. D’Alessandro – 2001

Branding goes beyond the marketing department.

All parts of a company make up the brand, not just the logos, fonts, imagery and colors. How the phone is answered, what the hours of operation are, when the product is delivered and how easily problems are solved are all part of the brand of an e-commerce store that has nothing to do with the logo or website colors. It is the complete picture that a person holds in their head about the company

Companies can have multiple brand identities as well. A store may want to be a trendy place for customers, an efficient place for suppliers and a fun place for employees.

Business, Marketing
Question: What aspects of your business influence branding?

Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It
– Adrian Slywotzky and Karl Weber – 2011

 There is no such thing as an average customer.

Creating personas and preparing different products or offerings for each type of customer is be better than providing a sub-par experience for an average customer. If half of your target audience likes short shorts and the other half likes long pants, providing only knickers will be a failed strategy.

Business, Marketing
Question: What are some of your business customers’ personas?

All Marketers Are Liars:
The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World
– Seth Godin – 2005

Marketing is about telling a story to people who are open to that story.

Make sure to target people who are open to what you want to say. This is much easier than changing their minds. Tell them a story about your product that fits their worldview. If you want to sell health food to one person with a vegan diet and one with a paleo diet, you may want to tell two different stories about health.

Business, Marketing
Question: What do the people who you market to already believe?

50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion
– Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, Robert B. Cialdini – 2007

Other people’s behavior has an enormous impact on our behavior.

When infomercials change the words “operators are waiting, please call now” to “due to larger numbers of orders, operators may be busy” it changes the perception about a product people are viewing. They may think, “This product must be popular, I should get it before it is gone.” This change can help encourage people to choose the popular product as they do not want to miss out on a great deal that others must also think is a great deal. Changing the wording in your marketing efforts to show that other people want your product or service can shape how people think about it.

Business, Marketing, Psychology
Question: How can you demonstrate both scarcity and popularity in your marketing copy?

Free Marketing:
101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off
– Jim Cockrum – 2011

Influence the influencer and spend their social capital.

If you can get someone well-connected to recommend your product or service, you are spending the influencer’s social capital. This is why friends’, celebrities’, and experts’ endorsements are so valuable to marketers.

Business, Marketing
Question: How can you find someone with a lot of influence to promote your product or service?

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead
What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History
– David Meerman Scott, Brian Halligan – 2010

Make loyal fans feel special.

Give them free items, special offers and make them feel as if they are part of the tribe. The loyal fans of any business or organizations are likely to be better customers and tell more people about your products or services. It is important to nurture this relationship and make sure they do not funnel their passion in some other direction.

Business, Marketing
Question: How can you make customers feel important?

Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving
– Noah Fleming – 2015

Most people can only remember a few things about your company.

Choose one or two messages you want people to associate with your brand and make them very clear. If you offer the lowest-priced, fastest delivered and best-tasting pizza in town along with the healthiest options, funnest atmosphere and a donation to charity for every pizza ordered, customers will be confused about what your real brand value is.

Business, Marketing
Question: What do you want people to think about your business?

The New Rules of Marketing & PR
How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
– David Meerman Scott – 2007

To go viral, you must create content that people will share.

Your content must inspire, entertain, be thought-provoking or fascinate the audience if you want them to share it. People want to look good if they post your content and want it to be easy to share as well. It is not easy to make something go viral but knowing this can help increase the odds.

Business, Marketing, Media
Question: How can you create content that people will want to share?

Delivering Happiness:
A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
– Tony Hsieh – 2013

Repeat customers and word-of-mouth can be examined as its own form of marketing.

The cost of unparalleled customer service can be paid back through the long-term value generated from repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. Instead of spending money on more marketing, you may receive a better return on your investment if you focus on great customer service. You can think of the extra expense as part of your marketing budget.

Business, Marketing
Question: How can you encourage both repeat and word-of-mouth business at less cost than paying for marketing?

Brand Real:
How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty
– Laurence Vincent – 2012

A company’s brand is a collection of beliefs that a customer or group of customers hold.

When you think of Apple Computers, the single word can trigger many ideas and feelings. You may think “innovative, cool, expensive, easy to use and trendy.” The collection of beliefs about the company is the brand.

Business, Marketing
Question: What collection of beliefs do you want your company to stand for?

Here Comes Everybody:
The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
– Clay Shirky – 2009

More free time and improved connectivity allow society to create new types of content.

People now have more free time and the ability to work on a number of user-based projects that include new types of collaboration and communication. Products such as Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts are forms of media that were not possible in the past and are often driven by user-generated content.

The lines have been blurred between professional and amateur media creation now that anyone can publish content and make money doing so.

Business, Media
Question: What new types of content will we as a society create in the future?

Trust Me, I’m Lying:
Confessions of a Media Manipulator
– Ryan Holiday – 2012

New media has different incentives and this can change the type of information we get.

Some blog writers for major news publications have incentives to create a dozen posts a day and do not have time to fact check the way some people expect. Through using services such as “Help a reporter out”, it is easier than ever to get a relatively legit news source to quote you on a topic that you know nothing about. We must take into consideration the fact that media is driven by page views and not fact-based journalism.

Business, Economics, Marketing, Media
Question: How is the news you read influenced by new media incentives?

The Filter Bubble:
What the Internet is Hiding from You
– Eli Pariser – 2011

Making guesses based on user signals can help companies give customers more of what they want whether for better or worse.

If you read a lot of online stories on basketball and someone else reads a lot of stories on Star Wars, each of you will start seeing related information in your news feed. You will see more basketball and sports articles and the other person will see more Star Wars and sci-fi related articles.

In some cases, this may be a welcome change and in other cases, it is not. This “better” content can shape how we see the world and may only show us content that we already agree with.

Business, Culture, Media, Technology
Question: Where have you noticed filter bubbles?

The Search:
How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
– John Battelle – 2005

The way Google chooses to answer questions has an enormous impact on the type of information we find.

All algorithms have a bias of some sort. It is virtually impossible to expect Google to give us information without using some sort of clues or guesses at what we are looking for. These clues may be useful and necessary but we also must remember they are not perfect and that small changes in how it answers search queries can have a greater impact on business, society, and individuals.

Business, Media
Question: How might Google stop being the gateway for searching?

In The Plex:
How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
– Steven Levy – 2011

Speed, experimentation, and willingness to take risks are core principles behind Google’s success.

The founders of Google understand that to stay competitive in the ever-changing technology industry, they must be willing to fail fast and learn from their mistakes. It is okay to try things that do not work as long as you learn from the process.

Question: How can you apply some of these values in your life to help reach new goals?

Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever:
The Inside Story of How One Insane Gamble, Tons of Unbelievable Hype, and Millions of Wild Deals Made Billions for One Ballsy Joker
– Frank Sennett – 2012

Using ideas from one business can help you come up with ideas for others.

Groupon took ideas from one business and moved them to a different situation. The ability to draw on ideas from one situation and transfer them to another can be very useful in designing new business models.

Question: What innovative business ideas have you had that were sparked other companies?

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs:
Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success
– Carmine Gallo – 2010

Say no to 1,000 things.

By being very deliberate in what you are working on and keeping focused on what is important, you will be able to do a few things well instead of a lot of things sub-par.

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in the mid-90s, he narrowed down the product line. They kept only four products and focused all of the company’s energy into making these items great. They ended up with two laptops and two desktops, a consumer and professional version of each.

Question: What can I say no to?

The Future of a Radical Price
– Chris Anderson – 2009

Businesses can make a profit while giving away things of value for free in order to make money in other areas.

Google gives away free search results but makes money on ads. Musicians let radio stations play their music for free but charge for merchandise and concerts. Free on-line classes are available for anyone, but if you want certification, you must pay for that.

Question: What can you give away for free while earning money in some other way?

Your Portable Empire:
How to Make Money Anywhere While Doing What You Love
– Pat O’Bryan – 2007

Find information people want and curate it for them.

Curated information is useful when it saves time and employs other people’s knowledge to gain better results. If you can find a set of people willing to pay for information that is curated, it may be worth your time and money to create it. If you find valuable content that is time-consuming to organize, and a few customers who would be willing to pay for it, this would make it worth the effort to produce.

Business, Product
Question: What information would I like curated?

How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter
– Stefan Weitz – 2014

Searches can be more powerful when they add signals from images, sound, locations, video, and more.

Search engines use signals to help you find the best results. Adding more signals such can be helpful clues to determine what content is best to show or what situation the user is in.  The more useful signals that are used when searching, the better and more accurate our search results will be.

Business, Technology
Question: What specific signals could search engines use to provide better results?

How Google Works
– Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg – 2014

 The power has shifted from companies to the consumer in many online businesses.

Lower barriers to entry when starting a business, new networks and globalization have each increased the number of product and service options shoppers have. There is no longer only one store that sells running shoes. There are dozens within driving distance and hundreds more online. Marketing efforts are unable to beat bad reviews when alternative options are a click away.

Question: How does the customer/company power shift affect your business?

Smarter Faster Cheaper:
Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business
– David Siteman Garland – 2011

 Being helpful is fun, selling is not.

Everyone likes it when you help them solve a problem but no one wants to be sold. Frame your business interaction so that you are trying to help someone, not trick them into choosing you. This can make a big difference in how both you and the customer feel about the transaction.

Question: How can you frame business transactions in such a way that you are helping the customer and they are not only excited about the product but glad you talked to them?

Naked Statistics:
Stripping the Dread from the Data
– Charles Wheelan – 2013

Correlation and causation are not the same, but both can be useful when making business decisions.

It is important to understand the difference between correlation and causation but that does not mean we should ignore correlation. It can still be useful in making business decisions.

Question: What are some examples in which correlation is useful?

How to Measure Anything:
Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business
– Douglas W. Hubbard – 2011

 Many intangible things have a value that should be counted.

We must take into consideration all things of value including things that are hard to put a clear number value on. If we want an accurate account of a situation, all value must be considered. It is not necessary to have the same confidence level as with something tangible but it may be useful to make value guesses with different levels of certainty.

Business, Economics, Psychology
Question: What are some intangible things of value you could start counting?

Smart Pricing:
How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses Use Pricing Innovation for Profitability
– Jagmohan Raju, Z. John Zhang – 2010

Different pricing strategies work for different business models.

Some companies make a profit on all sales while others lose on some and gain on others. Some have low margins and others have high margins. It is not uncommon to give away a portion of your products for free and charge a premium for others. Intellectuals give away blog posts but may charge for books, speeches or consulting. Musicians give away music but charge different prices to fans depending on whether they want back row seats, good seats or a VIP meet-and-greet weekend package. It is important to understand what strategies work in your industry and business model and not rely on one pricing strategy for all situations.

Business, Economics
Questions: What are some innovative price strategies?

Platform Revolution:
How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy–And How to Make Them Work for You
– Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Sangeet Paul Choudary – 2016

Platforms often create value using resources they do not own.

Platforms can create value for the participants and themselves by successfully creating win-win connections. Ebay does not need to buy a lot of products but connects buyers and sellers. They provide a user-friendly experience for both parties, product and seller curation, and a brand that people trust.

By providing the platform, eBay profits by connecting people, not by creating or owning any of the objects they sell.

Business, Economics
Question: What platforms do you wish existed?

Poke the Box:
When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?
– Seth Godin – 2015

Connections, intelligence, reputation, and experience are all types of value that are not represented by money.

Each of these brings value to your business but are not as easily translated into value when looking at your bank balance. What is the value of great company culture? How much is your brand reputation worth? These are important aspects for any business to look at but they are not always as easy to quantify as products sold or money made this quarter, even if they will lead to increased profit in the future.

Business, Economics
Question: How can you build multiple types of value in your day-to-day life or business?

Marketing in the Age of Google:
Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy
– Vanessa Fox – 2010

Data from Google can be used to understand your market, not just to acquire customers.

As marketers, we often think of Google as a place where a business or product can be found but it is also a tool that helps us learn what our audience is looking for and can help us craft our business accordingly. Looking at popular searches, trending topics, “searches related to” recommendations and auto-complete can be clues about what people are interested in or looking for or buying online.

Business, Commerce, Marketing
Question: What data can you get from Google to help understand your customers?

How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
– Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares – 2015

You need a great product as well as great distribution.

Having a great product is necessary for any business for which its customers have alternative options, but a great product alone is not enough. You also need to let your target audience know your product exists, position it correctly and get it to them in an economically profitable way.

Not all distribution channels work equally well for all businesses and finding even one profitable channel can be difficult, even if you have a great product. After you find one that works for your business, you can test tactics through that channel and try others as well.

Question: What products would fail without effective distribution?

The Upstarts:
How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
– Brad Stone – 2017

A business can be very powerful and grow quickly if it connects people instead of building new things.

AirBnB does not build rooms but found an unused resource in people’s current homes. Uber is able to use the previously untapped resources of the average person’s car and free time. Both of these companies create value for people by incentivizing and connecting people in new ways. They did not build more hotels or buy new vehicles, but used the untapped resources to give the user a potentially new and better service along with an additional way for people to make money.

Business, Innovation
Question: What untapped resources have you observed?

Think Like a Futurist:
Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next
– Cecily Sommers – 2012

Thinking about the future will help us make better decisions today.

What career should I want to aim for?  What skills will be useful?  Where should I live? What will people care about in my industry?

Our answers to these questions are often based on what we believe the future will be like. It is important to get a grasp on what types of changes are coming and what aspects are likely to stay the same if we want to make informed choices about many important areas of our life or business.

Business, Future, Work
Question: How could thinking about the future help a teen pick a career?

The Second Machine Age:
Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
– Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee – 2014

Better hardware, software, and networking are the core changes that will have an impact on many industries in the future.

Hardware, software, and networks are at the core of the upcoming machine age. The combination of faster hardware, better algorithms and more data greatly affects how items are produced, delivered and received.

Business, Future, Technology, Work
Question: What new products could be built if we had better, software and networks?

The Economic Singularity:
Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism
– Calum Chace – 2016

Robots are becoming safer, cheaper, more versatile, and easier to program.

The combination of these four trends will help make robots useful for many new tasks, and in some cases, entire jobs or industries. Once a robot learns a skill, it can share that data with others running the same program. This simple feature can give robots the ability to learn some tasks millions of times faster than any human could.

Economics, Future, Technology, Business, Work
Question: What are some tasks that will be done with robots as they get safer, cheaper, more versatile and easier to program?

Surviving AI:
The promise and peril of artificial intelligence
– Calum Chace – 2015

Automation may allow humans to do more interesting work.

The kinds of tasks that end up being automated often consists of tasks that are less fun to do. As more tasks continue to be automated, people will be able to spend a higher percentage of their time doing creative and possibly exciting projects.

Technology, Future, A.I., Economics, Work
Question: What boring tasks could be automated?

Industries of the Future
– Alec Ross – 2016

Robots can incorporate experiences from other robots accelerating learning at a rate humans cannot.

Imagine how the human experience would evolve faster if we each had the knowledge of everyone else on the planet.  We could train one AI doctor and duplicate the skills as easy as it is to duplicate a computer file. Then there would be two smart doctors. Compare that to the ten years of post-high-school education and the expense of getting a medical degree. Even if it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to train the AI, it only needs to be done once then reproduce the program to get as many doctors as you need.

Business, Future, Technology
Question: What time-consuming training could be reduced by training one AI?

The New Digital Age:
Reshaping the Future of People, Nations & Business
– Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen – 2013

Security and privacy are not the same things.

Security refers to how safe your data is and privacy refers to who you choose to share it with. You may want your data to be secure but are fine if your friend sees it. In this case, it is secure but not private. It is up to individual companies to keep your data secure and up to you to decide who to share it with. You may willingly share your Facebook data with a company so you can use their product. In this case, the data is now out but you gave them permission. This is still an important issue but must be looked at separately from data breaches or hacks in which you did not give permission for your data to be used or shared.

Business, Technology
Question: What data do I not mind sharing but still want secure?

What Technology Wants
– Kevin Kelly – 2010

Networks connect people with ideas that they would not have had without being a part of the networks.

More people with new perspectives, each filtered through a different lens, have an impact on the type of ideas we are exposed to. Networks are great at connecting people in new and useful ways by giving the users access to other points of view, new information and the ability to add to the conversation.

Business, Media, Technology
Question: How can you more effectively harness networks in day-to-day life or business?