Archives for category: Continuous Learning

Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction, by Thomas Siebel is a the most important and informative book I have read in 2019.  It analyzes the confluence of Cloud Computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, as well as, the current increasing speed of technological change.  Each of these areas is having a tremendous impact on every aspect of business today, as well as tomorrow, and in combination they are radically re-defining virtually every aspect of every business.  52% of the companies in the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 are no longer there (including acquisitions).  Digital Transformation is a vital read, although with the enormous amount of information the book contains, it can seem encyclopedic at times.

Thomas Siebel compares Jay Gould’ s theory of punctuated equilibrium to the current technological environment.  Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium states that rather than a straight gradual progression declared in Darwin’s theory, evolution is not continuous and instead remains in relative equilibrium for long stretches followed by sporadic moments of sudden and massive changes.  These massive changes cause radical disruptions until a new stability (i.e. punctuated equilibrium) is found.  Seibel hypothesizes that the confluence of cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are in the process of a massive, radically disruptive period for business.

Cloud computing has eliminated many of the monetary aspects of launching a business, and its economic efficiencies have allowed established companies to redirect IT infrastructure budgets towards other aspects thereby increasing overall growth.  Big data along with Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are transforming processes across industries from predictive maintenance to new product development and sophisticated, in-depth understanding of customers.  Predictive maintenance is allowing companies to reduce problems before they occur, rather than rely on less efficient pre-determined maintenance schedules.  With real-time information from the edge, that can be processed in the cloud utilizing artificial intelligence, the possibilities are endless.

#40booksin2019  #ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement

I recently finished reading my 30th book of 2019, with the goal of completing forty by the year’s end. My favorite book of the past few months is Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas To Become A Digital Leader, by John Rossman, which contains lots of nuggets of information written in numerous short snippets.  Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models, by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann, Seeing Around Corners: How To Spot Inflection Points Before They Happen, by Rita McGrath, Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction, by Thomas Siebel, are all worthwhile reads.  Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business And Influence – And How You Can, Too, by Gary Vaynerchuk as well as Superfans: The Easy Way To Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build A Successful Business, by Pat Flynn, are rah-rah, inspirational entrepreneurial reads.  Both are enjoyable, quick reads with the inspirational, ‘You can run through a brick wall’ approach.

I would skip Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand, by Steve Robinson.  Chick-fil-A’s continually growth is beyond impressive and I’m a big fan of their food.  Chick-fil-A’s message of the business performing as a ‘higher calling’ to G-d is potentially inspirational, but the author presents a biased, white-washed view by ignoring the chains past and current controversies.  Covert Cows simply lacks any meat by specifically failing to address any of the same-sex and anti-gay issues associated with the chain through the remarks and beliefs of its family ownership, as well as, the charitable donations made by the company.

Most recent reads:

  • Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models, by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann
  • Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand, by Steve Robinson
  • Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas To Become A Digital Leader, by John Rossman
  • Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction, by Thomas Siebel
  • Superfans: The Easy Way To Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build A Successful Business, by Pat Flynn
  • Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business And Influence – And How You Can, Too, by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • How To Talk To Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Leil Lowndes
  • Seeing Around Corners: How To Spot Inflection Points Before They Happen, by Rita McGrath

#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement  #40booksin2019

May and June featured seven books bring the 2019 total to twenty-two.  My favorite of the bunch was Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption, by Ben Mezrich.  It’s a fast, fun read focusing on the Winklevoss twins and some wild west aspects of Bitcoin as it continually marches from the chaotic towards inching its way into the mainstream.  In their ‘second act’ the Winklevoss twins receive a positive depiction, in stark contrast to their unflattering portrayal in the movie The Social Network, which was based on Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires:  The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and BetrayalBitcoin Billionaires is written at the same pace of Bringing Down the House, Busting Vegas, Rigged and Ugly Americans(all enjoyable reads by the same author).

May & June Readings:

  1. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson
  2. Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade, by Joseph Sugarman
  3. Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption, by Ben Mezrich
  4. Overdeliver: Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing, by Brian Kurtz
  5. How To Hire People Who Give A Sh*T: The Golden Rules, by Erika Weinstein
  6. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life, by Rory Sutherland
  7. The Tangled Mind: Unraveling the Origin of Human Nature, by Nick Kolenda

There were thought provoking aspects to each book.  Triggers, written by Joseph Sugarman twenty years ago focuses on old style direct response, with many lessons still applicable today. Overdeliver discusses details of direct response that are often overlooked in the short-term oriented focus of some of today’s marketing.

Alchemy pushes you to question aggregate information (economists, big data etc).  Aggregately macro analysis is math based, but this does not necessarily hold in individual or smaller samples.  In math 1×10=10×1, however, in reality 10 people may be fooled once each, but it is unlikely to fool the same person 10 times.  Big data is fantastic, but you also need to question whether the data is depicting a false positive, versus actionable information.  It is important to potentially question the big data headline by examining the underlying data and how it was obtained.

The Tangled Mind is also an interesting read, although I would have preferred to dive deeper into a small number of areas, rather than continually stating results without digging deeper into the reasoning (beyond simply siting appropriate research).  The way data is presented and requested has a significant impact on the results received.  Researchers asked people to distribute financial aid to families and presented two different categorizations of income: survey 1 a) $15k or less, b) $15k-$30k, c) $30k-$45k, d) $46k-$60k, e) $60k-$75k; f) $75k+; survey 2 a) $75k or less, b) $75k-$85k, c) $85k-$100k, d) $100k-$120k, e) $120k-$145k, f) $145k or more. According to most economic theories, the results of both surveys should be the same, since participants are offered the same overall economic range on both surveys, but presentation can make a significant different.  In survey 1, participants allocated 96% of the money to families $75k or lower; however, in survey 2, only 48% was allocated to $75k or lower (due to the manner the options were depicted).  Thought provoking books are always worth reading, especially when they cause you to examine unexpected areas.

#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement #Readings

April featured two books from marketing/strategy/business genres, as well as two books outside those arenas.  From the business side, Loonshots and Turning The Flywheel are worthwhile reads.  Loonshots: How To Nurture The Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, And Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall presents several thought-provoking ideas. One concerns phase transition –  when water is above 32 it is purely liquid, at 32 degrees it may have pockets of liquid and pockets of ice, while a few degrees below 32 it is solid ice.  Loonshots relates phase transition to group behavior and how group think changes depending on size and dynamics.  Turning The Flywheel: Why Some Companies Build Momentum… And Other Don’t is a short companion book to Jim Collin’s Good To Great discussing the steps of building and maintaining a flywheel in which each step continually builds on the prior aspects to create continuous momentum for exponential long-term success.

From outside the business arena, two were more personal booksMensch Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi, Wisdom For Untethered Times, by Joshua Hammerman depicts how someone develops his personal perspectives.  It is brave to openly write about one’s life, and Mensch Marks is a very open look at his life, as well as man’s quest for continual improvement.  Rabbi Hammerman performed the wedding ceremony of my wife and I in Jerusalem in 2012, so his perspectives have additional personal meanings.  Cribsheet: a data-driven guide to better, more relaxed parenting from birth to pre-school, by Emily Oster, is an economist’s discussion of events from birth to the first few years of a baby’s life and an analysis of the data compiled from studies examining these various events.  As a numbers nerd, I take comfort in knowing the data associated with events and can theoretically utilize that information when making future decisions.  Some of the info was scary to learn, but it is better to be armed with the data to be able to make more informed decisions during potentially stressful times.

For coursework, April featured the re-watching of several sections of the Digital Marketing Program, by The Wharton School in collaboration with edX, which I originally completed in March.  In addition, Growth Hacking Foundations by Brad Batesole is a short worthwhile viewing.

Books:

  1. Mensch Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi, Wisdom For Untethered Times, by Joshua Hammerman
  2. Loonshots: How To Nurture The Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, And Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall
  3. Turning The Flywheel: Why Some Companies Build Momentum… And Other Don’t, by Jim Collins
  4. Cribsheet: a data-driven guide to better, more relaxed parenting from birth to pre-school, by Emily Oster

Courses:

  1. LinkedIn Learning Course: Growth Hacking Foundations

It is hard to believe that 1/3 of 2019 has already past, but the pace to top 40 books for the year continues.  Let’s see what May brings.

#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement

March was a busy month as I decided to take the entire Digital Marketing Program by The Wharton School in collaboration with edX.  The program consists of four courses, each with four or five units, each unit is three to five hours, and the program recommends one unit per week.  I rearranged various client-scheduled engagements to the afternoons, to free up my mornings to pursue the program.  I started early each morning and took one unit (course recommendation of one week) per day and achieved completion of the program over several weeks.  While some of the material was reiteration of previous knowledge, overall it was time well spent as often marketing aspects were presented from a different perspective.  New ways of thinking and new viewpoints are priceless.  I am a strong believer in the analytics of digital marketing, and the courses were a solid mix of ‘new digital’, its growth from variations of “old-world” direct response, and an overall online-offline mixture.

The course I enjoyed most was Customer Centricity, Managing the Value of Customer Relationships which discusses marketing philosophies that I have believed since my very first entrepreneurial venture: not all customers are created equal.  The majority of profits come from a company’s top ten or twenty percent of its customers, as well as the lesser customers which can be moved-up into this high value group.  The remaining customers are still important, as they help amortize substantial fixed costs, but enhanced service efforts should be focused on top tier customers.  Professor Fader, in Customer Centricity, also interwove marketing and finance in Customer Based Corporate Valuations.  I am a big proponent of the similarity in analytical aspects of data-driven marketing to finance, as has been demonstrated in the crisscrossing of the two throughout my career.

The courses also featured numerous acronyms including GRAVITY (geography, resistance, adjacency, vicinity, isolation, topography, you), SUCCES (simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, stories; they did not include the last S in success, but it would stand for stickiness), and STEPPS (social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, stories).

Two of this month’s readings are books by Professors who taught the Wharton – edX courses:  The Customer Centricity Playbook: Implement a Winning Strategy Driven by Customer Lifetime Value, by Peter Fader, and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger.  The third book for March, Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction, by Chris Sims & Hillary Louise Johnson is a short, but worthwhile description of Scrum, an agile framework of efficient, iterative development.

Books:

  1. Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction, by Chris Sims & Hillary Louise Johnson
  2. The Customer Centricity Playbook: Implement a Winning Strategy Driven by Customer Lifetime Value, by Peter Fader and Sarah Toms
  3. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger

Courses

  1. Google Analytics Academy: Advanced Google Analytics
  2. The Wharton School in collaboration with edX: Digital Marketing, Social Media, & E-Commerce
  3. The Wharton School in collaboration with edX: Marketing Analytics: Tools & Techniques
  4. The Wharton School in collaboration with edX: Customer Centricity: Managing the Value of Customer Relationships
  5. The Wharton School in collaboration with edX: Selling Ideas: How to Influence Others and Get Your Message to Catch On

Unlike the Google Analytics Academy, Advanced Analytics course which was free, The Wharton School courses cost $580 per course, but they reminded me of my days at Wharton undergrad, as the quality of each course was top-notch.  March was the busiest and most challenging month of online course work, and the book total of eleven is slightly above pace to reach the 40 book goal for 2019.

 

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#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement

February continued 2019’s strong continuous learning agenda.  The three books read were excellent for varied reasons.  Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller and Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins by Mark Schaefer, both pushed the human aspect of marketing which was a distant approach from the programmatic, digital side discussed in most of the online courses.  In reality, marketing is not an either/or scenario, as optimally both sides are symbiotic.  The information obtainable from digital, which makes any data-junkie salivate, can inform and enhance personal story-telling strategies.

The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, by Saifedean Ammous, did not discuss Bitcoin significantly for the first 2/3rd of the book, instead focusing history gold as well as other monetary commodities and discussed hard versus soft money.  A fascinating read (although a biased anti-Keynesian view) on hard versus soft money.

Books:

  1. Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller discusses the ebb and flow of a story and positions the company as the guide to the hero (the customer)
  2. The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, by Saifedean Ammous
  3. Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, by Mark Schaefer

Courses/Lectures

  1. LinkedIn Learning Course: Building Your Marketing Stack (2hrs 19 min)
  2. LinkedIn Learning Course: Business Intelligence for Consultants (29 min)
  3. LinkedIn Learning Course: Strategic Partnerships (49 min)
  4. LinkedIn Learning Course: Agile Marketing Foundations (1hr 13 min)
  5. Udemy Digital Marketing 301 (2hrs)
  6. Udemy Scrum Prep + Scrum Master + Scrum Training (3hrs)
  7. Google Analytics Academy

The LinkedIn Courses as well as the Google Analytics Academy were free.  Udemy was $15-$20 per course.  The total cost for February was again under $100; that’s a lot of information to digest for less than a single dinner for two, but, then again, it is a lot easier for your stomach to feel full, than your head.

#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement

I am an avid believer in continuous improvement and continuous learning.  Personal education is the ultimate asymmetric bet with virtually the only downside being the potential opportunity cost of time, while upside is limitless knowledge that can benefit your current business/clients and/or your future self.  My goal of reading 40 books for 2019, which would have been easier before I fell down the online lecture rabbit hole (again), but the internet offers a never-ending ability to search for new knowledge and fall-down more rabbit holes. Most of the lectures were refreshments of current knowledge, but if I can gain one new idea (or a re-remembrance of prior knowledge) per hour, it is an hour well-spent.

January was a solid start for 2019 with the following:

Books:

  1. Blitzscaling, The Lightning-Fast Path To Building Massively Valuable Companies, by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh. My thoughts on Blitzscaling.
  2. Creative Selection, Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs, by Ken Kocienda. My thoughts on Creative Selection.
  3. Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the World of Innovation, by Gary Shapiro
  4. This is Marketing: You Cannot Be Seen Until You See, by Seth Godin
  5. Industry e-book for a sustainability project I am working on.

Courses/Lectures:

  1. LinkedIn LearningPath: Become a Digital Advertising Specialist. This consisted of 11 courses; Most are overly basic, but I did enjoy a couple, including Programmatic Advertising
  2. LinkedIn Learning Course: Introduction to Attribution and Mix Modeling (1hr 41 min)
  3. LinkedIn Learning Course: Digital Marketing (1hr 27 min)
  4. LinkedIn Learning Course: Creative Thinking (47 min)
  5. Udemy Digital Marketing 201. This course is relatively basic, but still worthwhile, as there were a few snippets of information.

The LinkedIn courses are free.  Udemy was $10.  The total cost of the above was less than $100, and all are definitely more worthwhile than spending time in front of the television.  Looking forward to what February brings!

#ContinuousLearning  #ContinuousImprovement

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