Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin – Book Review

Thou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money has been on my list to read for quite some time now. I first heard it mentioned on The Dave Ramsey Show. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the author, has also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast. I recently got caught up to this part of my reading list and very much enjoyed taking in some “old fashioned,” but very relevant wisdom …

Cover shot of 'Thou Shall Prosper' By Rabbi Daniel LapinThou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money has been on my list to read for quite some time now. I first heard it mentioned on The Dave Ramsey Show and the author, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, has also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast. I recently got caught up on this part of my reading list and very much enjoyed taking in some “old fashioned,” but very relevant wisdom. As my friend Alan K’necht pointed quoted in his book, The Last Original Idea, “… there is nothing new under the sun.”

While the ideas Rabbi Lapin shares in this work are based on very old wisdom, they still translate very well into modern times. Throughout it all, misconceptions and bad ideas about business are busted and replaced with good ideas.

As the title suggests, the book is broken down into 10 “commandments,” and each one builds on the others to make it rather compelling:

  1. Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business
  2. Extend the Network of Your Connections to Many People
  3. Get To Know Yourself
  4. Do Not Pursue Perfection
  5. Lead Consistently and Constantly
  6. Constantly Change the Changeable While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable
  7. Learn To Foretell the Future
  8. Know Your Money
  9. Act Rich: Give Away 10 Percent of Your After Tax Income
  10. Never Retire

There are some great quotes from the book, here are a few that I highlighted:

… dishonesty and loathsome behavior only pay off in the very short term. Reputation is key. Sooner or later, the cheating, dishonest, and unpleasant business professional runs out of people with whom to conduct business.

This is quite true – especially in today’s culture online. It doesn’t take long for someone’s bad reputation to spread and for people to decide not to do business with them.

If there is one Jewish attribute more directly responsible for Jewish success in business than any other, it is this one: Jewish tradition views a person’s quest for profit an wealth to be inherently moral.

Now, before images of the Ferengi from Star Trek with their “Rules of Acquisition” enter your head, keep in mind that Rabbi Lapin is not referring to avarice and greed. Rather he is referring to the fact that it is good and honorable to be able to support yourself, your family and to help those in need. Any quest for profit must be done in light of doing business honestly and being charitable. Here two additional quotes that help pull it together:

Biblical figures are almost all larger-than-life, three-dimensional personalities. Although the Oral Torah describes many of them as fabulously wealthy, this does not usually emerge directly from the text. This is because wealth is considered to be the consequence of a life well live, in the company and companionship of others doing the same, rather than a purpose of life in itself … Wealth was consequence and not a prime purpose.

Some people mistakenly assume that a transaction can only take place if one side withholds information from the other. They assume that a transaction constitutes one party outsmarting another. This is a failure to understand that when two parties sculpt a true transaction, it is one one party taking something from the other, but two parties cooperating to create entirely new wealth. The transaction is more likely to take place if both parties understand that nothing needs to be hidden. Furthermore, the transaction is more likely to be successful if each party trusts the other and feels confident that no material facts are being withheld.

“Learn To Foretell The Future” was an interesting chapter. In that section, Rabbi Lapin discusses the Sabbath and why it’s a good idea to take time out to rest and clear your head sometime during the week. In our frenetic culture, everyone is overtaxed and stretched to the limit. The ability to dial down, unplug and relax is important to help you see things that may affect your business in the future.

The “Never Retire” section reminded me of an acquaintance of mine. “Frenchie” was very active in the amateur radio club I was part of when I lived in El Paso, Texas. He was a very busy man who put in 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in his wire manufacturing business. I remember once talking to him during a workday at the club when he let on that he was nearly 80 years old. I was quite surprised as I knew he was a bit older than the 25-year-old me, but I had no idea that he was “elderly” – he certainly didn’t look or act his age. He told me that he started his business with his twin brother, who worked until he was 65 and then quit. Sadly, the brother passed away within a few months of his retirement. Frenchie told me that he was never going to retire. he felt that if he was useful and had a reason to get out of bed each day, then he would just keep on going.

Rabbi Lapin makes a similar point. Even if you “retire” from your day job and do charity work, you should never just quit. It’s good to have a reason purpose in life.

Thou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money (Amazon Affiliate link – as is the cover shot link above) is an excellent book filled with some great business wisdom. I highly recommend giving it a read.

 

Unselling by Stratten and Kramer – Book Review

The thing I enjoy about listening to Scott and reading his work is that he is funny, irreverent and he makes me think. There really aren’t too many people I can say that about. His latest venture, Unselling, is a collection of anecdotes and stories all aimed to help the reader understand that “selling” is not really “selling” anymore.

I’ve been a fan of Scott Stratten since I first heard him speak on social media at Pubcon South 2010. I’ve read and enjoyed all his books:

The authors of "Unselling" Alison Kramer and Scott StrattenI’m also a fan of the weekly “Unpodcast” show and the semi-regular “Vegas 30” podcast he does, both of which are done in collaboration with his co-host Alison Kramer.

The thing I enjoy about listening to Scott and reading his work is that he is funny, irreverent and he makes me think. There really aren’t too many people I can say that about.

His latest venture with Alison, Unselling – The New Customer Experience, is a collection of anecdotes and stories all aimed to help the reader understand that “selling” is not really “selling.” “Selling” in this era of the modern internet can really be broken down into several things:

  • Have the most awesome product or service you can create
  • Build relationships through authentic interaction with customers and non-customers alike
  • Follow the “Golden Rule”
  • When things go wrong, do your best to make things right.

Unselling“Oh, wait” you might be thinking to yourself, “those things aren’t really new.”

And, you would be right.

The problem is that so many companies/brands/businesses do these things so poorly, and so few do them well, that the ones that do them well rise above the crowd and really stand out. With the myriad of instant communications tools available to consumers, they have as much or more information about businesses than the business themselves. That instant communications also helps great brands get noticed. Those not-so-great brands get noticed too, but in the wrong way.

In Unselling, Scott shares examples from customer interactions with Ritz Carlton, Disney, and others that make you wonder why more aren’t doing these things. Seriously, the Disney story made me a bit “misty.”

One way to help you, personally, make changes to how you do business is to remember that “You are the brand.” This is something I’ve written about in this space – several times. When we remember that each person who works with us and/or for us (and that includes “us”) ARE the brand to our customers, it helps us to act better towards them, do what is right, hire better and even treat our coworkers differently.

The warden in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” often said that “you have to get your mind right.” In the end, if you want to make your business better, you need to do just that.

I highly recommend Unselling to anyone in business who is looking to change and do things better. If you’re just interested in the status quo, you might enjoy the stories, but you might not get anything else out of it.

Or will you?

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you don’t want me to get a cut of the sale, go directly to Unsellingthebook.com and buy it there.
Images from Unsellingthebook.com

 

Million Dollar Websites by Rebecca Murtagh – Book Review

I’ve written about some of those clients with whom I consulted who had been taken advantage of in an effort to help others learn to make better decisions about their businesses. I have long believed that an educated client is a better client, and have consulted with many business owners to help them be more educated.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels that way. This is demonstrated by some books recently penned by some of the “Web Elite” which share the secrets of optimizing websites for conversions, measuring for success and promoting businesses via social media. The latest, and quite possibly the best so far, of these books is Million Dollar Websites by Rebecca Murtagh. The subtitle of the book spells it all out …

Since the dawn of (Internet) time, it seemed like the secrets for successful website strategy have been kept by the so-called “Web Elite.” While most business owners, especially those owning small- or medium-sized businesses, are too busy to get into the nuts and bolts of creating and maintaining a successful website, it is important that they comprehend key pieces of the puzzle so they can make informed decisions about their online strategies and to help them choose a partner agency to assist them in making the online portion of their business successful. For far too long now, a large number of charlatans and incompetents have taken advantage of business owner ignorance and created terrible and wholly unsuccessful websites; and, have made a lot of money doing so.

I’ve written about some of those clients with whom I consulted who had been taken advantage of in an effort to help others learn to make better decisions about their businesses. I have long believed that an educated client is a better client, and have consulted with many business owners to help them be more educated.

Cover shot of 'Million Dollar Websites' by Rebecca MurtaughThankfully, I’m not the only one who feels that way. This is demonstrated by some books recently penned by some of the “Web Elite” which share the secrets of optimizing websites for conversions, measuring for success and promoting businesses via social media. The latest, and quite possibly the best so far, of these books is Million Dollar Websites by Rebecca Murtagh [Amazon Affiliate Link]. The subtitle of the book spells it all out:

Build a better website using best practices of the web elite in e-business, design, SEO, usability, social media and conversion.

And that’s exactly what the book delivers. Instead of focusing a lot of detail in one aspect of web marketing, it takes the reader through each of those 6 main areas and breaks down the important concepts, ideas, and best practices which lead to a successful online presence.

Of course, each of those 6 areas are specialties in themselves. Rebecca doesn’t teach the reader everything about those topics, though. That would make for quite a large tome, indeed. Instead, she covers the main points in enough depth to help business owners make informed decisions about website strategy and to know if the person or agency they’ve partnered with is helping or hindering their online efforts.

To help cope with the ever-changing landscape of online efforts, Rebecca has also set up an online community to compliment the book at MillionDollarWebsite.tv. This site, combined with groups on Google+ and LinkedIn to help readers keep up with the changes that are ever-happening.

The person who can benefit the most from reading this book is the SMB owner or the marketing leadership of a larger company. The book will especially benefit those who have little to no experience in working online and wish to understand how a website works in the “big picture.” The information inside will give the reader enough knowledge to work out the basics of a web marketing strategy that will compliment offline efforts and also help identify experts with whom to partner in order to bring that strategy to success.

Head shot of Rebecca Murtaugh, author of 'Million Dollar Websites'This book would also benefit those online experts who want to help their clients understand how a successful website works, and why they make certain recommendations over others. By helping to educate your clients, you can help build trust and rapport to make your collaboration even more successful.

All in all, I found this book to be an excellent resource. Even though I’m into web work every day, I picked up some new hints and tips to help me help my clients.

Million Dollar Websites by Rebecca Murtagh [Amazon Affiliate Link] – an excellent resource for business owners and marketing managers, as well as a great book for web marketing consultants to share with their clients to help promote teamwork.

Disclaimer: Even though I received a copy of this book at no cost to me, this is my honest opinion of the work.

Full Circle by David L. Cisco – Book Review

What really struck me about this tour, though, was our guide, David L. Cisco. David is a NASA veteran who started working at Grumman in the 1960s and ended up on the team which built and tested the lunar module used to land on the moon. Through the course of our day on the tour (which was pretty much all day to my pleasant surprise), David told us some great stories about the space program from Apollo through the ongoing International Space Station missions and into possible future manned visits to Mars. It was most fascinating learning the history of our space program from someone who was there when it all happened and personally knew many of the key people involved.

A few years ago, my youngest son and I went to the Johnson Space Center. I went there when I was in high school when my family spent a Christmas vacation in Houston, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m a bit of a space nerd, I’ll admit it. I have to say, though, I was a little disappointed in how the visitor area of Space Center Houston is set up. It’s not bad, it’s fun and educational. It’s fun and educational, that is, if you’re an elementary school-age kid. For me and my high school freshman son, it was OK but not quite what we were looking for. As I described it in a review I wrote about Space Center Houston soon after, it was “great for kids, short on the nerd factor.”

Doing some research for that short review, I stumbled across the “Level 9 Tour.” This was touted as a a “behind the scenes tour” for very small groups (no more than 12) and led by a special tour guide. With the minimum age to go on the tour set at 14, my son couldn’t go … yet.

Fast forward to this past July. I signed up my son and me for the Level 9 tour and off we went for a day trip to Houston. I have to say, if you’re a space nerd, then you have to go on this tour. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but I will say it was worth going on if you’re interested in the history of and what’s going on now in the space program.

David L. Cisco, author of "Full Circle"What really struck me about this tour, though, was our guide, David L. Cisco. David is a NASA veteran who started working at Grumman in the 1960s and ended up on the team which built and tested the lunar module used to land on the moon. Through the course of our day on the tour (which was pretty much all day to my pleasant surprise), David told us some great stories about the space program from Apollo through the ongoing International Space Station missions and into possible future manned visits to Mars. It was most fascinating learning the history and potential future of our space program from someone who was there when it all happened and personally knew many of the key people involved.

Toward the end of the tour, David mentioned he wrote about about his story entitled Full Circle – An incredible journey of a Lunar Module Spacecraft Technician, his memoirs of his time at NASA and all the stories along the way (Amazon Affiliate Link). After listening to the man all day and hearing some of his story, I thought it would be a good read. It was, but not quite in the way I expected.

I expected it would focus on his time at NASA. And, while it was about that, it was about a whole lot more. It’s the story of a man, born into humble circumstances who went on to be a part of the team which sent people to the moon and brought them back safely. The story then continues as this man went from the space program, to a key leadership position in what would later become a major U.S. airline, and on to being a very successful business owner. It’s a story, like many others which are never told, which shows that this is a great country full of opportunity for those who are willing to put for the effort, and persevere, to succeed.

To be sure, there are a few “behind the scenes” stories about the space program. The exciting parts we saw on T.V. were merely climaxes to the countless hours of hard work and the effort of hundreds of people. David spent hours and hours working on tests for the lunar module to make sure it was ready to do its only job: land on the moon. Later, he was part of the team which developed the “solar parasol” which was key in saving the Skylab program – and for which he was singled out for one of NASA’s highest honors: The Silver Snoopy Award.

Cover Shot of "Full Circle" by David L. CiscoI wish he’d gone into more detail about that kind of thing, though. Although probably tedious and boring to a lot of people, I would have been most interested in learning more details about that army of people putting forth such monumental effort. Of course, that’s probably interesting to only a small percentage of us who are real space nerds.

While David’s story is short of nerd content, it is not short of great lessons in perseverance, teamwork, leadership and (yes) even customer service. The lessons he learned (and teaches) about opportunity, hard work and servant leadership are inspirational and interesting. He was not only on the edge of history during his time at NASA, he was also on the cutting edge of opportunities for women and minorities in the corporate world as well. To learn how, you’ll have to read the book yourself.

Full Circle – An incredible journey of a Lunar Module Spacecraft Technician, his memoirs of his time at NASA and all the stories along the way (Amazon Affiliate Link) – by David L. Cisco.

Book Review: The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome

Scott Stratten’s new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome (Amazon Affiliate Link), is a great follow to his first book, Unmarketing. It’s actually two books in one, where one half of the book is the “awesome” part; flip it over and the other half is the “unawesome.” In the book, Scott takes us around the online world and shares some examples of people and businesses doing great and not-so-great things online. Some of the stories you may have already heard, some you haven’t. In either case, Stratten teaches some great lessons in how to be awesome in your business -or- how to avoid being unawesome.

The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome by Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten’s new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome (Amazon Affiliate Link), is a great follow to his earlier work, Unmarketing. It’s actually two books in one, where one half of the book is the “awesome” part; flip it over and the other half is the “unawesome.”

Scott takes us around the online world and shares some examples of people and businesses doing great, no-so-great and absolutely atrocious things online. Some of the stories you may have already heard; but, with some additional, behind-the-scenes details you may not have heard, the stories become far more alive and interesting. Through the telling of these stories, Stratten teaches some great lessons in how to be awesome in your business -or- how to avoid being unawesome.

One of my favorite examples from the awesome side is this video done by some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan, created in response to an article on Newsweek’s web site which declared the city was dying. It’s a little long, but an excellent showing of civic pride and a little “in your face” to those who would bust on Grand Rapids.

http://youtu.be/ZPjjZCO67WI

As I read the unawesome side, I could only think of some terrible experiences I’ve had with companies. I’ve written about some here, and I’m thinking about sharing some others. The bottom line is we should all strive to do better. After all, if you can be awesome without expending a lot of effort or capital, why not do it? Often, a little attention to detail will make a huge impression on your customers and differentiate you from you competition.

We all know it costs a lot less to keep a current customer than to gain a new one; and, yet, so often businesses go out of their way to gain new customers at the expense of ticking off their current (and often quite loyal) ones. If your business is part of the group always going after the new at the expense of the current, and you get some inspiration to unlearn that habit and start being awesome to all of your customers, then this book would be well worth reading.

All in all, the book is an easy read and is fun, entertaining, and teaches some great lessons. What more could you ask for?

Unmarketing Posters and Stickers by Scott StrattenI already had this book on my “To Read” list when I saw a post on the Unmarketing Facebook page offering to send a free copy to any veterans who wanted to read it. I responded right away and not only got a free copy of the book, but also a package of posters and stickers to go along with it. That’s awesome, right? Thanks to Scott for sending them along.

The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome by Scott Stratten (Amazon Affiliate Link) – an excellent book for those working in marketing, PR, customer service, SMBs, non-profits or anyone else looking for inspiration to be awesome in their business and have a few laughs in the process.

Disclaimer: Even though I received a copy of this book at no cost to me, this is my honest opinion of the work.