Books are important to me. Growing up, almost every free wall in my parents’ house was lined with bookshelves, some of them stacked two deep. I spent most of my pre- Red Hat career in book publishing, first working during college at The University of North Carolina Press. After college, I went to work for a literary agent named Rafe Sagalyn in Washington DC. Working for Rafe was a great experience because he built his reputation on big think/idea books and business books.
His first big book was the huge bestseller Megatrends by John Naisbitt back in the early 80s. When I was there, I personally got to work with, among others, Bill Strauss and Neil Howe on their great books about generational patterns in society (check out The Fourth Turning… very prophetic these days) and Don Peppers, author of some books back in the 90s like The 1:1 Future about relationship marketing that were the grandparents of today’s books on social media marketing.
I also got to play agent and author myself too. As an agent, I represented some of Tom Bodett’s work (yes, he is the Motel 6 guy, but was also a commentator on NPR) and sold a wonderful novel called The Frequency of Souls to FSG. As author, I helped Rafe write two “cutting edge” books about getting free and open access to government information (they have not aged well, I’m afraid).
After I left book publishing, reading became fun again. I read novels and travel literature for a while, nothing that made me think too much. But when I got to Red Hat, I relapsed and started reading the big think books like the ones I used to work on with Rafe. I thought it might be worth taking a few minutes to try to remember the books that have been the biggest influences on my thinking, and get them all down in one place, so here goes:
Without these ten books, Dark Matter might not even matter to me.
On a recommendation from Michael Tiemann, I got the book Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About by the folks at Sid Lee, who have done work for brands like Cirque du Soleil, Adidas, and Red Bull.
Michael had sent a note at Red Hat a few months back where he said this book helped him understand the “x-factors” that had allowed Red Hat to create a strong brand position at such a small, young company. Thought I should check it out.
In case you were wondering, that headline above is an example of Relevant Sensory Oddity, one of the topics they cover in the book. I thought I’d try it and see if it works:) I actually am wearing pants. Today.
The main thesis of Conversational Capital is that there is a more powerful way to get consumers engaged with your brand by “making your story part of their story,” creating stories or experiences that are meaningful to them. The authors turn their noses up at “buzz marketing,” equating it to style over substance, with no depth or continuity, all sizzle and no steak.
A Twitter friend asked me the other day if I had been doing any more thinking about open brands. Turns out I have. Two weeks ago, she and I had a conversation where we discussed how Red Hat had opened up the Fedora brand and the positives (tons!) and negatives (some) of doing so.
This week, on an plane ride up to Boston, I read the book The Open Brand by Kelly Mooney, which another friend had handed to me a while back.
The book is a eulogy for brands that are not willing to open themselves up, and an instruction manual for those that are considering becoming more open.
It was particularly interesting to read as a Red Hat guy, because the book is based on the idea that today’s single most powerful technology is “a mashup of the World Wide Web and the open source movement.”
The book opens with the question… “are you dangerously CLOSED?”
Whew… passed that one. But the book did make me think some about where the Red Hat brands fall on the spectrum of closed to open.
Promised a while back that I’d write a review of Marty Neumeier’s new book The Designful Company once i’d finished it, so here goes.
As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Neumeier’s work– especially The Brand Gap, which has been a key bit of inspiration for the Brand Communications + Design group at Red Hat. The Designful Company is subtitled “How to build a culture of nonstop innovation,” and there are some pretty great ideas within on how to do exactly that.
It is clear that Neumeier is well read and well traveled in the right circles. He draws upon ideas from many current innovation thought leaders, including Gary Hamel, Roger Martin, Sam Lucente, Steve Jobs, and more. In fact, the recommended reading list in the back of the book is worth the price of the book itself.
Have you ever been zooming in on a Google map, and eventually you zoom so far in that Google apologizes and tells you that it doesn’t have an image showing stuff that close? What do you do? You zoom back out so that you can see again.
When it comes to running campaigns, I tend to take metrics with a few grains of salt. How many times have you seen someone report metrics on how their campaign did, and they show that it drove zillions of leads and that converted to zillions of $$ in sales and was a huge success… but then you look around and can’t find anyone who saw the campaign, or heard of it. And the sales guys couldn’t ever even tell it happened.
In my last post, I talked about the idea that General Paul Van Riper called being “in command and out of control” as a corporate leadership strategy. But can you also apply the same principle as a marketing strategy?
A traditional marketing campaign usually looks something like this:
1. Build a campaign plan
2. Create campaign messages
3. Execute campaign
4. Track ROI, leads, sales directly driven by campaign
But what might an out of control marketing campaign look like? Continue reading
Only about 4% of the total energy density in the universe can be seen directly.
About 96% is thought to be composed of dark matter or dark energy.
July 2009: See my update on the topics covered in this post here.
I’ve been intrigued by the idea of dark matter for a while. But it was actually hearing about this thing called the Large Hadron Collider that helped me make the connection between what I do for a living and this concept of dark matter.
The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It was built on the border of France and Switzerland and is about 17 miles long. One of the things that particle physicists hope to prove with this enormous project is that dark matter actually exists. As I understand it, the accelerator shoots protons at super high speeds around the collider, and, if these scientists are lucky, it eventually might produce a few wacky particles that will exist for only a few milliseconds and then disappear again. And these particles might prove that dark matter isn’t just a theory. Continue reading