Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute?

Parachute Cover

As a child back in the early ‘70s, I can still remember my father coming home with a book one day whose title jumped out at me. It was a title that seemed silly and compelling all at the same time. “What Color Is Your Parachute?” I’d never been interested in one of my Dad’s books before. But this one caught my attention… Did the color of parachutes mean something? Was there some great mystery that would be revealed as the final pages of this book were read? I have to admit, I didn’t find out the answer to that question until much later…

I recently had the opportunity to review the 40th anniversary edition of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles, and decided to follow up on that missed opportunity from decades ago. And am I glad that I did!

Dick Bolles has revised and updated his book almost every year since it was first released, ensuring that it remains current and relevant to today’s job seeker. But this book is also a book for truth seekers, which is why my Dad had first picked it up. He was employed, and wasn’t looking for a new job. But he recognized that his young life hadn’t gone exactly as he’d hoped thus far, and he wanted to figure out the reasons why.

As Dick Bolles walks you through the things you need to know as part of a modern-day job search, he also provides exercises that help you to know yourself more, and in so doing, to find that job that is ideally suited to you. He covers how to find hope, deal with depression, and survival skills you need in today’s world, how to deal with handicaps (real or imagined), how to find job vacancies, whether or not resumes are still relevant, how to network using social media and in real life, tips for interviewing and salary negotiation, what you need to know before you start your own business, why being inventive is key to survival, and how to choose a new career. Exercises help you to look closely at the skills that you enjoy using the most, finding your mission in life and coming to know yourself better, and then figure out how to transfer those skills into a career. But it doesn’t stop there, because then you need to teach someone else how to do the same.

One of many statements that jumped out at me was that the key to hope is that, in every situation, we have to have at least two alternatives. So long as two alternatives exist, there’s always a reason to hope. The greatest thing about that is that hope gives you wings, persistence and energy to face whatever challenge you may find before you.

After reading this book, I can understand why my father turned to it when he was trying to figure his own life out. We all go through periods of doubt where we wonder why our lives didn’t turn out the way we’d planned on, and how to get back on track to living a fulfilling, meaningful life. While Dick’s book is specifically geared towards the job seeker, the same principles can be used by the entrepreneur, the student working on college entrance applications, the retiree, and anyone else interested in discovering a more satisfying life.

 

Book Review: “likeable social media” by Dave Kerpen

Our next book review is of Dave Kerpen’s New York Times best seller “likeable social media,” subtitled “How to DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMERS, Create an IRRESISTIBLE BRAND, and Be Generally AMAZING ON FACEBOOK (and other social networks).”

As the subtitle might convey, Dave has a lot to say about how to do social media right. He begins early in the book by sharing an analogy about being at a cocktail party. As with any party, you encounter a wide variety of people on social media networks; those who are great story tellers, and those who bore you to tears. Then, Dave boldly asks which person you want to see again, or maybe even do business with.

Since this review was first written, a revised and expanded version was released, which you can find here instead.

We all instinctively know who we want to hang out with at a party, but as businesses, we tend to ignore some of the most basic niceties of human communication. We forget to listen, to ask questions, and to engage with people.

Dave reminds us of the elements that make people likeable, and applies them to businesses as well. His first chapter looks at the importance of listening, and to never stop listening. From there, he stresses the importance of knowing your demographics, as well as where and how to find them, then putting yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, if you were your customer, what would you want?

Each chapter focuses on another aspect of likeability and how to apply it online; things like being authentic, honest and transparent, taking responsibility, responding to comments people make (both the good and the bad), providing value to the people you engage with, inspiring people with the stories you share, and integrating social media into your customers’ experience.

There’s not a lot that’s new in Dave’s book. Any child who has ever been taught their manners learns the same thing. Listen. Say “please” and “thank you.” Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. Ask questions. Be nice. If you’ve done something wrong, apologize. Don’t be pushy or bossy. Play nice with others. Don’t run with scissors. (Well… That’s not really in the book, but you get the idea!)

However, Dave puts all of these simple things together in the context of developing a likeable social media presence for your business, even if you are hampered by regulations that hinder your ability to participate in social media. A significant benefit of using social media comes from listening to what people have to say, showing appreciation for their praise and concern for their frustrations, offering guidance when and how rules allow.

One thing I particularly liked is that at the end of each chapter, there are action items that help you to apply what you’ve just learned to your own unique situation. For example, Chapter 12, called “Share Stories (They’re Your Social Currency)” suggests that you write down your company’s founding story, and package it for easy consumption on social networks. This is more than writing a bio for your profile, or an “About Us” page on your website. This is about sharing the story that captures your unique “Why,” and it can be a very engaging and compelling connector between you and your audience.

It’s for this reason that I believe there’s something in this enjoyable book for everyone working with social media; both the newbie and the experienced veteran. So, if you’re looking for an engaging read that inspires you to be more likeable, I highly recommend reading Dave Kerpen’s “likeable social media.”

The new and revised edition of likeable social media is available on Amazon now.

Book Review: “The Final Summit” by Andy Andrews

I first “discovered” Andy Andrews when he started following me on Twitter. (He’s @AndyAndrews.) Exploring his website led me to The Noticer Project, a nationwide movement to “notice” the five most influential people in your life. From that point onward, I was hooked on everything he did. I’ve since read all of his books, heard him speak in person, watched many of his videos, and always look forward to his next project. So, I was thrilled when his publisher, Thomas Nelson, gave me the opportunity to review his latest book.

The Final Summit book coverSo, let me ask you this… If you were able to travel through time meeting some of the greatest leaders throughout history, what would you hope to learn from them? In Andy’s book “The Traveler’s Gift,” the main character, David Ponder, gets just such an opportunity at the absolute lowest point in his life. Through the course of this New York Times bestseller, he meets King Solomon, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Columbus, Anne Frank, Joshua Chamberlain and the archangel Gabriel to learn The Seven Decisions for Success that shaped their lives.

David then spends the next 28 years applying The Seven Decisions to his life and business, benefiting himself, his family, and countless other people around him. His success hit a snag at one point, only to rise to even greater heights as he embraces Truman’s lesson that “Adversity is preparation for greatness.”

In the sequel, “The Final Summit,” David Ponder’s world has once again been shaken. His beloved wife, Ellen, suddenly and unexpectedly dies in her sleep, and he’s at a complete and total loss without her.

It’s at this point that David learns that all of history’s Travelers are being gathered together for one last summit meeting that he is to lead, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Centuries of greed, pride and hate have sent mankind hurtling towards disaster, and far from its original purpose. The question is simple, “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” The answer? Only two words… But can the greatest minds in all of history find the right ones?

Hal Sutton, the PGA champion, describes the book this way: “Is it possible to mix C.S. Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock and Tony Robbins? The Final Summit is a unique and powerful blend of mystery and suspense, and principles and emotional fire. Wow! Bring your highlighter to this party. You’ll want to remember every word!”

I couldn’t agree more! As with the first book, I learned fascinating bits of history and the roles that specific individuals played in affecting the outcomes. But I also was led to explore my own thoughts and feelings about the very same topics that the book’s characters were wrestling with. Are leaders perfect? When they fail, are they still a great leader? How can one seemingly minor choice influence the course of history? Can the wisdom of the past unlock the secrets of success today? Are my day-to-day actions really all that significant? Do I agree with the Summit’s final answer?

The book is an easy and enjoyable read. (I received it on Friday and was finished on Sunday, and I did do other things this weekend besides read.) But it’s the kind of book that you’ll want to refer to over and over again, and it can only serve to guide you in your efforts to become a better leader and individual. So, I highly recommend reading “The Traveler’s Gift,” “The Final Summit” and, for a little extra practice, “Mastering the Seven Decisions.” You won’t be disappointed!

Interested in reading “The Final Summit?” Thomas Nelson has been kind enough to provide me with an extra copy to give to one of my readers. Leave a comment below with your two-word answer to the question “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?” and why you think it’s the right thing to do. You’ll be entered into our drawing to receive a free copy of “The Final Summit!” (The drawing will be on June 7th.)

Want to learn more about Andy and his life-changing books? Follow him on Facebook or visit his website.

“In reading about the lives of great people, I found that the first great victory most of them won was over themselves.” ~ David Ponder

From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership

If you’ve read my blog before, you’re aware that most of my posts have to do with growing your business. Past posts have talked about how to get found online, making connections with others in person or using social media, and the challenges of being an effective solopreneur. Since I’m also a contributing author for the Lead Change Group’s blog, you’ll sometimes see cross-over pieces touching on character-based leadership here as well.

In today’s post, these worlds collide and the result is Remarkable, if I do say so myself! Whenever I get to write about my favorite subjects at once and read a great book, it’s a win-win situation!

Kevin Eikenberry, a member of the Lead Change community, is launching his latest book “From Bud to Boss” tomorrow, and a request for reviewers went out a couple of weeks ago. Many of us in the community are helping to #buildthebuzz about this book using our collective blogging and social media talents.

Even if I wasn’t enthralled with the way this book is being marketed (which I am), this book is definitely one I’d recommend. Kevin and his co-author, Guy Harris, have created an instruction manual that belongs in the hands of every new leader on the planet (and in the hands of some more experienced leaders too).

“From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership” is that missing handbook for first-time leaders that comes alongside them and gently teaches them the things they need to know. Broken into six parts, the book covers topics such as succeeding in your transition to leadership, the nature of change, working with various communication styles, providing effective feedback and coaching, transforming groups into teams, and developing a commitment to success.

Remarkable Principles within the book highlight key points that often say more about human nature and life in general than specifically about leadership. These principles are worth taking note of, and stopping and pondering for a time. Kevin and Guy recommend keeping a journal as you read through the book, and these principles are good stopping places to make notes and visualize their application to specific circumstances you are faced with in your leadership role.

Bonus Bytes point to practical and immediately useful extras that can be found online related to the current topic. These may include checklists, tools, greater detail on a subject and more. These resources, coupled with the information in the book, go a long way towards providing you with the tools and resources you need to succeed in your new role.

But the thing I liked the most in the format of the book was that each chapter ended with Now Steps. These were actionable items that you could go and do now to improve your leadership. They were just a summary of points from the chapter, but instead, where additional items that took the chapter’s content one step further; helping you ingrain the lesson in your heart and mind.

The entire premise of the book is that you can successfully transition into your new leadership role, but that your goal shouldn’t be simply to be a leader. Instead, as you focus on becoming a Remarkable leader, you surmount many of the problems that other leaders get bogged down by. As you focus on controlling what you can and influencing who you can, you keep a proper perspective, riding the middle of the wake between tasks and people. This analogy refers to the two-sided wake that a boat leaves behind it. As you move towards either side of the wake, the waters are rougher. However, staying in the middle of the wake allows you to effectively use both edges of the wake to create Remarkable results in your team and for your organization.

If any of this sounds like information you could benefit from, I strong suggest that you pick up a copy of “From Bud to Boss” and being your journey to Remarkable leadership today! Visit the launch site on February 15th, and get some great bonus materials along with your book!