NEXT SELECTION: One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Richard L. Brandt. Portfolio/Penguin. 208 pages.

The author writes about the subject here, here and here. Here's his GooglePlus profile and here's his author's page on

Here's a description of the book from the publisher:

Amazon's business model is deceptively simple: Make online shopping so easy and convenient that customers won't think twice. It can almost be summed up by the button on every page: "Buy now with one click."
Why has Amazon been so successful? Much of it has to do with Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder, whose unique combination of character traits and business strategy have driven Amazon to the top of the online retail world.
Richard Brandt charts Bezos's rise from computer nerd to world- changing entrepreneur. His success can be credited to his forward-looking insights and ruthless business sense. Brandt explains: 
* Why Bezos decided to allow negative product reviews, correctly guessing that the earned trust would outweigh possible lost sales. 
* Why Amazon zealously guards some patents yet freely shares others. 
* Why Bezos called becoming profitable the "dumbest" thing they could do in 1997. 
* How became one of the only dotcoms to survive the bust of the early 2000s. 
* Where the company is headed next.
Through interviews with Amazon employees, competitors, and observers, Brandt has deciphered how Bezos makes decisions. The story of Amazon's ongoing evolution is a case study in how to reinvent an entire industry, and one that anyone in business today ignores at their peril.

If you'd like to participate, please send your name and U.S-based snail mail address here.


Club Reviews: ANYTHING YOU WANT by Derek Sivers

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers.

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is a refreshing, delightful, inspiring read. With his positive attitude
and creative innovative approaches to hiring, marketing, and running a business it is no wonder that he has attained happiness which is his whole point of doing anything!
According to Derek, business is more about making dreams come true than money. He shares his experiences both good and bad, profitable and not so much. His philosophy of the joy of learning and doing while resisting the urge to punish everyone for one person's  mistake is remarkable. We would all profit if we remember his words of wisdom - remember people  are affected by what you say or don't say (neglecting to reply] and a personal approach taken toward others make them feel important. The whole point of doing anything should be that it makes you happy. What a great world this would be if more people latched on to his philosophy!!!! Margot Byrnes, Miami

Anything you want, by Derek Sivers, is a great short book, to the point, with lots of relatable stories.  Any entrepreneur, business owner or artist, or I should say, someone taking responsibility for their lives and the outcomes would enjoy and get out of it just what they need at this time in their lives.
My special moments, or what I needed to hear to reinforce my journey are, “in the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have”.  It is up to us to make our perfect world, many people will tell you are wrong, but “just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you.”
Of course Derek has enough income to cover his living expense without having to think about it again, and this gives him the freedom to create without the worry of paying the bills.  So for those of us who haven’t arrived at that point, we can be satisfied knowing and believing. Tom Hinz, Blue Lake, CA

"Anything you Want" was like the current movie out now "The Descendants" — funny at times but a sad story.  Derrick had a simple plan and tried to keep his business fun and focused on the customer.  We all need to follow that advice.  His approach to his customers was brilliant and got them excited about doing business with his company, however it became sad when he allowed his business to be run by his employees.   Small businesses become big businesses if your lucky or you want to be and with that comes employee challenges that structure needs to address.  Derrick tried to ignore that and in the end loss control of his "baby".  We all need to know where to draw the line and Derrick missed it.  Paul Bartoletti

Derek Sivers in his new small book, explains how he started a company and in doing this he can be called an entrepreneur.  In this book Derek offers advise on what to do with a startup company and how to grow it.  The most important issue is that you have to enjoy what you are doing and make sure the customer is enjoying his experience.  When you stop enjoying what you are doing this is when you make a handoff and change direction so you are sure that you are enjoying what you are doing.  The most important criteria in being an entrepreneur is not to make money but to enjoy what you are doing and have a customer that also enjoys what you are doing for him or her.  Money will come when you have a customer that enjoys working with you.  My personal criteria in running a business was to ask what our business was doing.  The answer was satisfying and making the customer happy.  A measurement of how our company was doing this was in how much profit we were able to make. Gordon E. Ettie

Sivers’ tales of entrepreneurship are quite valuable. His openness about his experience is an example to all who aspire to start a business. There’s a great deal to be learned from each other as we develop our own businesses. One of the more important take aways from the book is that acting fearlessly is quite the ticket. Fearlessness is what allows people to be open in their efforts to launch a business. Keeping your eyes open all the time and filtering and re-filtering information is an important lesson to be drawn from the book. This results in success all along the way. I was glad that Sivers’ gave a couple of examples of the value of fully open eyes( for example, the $3 million cost to buy back the business). Kudos to Seth and Sivers. Quick reads with lots to act upon. Bob Preziosi, Davie Florida

This heavily autobiographical take on entrepreneurship for our era has some provocative ideas. Amid all the anecdotes highlighting Sivers’s highly successful saga, what unifies them is a sense not of aggressive ambition so much as the power of serendipity and inner wisdom, as long as you are paying attention. A theme that continually emerges is the necessity to balance even seemingly well-considered or pragmatic reactions to what is going on in your enterprise and the environment in which it is operating with what your heart tells you that you should really do next.
Sivers’s faith in his own compass is inspiring, yet it doesn’t always translate into clear advice for those aspiring to follow in his footsteps. But perhaps that is as it should be. This is a rather Buddhist little book that is ultimately about following your nose, trusting your gut, and finding the tricky balance between respecting and collaborating with your colleagues while listening most attentively to your own inner voice.
Although the directives Sivers offers are not necessarily easy to follow, you gotta love the guy’s great story and impressive ability to always stay true to his values. Barbara Pierce

In a nutshell, the success story of Derek Sivers tells how he went from unknown musician to millionaire.  He began by selling a CD of his own music and expanded his online only sales center to include other independent ("indie") artists.
His M.O. was the same as Pierre Omiydar; started by himself, working out of his living room and expanded as needed. He taught himself website design to build the site. He refused to accept advertisement on the site. He would not sell music from musicians already represented on major labels.
He was true to his own beliefs, low key & inspiration.  Overall, an interesting story and a good quick read. Ann Nagy

 I must admit, I enjoyed this book more.  Probably because I'm a sucker when it comes to books about how entrrepreneur's succeed despite going against the established norm.  It was an easy read and yet filled with a lot of "meat and potato" nuggets to make you think.  A MUST read for anyone and everyone whos ever thought about openining a business.  The author dishes out practical wisdom such as "Business is not about money.  It's about making dreams come tru for others and for yourself".  Talk about going against the grain.  This quote reminds me of Zig Zigler who once said: "Help enough people get what they want and you'll end up getting what you want".  Two other quotes that I also enjoyed where "Never do anything just for money" and The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy".  These are two points that most people who are in business today too easily forget.  The author's explaination of Ideas as just multipliers of execution also resonated within my thought process. I had never thought about it quite like that.  Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of ideas have fallen on the way side due to lack of execution.  I, myself have fallen victim to such an end.  In conclusion, reach to make your dreams come true but only as long as it truly makes your happy.  When it stops, drop it like a bad habit. Alex R. Camacho, Miami

Most aspiring entrepreneurs fail to experience Silver’s fortuitous timing in bringing a novel idea like online indie music to market.  But any business person will benefit from his hard learned personal lessons, such as the importance of an unrelenting commitment to meeting customers’ needs and expectations.    Beyond just the juicy details of how his CD Baby incubated into a million dollar venture, in spite of Steve Jobs, Silver offers highlight worthy tips on managing through growth and pursuing personal dreams.  Had this been a tome, his choppy writing style with frequent series of one sentence paragraphs would wear thin.  But easily digestible on a flight between Washington and Chicago, the read was worth the investment of time. Ann Davison

Derek Sivers ten year experience in one hour just reiterates what we hear from very successful people.
Follow your dreams, don't ever let anyone tell you no, you can't do that. He has a wealth of information for anyone in business or about to start.  Again, today's Internet is allowing people who could never go into business do it now.  Great writing and experiences a must read for everyone!  Should be mandatory reading in school curriculum!
Thank you for this opportunity and introducing me to The Domino Project.  I am now a major fan!
Sharon Wilson

I really enjoyed reading this book, as it really made me think and reflect on ways I could handle some of the growing pains that I am experiencing with my business. This book reminds me to be very clear about why I do what I do and what about what I do makes me happy. Much of the author’s philosophy about business resonates with my way of thinking and is definitely not the norm. His experience of being extremely successful from serving others without foreseeing it or planning it (even trying to keep the business small) is refreshing to learn about! Elena Suarez, Miami


Club Reviews: WE ARE ALL WEIRD by Seth Godin

We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.
In We Are All Weird, Seth Godin gives us a wake-up call to become aware of our changing society in case we haven't noticed it yet. Maybe that's what all the weird commercials and Lady Gaga are about!
The digital revolution has given people more interaction and more information than ever before resulting in more availability of choices and therefore more freedom to choose. There is no normal anymore!
With so many choices available, the bell curve has changed its shape to  where it seems to be melting. Although there continues to be a push for normal wholesale compliance, it seems to be not working anymore. If you cater to the normal, you disappoint the weird as the world gets weirder. Everything that is not normal is weird which means a choice has been made to stand up for your belief to have or  do what you want rather than what the market wants. You can dare to be weird using creative out - of - the - box ideas.
The same old stuff doesn't get noticed anymore!
Mr. Godin encourages awareness of the changing society in order that we are able to try to keep up with it all whether we like it or not. His book is an education in itself! Margot Byrnes, Miami

In a word - Weird: The idea that the forces of individuality (the Weird in all of us) are on the rise seems reasonable and is a very convincing explanation in theory, to the reactions many feel to the mass distribution solutions and monoculture copies of products that used to be made locally with quality.                                                                                                                                         
The push-back to a power of individual expression and “weird power” has some limitations though, and may not be original enough to overcome the restraints imposed upon what’s come to be called  “your brand”; the  conventional expression and communication method.
Even the chaos of spontaneous evaluation by internet feed-back,  that Godin and other gurus favor, (cue Al Gore’s – Assault on Reason book here) may not be enough to antidote the case made by mass managed sales of  “what is normal”;  that pushes us to conformity.
The truth of the product evaluations that we can “dig for” on the internet, can be so obscured by the economic force of the marketing machine, that your shopping choices are not getting to the consumers equally, let alone guaranteeing equal access to the products that result.
It can be very time consuming to sort it all out.  The thing missed in Godin’s case to “Get ready for the “weird”;  is not so much that the product or idea sells itself, but that the marketing tipping point is dictated by the realities of convenience (as well as price and other concerns) that makes the sale.  We have a hard time joining a group consensus that is under-represented in real time or time zones away.
When convenience is factored in, the educated consumer may not be given the time to make honest choices. The minority “weird” solution is just too inconvenient.    Look at all the plastic, so-called disposables, that we settle for, only to throw away; is this because to select the alternative weird idea as a way to problem solve (say go green) wouldn’t be practical?  And even more so, the weird would fail so fast, if it meant fighting the “wired consensus”  that defines  a norm or conformity.   So we do the best with the givens, the common denomintors i.e. the normal solutions;  because convenience is worth plenty, and it sells. Jim Swaner, Miami Shores, FL

This book takes a look at how mass marketing  worked through the medium of television  and radio in the 1950’s and 60’s, and then through example shows us how that kind of marketing isn’t working as well today. In the fifties and sixties everyone watch the same TV shows and listened to the same ‘Top Forty’ radio shows and mass marketing to the people who fit into the ‘normal’ on a bell curve worked.
Today everyone wants to ‘live’ their dream, be it some obscure cultural thing or just to let their ‘freak flag wave’.  The internet has certainly been a driving force where anyone can find a group, or as Seth calls them a ‘tribe’, that anyone call associate with. 
Therefore businesses that want to reach those people have to market to them specifically.
My favorite quote in the book: “Everyone hates advertising in general, but we love advertising in particular”. Tom Hinz, Blue Lake, CA

Particularly us baby boomers and those who came after us.  Being different and being out of the box made our generation and the ones that followed even more.  Marketing today is finding niches and doing them well.  Some niches will remain just that but others will find a tipping point that takes them to being the next "apple".  Good read for anyone coming out of business school or thinking of starting a business to get them to sit down and think what markets are not being targeted and creating business models to fulfill those markets..  Paul Bartoletti

Godin strikes me as a guy who has probably run out of material.  I'm assuming he ever had any.  I never saw Seinfeld much, but I understand that it was devised as a show about nothing.  In that sense, it was a scam.  I'm also reminded of the politically correct way some people handle younger children who compete in something.  Everyone gets a prize.  Or the concept of the "personal best."  You don't have to be the best.  You don't even have to be any good.  You just have to do better than you did before, and you can feel like you somehow won something.  You're a champ.  On the cheap.  Godin offers us a meaningless song and dance, which, like Seinfeld, is about nothing.  He plays with the reader.  He takes a man with not a pot to piss in, and calls him "rich," because the man could choose to piss in one bush or another.  The choosing makes him "rich."  I have no idea what the "retail" price of Godin's book is.  It was a small book, less than 100 pages, but close, with the aid of small pages, big print, and plenty of spaces.  My copy cost $5.  It was too much. Fred Jonas, Miami

 This book grabbed my attention from the beginning.  Made me think about how much I really need in the way of outside things.  I realyzed how sucked into he mass I had become and realized it's okay to be weird and have my own likes, dislikes, and opinions.  This well written book has brought an awareness of my surroundings when shopping and helped me make wiser buying decisions.
Deborah Harris, Hallandale Beach

This book presents, basically, one message, with several variations on the theme: The mass market is dead, and the quirky, individualistic interests of smaller groups are coming to the fore. The way Godin portrays it reminds me of descriptions of the death of the dinosaurs and the subsequent rise of the small mammals that always scurried around in their shadow on the forest floor. Godin’s vision of people who share values and obsessions now banding together into informal yet powerful “tribes” empowered by technology is an intriguing, even seductive one.
However, the way this theme is developed becomes somewhat repetitive after awhile. I was also put off by what struck me as a somewhat smug tone in Godin’s insistence that the new normal is being subverted into a lack of any sort of consensual normality at all.
The ability of technology to allow us to pursue our obsessions and connect with others who share them is indeed an amazing sea change in our culture. But, overall, I remain skeptical of some of Godin’s conclusions. It seems like a tenuous leap to assume that, despite the examples Godin musters to make his point, you can easily transform these brave-new-world capabilities for self-expression and connection into a viable living, let alone a fortune. After all, the Justin Biebers and Cee Lo’s of the world remain the exception. All in all, to my mind, a reasonably provocative but patchy thesis that probably would have been better conveyed as an essay. Barbara Pierce

A weird book! It's a jumble of thoughts, with no beginning, middle or end. Godin repeats himself often, sometimes stressing nonsense ("our fond memories of a normal that never existed').  
His main point is that everyone is weird and there is no longer any mainstream culture. I totally disagree. 
His other point is that the internet has changed personal interactions/communication in society, worldwide. I agree. Ann Nagy

I'm so sorry, but I am having a severe mental block when it comes to Seth's book and cannot, for the life of me, write a review of it.  I even read it twice, and found it totally useless, boring and a rehash of what anyone in business should already know.  On the other hand, I loved Derek's book.  It was refreshing and honest and gave great hope to me--my son is starting a website of his own in the next month (and yes, I am the investor and stockholder). Debbie Kowalsky

At first I was a bit curious about the title of the book but as soon as I jumped into reading it I was particularly intrigued by the subject he covers since I work for a marketing intelligence company and I focus on the segmentation of these "weird" tribes.
I was excited to receive Seth's book but was a little disappointed after reading it. I found the book to be a compilation of blog posts or something he just put together quickly. I am a big fan of Seth so I felt let down. However, I found Derek's book to be very captivating. He ran a company that no business school would mimic. But his unconventional style resulted in tremendous success and I found it refreshing. His honesty and ability to admit his massive mistakes made him more real and extremely likable. I enjoyed it. Greg Alexander 

"Average is for marketers who don't have enough information to be accurate", I thought this line was on point because many corporations are seeking to stay average and they continue marketing to the masses because they truly don't have the information and insight to do the "weird-targeting" approach accurately.
I appreciate the list of the so-called weird tribes he shows as an example on page 86 and how he asks: "When your tribe is no longer the majority, then what?".  The rapidly growing weird tribes have become the new mainstream ranging from Hispanics to Asians and from Cross-fitters to marathoners.  Needless to say, I enjoyed the book. David Mesas, Miami

I found this book very interesting and enlightening.   I enjoyed how he took the time to defiine four key words that sets the stage in understanding the rest of the book.  Mr. Godin does a great job in putting into prospective, what I've come to realize and that is that we are controled by the "Masses" and don't give enough credit to the "Weird" in our lives.  Don't people realize that what is considered Normal today was looked upon as Weird yesturday.  I agree with the author, this is the end of the mass market and we are definetly all weird.  Instead of denying it, we should embrace our own individual weirdness and learn how to make it work for us instead of against us.  This is a thinking book, one that needs to be read more than once to truly grasp the thoughts, ideas, and reality that the author has attempted to communicate to his audience. Alex R. Camacho, Miami

(Seth) considers people to be Rich because they can afford to make choices (and) everything that is not normal is weird.  
in the beginning everything was sold, and developed for average people but the trend today is to capture the wierd.  the wierd is the new normal.  these are people who choose to be wierd. 
 you have to think out of the box and consider to cater to the wierd.  the internet has changed the way we do business.  we connect to one, two and many. 
Seth is correct.  The Internet has opened so many doors and made it easier for many to begin their own business.  They cater to everyone normal, weird and other.  the idea is to reach as many people as you can to make the money to expand your business.  The enternet has opened those doors but the customers are not labeled as weird.  They are younger and this is a new era.  The electronic age has created more choices.   Patricia Garcia, Miami

An admirer of Seth Godin and his Domino Project, I looked forward to this read.  But each time I picked it up after a long day of work, I couldn’t connect to…the weirdness.  By the first time I went to pick it up, I couldn’t find the book any where in our small apartment.  That should tell you something.  If I find it in the next 24 hours, I’ll try to finish and send you some more thoughts.   Ann Davison, Washington, DC

The world goes full circle.  Seth Godin remarks that before the Factories and Mass Production, there were small tribes and communities where everything was nearby.  Mass has allowed us to expand beyond those small communities.
Mass has it's pro's and con's. However in today's world of the Internet, close by could be China.  If you look at today's businesses you will see a lot of "home Internet based businesses" and people are making a decent to very abundant income.
Seth Godin, is on target and his book should be an eye opener for the world.  Entrepreneur businesses are on the rise. Sharon Wilson

I loved that both books were small (each can be read entirely on a short flight), but filled with great information.Although I enjoy reading and hearing anything Seth Godin has to say, I was left with wanting more information about how to apply what he was telling us in our own businesses. I would recommend this book to anyone responsible for defining the marketing strategy for their company and wanting to understand the characteristics of today’s marketplace, but without the expectation of anything more than that.  Elena Suarez, Miami

How nice to receive both books at the same time!  I’m a semi-entrepreneur, and I could see the same mind-think with both Godin and Siver.
Heck!  I’ve KNOWN I’ve been weird (I.e., not in that bell-curve 68% of the population) in a lot of things, and Seth Godin’s book had me re-affirming and CELEBRATING the fact!  Pretty “weird” of Godin to have a book cover that looked just as good inside-out, too!
Derek Sivers reiterates info I’d read many years ago – “Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow” (Marsha Sinetar, 1987, Dell Publishing).  I gravitated toward education, and the money never DID follow – but then again, I’m only in my mid-60’s now…  and who knows WHAT the future will bring.   Main thing is, as both authors stressed, to love what you’re doing, and not to be afraid to take chances along the way.
Lastly, this is my first experience with the Domino Project, powered by Amazon.  I’ll be checking out their website for more updates. Betty G Hubschman, Miramar, FL

I’ve never read a Seth Godin book that I didn’t like and WeAre All Weird is no exception. In fact, I think this small, easy-to-read,easy-to-explain-to-others book is one of his best. Godin explains thedifference between marketing (and selling) to the masses versus marketing andselling to the fringes—or, to use his term, to the weird. Throughout the book,Godin gives examples of how and why being “weird” is good and how “weirdness”equates with “happiness.” As he states, “…researchers report that the abilityto be weird, the freedom to make choices, and the ability to be heard are thefactors most highly correlated with happiness around the world.” I feel likehis book has given me to okay to be weird and learn how to get weirder. Susan Taslimi, Parkland

It’s been 20 years since the philosophy espoused by Seth appeared on my radar screen. I was happy that someone had begun to justify my actions as a manager! No one has written about weird as well as Seth. Almost all of the ideas can be applied to any human activity. One caution, though, is that if the weirdness reflects destructive deviance a person or tribe ought to think differently about their supposed contribution. The other thing worth cautioning about is that when a tribe has adopted something they have actually created a “new” normal even if the tribe is only a few thousand people. The small numbers may make them feel weird, but their togetherness will reflect common expectations. I love weird because it shows that there is growth around us which is a good sign for us.
Kudos to Seth and Sivers. Quick reads with lots to act upon. Bob Preziosi, Davie Florida

I've read a few of Seth Godin's book and they seem to have one thing in common: he's masterful at taking something right under our noses, analyzing it, extrapolating it across a broader horizon and then creating a context for that which we'd never before questioned. It's a gift, really. He's prescient and extremely convincing, yet once I read his books, I can hardly remember any details. Perhaps that's because the author's presentation of ideas is so seamless that I fully digest and incorporate them into my thought pattern and they immediately become the fabric of my new outlook. Part of his mastery with language is that the paradigm shift happens without the reader feeling like he/she is getting a lesson. His writing method is instructive, but not didactic. Godin instead takes the reader along with his thought process so how he arrived at his conclusion is clearly understood. One way he does this is by explaining the various markets: mass; normal; weird and rich and then uses simple, yet profound examples to drive a point home: weird in one place does not make for weird in another: being a vegetarian in Kansas is weird, but not in Mombai.
Godin's book is a testament in defense of weird and is a diatribe against marketers forcing everyone into a "universal normal merely to sell junk to the masses." Most of us have never questioned the mass market because there was no real alternative before the Internet. I like his seemingly simple approach. This quote sums up "We are All Weird's" message: "The challenge of your future is to do productive and useful work for and by and with the tribe that cares about you." Kathy Doran, Miami

Godin's latest book delivered good concise insight into the changes business, marketing, and society is currently undertaking. 
Good read for a short flight, wish it had a little more material. J. Reynolds, Fort Lauderdale


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