Tag: books

What are you reading?

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This is a question I often ask people I meet in my professional life.

The reason for this is both curiosity but also to gauge how serious they are about what they do.

Studies on human cognition and the impact on media multitasking show that we just aren’t very good at processing information simultaneously (or near simultaneously) from multiple sources. Social media, it turns out, is not the best way to learn and if you want to take your professional development seriously you need to be reading.

It’s ok to be unplugged

Anyone who has spent much time with me or caught a glimpse of my desk will know I am perhaps one of the biggest culprits of this. Plugged in from the moment I wake up to when I power down at night, I am fed a constant stream of information from Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, RSS feeds and email to name but a few sources. Worse still, most of this content – like  this blog and Twitter’s 140 character nuggets – is created for snacking: bite-sized chunks of information to be grabbed at short intervals throughout the day.

While I must admit to a perverse sense of satisfaction in feeling up-to-date with everything that’s going on in my industry, the trouble is that it’s often misplaced. Studies show that this behaviour generally leads to an endless cycle of seeking out new stuff rather than taking the time to think about old stuff.

The very nature of snackable content means that these thoughts often end up living in isolation with little hope of being integrated into our overall understanding of a topic let alone something we could hope to effectively execute. If all you are doing is reading blogs and listening to podcasts, you probably will know a lot, but whether you can put it all together is another issue entirely.

Get back to basics

This is where reading comes into it.

Blogs and podcasts are a great way to stay abreast of new trends, but when I truly want to strengthen the foundations and integrate my thinking, I’ll pick up (or download) a book and read.

In my case, there is no better way for me to synthesise all the information I collect throughout the day then by undertaking further, in-depth study. Not only is it an opportunity to dig a bit deeper then a typical blog (Brian Solis, excepting), but it helps clarify my thoughts and allows me to better see how seemingly abstract concepts all relate to each other; a kind of spatial awareness, if you will. To use a basketball reference, it’s like watching Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, where their superior basketball IQ and vision meant they instinctively knew where everyone was on the court and could make the most ridiculous plays.

So next time you’re sitting on the couch or on the bus about to check your Google Reader or Twitter stream, why not try reading a book instead and seeing if this gives you a better perspective?

P.S. If you’re looking for a book, why not check out my Amazon recommended list in the sidebar [Disclosure: I’m an affiliate], otherwise here are two that I’m currently reading: The Dragonfly Effect and Content Rules.


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Holiday Reading List 2009

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Amidst the chaos leading up to the holiday break, I thought I’d sneak in this quick post.

Aside from spending time with family and friends (not to mention spoiling my son rotten), one thing I’m really looking forward to these holidays is settling in for some R&R to rejuvenate, consolidate and build on my thinking for 2010 by catching up on some reading.

Call me old-fashioned, but while blogs and podcasts are an integral part of my daily life, there’s still no better way to really wrap your head around a topic than reading a book. To that end, here are a few I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth in these holidays:

  1. Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
    No one is more passionate about what they do than Gary Vee. He’s the guy who turned his passion for wine into a multi-million dollar enterprise by harnessing the power of social media and engaging his community.
  2. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman
    Picked this up a few months back. Erik Qualman is the guy behind the Social Media Revolution video set to the tune of Fat Boy Slim’s Right Here Right Now. That video has gone on to be a staple of my presentations so I have high hopes for his books.
  3. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik
    Google’s Analytics Evangelist’s latest book on why in this new age of marketing, it’s not enough to have a gut feeling about your customers. The web has given us access to so much data and knowledge about our customers. We need to figure out how to use it.
  4. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
    One that slipped through the cracks. I’m a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and I’ve been hanging out to read this for awhile. Mitch Joel calls him a rock star, and you won’t get any arguments from me.
  5. The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition
    Another one that slipped through (albeit 10 years ago). I’ve heard so much about it but never actually got around to reading it.
  6. Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur by Pamela Slim
    Recommended by Seth Godin. Enough said.

And if you’re still looking for more to read on the digital marketing side of things, make sure you check out Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel and Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. I’ve just finished these and they are great primer for any marketer thinking about getting started or even those well immersed in the digital space.

Happy holidays!

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