Book Review: The Age of The Customer: Prepare For the Moment of Relevance by Jim Blasingame


AgeOfTheCustomer_4b-300x300I was prepared not to care much for Jim Blasingame …

I think to myself:  Here is another opinionated, contrarily-minded, “expert” who’s going to tell me how things have changed and are changing, and then sell me his approach to how to successfully navigate that change … like he knows all there is we need to know … just like all the other authors in the leadership and business genre.

Pleasant Surprises:  

Yes, Jim is opinionated … but he backs up his opinions and they become well-thought out positions.

Yes, Jim is contrary .. . but not really.  He IS independently minded and does not suffer fools, fads, or fiction easily.

Yes, he is an “expert”, but you can remove the quotation marks, because he truly knows what he is talking about.

In all honesty, I am still reading this book, but the general idea is that the focus (and the power) is shifting from the seller to the customer.  Our brave new world of technology and connection has leveled the playing field a bunch and we are no longer dominated by a few mega-corporations.

This is good news for the little and medium-sized guys … not so good news for those who labor in mega-corporations

He also talks about the “moment of relevance” and how a small business can prepare to take advantage of this critical point and he does so clearly and with solid thinking.

Being a little bit contrary myself, I read Chapter 17 first … the title of “Social Media: A Rose by Any Other Name” caught my attention, since I spend much time in the social media environment.    Several things about this chapter make it an important one and a good choice for your start:

1)  Jim devotes the first paragraph to a self-description which provides a context for understanding his comments much  better.

2)  Whether we are comfortable with the idea or not, social media is going to continue to play a significant role in our shared future.

3)  Jim displays a common-sense and balanced approach to how we use social media.  This is way beyond the “You need a Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and a Facebook page” level of coaching that is the norm these days for social media usage.

Jim’s observations and suggestions for how you, as a small business,  approach your social media presence and use are solidly anchored in what makes good business sense. 

Read this book, follow Jim’s advice, and your small business will be ready for your moments of relevance.

Enjoying reading a book I thought I would not enjoy in the Heartland ….

John

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Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship, and was ranked as the #1 small business expert in the world by Google. President and founder of Small Business Network, Inc., Jim is the creator and award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, nationally syndicated since 1997. As a high-energy keynote speaker, Jim talks to small business audiences about how to compete in the 21st century global marketplace, and he talks with large companies about how to speak small business as a second language. A syndicated columnist and the author of three books, including Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success, which have sold almost 100,000 copies combined; his third book, The Age of the CustomerTM, will be launching on January 27, 2014.

Disclaimer:  A copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes … and I am very happy that this happened, because I otherwise might not have been exposed to Jim and his thinking about how to move ahead.

Leadership Heartbeats …


heart-of-L-4b-preorderMark Miller has done it again …

In his fourth book, Mark continues to chip away at my aversion to narrative leadership development by using realistic scenarios, dialogue that sounds like people actually talking, and by communicating a clear message that resonates with me.

Anyone who cares about their personal leadership ability or who is responsible for the leadership development of others, will find much of value in this little fable.

The Heart of Leadership is a slender book, but one packed with thoughtful and research-based observations about the characteristics and attitudes that make someone a superlative leader. As the subtitle suggests, the best leaders have followers who are with them voluntarily and enthusiastically.

I won’t spoil the message by listing either the five core attributes or any of the many highly quotable points made by Mark as he spins a tale of a young leader who has lost his way. You can find those gems for yourself

Somewhat channeling Mitch Albom, Miller’s hero seeks guidance from an older and wiser person, who directs him to five people who each share part of what he needs to learn about being an effective leader … a leader with heart.

“Heart” may sound rather squishy, but Mark’s concept of effective leadership is anything but … this is solid and useful leadership thinking.

Perhaps the most intriguing person in the book is the hero’s father, who we never meet directly, since he dies before the start of the book. Regardless, his influence is everywhere,in every key character, and in the message of this little gem of a leadership development tool.

Buy it, read it, reflect on it, share it, discuss it … Once you crack the cover and start reading, you cannot fail to learn and grow as a leader  … promise.

Leadership development is a crowded field and many ideas and perceptions compete for our attention … Mark Miller is one of the few who should not have to.

Enjoying the book, the author, and the attitude in the Heartland ….

John

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Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

Related Articles:

Why Leaders Won’t Lead – Dan Rockwell post


Solving 15 Reasons Leaders Won’t Lead.

Dan Rockwell provides thoughtful commentary in a straight-forward style about an important aspect of the leadership puzzle.

The reasons vary, but all are solid and experience-based.

Here’s one valuable little nugget to whet your appetite from this excellent post:

“Causes illuminate cures. Determine why your people aren’t performing and work toward enabling them.”

Good stuff from a master leadership developer.

Healing in the Heartland …

John

Don’t Fire ~ Fix!


“You can help catapult someone’s career instead of paralyze it. Helping them excel in a different environment if they don’t fit yours is a gift of a real leader.”

–Kelly Van Gogh

This quote made me think.

Just finished reading several articles by “famous” leadership and management folk, all of whom espoused the hard-core approach of “Cut the Weak Performers Out of the Herd”.

This approach is described in many ways, but always seems to boils down to these principles:

1)  SELECTION OF THE FITTEST

Only hire the absolute best person for the position.    Nothing wrong with this approach, except it does not reflect reality.

The best person doesn’t apply for your open position

Your open position is not the best job out there

You ain’t the best person to work for. Continue reading

To Have or Not To Have . . . is not the Question


“We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack.”

Arthur Schopenhauer speaks the truth to us all.  For a dour old German, he did have a certain clarity of thought.

Why do you suppose we focus on the lacks in our lives and not on the needs which are being met?

Problems scream for attention and answers; Needs met do not demand anything, but are quietly comforting.

Both problem-based and solution-based processes have this in common:  both
are couched in terms of what is wrong or what we do not have.  Legitimate
approaches in some cases,especially when the “wolf is at the door”, but maybe
not the best strategies for real growth.

Focusing on lacks helps us plug the gaps or fill the needs.  Filling the gaps is not equal to growth, just repair and replacement. 

Filling gaps simply maintains the system.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI), appears to be an effective and positive way to name what is working, what is generating energy, what will drive growth.

Psychologically, this approach makes a lot of sense.

A project failed.  An employee did not work out.  A day went south.   As we gather to kick the ashes of our problem around, the emphasis is usually on two questions:

What went wrong?

What do we do differently next time?

Nothing wrong with these questions – they are important and need asking.  However, they give me little energy for the future.  A focus on these three questions might turn out a little better:

What went right?

What do we continue to do because it is working?

What else do we need to do?

AI use in organizations has been described  thusly:” . . .  a healthier, more generative framework for developing relationships that make community meaningful.” (Conkright , 2011)

. . . and it all starts with appreciating what we have:).

Smiling to myself as I appreciate my strengths in the Heartland . . .

John

References:

Conkright, Todd A. (2011).  Improving Performance and Organizational Value Through a Virtual Appreciative Inquiry Summit.  Performance Improvement, 50(6), 32.