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Be More Kid.

Be More Kid.

“Be More Kid” is one of those books that fully lives up the title. It’s what I expected and it does it very well. We each have, of course, our own experience of childhood, we lived through it after all, and yet the book reminded me of how much I had forgotten about that time. Perhaps you have too.

The Book

“Be More Kid” is well-written and thought-provoking. It challenges us to embrace our inner child and live life to the fullest, and with joy. (Given that the last section of my book “Intentional Mastery’ is titled “Mastering Joy”, this was music to my ears.)

The authors, Ed James, Mark Taylor and Nicky Taylor, have a unique writing style that is both entertaining and informative. Throughout the book, they provide practical tips and exercises that help the reader rediscover their playful side and bring joy and happiness into their daily lives.

The main themes.

One of the key themes of the book is the importance of living in the moment. The authors encourage readers to put aside their worries and enjoy life as it is, just like children do. They also emphasise the importance of embracing individuality and pursuing passions, regardless of what others might think. It is a refreshing message that resonates, in my experience, with many adults, especially perhaps when they felt stuck in a rut. It’s refreshing to rediscover joy and purpose in life, in the ways the book identifies.

Another key aspect of “Be More Kid” is the focus on creativity. The authors stress the importance of tapping into our imagination and expressing ourselves in new and innovative ways. Whether it is through art, writing, music, or any other form of expression, the authors encourage readers to let their creativity flow and to be unafraid of experimentation. One example was about creating covers for workbooks, and drawing or sticking pictures to personalise them. I always find that ways to make things my own brings me joy; it may do so for you too. This section of the book is particularly inspiring and provides valuable insights into the benefits of embracing our creativity and imagination.

Tips and habit-forming actions.

The book is also filled with practical tips and exercises that are designed to help readers develop new habits and attitudes. For example, the authors provide suggestions for how to live in the moment and enjoy simple pleasures, such as playing with children, taking a walk in nature, or simply taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of the world around us. These practical tips are easy to follow.

In Summary.

Overall, “Be More Kid” is an excellent book that is filled with valuable insights and practical tips for living a more fulfilling life. Whether you are an adult who is feeling stuck in a rut, or simply looking for ways to bring more joy and happiness into your daily life, this book is an excellent resource. The authors’ writing style is engaging and entertaining, and their message is one that will resonate with anyone who is looking to rediscover their inner child. I highly recommend “Be More Kid” to anyone who is looking to make positive changes in their life and to anyone who is looking for a source of inspiration.

Content Fortress

Content Fortress

There are numerous books about content marketing. Some good, some not so much. I’ve read a few, and I endorse fewer, but this is one that I do recommend.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by not being able to get your message across to your potential clients – or you constantly find yourself working with the wrong type of clients – you need to read this book. It will help you to be seen as more of an expert in your field.

The book is easy to read, easy to navigate, and has a clarity of purpose that few equal. It addresses the need for business content in 8 ‘pillars’ – the foundations on which your ‘fortress’ is built – which will keep you safe from the wrong clients and only allow entry to the right ones.

The first two pillars: The push-me-pull-you of content

The first pillar is content designed to repel those for whom your product or service is not appropriate. Well-written, informative content will save businesses a lot of time, otherwise wasted, conversing with people who should be talking to other suppliers. The second pillar is its converse, content which attracts the people with whom you do want to work. Before I had finished these two sections, my notebook was groaning under the weight of ideas for content to support my mentoring and mastery business. Content that would clarify, and focus, the conversations I will have in 2023. Those content ideas alone made reading this book worthwhile.

Yet, there are six more pillars lining up to add more value.

The next two pillars: Sales and pricing

The next two pillars deal with areas that businesses are often reluctant to write about – sales and pricing. That’s usually because of two concerns: they fear the consequences of addressing pricing issues, and don’t want to be seen as sleazy salespeople. The book provides new insights that prompted a flurry of content ideas for me. By being honest about what you provide and clarifying the value of it by sharing insights and knowledge, you will stand out in your market. When your business provides this content well, customers want to work with you because they can see the expertise (or even mastery) you demonstrate. There are plenty of good examples to help guide your own approach in these two areas.

Pillars 5 and 6: Guiding and process content

Everyone benefits from good guidance when they are doing something new. Guiding content allows us to demonstrate what we know, and how that affects our clients. When I published my book, Intentional Mastery, I worked with a publisher. They produce content that is designed to de-mystify their market by clarifying the whole process of writing, publishing, distributing and marketing a book. They share information to educate and inform prospects who are thinking of working with them. Process content helps you to inform customers of the details of exactly what to expect as they work with your company. You know the areas of your business that you have to keep explaining to new clients. Providing guiding and process content means that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.

To finish: Culture and opinion

I enjoyed the stories in Content Fortress that highlighted the culture of the authors’ business. I felt that I understood them, as people, and how I would enjoy a conversation with them. That’s the aim of the culture and opinion content. The book makes a good point though – it has to be genuine. If you describe a culture that people cannot see, then you describe a business they won’t want to work with. That takes us neatly to opinion content. Your opinions also make you who you are. It’s okay to be controversial, but not for the sake of controversy. Take a stand and stand by it.

The benefit of reading Content Fortress

It’s the very end of 2022 when I am penning this review. It’s a time of year when I plan my content for the next few months. One of those times when it can be difficult to identify the gaps and shortcomings in the content I already have. Not this year. Not after reading this book. By the end of the book, I have content planned in each of the eight pillars. Twenty-six titles with more brewing. I had better get writing!

The niggles

While the content demonstrates expertise, a few minor frustrations leave the book short of mastery. The copy I received was a self-published, print-on-demand book from Amazon. It deserves to be better. There are some typographical errors, even on the cover, and grammatical elements that jar. The paper and the curling cover aren’t the same quality as the content. These are minor issues, but they do detract from an otherwise powerful work.

That said, this is a book that has great value and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is responsible for the content that their business creates, in order to communicate with their customers and prospects.

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox

The Goal is a different style of business book, it is written as a story. A story of a man called Alex Rogo. His challenge in an engineering factory that is struggling to be profitable and is given an ultimatum by its parent company. Alex Rogo’s challenge is to deeply understand the causes of the issue within his factory but at the same time, the story weaves in the impact on his personal life, and to those he loves. Insight comes when hiking with his children to illustrate the key aspects of the problem.

Eli Goldratt, one of the co-authors of this book use the style to explore his Theory of Constraints in business. When I started the book, I was unsure whether the challenges of a failing engineering factory would provide many lessons to a small one-person service business like my own. Those fears were completely unfounded. Although the context of bottlenecks around machinery, that cause both buildup of inventory and ultimately loss of profits is on the surface rather unlike a service business there are corollaries that are worthy of thought.

In the engineering factory, the bottlenecks are in one or two places in the manufacturing process. Other processes, that are not bottlenecks, continue to produce sub-assemblies faster than the bottleneck can handle them. The impact of that is build up an inventory of part-produced products. The consequence of having additional inventory is increased costs for the raw materials and the cost of storage. That reduces profit.

One of the early lessons if the goal is to understand what the goal of the business truly is, and whilst making profits is an outcome, it is not the goal. Being efficient and effective stands out. As I read I thought about the equivalent context of a small business, particularly in a service industry, where inventory is not obvious, yet such businesses do have inventory.

Websites that have pages that are rarely visited yet still need to be maintained. We have knowledge and skill that we acquire and hone but rarely use with our clients. We have bottlenecks, areas of our business where we struggle to find the time to complete the work and find backlogs and a multitude of things waiting to be done. These things are perhaps less obvious, we cannot stack them on shelves. They may be easier to ignore, than a pile of half manufactured parts in the gangway, yet they still affect the profitability of our businesses.

In the later chapters of the book, as the problems around having bottlenecks are resolved, other impacts start to appear, not least, that the throughput of possible business, given the capacity of the factory, is increased by addressing the issue the bottlenecks cause. The result of effective processing is a need to increase the sales so that that capacity can be used profitably.

This gave me pause to think about how a small service business might increase capacity, perhaps by moving from one to one products to group products. If it were to choose to do so it would also have to ramp up its sales capability to speak to more people to win more clients to feed the extra capacity.

One aspect of the book that I did enjoy is how it shows that the issues that the business described in the book had, are deeply interconnected. Addressing aspects of the manufacturing process causes a need for sales to change their approach, changes in the sales approach mean changes in the prioritisation of work and so on. This is the real lesson for small businesses like mine, and, probably, like yours. Change needs to be strategic, with a clear goal in mind and a focus on that goal as the changes and the impact they have are implemented. Those lessons are universal in business and yet often forgotten.

The Goal is now quite an old book. The first edition was published in 1984. Its age shows in some areas, being built around the challenges of a factory in 1984, where computers, automation and robotics were in their very early stages of development. Much of the work was manual compared to today’s factories where the descriptions of the work would be almost unrecognisable. Yet, it seems to me that the lessons held within this book remain true.

Though this is an easy book to read, partly because the story becomes quite a page-turner through the middle section of the book. I felt both the start and the end were somewhat contrived, in order to fit the telling of a story into the bulk of the middle of the book. It remains effective despite that and does still convey the lessons that we can apply today.
In summary, I think the goal provides a good holiday read for business owners, who would like some light relief while still thinking about and seeking to improve the ability of their business. In that context, this is a good read.

The Advice Trap by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Advice Trap by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Advice Trap is a book about giving (less) advice, in which the irony of writing a book that offers lots of advice about giving less is not lost on its author – Michael Bungay Stanier. It describes itself as a book to “give you the tools to make curiosity an everyday leadership behaviour” and which “will convince you exactly why saying less and asking more matters” I think it achieves both well. 

It’s also a book that dovetails into other books that we have read in the Building Better Business Bookclub such as More Time to Think by Nancy Klein and Atomic Habits by James Clear  Indeed, I think that having read those other fantastic works I can see how to add further value to Stanier’s work. We’ll return to that throughout the review. 

In part one of this book Stanier discusses how to tame your ‘Advice Monster’ – something that comes in three guises ‘Tell-it, Control-it and Save-it’ and he provides a link to a short online questionnaire to help readers identify which monster is most prevalent for them. He also identifies the difference between hard change and easy change. Easy change is solution-based, where our experience and skills lead us to see what is needed and to do it, hard change is where the change is more about how we approach things generally, where we don’t (yet) have the relevant skills and experience, an operating system if you like. I think these map to parts of the Journey to Mastery, easy change is the learning of practical skill and once learned you are a Practitioner, hard change is what takes you to Expert or Master of your art.

The bulk of the book lies in the 10 chapters of part 2 under the overarching heading of ‘Stay Curious Longer’. From a personal point of view, I view that as a good mantra for life generally. I agree. A further point that Stainer makes, with which I also agree, is that we are better at having a coaching mindset all of the time, in all of the work we do; not just in a session with another. It’s here that he provides a deceptively simple yet significantly powerful set of questions to use. These questions naturally create and develop a level of curiosity that works in most situations. 

  1. What is on your mind?
  2. …and what else?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. If you are saying “Yes” to this, what must you say “No” to?
  6. How can I help?
  7. What was most useful or valuable here for you?

These are powerful questions that also need skill, empathy, care, experience and talent to ask in a genuine and effective way. Most of this second section provides insights into the ways that we can all hone our ability to ask them. I was struck by how the first three align with the questions used in a Thinking Partnership based on Kline’s work. The second question, for me, has the most risk of failing. In this form (what else?) it asks the other person to change the direction of their thinking to new areas. By asking ‘and what more?’ instead leads the other person to dig deeper into what they have been discussing. Both are needed depending on the circumstance. 

The third question is one that, in my experience, opens up real insight. As Stanier opines in the book it is being curious about the challenge (from the other person’s point of view) that opens up insight. That insight is often the difference between offering powerful impactful advice and advice which fails to make an impact. 

One of the things that I find most delightful about this book is the reminder that we all need to be humble. Never assume that we know what the issue really is until we have exhausted our curiosity about the issue. Understanding comes from deep within, and often the understanding comes long after the recognition of the existence of the challenge. Working with a partner who is curious to understand will unlock new insight that would be lost without the right questions to explore them. The book is a great reminder that curiosity opens doors that advice alone will ignore or omit. The advice we offer can only be much improved as a result.

In Part 3 Stanier invites us to Master the habits – music to my ears – with four principles that always apply. Firstly, being generous, generous with your time, with your transparency, with your curiosity, your silence, and your appreciation. Secondly, being vulnerable, by sharing your own fears, mistakes and concerns. Also, by proactively seeking out the feedback and insights that will help you to improve your own work (scary huh!). Both of these things build strong and close, trusting relationships. Thirdly, be a student, and be open to learning at every step of the way. Finally, when all those are done, it is time to be an Advice Giver, but in that role, make sure you do it well.  If you’ve read the book, applied its principles and reflected on the learning you will get then Stainer makes that easier.

I liked the way this book is structured, the opportunities to add reflections as you go, and the links to resources online. It is a book I will refer back to often and if you have not yet read it, I recommend it, it is a powerful book for all business people.

About the Author:

Michael Bungay Stainer is also the author of “The Coaching Habit” and the founder of “Box of Crayons” a learning and development company. He is a speaker who has appeared nude on stage (more on that experience in the book). He is a Rhodes Scholar, and the first Canadian “Coach of the year” You can learn more about him at MBS.works

Neuro-Sell by Simon Hazeldine

Neuro-Sell by Simon Hazeldine

Simon Hazeldine’s book Neuro-Sell is a guide to many aspects of how your customers and prospects are both thinking and feeling during the sales process. Simon starts the book by acknowledging that he is not a neuro scientist, but does draw upon neuro science research throughout the book.

The book goes on to discuss the whole buying process and how the brain is involved in making decisions around whether to buy or not, and encourages us all to consider how we adapt our approach as part of the sales process. We were introduced to the PRISM model of human behaviour and for purchasers of the book, were given the opportunity to take a PRISM assessment. This assessment defines four categories (assigned with colours) that indicate our preferred style of working. It is then possible to observe, classify and adapt our approach as we work with customers whose styles may be, or may not be, aligned to our own.

As I worked through the book I found that understanding my own profile from PRISM helped me to recognise many of the sales stages and the different ways customers might react to my approach. That gave context to why some sales approaches were more comfortable and successful than others from a neurological, brain centred approach. This is, I think, the crux of what Simon is asking us to consider through this book. By creating a better understanding of the neurological processes I could gain a better understanding of the experiences that buyers might be having. That provided me with the opportunity to consider some aspects of the sales process in my business and adapt it for the future.

I think if you are an experienced salesperson, the middle chapters of the book that discussed the five phases of the brain-friendly process Simon advocates might be familiar to you. Perhaps not the neuro-science but in the sense of the process being followed. However, I think if one was to read them with perceptions of your buyer in mind, there are insights here which will significantly impact the manner in which you approach some aspects of sales. 

In chapter 13, Simon digs under some more brain-friendly selling approaches and for example describes the importance of primacy and recency in the sales process. That reminder encourages us to think about how we structure meetings and presentations and how we would design documents and proposals to maximize their likely impact. Simon also talks about non verbal communication and the importance of understanding the body language of the buyer. Indeed, both he and I would agree that there is much that is made clear by the body language of buyers. It can alert us to their concerns, or enthusiasms, their nervousness or their excitement. If we are alert to this information and use it to our advantage, then we can more often accelerate a decision and maximize the opportunity of a decision being made in your favour.

For me, I think chapter 15, about negotiation, was one of the more significant chapters. Simon highlights that many, perhaps most salespeople, are not good at negotiating in the first place and separates the skills of selling and negotiating successfully. This is a key conclusion from the book, they are different skills and they need to be honed separately. Of course they can, and are, often done by different people in the largest organisations because they require mastery of those different skills. 

In the context of negotiation, Simon highlights that it is important to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable at times and discusses different styles of negotiators as well as different stages of negotiation. Of course, this is not a book on negotiation in its entirety. However, I think he has highlighted some very important elements of the negotiation process. By linking back to the different PRISM colours it’s possible to map across how best to negotiate with a buyer whose sales approach has been successfully identified.

Simon highlights in his conclusion that the book is intended to be a practical tool to be used by taking and applying it in areas of your sales process in order to maximize the impact that they will have. The book is well referenced with appropriate scientific work relevant to its contents and provides a significant list of further reading.

If you are involved in selling – if you’re in business at all then you are involved in selling, then I’d recommend reading this book and applying its principles. See the impact that they will have for you. Both Simon and I would be interested in hearing how effective it has been for you.

About the Author
Simon Hazeldine is an established professional speaker, a fellow of the Professional Speaking Association, a sales trainer who has been involved with organisations assisting their sales teams. Simon’s understanding of how to build a strong reputation as an effective salesperson is second to none. He takes great pride in his skill and great enjoyment from making sales effective and rewarding for everyone involved.

A Buzz in the Building by Kate Mercer

A Buzz in the Building by Kate Mercer

This is a book for anyone thinking about, or in the midst of, building a business, a business team or working with others. I found the structure of this book to be really useful. Kate has written 10 chapters (and a conclusion). Each of the 10 chapters is written to a particular and consistent style, which makes the book easy to navigate. The opening of each chapter provides context, and then identifies the causes of the issues she describes. Giving us insights into the prevailing mindset that exists in organisations, generally, followed by a suggestion of a more productive mindset enables us to understand more about the causes and solutions, some of which can be counter-intuitive. After all, if they were intuitive then businesses would self correct, and they don’t. The chapters go on to discuss discussion how that alternative mindset might apply and what the impact of doing so would be.

The structure makes this an easy book to read, but the content and the value of it, is more powerful than that rather simplistic description implies.

In the 10 chapters, Kate discusses the nature of organisation starting out by using an effective analogy of a beehive. She correctly identifies that we all have a role to play in creating a healthy and thriving hive. She addresses the reality that the hierarchies and structures within organisations are both important to the operation, and yet they do, and must, change as the organisation and its environment change. 

In my own work with businesses. I’ve seen many struggle at various points in their growth cycles. Typically this is where the organisational structures needed to change, but the levels of inertia and pressure to retain the status quo can, and do, hold back development. 

In one chapter the important interplay between business performance and individual development is discussed in detail along with how those two things need to be kept in harmony. That raised a small cheer from me, as this is so often overlooked. For many business owners as the organisation develops, the goals, personal and organisational, change from one of expert at doing, to mastering leadership and the different styles that requires.

In my own work I believe that this change is what happens when somebody who is good at what they do, a “practitioner” develops their individual skill and expertise and becomes recognised as an expert in their field. At that stage, they will continue to do most of their work delivering the product or service of the business. It’s not enough. As they muster and gain the wisdom and insight that is needed to understand all aspects of their business then they must take a leadership role. In that role they will develop others to deliver whilst they can increasingly focus on building better business.

A Buzz in the Building moves on to talk about how individuals must stand back from the day-to-day work and start looking out for where the organisation needs tweaking, working on the business, not in it. I think this is a critical element, and one worthy of study and the time and effort to hone the skills and deliver great work. Anyone seeking to run a business with others, employees perhaps, or with associates and outsourced partners, has to be competent to survive and expert to succeed.

It’s this leadership that is needed is that the crux of the strategy of every business that excels. After all, strategy without leadership is just so many good ideas. Strategy without leadership rarely delivers any real value. The author recognises this wholeheartedly but from a very practical point of view. The book also looks at a real challenge that most leaders face of having to change the nature of their relationship with those, with whom they work. We’re all in this together gradually evolves to have a hierarchy, and works better because of it. Nobody can be the leader of an organisation, a boss, and a friend and peer. These roles are incompatible and over the years I’ve seen those who try to be both fail to be either, over and over. I’ve tried it too, it’s not pretty. 

Yet for most businesses, the people holding those roles will have been peers, they will have been friends. Now they need to find a new way to structure the relationship. Here I think the book provides a great case study, and some thought provoking ideas.

The final three areas of business leadership that the book addresses are, I think, vital in any organisation, setting the (right) culture, being more self-aware of your personal impact, and adapting your style at the right time for the situation. These three things are, in my opinion, critical to any business, and these chapters are worthy of re-reading regularly. 

It really doesn’t matter whether you’re intending to build a larger organisation with more employees than you can possibly imagine, or a lifestyle business with just yourself directly employed. We all have teams, employees, suppliers, associates, partners, who provide the services that the business needs. The culture that you’re creating for yourself, your own style and approach, and how you are seen by others, customers, or the market generally are all critical to success. 

This is a book which I think sets a great foundation for the key elements of running any successful, exciting, business. Regardless of who you are, regardless of the size of your business (either now, or that it will become) understanding how to create a buzz in your building will make a difference. That is something we should all seek to do. 

Let’s get Buzzing.

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron has been a fascinating read for me. In fact, it’s far more than a read, because each chapter of the book concludes with a writing exercise. Julia’s chapters are all short which makes it very easy to read a chapter every day and to undertake the exercise which varies between a few minutes to an hour or so.  

The exercises are highly varied and for a number, I read the exercise and wondered if I would even be able to undertake it. They stretch you.  Yet the discipline of pulling out a pen and a pad of paper for an undertaking, even when one isn’t sure about whether one has any quality content to provide to that exercise, has proved to be enlightening, and profound. 

I recall one exercise that asked me to leave the house and find an external place to write somewhere pleasant. Julia suggested a church or a library but I chose a bench on a high spot overlooking a valley. It was a sunny day, although not particularly warm and I was wearing my red skiing jacket. I noticed how the fabric, which kept the chill wind from me, would rustle gently as I wrote. It was extraordinary how much attention the act of writing facilitated my awareness of my surroundings on that day, and that was part of the purpose of Julia’s well-designed approach. The cool breeze on my cheek and the sound of birdsong in my ears encouraged me to progress with the exercise.  I was asked to list 50 things that I was proud of from the small to the large. I recall as my pen hovered over the first line how uncertain I was that I could even think of five things let alone fifty. “This may take some time,” I thought, but I was wrong. As the ink flowed gently from the nib of my precious fountain pen, I found one thing lead to another and to another and to another. With only the briefest of pauses when I had to think some more, another flow of recognition came to mind. At the end of the exercise, I reflected on how changed I felt. There are many things to be proud of, some of which I had done, many I had enabled to be done. Many days were shaped by that. Many more will be.

In another chapter about honesty, Julia opines that “when we get cold feet about the truth, our prose goes cold as well” and I have seen that in my writing too. Have you? Her exercise helps to unlock some areas where we are perhaps not being honest with ourselves. She proposes using language to start our thinking and our writing which enables us to express things in a more honest way, for example, “If it weren’t so threatening I’d admit …” I found that reflecting in this way opened many opportunities for self-honesty, and always, in the end, that changes who you are, for the better.

Later in the book, Julia suggests a “sound initiation”. She asks us to sit very still and very quietly and focus on the sounds that we’re surrounded by. The multitude of them and their richness, and the attention attunes the mind to sound. I found it a gentle and powerful meditation.  The next part of the exercise was to write whilst listening to a piece of music that we find urges us to be adventurous (she chose “Chariots of Fire” – I chose Elgar’s cello concerto in E Minor) and then to write our vision of the world as we want it to be.

These are not just random exercises asking you to write for the sake of writing these are structured exercises designed to expand your ability to write and the manner in which you choose words and phrases . They go further; this book invites us to examine ourselves through our writing; to examine who we are and why we think as we do. When we do that it changes our vision of ourselves. It has changed me in ways in which I could not, and would not want to, return from 

This is not a book to read quickly; this is a book to absorb over time as you ”play” with the exercises, especially perhaps, those which do not at first glance excite or motivate you. In those exercises, I found great insight.

Has this book changed my writing? Well, I will leave that for you to decide. What I know it has done is shift my internal understanding of myself, and for the better.

Ignore everyone by Hugh MacLeod

Ignore everyone by Hugh MacLeod

I started this book in imagining that it would be a useful and imaginative romp through creativity. Hugh MacLeod had started life as a copywriter and started doodling on the backs of business cards while sitting in a bar. These simple cartoons and the medium on which they were drawn gradually took a life of their own. 

Communicating simple messages in a clear and concise way on a small piece of card MacLeod learned about his own creativity and ability to draw, he discovered an ability to communicate a simple idea and his pictures became his trademark. Over time, they were published in their own right, and he started to earn money from this work. He had not set out to do that. Over time, they created an income for him and he was able to give up working in a more traditional way. 

In essence, this book is a story about not giving up. It’s a story about following the things that you do well and enjoy, regardless of whether they can, at the time you are enjoying them, make you a living. It’s a story that clarifies that it is only by honing a skill, by developing, and exploring it, that we can discover if our unique talent. In his case for drawing simple cartoons on the back of business cards, is of value to others. In many ways it’s a story of niching; niching to a skill. It’s about creating understanding, by doing. 

Yet, underneath it all, I was disappointed by this book. I felt it failed to create a coherent narrative from cover to cover. Perhaps it was not intended to do that. For me, I felt it lost something from the rather disjointed nature of the chapters. Of course, I laughed at some of the cartoons and enjoyed the vignette stories. It has a simplicity that makes it easy to read, but did it make me ponder the nature of my creativity, and how to unlock more of that? Not for me. In the end, it was an interesting story about Hugh’s journey, the things that he had learned along the way, but it lacked the substance to give me insights I could use immediately to improve my own. 

The book was, and felt like, a collection of blog posts, rather than something applicable to any business. Yet, all that said, I didn’t feel that I’d wasted my time reading this book. It was enjoyable, and it certainly created (there’s an irony in that) a sense of fun and enjoyment. I ended the book, feeling like I had an understanding of the author and his journey, which is valuable in its own way. 

It was useful to read that he is adamant that if your plan depends on being “discovered” that it will probably fail. Things are made slowly and take time, and only at some point quite a long way down the line does it feel like they have suddenly gripped the world as a whole. MacLeod suggests not seeking to stand out from the crowd, but avoiding the crowd altogether. He makes the point that doing the same thing as hundreds or 1,000s of others means waiting for a miracle for you to be chosen. If you look for something that nobody else is doing then you will always be found when people are looking for that thing. That, of course, is hard. The one message I will take that will stick, I think, is his view of the sovereignty that we have over the work that we do, it is ours, we own it, and that we should make it truly ours, undeniably our own. We should make it so that nobody else could ever own it. After all, nobody else could now draw cartoons on the back of business cards in the way that Hugh McLeod does, and take away from his recognition and skill. 

The book is quick read, and despite my minor disappointments the time to read it was well spent.