mindfireBook review: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds – Scott Berkun.

This eclectic series of short essays discusses ideas, questions and concepts that make you think. Sometimes he challenges conventional thinking (why being a follower can be good), and other times he just questions our actions (should you pray for your team to win), there is some advice. And the rest of the time it is just plain interesting.

If you are looking for new ideas, or to find a different take on old idea, you will enjoy this book. As a Toastmasters, there are some great ideas for your next speech.

Some of the ideas discussed are:

  • The cult of busy
  • Why you must lead or follow
  • The size of ideas
  • How to keep your mouth shut

Many of the essay’s are on Scott’s website, so you can check them out before you buy the book.

http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/

This book is kind of a “Chicken Soup for the Philosophical Soul”, and gives you interesting ideas to consider, without being too complex or deep (most of the stories are only a page or two, but the could be expanded into longer essays or books). If I had to criticise, I would like to see some more depth to some of the articles, I feel that sometimes he is just touching the tip of some very complex idea.

But then to contradict myself, it is refreshing to read a chapter that gets my brain engaged, but is only a few hundred words long.

The entire book is just short of 200 pages, but I don’t think that I would read it cover to cover. For me it is a book that you jump into from time to time, find an interesting chapter and read it. They are the kind of chapters that you can re-read a few times.
You can buy the print or Kindle version from Amazon.com for just under $11.

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I am working with a large company in Cape Town on some web development. The total value of the project is in the millions of Rands.

Recently I contacted a potential vendor to set-up a meeting to discuss how they could assist and work on the project. They never responded to my  my requests. So we are not going to be working with them, and they have lost a potential huge customer and a lot of business.

I contacted three people to fix some damp in my house. One never got back to me, another quoted over 5 times the going rate for the job, and the other is finishing off the job today. This is while businesses are complaining about the “tough economy”.

Do you return messages? How much business have you lost because you did not get around to answering an email?

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Yesterday, I saw Ben Zander speaking in Cape Town. He and his wife Ros were here for the launch of the Alive With Possibility DVD, a DVD celebrating the possibility in South Africa. Ben is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and one of the most transformational speakers that I have ever heard.

He speaks about downward spiral thinking, and radiating possibility speaking, and leaves us with the challenge of looking for possibility in our thoughts and our actions. This is the third time that I have seen him, and every time is a transformational experience.

If you are in Johannesburg, there are still a few tickets available for Friday’s presentation. Speak to johleen@symphonia.net about tickets, or visit www.benjaminzander.com to find out more about Ben.

We are alive with Possibility

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Last week, I ordered a couple of cases of wine from Getwine.co.za. When the wine arrived, Getwine alse gave me a free 100g slab of Lindt chocolate. They didn’t tell me about it when I ordered, they didn’t tell me in the delivery note, the driver didn’t mention it.

It was just tucked quietly away inside one of the boxes. That is also not the first time they have done this.

  • How do you give unexpected gifts to your customers?
  • How do you keep your customers loyal?
  • What do you do to get your customers to tell everybody about your great service?
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Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey

Some tips I picked up from Gary (ex goal keeper for Manchester United) at our Toastmasters conference. Enjoy!

Manchester United:

  • Is a $1 billion business
  • Has 300 million customers
  • Delivers weekly to its customers

The principles of a good soccer team apply to business as well…

  • Be tough- learns to takes knocks
  • Build on gratitude
  • Appreciate staff and all those around you
  • Things go wrong for everybody at some time
  • It’s how you deal with life, not what happens to you that is important
  • Plan for the future
  • Don’t send emotional emails because there is no emotion in email
  • Make time for others
  • Raise your energy
    • Body; food & exercise
    • Spirit; helping others
    • Mind;
    • Emotions;
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Ali Bacher and ,me

Ali Bacher and ,me

Dr Ali Bacher spoke at our Toastmasters conference in May. Here are a few lessons from him.

  1. Return correspondence within 24 hours
  2. Brevity – 2 pages (both speaking and writing)
  3. Workplace structures are meaningless (my version is that titles are meaningless)
  4. Look after quality people that make it happen
  5. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys
  6. Keep your door open
  7. Promote performers
  8. Give responsibility to people you have confidence in
  9. Give small gestures of appreciation
  10. Be honest – never lie
  11. Never break your word
  12. Always settle out of court
  13. Never record your feelings at the time, wait until you have cooled down
  14. To learn respect, set the example
  15. Fly economy class with your staff!
  16. You have a responsibility to transfer your skills
  17. Things don’t just happen; be proactive
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Everyone Communicates, few Connect by John Maxwell

Published by Thomas Nelson

***look below for a free copy – contest closed

Many of us have intentions to read more self-development books, but by the end of the work-day we are simply too tired, so we end up in front of the TV or reading a light novel.

This book is one of those that you can pick up at the end of the day. It is filled with stories and anecdotes drawn from his own experience and from others; all of which illustrate the points that he is trying to make. The story telling style makes it easy reading; yet still a book of substance. This is typical of what I have come to expect from his other books. At 250 pages it is not a long read, but you can always go back to it again and again.

The main premise of the book is that while we spend a huge amount of time communicating, we are not necessarily making the right effective connections that are crucial to effective communication and leadership.

The book is divided into two main sections; principles and practices. It is self explanatory, but he gives a few simple principles on making better and effective connections, and then shows how to implement them.

The book is aimed at anybody wishing to make better connections; and could be applied in both your personal or business life. He gives simple tips at the end of chapter, divided into three main areas, namely one-on one, a group or an audience.

For the public speakers out there; some great tips (and affirmation of some things you already know), for those of you in corporate business, some tips on working with colleagues, in teams at or in a group environment, such as at meetings. And one-on one communication is important to us all.

An unusual feature of the book is that John Maxwell posted the manuscript of the book on his blog www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com, and he received over 100,000 view over eleven weeks, resulting in over 70 quotes, stories and anecdotes from readers which resulted in over 100 revisions. Every contributor is acknowledged in the book.

I am a fan of John Maxwell, so it is difficult to be unbiased, but as a communicator and public speaker, this is a great book, and it is going to help you to become even better.

It is available from Amazon in hardback for $17.15.

The folks at Thomas Nelson have kindly provided 5 free copies to readers. Leave you name in the comment section below, and I will randomly draw 5 names on 28 July who will each receive a copy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the (signed) review copy.

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Here is a brief extract from an interesting list of 10 things to never say to your customer. It is from”the amazing service guy”. How many of these have been said to you?

“We’d like to help, but it’s our company policy…”
“You’ll have to talk to the corporate office about that.”
“No one else has complained about…”

How many of them have you said yourself?

The full list is here.

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Heard in a presentation by (the other) Michael Jackson

“Yes, you should wake up every morning terrified with your sheets drenched in sweat, but not because you’re afraid of our competitors. Be afraid of our customers, because those are the folks who have the money. Our competitors are never going to send us money.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com
Remember who could be sending you money, and do everything to gain their trust, respect and business.

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Listen on Times Live to Michael Bratt interviewing myself, as well as Keynote speaker Gary Bailey and C&L award winner Bassie Kumalo.

I was interviewed at the Toastmasters conference recently held at Gold Reef City. I spoke about the value of communication, leadership, and the Toastmasters programmes.

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