Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flattening can be fattening

I've been reading several books at the same time lately. I always read several books at a time because it helps me see the connections between ideas in often very different industries or subject areas.

At present I'm reading "The World is Flat", about globilization's impact on global competitiveness; "Primal Branding", about the 7 things needed to build a brand that sticks; "Blue Ocean Strategy", about how to make your competition irrelevant; "Book Yourself Solid", about how to get more clients than you can handle; and a biography of John Adams which delves into the personal and public lives of one of our most difficult to understand founding fathers.

What I've found so far is that John Adams went through a lot of the same things I've been going through lately: A constant struggle with confidence that vacillated between total self-derision to sometimes unrealistic optimism.

The more I've read "The World is Flat" I see that the United States often does the same thing. We do great things and then beat ourselves up for being a superpower but in the end we play to our strengths: flexibility and innovation. These strengths allow the U.S. to take good times too far and find ways to survive and thrive in the not so good times.

Then I look at "Primal Branding" and realize why John Adams was never as famous as George Washington or Benjamin Franklin. His story wasn't as exciting. "Primal Branding" points out that a truly great brand must have a strong "creation story".

"Blue Ocean Strategy" talks about creating your own unique market space so you don't have any real competitors or at least they don't matter anymore. Going back to the John Adams biography it became clear that the United States caught the imagination of the world because it was the first modern democracy/republic. None of the other powers of the day could (or wanted to) provide the amount of freedom/liberty that the U.S. could (or wanted to). Also, "Book Yourself Solid" emphasizes that success comes at the intersection of capability and desire.

Does this make sense? In relation to business it goes back to several key points.

1. A strong brand starts with a strong story.

2. A strong story needs to position you in your own unique market space.

3. Confidence is key to business success but it must be based in reality.

4. Confidence comes from working in areas of expertise and passion (the best place to get results).

5. People (clients/prospects) need to understand the value of what you do more than they need to understand what you do.

I'm sure there are many more connections to make. I'll share more as they come to me.

What are you reading?