Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill

Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and SuccessOutwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book for several reasons. One, it was fairly quick. Two, his conversation with the devil added some depth to the text, as opposed to a text book explanation of what he had come to discover over his life. So why only 3 of 5 stars? Well, I may be over simplifying things, but I really can boil the main message down to three things: Have goals (be definite), create habits that support your goals, and don't drift--go after your goals. Yes, I understand that he gave us seven key points in the book, but I think several of those really roll up under one of the other categories of the other. Is this worth your time? Yes. Will it change your life? Maybe. If you are operating without clear goals and just drifting through this period of your life, then this may be just the wake up call you need.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn 2) by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following a fantastic opening book such as The Final Empire, there is always a fear that the next one won't be so good. That the author can't keep the pace, plot twists, and action going. The Well of Ascension put all of that aside for me. The characters continued to grow, and I don't remember a single time being pulled out of the story thinking, "that guy wouldn't have said or done that." The overall plot is also completely supported, with very few holes, although with plenty of intrigue for the final book in the series.

If I were to lodge a small complaint, it would be with the mechanics of allomancy. Again, it is a sign of respect, and a huge compliment in my mind, to have people get so into your world to have nerdy concerns about some of the mechanics. So here we go: If I push off of something, and it is anchored, or against the ground, I can push away and my body would fly the opposite direction. Got it. But a coin lying on the ground is not anchored. Pushing even slightly to the side would send the coin skidding over cobblestones to one side or the other. I think Kelsier explained this to Vin in the first book, but as they continue to fly around, I don't think it would be plausible to do what they do. Again, I don't see this as a huge negative. Skeptics like myself have even more questions about how the real world works, so my question is another sign of just how good this book is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer ConversationThe Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Challenger Sale is not a bad book, especially when directed to the right audience, but that is where I had trouble with it. I picked it up as a general manager of a small business, and found that although some of the ideas were good, and the research interesting, it was not very applicable in my situation. It would be better directed toward sales managers in established organizations. The method it promotes is to control the sale by way challenging the customer, and I like that approach. However, so much of small business is about learning about the customer that I can't see where this would be a better overall approach. I can't have our sales team out challenging our customers all day, not because I fear they would be over bearing, but because I know we would miss opportunities to hear from the customer. In a small business, the sales function isn't just about sales. It is market research, product development and R&D all at once.

I got the most value from the general concept that the challenger persona is the real winner in sales, not the relationship builder. Their research was compelling, but even more importantly the examples resonated with my own experience. For those 20 pages I took notes, and took pictures of the graphs, and I think I can incorporate those insights into my business. And then there was the rest of the book.

The rest of the book is really a conglomerate of a few other known skillsets. Take the Crucial Conversations material and combine it with a good negotiation book, such as Getting Past No, and you well over 50% of the way there on this material. With that in mind, this would have been better as a 90 page pamphlet, outlining their research and what it discovered.