United Breaks Guitars PDF Summary

United Breaks Guitars PDFThe Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media

By now, you are surely aware that “United Breaks Guitars.”

And that’s all because of one man, songwriter Dave Carroll.

The full story ahead.

Who Should Read “United Breaks Guitars”? And Why?

In case you don’t know, “United Breaks Guitars” is a trilogy of protest songs by Canadian musician Dave Carroll written soon after United Airlines broke one of his guitars and refused to admit it had been their fault and apologize or reimburse him for the damage.

This book recounts that story, so it’s definitely the one you should read if you are a fan of the songs and want to find out more about the story behind them.

However, despite the subtitle, this book won’t be able to teach you something especially new about the relation between social media and corporate culture.

If you are interested in the theoretical aspects of this relation, then try a book in the vein of “The Art of Social Media.”

About Dave Carroll

Dave CarrollDave Carroll is a Canadian musician.

In 1989, he and his brother Don formed a band called “The Don and Dave Show.” Four years later, in honor of their father, they changed the name of the band to Sons of Maxwell, under which they tour to this day.

A volunteer firefighter in his free time, Dave Carroll has so far written only one book: “United Breaks Guitars.”

“United Breaks Guitars PDF Summary”

In the spring of 2008, Dave Carroll embarked on a trip from his hometown Halifax, Nova Scotia to Omaha, Nebraska, where he was supposed to have a concert with his band, Sons of Maxwell.

Carroll had to change flights in Chicago where the staff of United Airlines wanted him to check both his Taylor guitar and his backup Ovation Elite as baggage.

Which is why Dave’s blood froze when a fellow passenger exclaimed “Oh my God, they’re throwing guitars out there” as the United Airlines’ plane stood parked at O’Hare.

When Dave arrived at Omaha he realized that his worst fears had become true: his beloved Taylor guitar had been broken by the United Airlines baggage handlers.

Naturally, Carroll complained to United, but they refused to compensate him for the damage. In fact, they refused to apologize or even discuss with him the nuances of the matter for six or seven months.

Finally, a certain Ms. Irlweg did, but her final answer was a “no”: even though Dave did nothing wrong, apparently the fact that he hadn’t filed a complaint within 24 hours was enough for his request for compensation to be turned down.

If Michael Moore was a singer-songwriter,” Carroll asked himself sometime around this point, “what would he do?

Dave’s answer?

He would sublimate this negative energy into a creative endeavor.

So Carroll told Mrs. Irlweg that he would compose three songs about his experience with United Airways and that he would share them on YouTube:

My goal of being compensated had evolved into a goal of sharing my story with as many people as were interested in hearing it.

And on July 6, 2008, the first of the three songs was uploaded on YouTube.

The Internet went wild: in just one day, the video had garnered more than 150,000 views and thousands of likes and, soon enough, it became a viral sensation, amassing millions of hits.

In Dave’s opinion, this happened because “United Breaks Guitars” was a catchy country song which recounted his story through relatable, humorous lyrics and an amusing low-budget video.

See for yourself:

United Airlines couldn’t ignore Carroll anymore.

So its representatives approached Dave with a request for a conference call during which Carroll was offered $1,200 in coupons for future flights and $1,200 in cash – the sum he had paid to have his Taylor guitar fixed.

However, by this time, Dave couldn’t care any less for compensation; in fact, he was very much aware that accepting a compensation would damage his integrity. “I changed gears,” he writes, “from someone who wanted something to someone who was going to do something.”

So, he requested that, instead of reimbursing him, United Airlines give the money to someone else and immediately change its policy.

Such thing didn’t happen, so “United Breaks Guitars 2″ and 3 followed – and went viral as well.

What could have been solved with merely a thousand dollars and an apology turned into a nightmare for United Airlines, whose stock price fell by 10% within 4 weeks of the day Carroll posted the first video online.

What amazed Carroll the most was not United Airlines’ incompetence in dealing with the matter, but its policy that as long as cases such as his are rare, they are statistically insignificant and can be dismissed.

Thankfully, he proved them wrong!

Key Lessons from “United Breaks Guitars”

1.      The Story of Dave Carroll and His UBG Trilogy
2.      An Apology Worth $180 Million Dollars
3.      Marketing Campaigns Shouldn’t Exclude Anyone

The Story of Dave Carroll and His UBG Trilogy

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll’s Taylor guitar was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers back in the spring of 2008.

In July, after spending months unsuccessfully demanding an apology and compensation from the disinterested United Airlines staff, Carroll wrote a song, “United Breaks Guitars” (UBG), which became a viral hit and amassed millions of views in just a few days.

Even so, United Airlines refused to change its policy, so things went from bad to worse for them, because soon UBG 2 and 3 appeared.

A PR disaster for the airline giant!

An Apology Worth $180 Million Dollars

“Sometimes saying you’re sorry is not only the right thing to do but also the least expensive” – writes Dave Carroll.

Indeed, if United Airlines had done that effectively, Dave Carroll wouldn’t have written the UBG trilogy, and the company could have even gotten away without reimbursing Carroll.

4 weeks since the first UBG video went viral, United Airlines’ stock price fell by 10%, resulting in losses for its stockholders which have been estimated at about $180 million!

Marketing Campaigns Shouldn’t Exclude Anyone

The message of Dave Carroll’s book is twofold.

First of all – as should be obvious by now – that individuals matter and that the voice of one can be echoed by the hearts of multitudes: “A victory for me,” writes Carroll, “was a victory for everyone who has ever flown and a victory for customers everywhere who have felt disempowered by giant companies performing badly.”

On a slightly different note, Carroll also has great advice for companies as well: “I am suggesting that marketing campaigns not be designed to exclude anyone. Targeting customers is wise. Excluding people you assume would never be your customers is not.”

Because who knows – maybe the excluded guy will be the next Dave Carroll!

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“United Breaks Guitars Quotes”

The good news about having a viral video is that everyone wants to talk to you. The bad news is that everyone wants an exclusive. Click To Tweet

What should have been a routine business trip became a comedy of errors the likes of which far too many people continue to experience each day. Click To Tweet

United was completely ill equipped to handle a customer-service nightmare in the age of social media. Click To Tweet

United was caught flat-footed in an outdated culture that embraces statistical insignificance. Click To Tweet

By embracing social media, companies have an opportunity to engage directly with their customers. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Just like the songs themselves, “United Breaks Guitars” is a charming little book which does tend to grow a bit less and less interesting as it progresses.

The main story, however, is so humble and inspiring that it’s definitely worth the read.

If you ask us, there should be more people like Dave Carroll on this planet.

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The Lost Art of Closing PDF Summary

The Lost Art of Closing PDFWinning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales

It’s said that a great product sells itself, and finding the right channels comes naturally.

Marketing efforts only add to the overall quality and provide the users with an amazing experience.

We try to present the key findings in a way that you’ll understand what it takes to close a sale.

Who Should Read “The Lost Art of Closing”? And Why?

It really is an art, or perhaps a skill crafted for special occasions. Anyway, it’s not something that can’t be learned or digested!

The Lost Art of Closing” emphasizes the 10-step process for converting skeptical prospects into long-term collaborators.

It really is something you wouldn’t want to miss, especially if you are a salesperson in the making.

About Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino

Despite being a writer, Anthony Iannarino is also the founder of The Sales Blog.

He is also a part-time teacher at Capital University School of Management and Leadership.

“The Lost Art of Closing PDF Summary”

Let’s get this straight: Without these 10 commitments it’s literally impossible to close sales:

  1. The commitment for time – Breaking that ice requires psychological readiness, especially when it comes to scheduling a meeting. Experienced salespersons realize that e-mailing is not the best option for this endeavor. Instead, you should prefer a phone call to ask only for time, and don’t get into details about the product. Ask no more than three times and stick to what’s been agreed prior to the meeting.
  2. The commitment to exploring – Salespersons love the image of a business-person and can’t stand being labeled as pushy; interested in nothing other than commission. Your job is to make the client more comfortable with your presence and gradually reduce the aversion towards change. In these first contacts, you should avoid pitching about the product and rather focus on the threats of remaining rigid in a fast-paced environment.
  3. The commitment to change – Why would anyone be interested in buying what you’re offering if the service they use instead is satisfying their needs to the limit? It makes no sense, so your job is to ask the right questions and see where the problems are and how your service/product can help them capitalize on these pitfalls.
  4. The commitment to collaborate – The fundamentals in this step, revolve around a simple statement – change your solution into a “Solution.” In other words, don’t deliver your final product without even taking into account the clients’ needs. Adjust your solution to be their weapon, which they would use to accomplish their goals. The salesperson and the client must become strategic partners, both carrying for each other’s interest!
  5. The commitment to build consensus – Sometimes the sales solution is wrapped in a complex B2B network including multiple stakeholders. In such a situation, finding general agreement is a must. At first, your job would be to single out all major stakeholders and put yourself in their shoes. Such a decision may help you understand the big picture and define a proposal that may eventually develop into a win-win situation. If you can’t reach out to them, the least you can do is explain your contact why is important to build a relationship with them. But not all are willing to hear your battle cry.
  6. The commitment to invest – Every sales process encompasses several parties which must invest their time, energy and capital. Your position, on the other end of the tunnel, is to discuss the price after several meeting sessions. You have to beware of a bidding war with your competitors and to avoid such a scenario; it’s advisable that you present your price early on. This approach will help you weed out all unprofitable prospects.
  7. The commitment to review – When the time comes to showcase your presentation skills, you have to gear yourself up with mental sharpness. Don’t skip any step and secure a commitment from the client to find a generally acceptable proposal. To do so, you need to solicit feedback from all the stakeholders in the process and then form the final solution.
  8. The commitment to resolve concerns – The bottom line is – clients don’t fear your product, but the changes deriving from it. So, basically you must encourage them to share their concerns to close the sale. For instance, do you think that your clients are eager to implement your solution if the service you are providing is only a slightly better option than the one already in place? – No! Because it’s not worth the effort! Tackle their fears by offering something 5x times better and provide support during the enforcement of the new idea.
  9. The commitment to decide – The 9th commitment arrives spontaneously if you have successfully executed all previous 8. Securing a commitment from the client is not a straightforward task, especially when it comes to making the final decision. If you succeed, the relationship will reach a whole different level.
  10. The commitment to execute – A sale that is not able to deliver a product of unparalleled quality, damages the reputation of the salesperson and puts him/her in an inferior position. Not satisfying the clients to the full extent, may obstruct the process of winning additional sales. Therefore, you must make an effort to present the offerings straightforwardly, and provide the users with valuable info on how to utilize all the features contained in the product. This final step can be marked as a commitment to execute.   

Key Lessons from “The Lost Art of Closing”

1.      Secure the necessary commitments in the shortest timespan possible
2.      Embrace gradual transition from one stage to the next
3.      Integrate clients’ needs into the development of a solution

Secure the necessary commitments in the shortest timespan possible

Sales managers are duty bound to supervise the process and gauge possible deals.

The execution of the 10 commitments will serve as a backbone for nurturing lucrative relationships with clients and other key personalities.

Embrace gradual transition from one stage to the next

It’s no secret that not a small portion of salespeople opt for skipping some of the commitments to get the part where they can actually earn money.

For them, the process can be reduced to 4-5 key steps, and all the extra stages are just adding to the complexity.

Don’t become one of them!

Integrate clients’ needs into the development of a solution

Use your business expertise to pain a partnership picture; don’t opt for a one-way communication style.

In other words, increasing customer retention by 5% can generate roughly a 75% increase in profits!  

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“The Lost Art of Closing Quotes”

You can’t wait until your dream client experiences the negative impact of not changing before you decide to help them. You have to be…helping them understand the need to change. Click To Tweet Your dream client wants…problems to be solved, challenges overcome, opportunities pursued and greater outcomes obtained. Click To Tweet Although you may think that your client is only buying the value in your product, service or solution, the truth is that you are the larger part of the value proposition. Click To Tweet Sales can be a very rewarding career because, properly done, it requires that you help people get results they couldn’t have achieved without you. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We are always on the lookout for practical and applicable tips that present an actionable solution. This book is the embodiment of such a reality.

We were really thrilled to participate in something so profound and share our thoughts on the topic!

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Woo, Wow, and Win PDF Summary

Woo, Wow, and Win PDFService Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight

Everybody wants to please the customer nowadays.

The point is – to delight him!

Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell give the full details in “Woo, Wow, and Win.”

Who Should Read “Woo, Wow, and Win”? And Why?

By its own profession, “Woo, Wow, and Win” is a thorough investigation of the “what, why and how of service design and delivery.”

Consequently, it’s a book which specifically targets the service sectors.

So, if you are in retail or banking, health care or other public services – do consult this book and try employing the strategies it offers.

About Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell

Thomas A. StewartThomas A. Stewart is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

A summa cum laude Harvard graduate, Stewart is a respected management thinker, ranked #17 in European Foundation for Management Development’s “Thinkers 50” list in 2005.

He has authored two more books: the 1997 seminal classic, “Intellectual Capital” and the 2003 “The Wealth of Knowledge.”

Patricia O’ConnellPatricia O’Connell is a writer and the president of Aerten Consulting.

In addition to this one, she has co-authored (with Neil Smith) one more book: “How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things.”

“Woo, Wow, and Win PDF Summary”

For all intents and purposes, Disney is the paragon of customer service.

And Thomas A. Stewart could only back this claim when he arrived, exhausted after a long flight, at a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida.

He couldn’t wait to go to his casita to lie down a bit, so he was more than grateful to see how much the front-desk clerk was professional and how quickly he was able to register.

And then came the problems: in the absence of markings and employees, Thomas Stewart wandered for more than 20 minutes around the hotel in an attempt to find his room.

This had nothing to do with customer service, though – that part was excellent; however, it had everything to do with customer experience, which almost all companies neglect.

Even though it may seem like they the same thing, customer service and customer experience are pretty different; in fact, even though you’ve read hundreds of books about the former, chances are you haven’t read one about the latter.

Well, “Woo, Wow, and Win” is interested in changing that – in addition to your mindset regarding customer service and experience.

What Walt Disney World lacked in the case just described above was something Stewart and O’Connell dub “service design and delivery,” or SD2, for short.

In the words of Victor Ermoli from the Savannah College of Art and Design:

Service design is a system for developing the relationship between an entity – a bank, a law firm, a health care system, a store, a church – and its customers.

And this system starts with a simple equation:

Ahhh + Ow = Aha

An Ahhh moment is the moment your customers experience something positive enough about your company to instill in them confidence that you are going to provide them with the experience they asked for – and some more.

An Ow moment is the very opposite of an Ahhh moment, i.e., the moment when your customers realize that “something is broken.” True, they may complete the deal – and may even come back – but the bittersweet feeling guarantees that they will never recommend you.

Finally, an Aha moment is the result of your analyses of all Ahhh and Ow moments you’ve noted. An Aha moment, should be followed by an appropriate remedy, and Stewart and O’Connell believe that they have a panacea:


It’s based on ten elements and five principles.

The ten elements of SD2 form a neat mnemonic: E10!

They are:

#1. Empathy – put your customers first.
#2. Expectation – understand what you are expected to deliver and what you can realistically deliver.
#3. Emotion – never take the customer’s emotions out of the equation.
#4. Elegance – take a lesson from Steve Jobs’ book: make everything clean and simple.
#5. Engagement – include your customers in the design.
#6. ExecutionDon’t be a politician: deliver on your promises.
#7. Engineering – your products and services should always demonstrate technical excellence.
#8. Economics – don’t exaggerate with your prices.
#9. Experimentationtest and innovate.
#10. Equivalence – may your customers be happy as much as you and vice versa.

The five principles of SD2 are the following:

#1. The Customer Is Always Right – Provided the Customer Is Right for You
Basically, the first principle boils down to THIS: focus on your most valuable customers. Don’t spend any of your time on retaining demanding clients.

#2. Don’t Surprise and Delight Your Customers – Just Delight Them
Surprises are fine for birthday parties; but not for customer service. Simply meet the expectations of your customer over and over again.

#3. Great Service Must Not Require Heroic Efforts on the Part of the Provider or the Customer
Your goal is to provide service which is “efficient, effective, scalable and, if not error-proof, error-resistant.” Which means: minimal effort with maximum results. Think of the intuitiveness “designed into an iPad” – that’s great service.

#4. Service Design Must Deliver a Coherent Experience Across All Channels and Touchpoints
“Wherever and however you choose to play, you must play well.” It’s pointless to have a great telephone customer service, but a bad online platform.

#5. You’re Never Done
SD2 is a cycle. Constantly check your service against its 10 elements and improve wherever possible.

Key Lessons from “Woo, Wow, and Win”

1.      In Service Design, Ahhh + Ow = Aha
2.      Make Yourself a Report Card Using the 10 Elements of SD2
3.      Always Heed the Five Principles of Service Design

In Service Design, Ahhh + Ow = Aha

Your customers experience either ahhh or ow moments in relation to the products you offer.

The former are a signal of positive experience and should inspire you to improve in the same direction.

The latter indicate trouble, and you should correct the areas which have caused them.

Analyzing the ahhhs and ows results in your aha moment.

Make Yourself a Report Card Using the 10 Elements of SD2

Give yourself a score on a zero-to-four scale in each of these 10 categories and see how well your service ranks on an SD2 scale: empathy, expectation, emotion, elegance, engagement, execution, engineering, economics, experimentation, equivalence.

A score about 30 means that you’re doing a good job; but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve until you score 4 in each of the categories.

Always Heed the Five Principles of Service Design

No matter what you do, always adhere to these five principles:

#1. Focus all your energy on your most valuable customers.
#2. Delight your customers by meeting all their needs – don’t surprise them even if you think it’s for the better.
#3. Always aim for minimum effort on the part of your customers – and try to achieve this with minimum effort on the part of your employees as well.
#4. Be coherent – offer the same quality of service across all checkpoints.
#5. You’re never done: always modernize and improve.

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“Woo, Wow, and Win Quotes”

Service design presents an exciting opportunity to explore something that is new to management thinking, new to business practice, new to many business leaders. Click To Tweet

Companies that apply the principles of service design will create…strategic strength. Click To Tweet

The three foundational questions of strategy – where to compete, what to sell, how to win – are inextricably bound up with design. Click To Tweet

What are you doing about your customer capital? Are you growing it, or are you living off it? Are you actively managing it or letting it fend for itself, like money in a checking account? Click To Tweet

When you make it hard for employees, they take shortcuts – and customers leave. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Woo, Wow, and Win” may have a somewhat silly title and an unattractive cover, but it’s actually a pretty great manual to have on hand if you are in the service sector.

To quote Steve Case, the author of “The Third Wave,” “Woo, Wow, and Win” is “a roadmap for success in a landscape being rapidly transformed by technology and entrepreneurship.”

Don’t be afraid to use it.


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Top of Mind PDF Summary – John Hall

Top of Mind PDFUse Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You

Have some of your customers ever said to you: “I was just thinking of you”?

John Hall says that it’s vital.

Because being and staying “Top of Mind” with your customers is a prerequisite if you want to succeed in today’s dynamic world of marketing and business.

Who Should Read “Top of Mind”? And Why?

If you’ve spent some time in the world of marketing, you may think that you already know everything there’s to know; however, if you’re long enough – you must be aware that marketing is an ever-changing field in which the nuances matter and in which self-development is a prerequisite.

“Top of Mind” is for both novices and veteran marketers: it introduces the former to the new rules of marketing and some basic content marketing secrets, and it helps the latter understand how marketing has evolved from persuasion and selling to trust and lending a helping hand. 

John HallAbout John Hall

John Hall is the founder and CEO of Influence & Co., a content marketing agency which was ranked No. 72 on Forbes’ list of most promising companies in America in 2014, and No. 239 on Inc.’s similar list the very same year.

John Hall himself was recognized as one of the Business Journals’ Top 100 Visionaries, and two years later he received the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Best Emerging Company.

One of the most powerful people in media whom you’ve never met,” John Hall has so far authored only one book, “Top of Mind.

“Top of Mind PDF Summary”

The Internet managed to change so many things that people born few decades before it feel as if strangers in the world of the 21st century.

And we’re not going to say anything new if we tell you that the Internet profoundly altered the world of marketing as well, bringing new rules and revolutionary ways to increase your sales.

However, John Hall argues that with the advent of the Internet, the most important thing that changed isn’t the field itself, but the mindset of the customer.

And in an almost counter-intuitive way!

And marketers and marketing companies aren’t keeping up with this since they fail to acknowledge the revolution!

What are we talking about?

Well, you see, just a while ago – and by while we mean merely two or three decades ago – marketers could have ignored the Internet altogether.

But then, the first dot-com companies started making money, and the more perceptive advertisers started taking notes.

Some time passed, the millennials took the world by storm, and few people realized a painful truth: The Internet hasn’t merely changed some of the rules of the marketing game; it has changed the game altogether.

Namely, the 21st century meant that for the first time in history, customers were able to get all the info they like and need via the Internet.

And this didn’t only pertain to products and prices, but to reviews and expert opinions as well.

The big question:

So, what were all these salespeople supposed to do?

The startling answer:


They were obsolete.

They are obsolete.

And that’s a good thing.

Because, John Hall argues, it means that Selling 101 has morphed into Altruism 101.

Namely, since today’s customers are not passive – and are, even more, suspicious of salespeople who don’t ask for permission to invade their privacyyour job isn’t any more that of a marketing rep, but the far more humble and noble of being a friend.

Customers today don’t like to buy from people who are intrusive and persuasive.

Sure, you can trick them once or twice, but the minute they find out – and, trust us, these relentlessly displeased millennials will – you’ll lose them for eternity.

Them and about a million other people who’ll find out about it the very next second – on every social network in existence!

So, instead of tricking them – earn their trust.

Being authentic, honest and truthful is your best promotion, because if your customers trust you, then you will be the first thing that comes to their minds in case they need your goods or services.

This is what being top of mind means.

And what should be your objective if you want to be a successful company in the world of today:

Authenticity is the foundation of your relationship with your audience. But for the relationship to flourish, it’s not enough to simply be authentic; you also have to deliver tangible value.

To get to your customers’ “top of mind,” you need to earn their approval.


The very same way you would get the approval of people you’d like to be your friends.

By expressing genuine concern about their likes and dislikes, by establishing a type of communication between you two that’s based on mutual trust and commitment.

Most importantly, by helping your customers from time to time without seeking any compensation.

Let us rephrase that:

How would you feel about a company who suddenly presents you with a high-quality product you really need for no charge whatsoever?

Wouldn’t you feel almost obliged to buy the next product of that company once it arrives on the market?


Keep this up for the long haul, and you’ve reached your objective: you will be uppermost in the minds of your customers, and they’ll think of you first in case they need something you provide.

John Hall neatly zips the process in a simple formula:

Trust” plus “consistency” leads to “opportunity.

To strengthen the relationship with your buyers, use relevant content which – remember Simon Sinek? – should always start with your company’s why.

People are suckers for core purposes.

The rest is merely decorum.

Key Lessons from “Top of Mind”

1.      Salespeople? Who Needs Salespeople?
2.      Trust Plus Consistency Equals Opportunity
3.      Content Marketing’s Best Practices

Salespeople? Who Needs Salespeople?

Maybe you haven’t noticed so far, but in the age of the Internet, salespeople – the good old Ziglar type – have become a thing of the past.

How so?

Well, because of a change in the mindset of the customers.

Your buyers are now capable of finding everything they want to know about your products online, rendering them much more powerful and much less susceptible to being tricked or persuaded to buy something.

The only way you can do that today is by earning their trust and becoming their friend.

And, thus, placing yourself at the top of their minds!

Trust Plus Consistency Equals Opportunity

It’s not easy to gain someone else’s trust.

If it was, you would have much more friends than you have now.

And when you want to sell something to someone, it’s even more difficult.

So, start by doing something extraordinary for the marketing world – don’t take advantage of your buyers, but lend them a helping hand.

We never thought we’d say this, but it seems that in the 21st century, Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative can’t ring any truer: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”

Do this in a more consistent manner – and you’ll be granted with an opportunity.

Not to sell your products.

But to have them bought.

Content Marketing’s Best Practices

A good way to promote yourself in an age where earning the trust of your customers is an imperative is by using strategically developed – but always honest – content.

If you’re new in the business, follow these few steps:

#1. Set the right goals and document your strategy: and always start with a why.
#2. Focus on ideas which attract people: and seek guidance on how to do this.
#3. Commit to the process of content creation: and make it as enjoyable as it can be for your team.
#4. Find a way to distribute your content well: and make sure to update the methods continually.

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“Top of Mind Quotes”

Helping others when you have the ability, being yourself and doing it all with consistency are normal human behaviors. Click To Tweet

Content won’t generate an overnight spike in sales. That should never be the goal because that’s not how content works. Click To Tweet

Like helpfulness, authentic likability is a practice. It can’t be forced, but it can be developed through everyday thoughts and actions. Click To Tweet

Trust manifests itself on a spectrum. The degree to which you trust someone determines how far out you’ll stick your neck for her. Click To Tweet

Even the most thoughtful act of kindness will not generate long-term top-of-mind status if it’s a one-off. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

As Al Ries and Jack Trout noted in their 1981 classic “Positioning” (which we didn’t hesitate to include in our list of top marketing books in history), “positioning is not what you do to a product: positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.”

“Top of Mind” shares some tips and tricks which may help you emerge victorious from this battle for your mind.

And according to John Hall, once that happens, you’ve won the marketing war.

You want to have this book as an ally: it’s smart, practical and thorough.

An excellent resource!


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Scientific Advertising PDF Summary

Scientific Advertising PDFAdvertising isn’t an art.

It’s science.

And Claude C. Hopkins set the foundations of “Scientific Advertising a century ago.

Ignore him at your peril.

Who Should Read “Scientific Advertising”? And Why?

We have a great way to answer this question.

It’s a claim by none other than David Ogilvy, the father of advertising:

Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.

Claude C. HopkinsAbout Claude C. Hopkins

Claude C. Hopkins was an advertising pioneer, widely considered one of the foremost figures in the history of marketing.

After a long advertising career, in 1923, Hopkins published “Scientific Advertising,” the foundation of direct marketing.

Four years later, he wrote his autobiography, “My Life in Advertising.”

He died in 1932.

“Scientific Advertising PDF Summary”

Claude C. Hopkins?

Now, where have you heard that name?

Because it sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

If you answered this question with a “yes,” but you still can’t put your finger on where exactly you’ve heard of Hopkins, we may be able to help: you’ve probably either read Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” or are a regular reader of our blog and have happened upon its summary.

According to Duhigg, Hopkins is the reason why you brush your teeth.

Or, to be more specific, Hopkins is the guy who created such a successful advertising campaign for Pepsodent, that in a decade, the number of Americans brushing their teeth increased tenfold!

Well, in “Scientific Advertising” he uncovers how he did it – and how you can do it as well.

And even though this fairly short book was written almost a century ago and is merely 10,000 words long, many of its messages are still as relevant today as in 1923!

Don’t believe us?

Well, read it for yourself here!

Or, just read ahead: we’ll go over the main points!

First of all, according to Claude C. Hopkins, must never forget that advertising is salesmanship. “Ads are not written to entertain,” writes Hopkins. “Measure them by salesmen’s standards, not by amusement standards.”

In other words, it’s pointless to make a funny ad which entertains people if it doesn’t call them to action.

If you are an advertiser, consider yourself a salesman as well. The only difference is in the degree: advertising is multiplied salesmanship.


There is one simple way to answer many advertising questions. Ask yourself, “Would it help a salesman sell the goods?” “Would it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?”

A fair answer to those questions avoids countless mistakes. But when one tries to show off, or does things merely to please himself, he is little likely to strike a chord which leads people to spend money.


Because people are mostly selfish.

Ignoring this fact is a serious advertising mistake.

You are not making an ad to have fun; you’re making it to make sure that you give your customers the important information about your product and list your advantages.

Don’t think you can fool people in the long run: they can be coaxed, Hopkins says, but not driven. “Whatever they do they do to please themselves.”

Don’t ever forget that.

Also, don’t ever forget the power of headlines and images.

Use them both to pick out the right people, to attract the attention of the people you actually want to be your customers.

Because, ultimately, what you have can only interest a certain number of people and it will interest them for only a certain number of reasons.

Research the latter and address the former.

If you’re in a crowd and you want to get the attention of a certain person, the first thing you say is “Hey there, Bill Jones, I’ve got something to tell you.”

Well, the same holds true for your ads as well.

Which leads us to an extremely important aspect of advertising: being specific.

Generalities are never the way to go.

Saying that you are “best in the world” or that you have “lowest prices in existence” is expected – and is the worst thing you can do if you want to get someone’s attention.

Phrases such as these suggest both that you are no different from the rest of the bunch and that you have a tendency to exaggerate and couldn’t care less about the truth.

On the other hand, “a man who makes a specific claim is either telling the truth or a lie.” And that, in itself, earns the trust of your customers.

Advertising generalities are like saying “How do you do?” when you have no intention of inquiring about one’s health; asking something along the lines “Does your stomach feel better today?” is infinitely better!

It expresses genuine concern and relevant knowledge.

And people value those things.

However, what they value much more is the product itself.

Which means samples are of prime importance.

However expensive,” Hopkins notes, “they usually form the cheapest selling method.

Of course, not by themselves alone – they must be part of a complete story, an element of a mental impression, an essential fragment of the atmosphere surrounding them.

That’s why:

Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people who exhibit that interest by some effort. Give them only to people whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere of respect, a desire, an expectation. When people are in that mood, your sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.

Key Lessons from “Scientific Advertising”

1.      Advertising Is Salesmanship – and Salesmanship Is All About Human Psychology
2.      Stand Out by Being Specific – Not by Negative Advertising
3.      In Advertising, You Need a Strategy, a Story, and a Good Name

Advertising Is Salesmanship – and Salesmanship Is All About Human Psychology

If you want to be a good advertiser, there’s nothing more important than understanding that you are basically just a salesman – times thousand.

The only purpose of advertising is to make sales,” emphasizes Hopkins. And, consequently, “its principles are the principles of salesmanship.

Which means – you need to root your advertising strategy into the very nature of what it means to be a human.

Fortunately, says Hopkins:

Human nature is perpetual. In most respects, it is the same today as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you learn about them.

What does this mean in practice?

Well, for example, that “curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives” and that, at least for the extravagant Americans, “cheapness is not a strong appeal.”

Also, it means that “people judge largely by price” – so don’t ever forget that!

Stand Out by Being Specific – Not by Negative Advertising

If you want to make an impression, it’s important that you stand out.

And if you want to do that, don’t even think for a moment that you’ll get by on phrases such as “the best in town” or “the cheapest in the world.”

Impressions are made by those who dare to be different and unique, those who have found a way to make each of their customers feel as if an individual, an exceptional human being.

And those who are distinctive – but in an admirable way.

For example, studies have shown that negative advertising is never good: attacking a rival makes you look selfish and unfair.

So, show beauty, not homeliness; health, not sickness. “Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all about the wrinkles.”

In Advertising, You Need a Strategy, a Story, and a Good Name

Advertising,” writes Hopkins, “is much like war, minus the venom.

In other words, you must have some skill and knowledge, and a lot of training and experience.

Also: you must have the right equipment, the proper ammunition, and enough intelligence and data on your competitors.

An important part of your winning strategy should be your story – the why of your business. People tend to buy specific products much less than stories: the core purpose of your company may be your most important product.

Which also means that you need to spend a lot of time thinking of a good name – both for your company and your subsequent products (think of the “i” of Apple’s advertising strategy).

A good name means a good foundation in itself. “Some names,” claims Hopkins, “have become the chief factors in success. Some have lost for their originators four-fifths of the trade they developed.”

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“Scientific Advertising Quotes”

Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship. Click To Tweet

The competent advertising man must understand psychology. The more he knows about it the better. Click To Tweet

Literary qualifications have no more to do with (advertising) than oratory has with salesmanship. One must be able to express himself briefly, clearly, and convincingly, just as a salesman must. Click To Tweet

An ad-writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full information on his subject … Perhaps in many volumes he will find few facts to use. But some one fact may be the keynote of success. Click To Tweet

The product itself should be its own best salesman. Not the product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and atmosphere, which you place around it. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Scientific Advertising” only missed the cut of our top marketing booklist by an inch.

And that should tell you what we think about this book more than any adjective.

We’ll use one, nevertheless:


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Managing Conflict PDF Summary

Managing Conflict PDFA Practical Guide to Resolution in the Workplace

Managing employees is a difficult job.

And sometimes even having a justified reason to dismiss an employee may not be enough since it’s still unfair if you don’t use the correct procedures.

The best way to avoid all that – preventive mediation.

David Liddle explains the benefits of this and many other similar strategies in his indispensable conflict resolution guide, “Managing Conflict.”

Who Should Read “Managing Conflict”? And Why?

As its title suggests, “Managing Conflict” is a must-read for HR officers and other executives who have similar jobs, whether it is managing people or establishing conflict resolution practices.

However, many other people can benefit from it, since, as they say, half of the solution to a problem is understanding it – and “Managing Conflict” offers a great shortcut to understanding why we tend to have so many unnecessary conflicts and what is the best way to transcend them.

David LiddleAbout David Liddle

David Liddle is one of the leading conflict mediators in the United Kingdom, with a twenty-year-long experience in the field.

In 1994, he established one of the first community mediation schemes in the UK, Leicestershire Mediation Service, a scheme he ran for the next eight years when he established CRISP, the Conflict Resolution in Schools Programme.

In 2001, David established the Total Conflict Management Group (TCM group), which has, ever since, been the UK’s leading consulting company for mediation, conflict management, and leadership development.

See more at www.thetcmgroup.com.

“Managing Conflict PDF Summary”

According to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) companies in the United Kingdom spend over $44.5 billion annually to battle conflict costs.

Now, that’s a lot!

And that doesn’t even include all the immaterial damages – like, for example, reputation – which can theoretically hurt a company much more in the long run.

The simple premise of David Liddle’s book “Managing Conflict” is that this all can be avoided – or, at least, substantially alleviated – if companies put a little more emphasis on conflict management.

Unfortunately, they almost never do that.

So, they spend their pounds on cures, even though an ounce of prevention (a specific kind for a specific stage) may be all that they need:

The simplest, quickest and most effective way to prevent a harmful and costly conflict from escalating is to have a direct conversation with the other person as early as possible.

Now, most leaders are uncomfortable talking conflicts, and their idea of arbitration is basically just turning to any one of the conventional grievance strategies.

However, as most employees who have filed formal complaints have learned by now, they usually don’t work.

Most because they are outdated and are based in a dynamic of power which doesn’t lead to a resolution satisfactory for both sides, but to a temporary hushing and implicit assertiveness of control by the employer, which actually deepens the initial problem with the employee.

Some of the grievance strategies – such as early resolution, facilitated roundtable conversations, or resolution triage assessments – are actually okay, but companies don’t use them properly.

Mediation has always been – and still remains – the best strategy for tackling conflicts.

It’s integrative and just, as it allows both parties to tell their side of their story while giving the power to a more objective and neutral third side to assist them to settle their disagreements.

The best part of a mediation is the fact that it transforms conflicts into a breeding ground for progress, converting the dysfunctions of a team into a set of learning lessons for both managers and employees.

As Steven Covey demonstrated in his testamentary book, the third alternative shouldn’t be just an HR practice – it can be a way of life!

Job contracts don’t take into consideration the unpredictable work environment and the emotions, desires, beliefs, and motivation of an individual worker.

Conflicts stem from these incongruities.

Consequently, the resolution must try to overcome them, and the only way it can do that is by moving from generalizations to particularity, from the way companies work to the actual way individual people behave in the workplace and outside it.

Simply put, conflicts do not arise out of people reasoning properly; most conflicts are the result of wrong assumptions, which, by definition, makes them a grey area, where there is hardly ever a right or wrong side, but where there’s always some kind of a profound misunderstanding.

In fact, David Liddle says that:

In over 90% of the cases that I mediate, the parties realize that their perceptions, while valid, were incorrect; they had wrongly assumed malintent by the other.

And that’s what mediators usually do: they encourage the discussion until it reaches the point where both employees and employers understand that there’s another side to the same story and that it is wrong to attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by some other cause; and this cause can be anything from fear and prejudice to lack of information and even incompetence.

Institutionalizing mediation may be the best thing a company can do since this act shows the employees dedication to conflict resolution which makes them feel a lot safer and more comfortable in their job positions.

Key Lessons from “Managing Conflict”

1.      The Six F’s of Management Theory
2.      The Five Stages of a Conflict’s Life Cycle
3.      Implement a Great Meditation Program in 10 Steps

The Six F’s of Management Theory

Curiously, most of management theory is built around the six F’s: fights, feelings, fear, failure, forgiveness, and flow.

If you want a functional company, you must learn to manage fights productively, which basically means understanding your employees’ feelings and fears.

It also means creating an environment, where their worst fears will be annulled, or, in other words, a place where failures are met with forgiveness and considered stepping stones to success.

All of this inspires a flow both in terms of work processes and dialogue, which are the prerequisites of a successful company.

The Five Stages of a Conflict’s Life Cycle

Almost every conflict in a company follows a similar pattern which involves five stages: pre-conflict, early conflict, mid-conflict, late conflict, and post-conflict.

Now, all of these stages ask for different approaches and, moreover, different strategies for resolution.

So, the most important thing when mediating a conflict is to first identify the stage in which it is.

Only then, you should move to finding an appropriate resolution, based on a pre-prepared strategy.

Implement a Great Meditation Program in 10 Steps

If you want to implement a meditation program in your company, try to follow these steps.

First – obviously – pick an expert; then, gather data and prepare the field for the introduction of mediation.

It’s necessary to build the program in close association with management, HR, and even unions. Only then you can develop a program which will suit everybody and move on to building a team of internal/external mediators.

Once you do that – it’s only obvious that you’ll need to select a mediation coordinator and train all parties in the use of mediation practices and tools.

Ensuring that everyone is up-to-date and spreading awareness of mediation within the organization shouldn’t be just marginal tasks.

Finally, monitor the impact of mediation and see where – and even if – you can improve.

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“Managing Conflict Quotes”

The world is less certain than it was, and our organizations are microcosms of this uncertain world. Conflict is at the heart of that uncertainty: both a cause and a symptom. Click To Tweet

Due to a lack of an intervention to address the issues at source, situations quickly escalate into a more serious conflict. Click To Tweet

Conflict is not logical; it is irrational. Conflict is not black and white; it is grey. Click To Tweet

Some managers’ lack of empathy, compassion, flexibility and self-awareness can come across as rudeness, hostility, abuse, prejudice and intimidation… classic signs of ‘bullying.’ Click To Tweet

The only way to address conflict is to find a shared meaning, a shared solution and a way forward – together. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Managing Conflicts” primarily deals with UK firms – after all, David Liddle is British – so there may be some case studies (from legal and similar perspectives) which are limited to his home country.

However, most of the book is, fortunately, not – and works a great manual, which includes tips, tricks, tools, charts, exercises – an even links to additional online materials.

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Zig Ziglar – A Journey of 100 Steps

Zig Ziglar doesn’t need an introduction in most parts of the world.

His words touched the hearts of many, and his magnetism encouraged devotion and passion.

Find your new “I,” and embark on a new quest to conquer the world with your ideas.

Who is Zig Ziglar

Zig ZiglarZiglar’s journey or adventure can be divided into two or more stages. The late Zig Ziglar was more of a motivational keynote speaker, who made an effort to embolden his audience with encouraging tips, quotes, and messages.

As a person who spent many years traveling all across the globe, Ziglar didn’t lack the charisma to impress each and every one. In general, he tried to provoke a reaction by using humor as a weapon; an approach that helped many to find the beauty in everything.

From official sources, in the last 40 years of his life, Ziglar embarked on an unparalleled journey traveling day in and day out on a regular basis.

He stated that his main motive for igniting the passion within the hearts of those attending his seminars, was the success he experienced first-hand.

Ziglar merely wanted to share the idea of a better life and help others to enjoy life as he did.

He was born on November 6th, 1926 in Coffee County, Alabama. 86 years later he passed away, leaving a great legacy of hope for newcomers in the field of marketing, sales, leadership, self-help, etc.

At the age of 5, Ziglar moved to Mississippi, where he spent most of his young days. His family left Alabama because Ziglar’s Father accepted a job offer to work at a Mississippi farm, as a manager.

In 1932, only a year after they moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, his father died of a heart stroke.

One of the milestones of Ziglar’s life that are worth mentioning is the participation in the Navy V-12 Team between 1943 and 1945.

He is remembered as one of the world’s greatest influencers, and public speakers, ever to set foot on Earth. A person who dazzled the public with its insightful tips that were powerful enough to break any cultural, political, or mental barrier.  

Even today, many people praise Ziglar’s contribution to the society. Hailed as the one who managed to awake the potential and uniqueness of every individual, by delivering challenging and life-altering ideas. The books he wrote, continue to inspire us in the same fashion, even after his death.

A thing or two about Ziglar’s personal life:

In 1944, at the height of WW2, Ziglar met his long-term life-companion and partner that will provide unconditional support and love throughout his entire career.

Jean was only 16 at the time, and Zig was 17. They married two years later in 1946 and had four children Tom, Suzan, Julie, and Cindy.

Ziglar was a Republican, and he publicly expressed his sympathies for the former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee during the presidential nomination in 2008.

Let’s finish it in style:

It’s not accurate to label Mr. Ziglar as a writer. He was more of an all-around life-changer, who used humor, books, quotes, and seminars to alter many concepts such as: leadership, sales, marketing, motivation, family, and success.

You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.

Best Zig Ziglar Books

#1. Ziglar on Selling Summary: The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional

How about we start thinking about profits! Oh, wait, that’s only step number 2.

A lot of salespeople are exposing their agenda too quickly. They go in from person to person trying to sell a product using the same annoying technique.

Ziglar on numerous occasion has stated that – Identifying your target audience is a much more valuable process than many salespersons think.

No one likes to be disturbed, so before you start your presentation, see if that individual can be converted into a long-term client. Don’t waste your time, because you are unprepared and unequipped.

Following these simple ground rules can make a world of difference for anyone. So, don’t drift around, define your goals, design a blueprint, get ready, and start selling.

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.

#2. Secrets of Closing the Sale Summary: For Anyone Who Must Get Others to Say Yes!

Many salespeople have reported that the last stage is always the hardest one. But what if, everything you’ve been taught is inaccurate and wrong? Don’t throw caution to the wind, and take a firm stand to protect your interest.

So why you got rejected once more?

The most annoying thing that can happen to a salesperson is – Your potential customer, loves the product, wants to have it, has money to buy it, it will save him/her money, but at the end, he/she rejects to make a transaction.

You must be thinking what the hell is wrong now?

Zig Ziglar lays out several key reasons that make your clients reluctant to plunge into a long-term deal. No need, lack of money, not in a hurry, no strong desire, and absolutely the worst one of them all – NO TRUST!

Gain that trust, dress nicely, shake their world with your appearance. Invest in yourself, and soon you’ll be able to increase your percentage of your sales rate!

It is unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing what it was bought to do.

#3. Selling 101 Summary: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know

This book is like a beginner’s guide to sales.

Whether you are starting off in a big company, or a small one, every salesperson has pretty much the same symptoms when it comes to taking action.

Making profits is the only process that is visible, all the other ones are in the background.

So, how to approach it?

“Rookies” in the sales business, experience all types of uncertainty and doubt. Fear no more, such behavior is typical for newcomers, and you don’t need to worry too much.

Overcoming call reluctance, fear of rejection, and nonconformity of asking for help is the very first step. Once you get used to the fact that not every call ends up in revenues, your life will unfold much easier.

Don’t take any rejection too personally, learn from it, design a plan to cope with each reaction, and response.

These easy-to-follow mental tricks, will uplift your career and make you an indispensable member of your organization.

Personalize the benefits for the prospect.

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“Zig Ziglar Quotes”

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily. Click To Tweet Remember that failure is an event, not a person. Click To Tweet What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. Click To Tweet You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Click To Tweet Remember that failure is an event, not a person. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

What more can we say about a man who changed thousands of lives?

He’ll remain in the hearts of those who reached a new stage of happiness and success.

Don’t hesitate, take action and deal with your problems – once and for all.

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Skin in the Game Summary | FREE PDF |

Skin in the Game SummaryHidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of the foremost thinkers of the modern age, a guy who can change the way you think about the world with almost every book he’s ever written.


Because he has had his fair share of meaningful experience; because he has taken the risks – losing some, but winning as well; in a word, because he has had his skin in the game.

Who Should Read “Skin in the Game”? And Why?

Even in a world of so many things happening, there are few intellectuals so influential that each of their books or speeches is an event. Think Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm GladwellNassim Nicholas Taleb is certainly part of this very rare group. Though, to be fair to him, he feels as if he’s in an even rarer.

For one, he doesn’t like at all the first half of the aforelisted foursome, comparing the first one to a Burger King drive-in in the national park of science. (Yes, they have debated a bit acrimoniusly in the past…)

Skin in the Game” was published on February 27, 2018 – and it’s already (we’re writing this summary barely a month later) – sold out in most of the bookstores around you! To say that it’s a book which will interest mostly economists and risk analysts would be an understatement. Just as it would be to say that people interested in sociology and social psychology will have a ball!

Just like every other work by Taleb, “Skin in the Game” is a book everyone should have a look at. And a book very few will regret buying.

About Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas TalebNassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American scholar and essayist, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and one of the best-known, most profoundly beloved, and universally respected nonfiction authors.

A polyglot, Taleb earned bachelor and master of science degrees from the University of Paris before earning an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Management Science from Paris Dauphine University in 1998. He started his professional career as a statistician and trader, before becoming a risk analyst and a published author.

His books focus mostly on risk management and uncertainty. In fact, in November 2016, four of them were published in a bundle called “Incerto”: “Fooled by Randomness,” “The Black Swan,” “The Bed of Procrustes,” and “Antifragile.”

Skin in the Game” joins the series.

“Skin in the Game Summary”

You may have already heard the story. But, even so, it’s worth repeating.

In Shakespeare’s famous play “The Merchant of Venice,” Bassanio, a young Venetian nobleman, asks his friend Antonio for 3,000 ducats so that he can woo a wealthy heiress called Portia.

Antonio, the guy with the profession from the title, doesn’t have the money at the moment but tells Bassanio that he can be the guarantor if Bassanio finds someone who’ll lend him the sum. Bassanio finds Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, who agrees to give Bassanio the money on one condition: if Antonio can’t pay him back “the pounds,” Shylock will get a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

That, right there, is the literalized version of the phrase “skin in the game.” It means having some part of you at stake; it means risking to lose something yours instead of merely transferring the risks to the others.

Or, in the words of Taleb himself:

Now, if you watched the video carefully, you might have noticed that Taleb mentions Hammurabi; and let’s face it, his laws are not actually considered the paragon of democracy today! But, Taleb’s “Skin in the Game,” nevertheless, sees much more justice in some of them than in the laws – or, the lack of them – we have today.

Bear with us for a second to see this in practice!

You are a client, and you want to buy some fast stocks and earn some fast money. The trader tells you that he has some which are great for your portfolio and which will undoubtedly gain value very soon. You buy them, of course; sometime later, you lose your initial investment.

But, that’s okay – the trader couldn’t have known everything! Win some, lose some – that’s the unofficial rule of the game, right?

Well, that’s the problem! It is for you; It’s not for him.

Either way, he’s going to get his money. And, as Taleb learned while working for an investment bank himself, what you were told when you bought the stocks was probably absolute nonsense. The trader almost certainly had some surplus and wanted to sell the unwanted shares.

And, since he is a seller – he used each and every dirty trick in the book to persuade you and influence your decision.

But, then again, we just said: he is a seller. Meaning: he is also a storyteller. Consequently, he has all the right to do that. In other words: he didn’t do anything illegal; it’s the buyer’s fault – he shouldn’t have believed him.

Well, you’re partly right – if you live in a WEIRD society! Many other cultures, just like Ancient Babylon did, consider this illegal. And, in order to stop it from happening, their laws are based around grabbing some of the stockbrokers’ skin – and putting in the game as well!

Take, for example, the Islamic Shariah law.

Among other things, it includes something called “gharar.” Literally, you can translate the word as “risk.” Interpreters, however, usually, define it along these lines: “the sale of a thing which is not present;” or “the sale of a thing whose consequence is not known;” or the “sale involving hazard in which one does not know whether it will come to be or not.”

Before we spend few sentences explaining this, we will kindly ask you to compare the concept of gharar to Matthew McConaughey’s legendary speech in “The Wolf of Wall Street”:

Now, back to gharar.

Taleb says that what they’re doing on Wall Street should be illegal. Because it’s based on the asymmetry of information: the seller knows much more than the buyer. And, what’s more, the seller gets the rewards; the buyer is stuck with the risks.

It’s irrelevant if the latter wins as well. What’s relevant is that, unlike him, the former can’t lose anything.

Take, for example, Bob Rubin, temporary chairman of Citigroup, and, in the dictionary of Taleb, synonym for all that’s wrong with banking executives. To quote the author, Rubin “collected more than $120 million in compensation from Citibank in the decade preceding the banking crash of 2008. When the bank, literally insolvent, was rescued by the taxpayer, he didn’t write any cheque – he invoked uncertainty as an excuse. Heads he wins, tails he shouts ‘Black Swan’.”

Interestingly enough, even though we need Taleb to point it out to us, we already know this on a gut level! That’s why we hate bankers and large corporations and consider Wall Street a den of thieves. Simply put, unlike entrepreneurs (who we think of as role models), they didn’t go all in!

Even worse: they earned their money by risking almost nothing at all! And that, even though it’s perfectly legal, is morally wrong. And should be unlawful as well!

“For social justice,” concludes Taleb, “focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do… Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.”

Just ask evolution!

Key Lessons from “Skin in the Game”

1.      Asymmetry Should Be Illegal
2.      Usually it’s the Minority Which Rules the Majority
3.      Oh, the Elaborate Web of Lies We Trap Ourselves Into!

Asymmetry Should Be Illegal

If you need to take one – this is the main takeaway from Nassim Taleb’s newest book: social justice should be based on the symmetry of risk and reward. In other words, people who don’t risk – and don’t have skin in the game (or: SITG, for short) – shouldn’t be allowed to reap the rewards.

Yes: we’re looking at you, stockbrokers, bankers, sales reps, CEOs, fund managers! How about doing something – with your own money first!

(On an interesting side note: here’s a real-life scenario of how should risk/reward symmetry work. When one footballer broke the leg of another, all that he got was a yellow card. A judge decided otherwise: he will be suspended until the injured player is fine and gets back on the field!

Now, that’s justice. Talebian justice, if you will.)

skin in the game pdf

Usually it’s the Minority Which Rules the Majority

Many people have advocated against the tyranny of the minority. According to Taleb, however, it’s more ubiquitous than we care to admit. And not that strange.

For example, do you know that 70% of the lamb meat in England is processed according to halal standards? And only 4% of the British population are Muslims!

Then, why is that?

Well, for the very same reason that if you have one person in your family who hates GMO, you’ll buy all of your fruits from a non-GMO market!

It is the only thing which makes sense!

Oh, the Elaborate Web of Lies We Trap Ourselves Into!

Smart rich people – says Taleb (and the evidence confirms it) – don’t usually live in large solitary mansions.


Because, obviously, everyone would enjoy more in a lively neighborhood!

However, agents trick them into buying those houses, because they have much money, and, consequently, can buy something expensive with less risk than you and me. For the same reason, the food in expensive restaurants is – prepare for it! – probably worse than the one in the cheap ones. For one, the latter can’t risk tiny portions.

So, the next time you want to spend a fortune on an expensive wine –


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“Skin in the Game” Quotes

The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing. Click To Tweet What matters isn’t what a person has or doesn’t have; it is what he or she is afraid of losing. Click To Tweet Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions. Click To Tweet Alexander said that it was preferable to have an army of sheep led by a lion than an army of lions led by a sheep. Click To Tweet When young people who ‘want to help mankind’ come to me asking, ‘What should I do?’ …. my suggestion is: 1) Never engage in virtue signaling; 2) Never engage in rent-seeking; 3) You must start a business. Click To Tweet If you give an opinion, and someone follows it, you are morally obligated to be, yourself, exposed to its consequences. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Skin in the Game” is not Nassim Taleb’s best book – but, it’s certainly his “most provocative and practical” one. His idiosyncratic style – which gives him the opportunity to talk about everything from Kant to Trump – will help you understand complex ideas effortlessly – once again.

And maybe – even teach you how you can live a better and juster life!

So, we guess there’s no reason to add now that “Skin in the Game” is a must-read. Because, let’s face it, it is from the very moment you notice the name of its author!

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Alibaba’s World Summary

Alibaba's World SummaryHow a Remarkable Chinese Company Is Changing the Face of Global Business

Sure – you know everything about “Amazon” and Jeff Bezos. But, do you know who is poised to become its main competitor during the following years?

You’re wrong if you’ve answered anything other than “Alibaba.” And as we’re heading for an Amazon-Alibaba e-commerce showdown, it’s about time you learned something more about the latter company.

Its former vice president, Porter Erisman, has all the details in “Alibaba’s World.”

Who Should Read “Alibaba’s World”? And Why?

Most of all, “Alibaba’s World” is about businessmen who are still failing to realize that what’s happening in China happens in the U.S. as well; soon enough, China will be a global leader, and “Alibaba” is the earliest evidence we have of it.

However, it’s also a book perfect for entrepreneurs – both would-be and struggling ones; because, let’s face it: there may be no better way to learn the basics of business than by reading the stories of successful companies.

About Porter Erisman

Porter ErismanPorter Erisman is an expert in e-commerce, especially when it comes to the emerging markets. In fact, he has advised and consulted many companies located in the so-called Third World, whether in Africa, Asia, or Latin America.

However, he’s most famous as the former Vice President of “Alibaba,” where he worked from 2004 to 2008, the period during which the company moved from Jack Ma’s apartment to the pedestal of world’s ecommerce.

He has written one more book, “Six Billion Shoppers” and written and directed a documentary about “Alibaba,” “Crocodile in the Yangtze.”

“Alibaba’s World Summary”

As every entrepreneur knows, good ideas are not enough. After all, every entrepreneur tries to change the world a bit, and his or her good ideas have the problem of being new ideas, as well.

However, selling something new also means trying to gain traction in a relatively new market. And new markets are difficult!

But, tell that to Jack Ma!

When he founded “Alibaba” – the now second greatest leader in the world, according to “Fortune” – had to found a market as well! Because, back in 1999, e-commerce was virtually non-existent in China.

No, scratch that: it was the Internet. Yes – Internet was non-existent in China only 20 years ago.


In 1999, only 1% of the Chinese population had an access to the Internet. And most of them didn’t even know that it’s possible to buy something online! Fast forward two decades, and “Alibaba” is a giant comparable to Amazon, possibly capable of even overcoming it in the following years, and, thus, becoming the first $500 billion e-commerce company in the world!

This has made Jack Ma – who owns about one tenth of Alibaba’s shares – one of the wealthiest people alive. And before he started “Alibaba” – knowing almost nothing about computers and technology – he worked as an English teacher, earning no more than $20 a month!

So, yes – there’s still hope for you!

However, don’t take it for granted! You’ve got to work a lot before becoming the next Jack Ma!

One of the lessons you can learn from him: build your company for growth!

For example, when he started “Alibaba,” Jack Ma wanted to found a company which will last for 80 years, i.e., a human lifetime. And he did everything he could to make this happen.

And he didn’t back off even during Alibaba’s buy-out of “Yahoo! China” in 2005!

Namely, that event may have signaled the end of “Alibaba” as we know it, since “Yahoo! China” asked that it is renamed to “Alibaba-Yahoo.” But Ma wanted his company to last – not a “Yahoo!” puppet. So, he completed the deal only after “Yahoo! China” gave up on the renaming demand!

The rest is history. Ignored up until then, afterward, everybody started making note of “Alibaba,” the fabled Crocodile in the Yangtze.

However, in order to get to there, “Alibaba” had to make some adjustments. And Jack Ma always knew where to look to when making them: the customers!

Even though his investors pressured him into doing something more profitable, Ma was sure that offering free premium services is the only viable option in a non-existent market. So, instead of copying eBay’s model, he launched Alibaba’s C2C service “TaoBao” as a free service.

The move was mocked by eBay at the start, but, soon after, they had to shut down their China website. Because – surprise! surprise! – TaoBao grew to become one of the largest online shopping websites worldwide!

eBay’s fall seems even funnier when you think about the length to which they went to deride TaoBao. Once, they even invited TaoBao’s team to a party they were hosting – and uninvited them at the last minute!

They wanted to show who’s the boss.

Soon enough, they couldn’t: TaoBao’s market share grew from 8% to 59% in two years, and eBay China’s plunged from 79% to 36%.

And soon, there was only one competitor.

Key Lessons from “Alibaba’s World”

1.      Alibaba is a Giant – and It Started in Jack Ma’s House
2.      Alibaba’s Success Is Based on a String of Bold Decisions
3.      Build a Company for Your Customers – Not for You

Alibaba is a Giant – and It Started in Jack Ma’s House

“Alibaba” was founded in 1999 in Jack Ma’s house – from where it was operated until 2004. Nowadays, it’s a multinational conglomerate for which the sky’s the only limit.

Here are the stats:

“Alibaba” is the world’s largest retailer, passing “Walmart” about two years ago. Along with “Tencent,” it’s one of only two Asian companies which have broken the US$500 billion valuation mark. It operates in 200 countries and is one of the world’s largest Internet companies.

Finally, its online sales surpass all US retailers – and that means: Amazon + eBay + Walmart – combined!

Alibaba’s Success Is Based on a String of Bold Decisions

Alibaba wouldn’t have become what it currently is, if Jack Ma hadn’t make few very bold decisions. And any future entrepreneur should really learn from him how it’s done!

Number one: he found an online e-commerce company in China, when 99% of the Chinese didn’t even have Internet.

Next, he offered many free services when eBay China – and everyone else – was charging.

Finally, he didn’t sell any shares of “Alibaba” to “Yahoo! China” until they gave up on the demand to rename the company!

Build a Company for Your Customers – Not for You

What made “Alibaba” different than its competitors – Jack Ma claims – is his disinterest in computers and tech-related stuff. That’s why, he adds, he had no option but to look at his own business through the eyes of the customers.

And that’s the most important takeaway from “Alibaba’s World”: build your business for your customers. Of course, it’s essential to identify them and analyze their behavior first!

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“Alibaba’s World” Quotes

Learn from competitors but never copy them. Copy them and you will die. Click To Tweet Alibaba is no longer a David. It is a Goliath. And as a Goliath it will face an entirely new set of challenges. Click To Tweet Today is tough. Tomorrow is tougher. The day after tomorrow is beautiful. But most people die tomorrow night and don’t get the chance to see the sun rise the day after tomorrow. (via Jack Ma) Click To Tweet I’m 100 percent ‘made in China.’ I learned English myself, and I know nothing about technology… One of the reasons why Alibaba survived is because I know nothing about computers. I’m like a blind man riding on the back of a blind tiger.… Click To Tweet eBay is a shark in the ocean. We are a crocodile in the Yangtze river. If we fight in the ocean, we will lose. But if we fight in the river, we will win. (via Jack Ma) Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Since “Alibaba’s World” was written, “Alibaba” just grew and grew. And it doesn’t show any sign that it will stop in the near future.

“Fascinating,” wrote “The Financial Times,” adding that “stories don’t get much better than Alibaba’s.” And Nick Arnold, former Head of Marketing for “Apple” Asia, was wordier and even more flattering in his assessment: “A must-read, full of practical learning for anyone seeking to understand Chinese entrepreneurship or build the business of their dreams.”

Back in 2015, “Wall Street Journal” chose this book as one of the best business books of the year. Unsurprisingly, three years later, we still agree!

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Legendary Service Summary

Legendary Service SummaryThe Key Is to Care

“It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.” But retaining existing customers is not something you can learn overnight. And, Ken Blanchard says, you don’t need just an ordinary service to do it.

You need “Legendary Service.”

About Ken Blanchard, Kathy Cuff and Vicki Halsey

Ken BlanchardKenneth Blanchard is an American writer and management expert. He received a Ph.D. in leadership from Cornell in 1967. He is currently the Chief Spiritual Officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies.

Blanchard has authored and co-authored over 60 books, many of which have become classics. In fact, you’ve probably already heard about “The One Minute Manager” and “Whale Done.”

Kathy CuffKathy Cuff is a senior consulting partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies.

She has also co-authored with Blanchard one more book, “Leading at a Higher Level.”

Vicki HalseyVicki Halsey is a vice president of applied learning at the Ken Blanchard Companies.

In addition, she has also co-authored – with Blanchard – “Situational Leadership,” and wrote “Brilliance by Design.”

“Legendary Service Summary”

The customer is always right… right?

Of course! But, that’s just the beginning of the story. If you want to hear the rest of it – please, be our guest!

First of all, you have to realize that customer service is both a science and an art. “Legendary Service” tries to transform the latter into the first – and make things easier for you.

At its core is, pretty obvious by now, building lasting relationships.

And there are two of them: internal and external.

The internal relationships are those you build with your employees. This is the largely ignored part of customer service. And it’s just as important! Because, after all, if your employees are satisfied, they’ll enjoy coming to work. And transfer some of that energy to your customers as well!

The external relationships are those you build with your customers. You can’t overestimate their importance in view of the success of your company.

Legendary Service is built upon five foundations. You may have already heard the acronym of the model: I CARE.

Let’s break it down.

“I” stands for Ideal Service.

The question this part of the model begs is “what you can do to meet your customers’ needs on a daily basis?” The answer is not that simple: you’ll get to it after spending some time analyzing your customers’ behavior. However, making them feel special is certainly a common denominator. So, light their fire!

“C” stands for Culture of Service.

It’s not just about devising the ideal service. It’s also about relating it to everyone in your company. And every culture is based on two things: vision and values. The clearer they are – the better the cohesion. Nations are created around stories; why should companies be any different?

“A” stands for Attentiveness.

Customers change. And so should your relationship with them. They are, after all, a fragile bunch: even if you had been great with them in 99 cases, be less than great the next time – and you’ll lose them. So attentively analyze them constantly. A great way to do this is by chunking them into smaller categories.

“R” stands for Responsiveness.

This is especially important in the case of an unsatisfied customer. It works just like in parenting: if you’re unresponsive, you’ll let your child slide away from your arms. Listen! Say “I understand” and nod the problems away. And whenever you can – do the customer one better than he or she asks for!

E” stands for Empowerment.

This is what closes the cycle. Obviously, this step doesn’t mean empowering customers – but empowering employees. Because when you give your employees more power, they feel freer to satisfy the customers. And, before you notice, you’ve created yourself a team of leaders!

Key Lessons from “Legendary Service”

1.      “I” stands for Ideal Service.
2.      “C” stands for Culture of Service.
3.      “A” stands for Attentiveness
4.      “R” stands for Responsiveness
5.      “E” stands for Empowerment

“I” stands for Ideal Service

Customer care is the very core of the Legendary Service model. As the acronym of its step-by-step manual suggests in itself: “I CARE.”

“I” stands for ideal service. And it’s based on the old idea that the customer is always right. So, adapt your behavior to fit his or her needs. And do that on a daily basis.

“C” stands for Culture of Service

Even ideal service means nothing – if it’s not communicated well enough. And that brings us to the second part of the I CARE model: the Culture of Service. It’s founded on two elements: vision and values. The former is general, the latter are specific.

But, both are unchangeable and religiously followed.

“A” stands for Attentiveness

Customers change and cultures evolve. So should your company – in case it is built for growth. And in order to steer it in the right direction: be attentive. Study the behavior of your customers and update yours.

“R” stands for Responsiveness

Responsive parents are the only good parents. Analogously, responsive customer service is the only path toward Legendary Service. It means showing a genuine enthusiasm to serve your customers and fulfill their needs. And this is especially important in the case of unsatisfied customers.

“E” stands for Empowerment

There are two aspects of customer service: external relationships (with your customers) and internal relationships (with your employees). The latter are routinely ignored. Do the exact opposite: build them first by empowering your employees.

Because if they can make a decision on their own, they will take full responsibility for it. And make the better one!

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“Legendary Service” Quotes

If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will. Click To Tweet Customer loyalty is what you get when you create a motivating environment for your people. Click To Tweet Creating a Culture of Service begins with practicing a service mindset with their people so they will care for customers in a way that can significantly impact the organization’s bottom line. Click To Tweet Whether a CEO or a part-time employee… every person can make a difference – and customer service, both internal and external, is everyone’s job. Click To Tweet You’re only as successful as your customer service – and… Legendary Service creates loyal customers who come back for more. Click To Tweet
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