Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

To Sell is Human

Sunday, December 12th, 2021 | Books, Business & Marketing

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others is a book by Dan Pink. In it, he argues that the old ABCs of sales (always be closing) have been replaced by a new, more authentic and honest approach to sales.

His case is essentially this: the old way of sales relied on information asymmetry. The salesperson knew more than the customer and could use that to their advantage. However, in the information age, the customer has often done a lot of research and in many cases knows more than the salesperson (such as competitor offerings) and therefore you cannot bullshit a customer anymore.

So, what do we do about it? Pink argues that we need to be empathetic towards our customers. Understand how we can help them and build a way to win together, rather than seeing sales as a zero-sum game where we have to get one over on the customer.

We should give them all in the information they need and not be afraid of doing so. He gives the example of CarMax, an American car superstore brand that provides computers for customers to research what their competitors are doing so they know that CarMax is offering the best deal.

Finally, be clear on what you are offering. Pink suggests an elevator pitch may be too long for the modern generation who are used to 140-character tweets. Pink suggests a number of successors to the elevator pitch including one-word pitches (when I say “search”…), questions and rhymes.

Running For Beginners book

Monday, March 22nd, 2021 | Books

Several years ago I launched a free Running For Beginners course to help people get into running. Thousands of people have since taken the course and we have a large community of over 8,000 runners on Facebook sharing success stories and advise.

Over the years, I have enjoyed answering questions and helping new runners, and I have also noticed that the same questions come up time after time. So, to save people time, I have compiled the most common questions and answers into a book. There are 69 questions but I wanted to avoid jokes about the number, I subtitled 50 questions with the view to under-promise and over-deliver.

The book is now available in both paperback and Kindle format from Amazon. Preview Running For Beginners: 50 Things You Should Know.

Family Therapy: 100 Key Points & Techniques

Monday, March 15th, 2021 | Books

Family Therapy: 100 Key Points & Techniques is a book by Eddy Street and Mark Rivett on practising family therapy.

Rather than being a therapy for families (although it is also this), family therapy is a modality of psychotherapy in itself that involves multiple members of a family. While there are individual schools that focus on narrative or other areas of focus, most of the theory revolves around systems and is also referred to as systematic therapy.

These systems allow us to take in a wider view of the issue. For example, a child may be misbehaving, which can be addressed by itself but is better addressed by understanding that this is a cry for attention when the parents are arguing. And that by addressing the problems with the systems, the result of the problems will resolve themselves.

As you may guess from the title, the book is broken down into 100 short sections of a couple of pages. Each one looks at a particular issue, technique or discussion inside family therapy. It follows a rough structure rather than jumping around too much, so can still serve as an introduction to family therapy.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Sunday, March 14th, 2021 | Books

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life is a non-fiction book by Scott Adams. Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic and in this book, he puts forward his wisdom on how he has been successful. It’s a sort of a cross between a biography, self-help book and fun read.

Adams emphasises systems over goals. He suggests goals are a bad idea because you are always failing to reach one, or it is accomplished and done. For example, if you want to lose weight, you could set a goal that you are not achieving, or you could exercise every day. The latter is a system: you follow the system and the goal happens anyway at some point.

He suggests failure is good as you always learn something. I suspect most of us would agree with that. He debates simplicity vs optimisation. For example, should you try to squeeze in a supermarket trip on the way to meet a friend? Probably, if you can remain cool if you get delayed. Should you do the same thing before a job interview? Probably not.

He likes talent and suggests that if you are normally risk-averse, but willing to take risks in one area, that is probably an indicator you have some natural talent. The best way to utilise talent is not to focus solely on the thing but to build a talent stack: complementary skills that produce a uniquely good result.

If you are launching a new product, try to find one where the market is strong from day one, even if your product is not. Mobile phones, laptops and fax machines were all terrible to start with but they sold from day one and got better.

Adams suggests there are some all-round skills that are valuable in life regardless of what you do. These include public speaking, psychology, business writing, accounting, design, conversation, persuasion, technology and vocal technique.

He also offers four keys to success: lack of fear of embarrassment, education, exercise and treating success as a learnable skill. In the latter case, this means finding out what skills need to succeed in your chosen endeavour and going out and getting them.

The Testaments

Saturday, March 13th, 2021 | Books

The Testaments is a novel by Margaret Atwood. It is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. There are a couple of very mind spoilers in this post.

Released 34 years after the original, it is set a few decades after the original and tells of the final days of Gilead as told by a series of different narrators: Aunt Lydia, a girl from Gilead and a girl from Canada. The final part of the novel is narrated by a history professor several hundred years in the future attempting to piece together the final days of the failed state.

I enjoyed the novel a lot. probably more so than the original. Atwood comments in the opening that she wrote the book due to so man requests from fans with the implication that it would provide closure. In some ways, I felt this was not needed. It was a dystopian novel: should there be a happy ending? Does it detract from the horror if we know it is going to be alright in the end? But maybe that is a comfort that I, as a man, do not need but others might.

The Salt Path

Friday, February 19th, 2021 | Books

The Salt Path is a non-fiction book by Raynor Winn. It is technically travel writing as it tells the story of her and her partner walking the 630-mile South West Coast Path after they are made homeless and her partner receives a terminal illness diagnosis.

It certainly starts on a negative note. But despite the premise, the story quickly becomes a heartwarming tale as the two discover new resources within themselves. Winn is a funny and entertaining writer and the story is captivating throughout.

Crooked House

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 | Books

Crooked House is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It is one of the few that stands alone without any of Christie’s regular detective characters. It was okay. I didn’t have to force myself to finish it but it wasn’t amazing.

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

Saturday, February 13th, 2021 | Books

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance is a book by Jason Koop. Koop is an ultra coach and I like his book a lot. It challenges some conventional logic but does so with a heavy dose of academic referencing and modern theory on training.

One of the major premises of the book is that you should focus on fitness. This is often forgotten about with ultras. Many runners, including Laz Lake, will preach the benefits of miles and miles of training. And it is true you need to run a lot. But ultra runners should also do tempo runs and interval training. Why? Because if you increase your VO2 max by 10%, that makes running slowly 10% easier, too. And even running slowly is hard when you have to do it for 160 kilometres.

He follows a reverse periodisation model where you work on the least important things farthest away. In a traditional periodisation model, you would work on base fitness and add in speed work later. But Koop starts with speed work and then moves onto getting increasingly specific to the race as we move into the season.

If you want to deep dive into ultrarunning training theory, this is a great book.

Relentless Forward Progress

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | Books

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons is a book Bryon Powell.

I have read so many books on ultras recently, I am not going to say too much about them for fear I am confusing different books. But everything about this book was very good. On balance, I prefer it to Hal Koerner’s Field Guidem which is also a good read. But the advice in Powell’s book feels a little more practical, comprehensive and accessible.

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | Books

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond is a book by Hal Koerner (pretty obviously). Koerner is an ultrarunner who has won many of the famous American ultras including Western States, Javelina Jundred and Hardrock.

It is a solid book with plenty of advice. I would recommend it to anyone getting into ultra running.