Saturday, October 19, 2019





University executives address leadership by focusing on Disney example

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 25, 2019

Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

Photos: Routledge, Zeller Photography, Ball State University

In Entrepreneurship the Disney Way (Routledge, $59.95) Michael Goldsby and Rob Mathews discuss their ideas about leadership and entrepreneurship modeled on the Disney company. They follow Disney’s rise from startup to media giant, highlighting how they believe the company’s leaders “carry on the legacy of Walt Disney’s mission and core values, enabling the company to continue growing and innovating.”

The 308-page softcover book published in 2019 is divided into seven chapters and two main parts: Walt Disney, Entrepreneur and Corporate Entrepreneurship at the Walt Disney Company.

“The book was written for a wide audience, but the two parts of the book target A) entrepreneurs and leaders, and B) owners, leaders, and managers of/ in mid-sized to large companies and other organizations,” Mathews said by email in response to a question about the primary target audience for the book.

When asked how long the project took from idea to publication he replied, “Mike and I developed a love for Disney Parks and Resorts in the last 15 years. We spent the last 10-12 years researching the company and specifically its parks and resorts. We started started talking about and planning a book about 10 years ago. The actual writing and editing process took about a year.”

Each chapter includes end notes and highlights Lessons, 30 in total. The first part of the book is dedicated to Walt Disney and his vision. The second part focuses on the transition from a family business to the company it is today.

Rob Mathews, co-author, Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

Rob Mathews, co-author, Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

“Most jobs, businesses, and projects go well when they match your passion and psychological talents. Writing is no different,” Mathews said when asked why he and his co-author selected Disney as the model company for the book. “Mike and I had great knowledge of Disney as a business model, we had friends in the company, we love the company as a consumer, and we connected with the story of Walt’s vision, perseverance, and legacy that lives on today. I would also add that the way we approach our lives and business matches up with Disney very well. We value innovation, heritage, professionalism, intentionality, attention to detail, and great leadership. Disney is an exemplary model for those principles.”

In what ways does a mission developed in the 1920s remain relevant today? “Disney’s mission is timeless,” Mathews said. “It essentially hasn’t changed since Walt’s initial vision. The company’s overall mission–essentially to be the best in entertainment–and the parks and resorts mission–basically to create happiness–have more or less remained the same. Those missions are simple, inspiring, and easy to get behind as a leader, cast member, partner, or vendor. And the customer can feel and experience the Disney difference, as we like to call it.”

When asked to share examples of Disney entrepreneurship and innovation in the past three years he said, “Most of Disney’s recent innovations that come to mind have surfaced in the theme parks. Attractions like Tron Lightcycle Power Run in Shanghai Disneyland, Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios, and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run are truly cutting edge. The parks and lands that house those attractions, Shaghai Disneyland, Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Pandora – The World of Avatar, are breathtaking innovations that remove guests from the realities of their lives. Pandora literally looks like we saw it on the movie, and the Star Wars land makes you forget that you are in a theme park. Beyond attractions and theming, less noticeable, yet highly impactful system and process innovations, such as waste management at Magic Kingdom, the most visited theme park in the world, have changed the way Disney does business.”

When asked: The Millennial generation is said to be the most diverse generation yet. In what way does the model you propose take into account Millennials, diversity among workers and customers? he replied, “Our Entrepreneurial Leadership Instrument (ELI), like most assessment tools in my belief, bridge generational gaps and provide a common language for people. These tools demonstrate the value of each person, and empower people to be themselves. For a generation that was told to behave a certain way, think very specifically, and take orders, genuine and authentic use of such tools is extremely refreshing and encouraging. Millennials appreciate that kind of approach to leadership and team building. Good assessment tools also highlight the value and critical importance of cognitive diversity, along with building diverse teams. As for customers, the ELI points to the need to speak differently to different players. Not everyone will respond to marketing, mission, branding, brand promise, etc. the same, and companies need to know that and build appropriate strategies. The days of push marketing are largely over. It’s a lot like how good teachers make sure they are addressing the various learning styles in the classroom.

The Disney Company has done an excellent job of creating a very diverse culture that welcomes and provides opportunities for all people. Millennials like working at Disney because the mission is clear, positive, and constantly supported and reinforced. Millennials are very mission-centered, so Disney’s extreme emphasis on mission and investment in people in very attractive to them.”

Michael Goldsby, co-author, Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

Michael Goldsby, co-author, Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

When asked about allegations of gender parity issues at Disney (see Underpaid and undervalued: 10 women claim systemic discrimination at Disney from September 18, 2019, The Guardian, theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/18/disney-lawsuit-gender-pay-gap-abc?), Mathews replied: “I can’t really speak to the media side of the company too much, as we don’t have contacts there, nor has it been our research focus. The Parks and Resorts division seems to treat all cast members extremely well, so it does not impact the concepts we shared in the book.”

Only Mathews responded to email questions. Goldsby is chief entrepreneurship officer and Stoops Distinguished professor of Entrepreneurship at Ball State University in Indiana. Mathews is the director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Ball State University.


Entrepreneurship The Disney Way

Click to buy Entrepreneurship the Disney Way




Podcast with Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies, about generic drugs and her book

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 9, 2019

Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies

Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies

Photo: Roberto Falck

A podcast interview with Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies (see Investigative journalist reveals troubling side of generic drugs) is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, she discusses her book with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Katherine Eban is a Fortune magazine contributor, and has also written for Vanity Fair, Self, and The Nation. She is the author of Dangerous Doses: A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America’s Drug Supply. She formerly worked as a staff writer for The New York Times and the New York Observer. Educated at Brown University and Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right hand side, then select “HMPR Katherine Eban” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home from the RSS feed. Some software will not allow flash, which may be necessary for the play button and podcast player. If that is your case, you will need to download the file to play it. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the September 2019 section of the podcast archive.


Bottle of Lies

Click to buy Bottle of Lies


Investigative journalist reveals troubling side of generic drugs

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 12, 2019

Bottle of Lies

Bottle of Lies

Photos: Ecco, Roberto Falck

Investigative journalist Katherine Eban dedicated 10 years of her life to researching and writing about the generic drug industry boom in the United States. Along the way she read official documents, spoke with whistleblowers, lawyers and government employees, uncovering disturbing truths about the quality and trustworthiness of the drugs that many would prefer remain in the dark. This year her findings became available to the public in Bottle of Lies The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom (Ecco, $28.99). There is also an audio edition narrated by Eban. A paperback edition is due May 2020.

The 482-page non fiction book is easy to read and engaging, more like a novel than a non-fiction expose. It outlines the events that led to the blossoming of a huge generic drug industry in the United States and the myriad problems she uncovered. It is divided into 28 chapters and seven main parts: Shifting Ground, India Rises, A Cat-and-Mouse Business, Making A Case, Detectives in the Dark, The Watershed, and Reckonings.

“The book is entirely non-fiction, Eban said by email. “Every detail in the book is supported by documentation, interviews, or source recollections, and no names have been changed.”

When asked about her personal motivator, she replied, “My reporting on the generic drug industry actually began a decade ago, when I was contacted by the host of an NPR radio show, The People’s Pharmacy. The host, Joe Graedon, said that patients were contacting him with complaints about side effects from their generic drugs. He suggested I look into the question of what is wrong with the drugs. It quickly became apparent to me that just documenting patient concerns would not get me very far in answering that question. I realized the answers most likely lay in the manufacturing plants and boardrooms of the companies making our drugs – which meant in India and China.

My effort to answer that original question — What is wrong with the drugs? — turned into a global mystery that kept me reporting and digging.”

Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies

Katherine Eban, author, Bottle of Lies

The primary target audience for the book? “Anyone and everyone, the author said. “The story is real-life global thriller with big money and life-and-death consequences at its core.  Anyone who enjoys a page-turning detective story, who wants to learn about the dark side of globalization, or who takes any medicine at all, is the ideal reader.”

About the book project overall the author said, “The biggest challenge was: how was I, as an independent U.S.-based journalist — without a newsroom, a team of colleagues, or other resources at my disposal — going to be able to penetrate an industry, and companies, that were based on another continent?  The difficulties of a global investigative project were unrelenting.

The most rewarding was finally being able to get real insight into those distant manufacturing plants, and to convey that to readers. The reaction has been immense. I am flooded with emails from grateful readers, almost all of whom are consumers of generic drugs. They feel enlightened by the book.”

Eban said that since the book came out, she has been contacted by Congressional committees, interested in investigating the problems she raised. One measure of success, the author said, would be to help fix the problems her book exposes.


Bottle of Lies

Click to buy Bottle of Lies


Podcast with Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale, about his book

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 22, 2019

Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale

Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale

Photo: Todd Caponi

A podcast interview with Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results (see Sales specialist touts importance of transparency) is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses his book with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Todd is also a keynote speaker, workshop leader and trainer as well as principal and founder of Sales Melon.

To listen to the interview, scroll down until you see “Podcast” on the right hand side, then select “HMPR Todd Caponi” and click on the play button below or download the MP3 file to your iPod or MP3 player to listen on the go, in your car or at home from the RSS feed. Some software will not allow flash, which may be necessary for the play button and podcast player. If that is your case, you will need to download the file to play it. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the July 2019 section of the podcast archive.

Executives discuss how clients buy services

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 11, 2019

How Clients Buy

How Clients Buy

Photos: Carlie Auger

Convinced that selling professional services is different from selling products Tom McMakin and Doug Fletcher dedicated a year to writing and publishing How Clients Buy A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services (Wiley, $29), a guide to business development for expert services such as accountants, lawyers, human resources consultants and strategy advisors.

“Wiley has done a nice job of supporting the book with online sellers and by offering rights overseas,” McMakin said by email when asked how they marketed the 262-page book. “Augmenting that, we launched a How Clients Buy website, distributed complementary copies to key influencers in the professional services industry, and placed books with airport booksellers.”

Doug Fletcher, co-author, How Clients Buy

Doug Fletcher, co-author, How Clients Buy

“How Clients Buy was my first book, but hopefully not my last,” Fletcher said by email when asked about the book. “It’s been a wonderful experience. One of the highlights of my professional career.”

The hardcover book, published in 2018, is divided into 19 chapters and four main sections: The Problem, Obstacles, How Clients Buy and Putting the Seven Elements to Work.

“Doug and I believe that high end, highly customized expert services are sold to clients in very different ways than, say, an iPhone, which is sold on features, attributes, and price,” McMakin said. “Indeed, it is not even useful to think about selling services.  A better paradigm is to think about ‘how clients buy.’ We concluded that most clients engage with would-be consultants by way of relationships, referrals, and reputation. The question that fascinated us, both solo practitioners and members of large consulting firms, is how one systematically drives those three R’s.”

“The trend toward fewer companies (which are larger and able to serve global markets) is fueling double-digit growth in the $1.7 trillion global professional services market as companies seek to outsource (either nearshoring or offshoring) non-core functions,” McMaking said to a question about how the offshoring of professional services jobs and the reduction in the number of publicly traded companies impact professional services in the United States. “Large companies face two challenges: they need to compete in a global war for top talent, and they need to remain agile to be able to pivot strategically as disruptive forces undermine markets and business models. By hiring just-in-time senior leadership in the form of a consulting or advisory contract, companies can sustain and build competitive advantage in a fast-moving, ever-changing marketplace.
The future for those who offer specialized insight born of sector specific experience is strong. In the course of our research, we were told by rainmakers that expert service practice areas are growing more global even as they are becoming more focused. A company no longer hires a local accountant to do all their work, but instead hires different accountants, who may be geographically disbursed to help them solve specific problems where they have world-class domain expertise.”

Tom Mcmaking, co-author, How Clients Buy

Tom McMakin, co-author, How Clients Buy

Marketers describe Generation Z as the most diverse generation in our country’s history. When asked in what ways, if any, they anticipate this will affect how and what clients buy, McMakin replied, “Just like the country is becoming more diverse, so too is the world of expert services. To succeed, professional service firms need to shrink the pond and narrowcast to specific groups of people where their experience and expertise most applies. This can be a step-up for bands of experts who might have found themselves left out of the corporate mainstream in the past. Not only can they speak to the advantage inherent to their diverse backgrounds – think consultants who rolled out of the Kenyan banking sector advising multinationals on east African trade – but true expertise, informed by a long set of relevant experiences and thoughtful reflection – floats free of the kind of constraints that have hindered diverse professionals in the past. At the same time, increased diversity in large companies is driving a thirst for more diverse input into those companies opening the door to groups of consultants with different and valuable points of view.”

Fletcher said, “With regard to Gen Z – one other point we make in the book is how clients buy today vs. how they might buy in the future. Today, generally speaking, decision makers in larger organizations are not Gen Z – or millennials. Today’s clients still prefer to hire people that they know, respect and trust or who come highly recommended by a colleague. Tomorrow’s leaders may be more willing to buy expert services more digitally – using online reviews, Skype, Zoom, and other digitally formed relationships. It’s hard to say. With today’s large expert services projects – often in the hundreds of ‘000s or millions $, these are purchased typically after long, face to face relationships are established. How clients buy ten or twenty years from now may be very different?”

McMakin is chief executive officer and partner of Profitable Ideas Exchange (PIE). Before joining PIE, he was a co-founder and managing director with Orchard Holdings Group, a private equity firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fletcher splits his time between teaching at Montana State University’s Jake Jabs, and speaking, writing, and coaching about business development in professional services and consulting. He serves on the board of directors of The Beacon Group in Portland, Maine.


How Clients Buy

Click to buy How Clients Buy


Health Care executive examines healthy behaviors in men over 50

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 6, 2019

Crack the Code

Crack the Code

Photo: Somos

Louis Bezich, senior vice president of Strategic Alliances at Cooper University Health Care, is a passionate men’s health advocate. So much so that he dedicated four years to writing Crack the Code 10 Proven Secrets That Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50 (Somos, $19.99), his first book. The 284-page softcover book, 100 percent self-financed, was published this year.

He hopes to motivate men over 50 to establish their own healthy lifestyles. He is already working on a follow up title on a topic he declined to disclose.

“The project involved concept development, initial focus groups, the national survey, interviews, probably a year or so of writing and editing, then post-writing development of the title, cover and other publication tasks,” he said by email when asked how long it took him to publish the book.

When asked why he wrote the book in 2019 he said, the combination of three factors inspired him to write the book: his personal experience, his belief that existing approaches to foster healthy behavior have failed, and his belief that the value-proposition is too strong to ignore.

“I discovered the power of motivation during my time as a single dad,” he said. “Exercise was my means of coping with the stress of raising two sons, pursuing a career and ensuring that I was fit so I would always be there for the boys. I witnessed first-hand the connection between happiness and healthiness. For me, what started as a coping mechanism as a twenty-something dad became a passion as a fifty-something man when the boys were off on their own.

When I became a health care executive, I was alarmed to learn that that only 3 percent of Americans lead a healthy lifestyle and 40 percent are considered obese. Even more concerning is that men over 50, my demographic, are the poster child for poor health practices; we refuse to see a doctor and have what experts call a health attention gap. All this in the context where our own behavior is by-far, the most significant influence on our health and we spend more on health that any other industrialized nation in the world. This represents a failure of our current systems and cry for a new unconventional approach.

Healthy behavior powered by social motivators is a win-win, personally, culturally and economically. As individuals we can improve our health and increase our happiness. As a society we have the ability to make a change with huge significance. And, from a health-care perspective, we can impact the need and ultimately the cost of care. (i.e., examples—seat belt use, smoking cessation, recycling). The case for healthy behavior is just too strong to ignore.”

Louis Bezich, author, Crack the Code

Louis Bezich, author, Crack the Code

When asked who is the primary target audience for the book he explained he expects it will appeal most to men over 50 and the people that love them; their wives, partners, children and grandchildren. Additional audiences could include health care providers, insurers, policy makers and “anyone who has struggled with their health.”

The “10 Proven Secrets” mentioned in the book’s subtitle refer to his research on healthy behaving men 50 and over that included a survey of 1,000 men nationwide and 30 interviews. He believes his findings are consistent with the literature on behavioral health.

When asked to share advice with readers who struggle adopting healthy behaviors such as adjusting to changes, making new friendships and relationships he replied, “Before your purchase that gym membership, order the exercise equipment or start that new diet, build your personal motivational platform based around your social relationships following these three basic steps: Conduct Your Social Inventory. Think about what’s most important in your life. Really consider, I mean really think about what’s ahead in the years to come, and what you’d like to be doing this week, this month or this year with your wife, partner, children, grandchildren, your job, your volunteer work whatever. Think about the rest of your life; what’s ahead for you, and perhaps more importantly, what the future holds for the ones your love. Think about the joy of active participation, versus restricted or perhaps even no participation in their lives. When you’ve completed your inventory, think about how your aspirations match your current lifestyle and recognize the gaps.

Build Your Social Platform. Second, based on your inventory, and those gaps you’ve identified, build your personal social platform. The healthy men have clear social goals and robust calendars and activities that give them purpose and meaning, and most importantly, the motivation to stay healthy. Do the same and engage your loved ones in the process. It can actually be fun.

Third, work your strategy. Find your rhythm. The healthy men use routines, rituals and habits as guardrails of their behavior and are in a position to bounce back quickly if they are drawn off course. Rhythm feels good and provides a level discipline.”

With more than 40 years of executive experience, Bezich also serves as an adjunct professor in the Graduate Department of Public Policy Administration at Rutgers University. Bezich has published numerous articles in the field of public administration and health and is a contributing author to Corporate Lawbreaking and Interactive Compliance.


Crack the Code

Click to buy Crack The Code


Sales specialist touts importance of transparency

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 8, 2019

The Transparency Sale
The Transparency Sale

Photos: Todd Caponi

Buyers want to know what the flaws are in a product. So much so that they favor bad reviews over good ones, according to Todd Caponi. He cares about sales methodology, learning theory and decision science. He is convinced that the key to sales success is transparency. In his first book, The Transparency Sale (Ideapress Publishing, $24.95) published last year, he seeks “to arm the modern seller with the knowledge, ideas, tools and actionable techniques to ready themselves for the future of sales; radical transparency.”

“The short answer is eighteen months, however, it’s not that simple,” Caponi said by email via his publicist when asked how many months or years the book required. “I first wrote about the idea for a publication back in May of 2017, and it went viral. The concept definitely resonated, so that signaled the beginning of the process. When you decide to write a book, the first step should always be to write a proposal, even if you’re intention is the self publish. It helps you vet out the likelihood of a successful book, and lays out your plan. I completed the proposal in November of 2017. The contract with my publisher, Ideapress, was signed in February of 2018, which kicked off the full-time writing process. The book officially launched in November of 2018.”

When asked whether is was his first book and what prompted him to write a new one book in an already crowded field he replied, “Yes, it is my first book, and yes, there are so many sales books out there. As a student of those books combined with years of experience as a seller and leader, I recognized a non-obvious evolution taking place in the world of sales. The proliferation of ratings, reviews and the accessibility of peer feedback is changing the way we buy. Beginning with Amazon’s launch in 1995, the idea of providing both positive and negative peer provided reviews appeared to help buyers predict what their experience will be following a purchase. In the twenty-four years since, reviews and feedback have permeated every meaningful purchase we make, from the products we buy, the experiences we select (restaurants, hotels, even Uber rides) and the apps we download. Buyers have come to rely on reviews and feedback, seeking reviews in 95 percent of their substantive purchases.

And, those reviews and feedback are no longer confined to just to B2C purchases. They are now inflating their way into the world of B2B, where a simple Google search allows buyers to easily review peer provided feedback on products through companies like G2Crowd, TrustRadius, and many others. Buyers can also peek inside the culture of the companies they’re considering making a purchase from through websites like Glassdoor.

Sellers have always been taught to sell perfection, that their product or service is perfect for the client. However due to this evolution, you can no longer hide your flaws and expect to get away with it. It must change the way we position and sell our products or services to build the trust necessary to end in a long-term successful outcome.”

Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale

Todd Caponi, author, The Transparency Sale

When asked about the title of the book he replied, “The Transparency Sale is about giving buyers all of the information their brain requires to feel confident in making a buying decision. It starts with a better understanding of our buying brain in how we make decisions as consumers. Beyond reviews, building a better understanding of how decision making really works is key to improving your ability to sell anything to anyone. It begins with transparency, in that leading with your product’s flaws, with authenticity and honesty, sells better than positioning perfection.”

The primary target audience for the book? “The concepts of this book, all the way down to the way we position, present and negotiate, are immediately applicable and actionable to anyone who’s role requires them to influence other people to do something different tomorrow than they are doing today. That is primary sales professionals, but the feedback from cross-functional executives, recruiters, realtors, financial planners and marketers has been amazing.”

When asked about the controversy surrounding fake reviews and review sites that sell ads he replied, “The push for sellers to encourage, or even pay for fake reviews is ultimately doing themselves a disservice. It may sound counter intuitive, but negative reviews sell better than positive ones: As mentioned above, 95 percent of consumers read reviews before making an unfamiliar purchase of substance, and that number is growing; 82 percent of consumers seek out negative reviews, and that number is growing as well, which leads to the fundamental statistic driving the need to change. Purchase likelihood peaks when a product whose reviews are in the 4.2 to 4.5 star range. A 4.2 sells better than a product with a perfect five-star rating!

Sellers that cram as many 5-star reviews are actually eroding the trust they’re buyers have in them. Buyers are smart. They seek out the negative reviews, which actually HELP the buyer make a purchase. It happens with reviews in B2C, but also when we, as sellers, present our solutions as perfect. We’re driving buyers to find the flaws themselves. Own the conversation, lead with the flaws, build trust, shorten sales cycles, win more often.

In other words, in this non-obvious evolution happening in the world of sales, not only is leading with your solution’s flaws a requirement given the proliferation of reviews and feedback on everything we do, buy and experience, as it turns out (backed by brain science), it is also the fastest path to lasting trust, so regardless of reviews, it’s the right thing to do, anyway, having magical impacts on your results.”

The 193-page hardcover book is divided into five sections and 14 chapters. The author is keynote speaker, workshop leader and trainer as well as principal and founder of Sales Melon LLC.


The Transparency Sale

Click to buy The Transparency Sale


Publisher releases Spanish language edition of children’s book

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 3, 2019

Si mi mama fuera ornitorrinco

Si mi mama fuera ornitorrinco

Photos: Science Naturally

Seventeen years after the publication of If My Mom Were a Platypus Science Naturally published a Spanish translation of the children’s book. Si mi mama fuera ornitorrinco (Science Naturally, $12.95), the 64-page softcover title written by Dia L. Michels, translated by The Spanish Group and illustrated by Andrew Barthelmes is filled with color illustrations and journal style sketches of animal babies and their families on most pages.

Author Dia Michels

Author Dia Michels

“The inspiration for the book came out of pregnancy misery,” said Michels when asked how the book came about. “I was so excited about being pregnant and becoming a mother – but my joy was soon mollified by round-the-clock morning sickness, frightening nightmares, and general wretchedness. I started researching other mammals to see who did pregnancy better than humans. Long story short, I decided that, for the purposes of pregnancy and breastfeeding, nothing could be better than being a platypus. The only way I could survive being pregnant was to could channel my inner-platypus. This desire to know how other mammals reproduced continued past the birth of my daughter, and pretty soon, I knew enough about mammal birth and breastfeeding to create a book. Many years of research went into parsing down which mammals to include. All it all, it took about a dozen years from idea to publication.”

She explained the book is used most frequently in a classroom setting, suggesting it might make a good addition to a home library for nature-minded children or gift for mothers with new babies. It works well as a read aloud option for children ages six to eight and as an independent reading reference text for ages eight to twelve and above. The publisher released free downloadable Teacher’s Guides, with hands-on activities, in English and Spanish.

Andrew Barthelmes, illustrator, Si mi mama fuera un ornitorrincoAndrew Barthelmes, illustrator, Si mi mama fuera un ornitorrinco

“I love learning about patterns and oddities in the mammal world, from hippos being the only mammal whose eyesight is just as good above water as below, to lions being among the only mammals that will wet nurse,” Michels said regarding the weirdes random fact about the mammals in the book. “My favorite random fact is that hooded seals, who spend their lives swimming in arctic waters, will only breed, whelp, and breastfeed on land. Why is that weird? They live where there is no land. The only way the species can survive is by procreating on sea ice—and hoping it doesn’t melt before they’re done!”

An inside page from the book

When asked how they are promoting the title Michels replied, “We are promoting this title at bilingual education conferences, parenting events, and STEM symposiums nationwide. We’ve also circulated a digital press release, advertised directly to our previous Spanish/bilingual customers, and reached out to those who bought the English edition of the book. We also sent an extensive pre-release mailing to libraries, media, and medical professionals. Additionally, we’ve partnered with literacy organizations, including First Book, to make the title available to students in Title I schools at a highly discounted price.”

The title reveals how fourteen mammals navigate the path from helpless infants to mature adults. It was designed for readers ages 10 to 14 and younger Read-Aloud listeners. The seals along the top of cover represent some of the awards it has won. The “NSTA Recommends” designation means it was endorsed by the National Science Teacher’s Association. The yellow seal is an award from Creative Child Magazine, a national publication for parents. The book was chosen by a panel of parents and educators for the Book of the Year award. The blue award is a Young Voices Foundation Seal of Approval, which honors books that inspire, mentor, and/or educate readers of all ages.

Author shares his life lessons in latest book

Posted by Elena del Valle on March 28, 2019

Wise Guy

Wise Guy by Guy Kawasaki

Photo: Guy Kawasaki

In his newest title Guy Kawasaki, author of 14 books, shares the insights he has learned over his lifetime. Wise Guy Lessons from a Life (Portfolio, Penguin, $28), a 246-page hardcover book, was published this year. It is divided into 11 chapters and begins with the emigration of the author’s grandparents to Hawaii.

When asked how long the project took to complete he replied by email, “It depends on how you want to look at it. From the time I decided to write the book until it was on the shelf was about eighteen months, but it took me sixty-four years to accumulate the wisdom to write the book. So the answer is between eighteen months and sixty four years.” And to a question about the audience for the book, he replied, “The primary audience is anyone with $20.”

“My publisher used the traditional methods of PR, ad buys, distribution through a salesforce, and social media,” the author replied to a question about promotion. “I used social media to recruit testers and reviewers; I spoke about it anywhere that I could; and I tapped my relationships with influencers. In general, we left very few stones unturned.”

The book is written in chronological and topical order. Kawasaki explains at the beginning of the book that he believes wisdom isn’t linear or quick. Each chapter includes a story and a section of what the author considers the lesson or wisdom to be gained. It is easy to identify as it is marked with a shaka or Hawaiian surfing hand symbol.

“My main goal was to empower people by telling them stories and then explaining the significance and wisdom underlying each story,” he replied when asked why he wrote the book. “This is not to say that every story in the book is a success story. I discuss many of my mistakes because they are highly educational. I hope, at least, that people will make different mistakes than the ones I made.”

When asked whether people can learn from anyone’s experiences he replied, “People can absolutely learn from the experiences of others. Otherwise 90 percent of books are a waste of trees and time. Are those people saying that they can’t learn that they should wear seat belts without being in a car accident?”

When asked if he is planning another book he replied, “I’ve written fifteen books. When I finished the first one, I told myself that I didn’t have any more books in me. I’ve now done that fifteen times. I don’t find topics. Topics find me. When the next topic finds me, I’ll write it.”


Wise Guy

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Knight chair in journalism explores national news desert issues

Posted by Elena del Valle on March 7, 2019

The Expanding News Desert Report

The Expanding News Desert Report


Photos: UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media

Many people believe balanced journalism provides us a sense of belonging to the place where we live and reinforces our trust in democracy. In the last decade it has become clear that newspapers and print media in general have had difficulty adapting their revenue model to the digital era. New generations seek news on social media and online via what have become the top online publishers, at least the ones with the highest revenue, leaving traditional media floundering in the winds of change. As a result in the United States increasingly our communities are losing access to local news. Cities and areas without local dailies or weeklies or with ghost versions of their former publications have been called news deserts.

In The Expanding News Desert (University of North Carolina Press, $12) Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses news deserts nationwide. The 102-page softcover book published in 2018 is divided into two main sections: The Loss of Local News: What it Means for Communities; and The Enduring Legacy of the New Media Barons: How Private Equity and Hedge Funds Changed Newspapers.

Since 2004 the United States has lost about 1,800 papers, including 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies and California leads the nation in loss of dailies, while New York, Illinois and Texas lost the most weeklies, according to the book. Equally impactful to the rise of news deserts is the loss of readers. In the past 15 years, the book says, readers dropped to 73 million from 122 million. At the same time loss of competition has resulted in less coverage of local and state news, which studies have found often results in government inefficiency and increased costs, the book points out.

Penelope Abernathy, author, The Expanding News Desert Report

Penelope Abernathy, author, The Expanding News Desert Report

A troubling trend is the purchase of newspapers by investment companies who as a result become large and powerful controllers of news at a national scale. Their cost cutting and profit enhancing measures often have resulted in “ghost” papers, publications with too few resources to adequately cover their markets. The largest 25 companies of this ilk own 2, 198 papers. The largest of them is New Media/Gate House with 451 papers and a total circulation of 4.4 million. Others include Gannett with 216 papers, Digital First Media with 158, Adams Publishing Group with 144 and Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. (CNHI) with 114.

The analysis in the book is based on information collected by the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the four years prior to the publication of the book. The researchers examined the status of more than 9,000 publications from data sourced from press association and governments as well as independent online research. It excludes the largest newspapers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today as well as specialty publications. The book author invites readers to its partner website for local level specifics regarding news deserts.