Posted by Elena del Valle on March 28, 2019
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.”
Click to buy Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life
Posted by Elena del Valle on March 7, 2019
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
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.
Posted by Elena del Valle on February 27, 2019
The Journey to Wow
Photos: Shaun Belding
Shaun Belding believes that when it comes to customer service the customer’s point of view is the only one that is important. Convinced it had been 25 years since anyone had written about the issues he set out to remedy the situation by authoring The Journey to Wow The Path to Outstanding Customer Experience and Loyalty (Koehlerbooks, $16.95) using a fictional company to illustrate the salient points.
“It was the right time for this kind of book,” he said when asked by email why he wrote the book now. “Customer experience is continuing to be a dominant factor in organizational success, so the topic is something that every company needs to be focused on.
The inspiration of the book came from two things: The first was that I saw a gap in the existing literature surrounding the topic. While there were a lot of very good books that touch on specific aspects of customer experience – convenience, effort, customer service, etc –there weren’t any that examined it as a comprehensive entity.
The second inspiration was that, since Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles wrote Raving Fans 25 years ago, nobody has really presented customer experience from the perspective of the customer. It seems to me that, when push comes to shove, the customer’s is the only perspective that really matters, isn’t it? I found it a little odd that the one voice that matters, the customers’ voice, hadn’t really been heard for 25 years.”
His target audience? Anyone who is involved with customers and not just customer experience geeks, he said.
“Having said that, some of the core messages are directly targeted to people in executive leadership positions,” he said. “There is a direct relationship between a company’s ability to deliver consistent, sustainable customer experience, and how well a CEO truly understands the perspectives of his or her customers.”
Regarding loyalty the author said, “The best way to define loyalty is through the words of our customers. Loyalty is when a customer asks, ‘Why on earth would I want to do business with anyone else?’ – and then can’t think of a good answer.”
The 201-page softcover book published in 2018 has 26 chapters and an epilogue. It was written using a fictional narrative.
Shaun Belding, author, The Journey to Wow
When asked how long it took for the book to be published he replied, “I’m almost embarrassed to say. The Journey to WOW was a bit of a journey for me as well, as it took ten years to get it from start to finish. I had to squeeze the time out between trying to run a company and travelling around the world with my speaking engagements. Oh yeah – and trying to be a husband and father – I can’t forget about that.
On a positive note, the experience was a bit of a wake-up call for me. Toward the end, when I started re-reading it, I realized how many of the references that I had written in the early stages were already outdated. Nobody uses faxes or PDAs much anymore. I had to change those references.
I also realized that I had not initially included anything related to social media and smart phones – because those hadn’t yet begun to impact the business world in a big way. It was crazy that I had to update the book so much before it even got published. A big reminder of how fast our world is changing.”
When asked why he used a fictional company (Household Solutions) in the book he replied, “With Household Solutions (instead of an existing company) I was able to create a wonderful composite which allowed me to demonstrate many of the common challenges all companies face.
The most important issue I was able to illustrate was right at the beginning – an executive leadership team that had no idea how bad their customer experience was. And that, despite how bright and motivated they were, they still were failing to see how profoundly it was damaging their future. This level of unawareness is far more prevalent than almost everyone realizes. The fact that the iconic retailer Sears filed for Chapter 11 only two weeks after The Journey to WOW came out really punctuated that fact.
Even those companies that are trying to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customers are at risk, because most of the methodologies they are using aren’t giving them the real or whole story. This actually puts them at greater risk in some ways, because the Big Data convinces them that everything is okay, and they become complacent.
It also allowed me to highlight the impact of some common corporate practices that have a profound negative impact on customer loyalty. Things like companies that hide their telephone numbers, and make it impossible to have a conversation with a human. Executives that build walls around them so that they don’t have to talk with customers. Decisions that are focused more on customers’ wallets than on customers themselves.”
When asked: How can a company convince disinterested employees to offer outstanding customer service? He answered: “Fantastic question. And the answer really boils down to two things – leadership and support.
There are indeed some customer service employees who just don’t care. There are many more who do care but don’t know what to do. The question we need to ask is – why? How has this happened?
Far too many customer service employees aren’t set up for success from the moment they are hired. They aren’t given anywhere close to an adequate level of direction, appreciation, respect or tools to do their jobs well. It seems to me that this is more of an indictment of leadership than anything else.
Leaders need to have a clear and motivating purpose for their teams – something that gives their team a reason to care. They need to lead with passion. They need to ensure their team is trained (with professional training, not just a couple of YouTube videos to watch). They need to clearly articulate their expectations to each team member, and then provide relentless support to help them be successful.
Most companies want to deliver outstanding customer service, and most understand the tremendous value and ROI that comes with it. But most don’t know where to start. Most try to apply solutions before they truly understand what it’s like to be one of their own customers.
Not coincidentally, those companies that have succeeded are also the ones which have a strong and sustainable customer-focused culture. They understand that a culture of outstanding customer experience isn’t achieved by just telling employees to deliver better service. They know that delivering outstanding customer experience is a mission. It is in a company’s DNA. Most importantly, they know it’s not a destination – it’s a journey.”
Belding is chief executive officer of The Belding Group of Companies. The Journey to Wow was his sixth book. His first five were on how to navigate difficult people and achieve success in the workplace.
Posted by Elena del Valle on January 31, 2019
Photos: Kevin Lund
Kevin Lund makes a living as a content marketer. He is convinced that while content marketing is not overly difficult it is a skill that needs to be developed. Believing he had know how to share with the world he spent a year conceptualizing, writing, editing and producing Conversation Marketing How to Be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human (Career Press, $16.95), a 230-page softcover book published in 2018.
“Any business, entrepreneur, marketing & communications professionals, content managers, and writers, who are interested in connecting with their own audiences, creating value for them, and ultimately monetizing that relationship,” he said by email via his publicist when asked about the target audience for the book.
“Companies and brands need to focus on eye-level conversation to create actionable content,” he said when asked about the term “speaking human” in the subtitle. “Speaking human implies using the same social mores that we employ in personal conversations with our peers – i.e. no jargon and having the ability to shape thoughts and inspire action through conversational story-telling.”
When asked: In this era of hacking, privacy concerns and identity theft how do you gain or regain your client’s trust? He said, “I’m not sure I have enough details to answer this question effectively. But broadly, there is a conversation happening around this subject that firms who are affected by this should be a part of. Educational articles to get in front of a potential problem are great ways to instill trust in an audience, particularly when they come from well-known brands.”
“All are effective with the right strategy,” he replied when asked: what are the most effect means and venues for communication, smartphones, tables, desktops, social media, email, online, print, broadcast? “It comes down to a smart channel strategy. The long sale process today can be through multiple touch points. Each of us have a unique preference for information gathering. Casting a wide net, but focusing on a majority of that strategy in the places where your audiences are hanging out the most is important.”
Kevin Lund, author, Conversation Marketing
“Email is still considered to be one of the most effective means for generating revenue and information-sharing for B2B and B2C firms,” he said when asked about the effectiveness of email marketing today. “Particularly when it comes to opt-in email campaigns. If a brand has a content strategy, using a blog or microsite, for example, using a lead-generation program that solicits signups for an email that is relevant to the person will have much higher open rates than unsolicited rates. The cost of creating information-based content in emails, like a newsletter or blog post, are nominal, and the ROI is very high.”
What is the best way to deal with market fragmentation? He said, “Fragmentation is a content marketer’s best friend! It’s all about relevancy, which is not the same thing as writing a couple of articles now and again that reach a smaller segment of your audience. It’s about creating multiple content strategies targeted to smaller groups of a larger audience. Go deep and niche. The more niche, the more”
So many companies talk, but don’t engage or respond, is that strategy advisable? His reply: “That’s a terrible idea. Complacency kills and content isn’t going away. Brands who don’t engage with content are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Content marketing is about engagement using two-way conversation, not one-way conversations. If brands are just talking, nobody’s listening. There’s a right way and a wrong way to engage in conversation. Putting out trite content and hiding behind the language of “you” isn’t going to instill trust and win customers.”
The book is divided into three main parts titled Planning, Talking and Learning; and 10 chapters. Chapter titles are: Earn Attention, Tell A Story, Stay Humble, Pick Your Party, Be Relevant, Open Up and Listen, Start the Conversation, Known When to Stop Talking, Get Your Customer Involved and Ditch the Checklist. The author highlights Red Bull Media as “perhaps the world’s most successful content brand.” Lund is the founder and chief executive officer of T3Custom, a Seattle based content marketing agency.
Posted by Elena del Valle on January 17, 2019
You Can Do All Things
Photos: Kate Allan
Has the New Year got you down? We all know someone who could use a pick me up. California artist Kate Allan does too. Many times drawing and being kind to herself helps her feel better. Her first book, You Can Do All Things (Mango, $22.99), is filled with 187 colorful drawings of animals and plants as well as words of encouragement for anyone suffering from anxiety and depression.
“I’m an artist and writer who has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life,” she said by email when asked about the book. “Both illnesses have set me back in a variety of ways; I learned to drive, had my first relationship, and got my degree later than my peers. So, I wanted to create a book of all the things I’ve learned along the way, everything that kept me going— whether it was calming myself through a small worry about not being good enough, to diffusing an intense preoccupation with suicide. The biggest lesson for me has been that self compassion and understanding will carry you through the worst of life, so most of the book’s messages are about validation, encouragement, and kindness.”
The 201-page hardcover book published in 2018 is made up mostly of color full page drawings in pages without page numbers, accompanied by short text. Examples of the inspirational messages include: “No one else knows what they’re doing either. It’s all going to turn out fine; No negativity today. You’re gettin’ work done! everything will work out, you’ll see.” In the conclusion she shares self help ideas such as creating something or de-cluttering.
Kate Allan drawings
“All of my book is written by someone who has been through the same struggles,” she said. “I argue my negative thoughts and turn those arguments into captions. Somehow it can feel more legitimate to hear something like, “you’re not failing, anxiety lies” coming from a sparkly purple cat rather than a person. Not sure why, but I’m rolling with it!
It’s all about challenging those insidious thoughts that bring us down, and I think that is the unfortunate commonality we share, no matter what gender or age.”
“I was a bit lucky that most of the book’s content had been created before my publisher Mango came along— I have always wanted to create a book of my writings and illustrations, and it was really just about waiting for the right opportunity,” she said regarding the publication timeline. “Mango contacted me in February 2018, and it was all put together by July.”
Regarding the artwork she said, “My process is that I sketch in pencil, looking at various reference photos online. Then I do the digital line work, coloring, and lettering in Paint Tool SAI and Photoshop.”
Her way of measuring success? “I just want the book to be helpful. I’ve created something that represents all the work I’ve done over the course of my life to succeed despite mental illness, and I hope that work will benefit others as well.”
Kate Allan, author, You Can Do All Things
Allan has been making a living as an artist for several years, partially through a shop where her artwork is sold, and partially through support by Patreon members. She is also the creator of the mental health art blog, The Latest Kate.
Click to buy You Can Do All Things
Posted by Elena del Valle on January 9, 2019
Photo: Diane DiResta
Diane DiResta, chief executive officer, DiResta Communications, Inc., has dedicated her career to sales training and communications consulting. She coaches leaders on communications and public speaking who wish to gain business influence and impact. The third edition of her first book Knockout Presentations How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch and Pizzazz (Morgan James Publishing, $19.95) was published recently.
The 268-page softcover title has 10 chapters and an appendix of resources. She discusses issues such as myths, mistakes, nervousness, listening, presentation and persuasion skills, visual aids, setting the stage and dealing with difficult people. The third edition features new links, resources, and references representing about three percent of the book’s total content.
The target audience? “Business professionals,” she replied by email. “It has a wide breadth and has been read from the college campus to the C Suite. There are college professors who use it in their public speaking classes. It’s also the perfect book for sales teams as so many sales professionals give presentations. A professional speaker said Knockout Presentations helped her to write her keynote speech. The book has valuable tips and exercises for the novice to the seasoned speaker. Another professional speaker was given the book as a gift and thought she wouldn’t learn anything. But she was surprised that she gained some new tips even though she was an experienced speaker.”
“It took me 15 months to write it while working in my business,” she replied when asked about the book project duration. “It took a bit longer to publish. A traditional publisher can take up to 18 months to publish a finished manuscript.”
Regarding the book title and cover art she said, “The boxing glove is a visual for the title and a metaphor for giving a knockout presentation. It’s not a sports book but I did work with clients from the NBA, WNBA and USGA.”
When asked how she will measure success she replied, “Success is measured in two ways: sales and impact. Sales can be measured by the publisher. Impact comes from the many testimonials saying how it changed people’s lives.”
When asked: Many executives underestimate the value and effort required to be a good public speaker. What is the strongest financial argument you make to prove them wrong? she replied, “People who have good presentation skills have greater success in getting the job, getting promoted, making a sale, and making more money. Professors from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business studied voices of CEOs during investor earnings calls. They discovered that the CEOs with a deeper voice earned $187,000 more in pay and led companies with $440 million more in assets.
A CEO from a pharma company was able to convince the executive committee to fund the building of a $300 million facility with no guarantee of success. He was awarded the money and the initial investment yielded a 1 billion dollar profit. Public speaking is a soft skill that has a hard bottom line result.”
Click to buy Knockout Presentations
Posted by Elena del Valle on December 6, 2018
Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass
Photo: Smith Publicity, Linda Jane Smith
According to her bio, Linda Jane Smith has found much success as a lawyer; and she has defended Exxon in an Alaska environmental lawsuit among other high profile cases. She believes she knows the path to the top and wants to share it with women. She dedicated time during one year to gathering her thoughts in Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass: Lessons from the Meanest Woman Alive ($19.97), a 245-page softcover book published this year.
It seems she believes those women who have not risen through the ranks the way she has are attempting to advance the wrong way because they are competing according to the rules of the male playbook; if they try harder, stop underestimating themselves and apologizing and start playing by a new set of rules they might become successful like her.
When asked by email via her publicist what inspired her to write the book she replied, “I am outraged that talented, fantastic women are still not making it to the top.Despite decades of superficial change in the ranks of business, today’s women are stalled in their quest to advance their careers. Across every level of work, in every industry, women still struggle to earn the same level of pay, to receive equal access to opportunity and promotion, and to do the work they were hired to do without fear of harassment or the discrimination of pervasive gender bias.”
Regarding the target audience for her book she said, “Despite graduating from college and professional schools and entering the workforce in equal numbers with men, females fail to make the same progress in their jobs as their male counterparts do, and that phenomenon repeats itself throughout the leadership pipeline. The number of women shrinks by about half at the middle-management level and dwindles to a fragment when it comes to promotion to the C-suite.
I thought my target audience would be college or grad school women in their mid-20s. ‘Here’s everything you need to know to succeed as a woman in business.’ But women tell me it takes a few years before they feel the brunt of gender discrimination. These women, in their late- twenties, early thirties and older, are looking to take their careers to the next level and are stuck, getting pushed out, settling for positions for which they are overqualified, or burning out along the way.”
When asked what makes her the Meanest Woman Alive she replied, “I am one of the top women litigators in the United States. Corporate Board Member Magazine did a profile on me in 2001 and entitled it ‘The Meanest Woman Alive.’ Clients love it. When I’m representing them on gigantic cases with billions of dollars and their company are at stake, they love to say they are represented by the Meanest Woman Alive and my law firm.
I view myself as a gladiator for my client—I protect them and defend them. And I am professional and fun to deal with. It’s only when they are attacked or someone lies or misrepresents the facts or the law, that I become mean. If anyone messes with my clients and doesn’t have integrity, I will go after them hammer and tong.”
How will she measure the success of her book? “Based on the number of women I inspire to unleash their unique feminine advantages. My Facebook website has a half million Followers whose comments uplift me as do women’s responses to the 11 tv shows, 25 plus podcast and innumerable articles and blogs I have written,” she said.
Click to buy Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 4, 2018
Photo: Think Tank, Island Press
About 40 percent of the land in the world is used for agriculture and livestock; at the same time in the past 40 years 30 percent of the arable land has become unproductive; and soil erosion and soil degradation are widespread, according to Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System Voices from the New Food Movement (Island Press, $25), a newly published book.
Convinced everyone has a right to food and the world needs a food and agriculture system that nourishes all sixteen people contributed their insights to the book “to show what’s working on the ground to alleviate hunger and poverty, prevent food loss and food waste, cultivate the next generation of leaders, and create more equity and social justice in the food system.” From conception to publication the book, edited by Danielle Nierenberg, required a year.
When asked who is the target audience Nierenberg replied by email, “All of us. The more than 7 billion eaters who inhabit the planet. However, we hope that academics and students will take special interest–it’s an easy to read, engaging book, full of hopeful examples of successful projects that can be replicated and scaled up and out in rich and poor countries alike.”
The 250-page softcover book with many graphics and images is divided into four chapters: Food for All, Food for Sustainable Growth, Food for Health and Food for Culture. Each chapter is accompanied by perspectives from several New Food Movement contributors.
The most critical food issues the United States faces today? Nierenberg responded by addressing the topic on a global scale and indicating that climate change and other environmental problems that impact the food system should create a sense of urgency; food production contributes 30 percent or more of all greenhouse gas emissions and there are some 815 million people who are hungry, while another 2 billion are overweight and obese; and that massive amounts of food are lost or wasted before they can reach peoples’ stomachs, at least one third worldwide.
She believes action from the grassroots and the top is necessary, she said by email. She also supports the participation of organizations and communities, researchers and scientists, corporate leaders, and decision-makers to make the food system better.
Danielle Nierenberg, editor, Nourished Planet
When asked what defines the new food movement the book editor replied, “The interest in food has been growing for decades–wealthy consumers have wanted local, fresh, healthy, sustainably grown food–but today we need a food system that goes beyond our personal lives and impacts the women and men all over the globe who depend on the food system for their livelihoods. We need a food system that focuses on equality among women and men, that considers future generations, that helps create opportunities for young people to become not only food producers, but also scientists and researchers, story tellers and advocates, business leaders, and policy makers who can change the way we grow, process, and consume food.”
The definition of farming and food system for purposes of this discussion is she said, “A food system is all of the activities involving the production, processing, transport, sale, and consumption of food. Sustainable food systems are those that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable–they are regenerative and resilient by helping build soils, protect water and biodiversity, and they recognize the importance of women, workers, and youth for the future of agriculture.”
When asked about groups in particular need she said, “Poor and underserved communities often are labeled food deserts because of a lack of grocery stores or markets providing healthy food. Racism and lack of economic communities lead to chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in communities that lack the resources to address these problems.”
The book contributors are Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations; Hans R. Herren, president, Millenium Institute, and president, Biodivision Foundation; Sieglinde Snapp, agronomist, professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology, Michigan State University, and associate director, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations; author Vandana Shiva; Dario Piselli, founder, Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Steve Brescia, chief executive officer Groundswell International; Shaneica Lester and Anne-Teresa Birthwright, 2016 winners of Young Earth Solutions; Alexander Müller, study leader, United Nations Environment Programme–hosted project The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture & Food; Bruce Friedrich, executive director, The Good Food Institute; Tristram Stuart, founder, Feedback; Natasha Bowens, author, The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming; Lindsey Shute, executive director National Young Farmers Coalition; Stephen Ritz founder, Green Bronx Machine; Ruth Oniang’o, founder, Rural Outreach Programme.
Click to buy Nourished Planet
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 23, 2018
Photos: Richard A. Marin
For 20 years Richard A. Marin (see Podcast with Richard Marin, CEO, Low Emissions Resources Corporation, on how retirement is not for wimps) gathered personal stories. In the last six months of 2017 he wrote more. Over a three month period he dedicated his efforts into making the stories into Tales of a Modern Prisoner Gulag 401K (Lulu Publishing Services, $20), a 220-page softcover book. His intended audience was general although he felt the stories would appeal most to Baby Boomers.
When asked by email what motivated him to write the stories he replied, “I am a student of the retirement topic and hence the overall subject matter, but mostly I am a storyteller who finds the topic of retirement to be a compelling human phase that is rich in social, psychological and economic reality with which everyone can relate.”
When asked what he meant when he said in the book that it’s not possible to build high enough walls he replied, “I mean that the retirement or pension crisis is so globally and demographically pervasive that you cannot insulate yourself from it. It is a problem that we as a species must face in the next 30 years. It will affect us all, regardless of how wealthy we are or where we live. We will all need to deal with the humanity of the issue.”
Richard Marin, author, Gulag 401K
As to in what ways he has marketed the book he said, “I hired a top-class publicist in Lavidge and I promoted it via Kirkus Review. The two have reached out to both professional and general populations that have a broad interest in the topic.”
Marin is a 42-year finance, real estate, and venture capital industry executive. He also is involved in managing private equity investments, consulting on major commercial real estate and attractions projects, and the retirement field. The book is divided into seven sections and 23 chapters.
Click to buy Gulag 401(k)
Posted by Elena del Valle on July 19, 2018
Zen of Zinn Instant Wisdom from Silicon Valley’s Longest Serving CEO
Photo: Ray Zinn
Ray Zinn spent decades as head of Micrel, a financially successful Silicon Valley company. Now that he is retired he founded ZinnStarter to provide seed funding to college students launching new products. The program, still in the initial stages, is at five universities with plans on expansion next year. As part of his efforts to reach a young demographic he spent two years writing Zen of Zinn Instant Wisdom from Silicon Valley’s Longest Serving CEO ($9.95), a 195-page softcover book published this year.
His target audience? “Anyone who seeks understanding and wisdom concerning the dynamics of people, society, business and culture,” Zinn said via a spokesperson by email. His goal was “To impart 37 years of executive insight and 50 years of Silicon Valley experience concerning how people, organizations and society are interconnected.”
The book is divided into an introduction and ten chapters titled: Leadership, Entrepreneurial Lift, Management, Startup Life, Discipline, Determination, Government and Society, People, and Life. Each chapter is made up of small segments of text, many of them a paragraph long.
“Two factors fed into the book’s conception,” he said when asked what prompted him to write a collection of short tips for the entire book. “First, along with my daily observations about business and Silicon Valley that I shared on social media, I offered my insights and experiences into the soft side of people. It were these latter elements to which people reacted most positively. The second factor is that in the 21st century, people want content in small, bite-sized pieces. Hence, I designed the book as a collection of memes, that can be read quickly remembered discretely and shared easily.”
When asked how his first and second books differ he said, “Tough Things First was my management and leadership opus, one specifically for business leaders from founders of brand new startups to seasoned executives. Zen of Zinn is for them as well, but also for the masses. Many parts of Zen of Zinn deal with the spiritual essence of humans, and how that shapes communities and organizations. Anyone looking for insight and uplift will find value in Zen of Zinn.”
When asked “You discuss dignity and respect in the book, how does that align with the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and elsewhere?” he replied, “Indeed, part of my goal with Zen of Zinn and Tough Things First was to show that dignity is tied to profitability. Respecting the dignity of all people was a cultural foundation of my company, Micrel, and we were profitable 36 of our 37 years (and the one unprofitable year was a paper loss due to the closing of a redundant facility).
As you suggested, a lack of dignity and a lack of diversity are often interrelated. Any action that marginalizes people because of their differences is a form of disrespect and an afront to their dignity. This in turn results in lower diversity. This is a shame because diversity breeds innovation. Too many Silicon Valley companies are losing out because they do not encourage a corporate culture that values diversity.”
When asked to share wisdom based on personal experience regarding diversity he said, “Two elements come to mind. First, leaders have to put effort into making diversity work. It is not automatic. Simply proclaiming that your company embraces diversity is insufficient. It takes commitment, monitoring, corporate culture shaping, and real work. Second, it requires diversity being part of the corporate culture, part of the organization’s mind set. If you force diversity onto employees that don’t fully embrace it, you may cause more problems.”
When asked if Silicon Valley has peaked he replied, “I say the best parts of Silicon Valley are being cloned elsewhere (my ZinnStarter program is one small piece of this process). Silicon Valley will continue to be itself, but it will slowly quit being the epicenter of technical innovation. That will be everywhere smart people live.”
Click to buy Zen of Zinn