>Sham, by Steve Salerno

 15th September 2009 by gihan

>In this book, Salerno unashamedly takes on the “self-help and actualization movement” – or “SHAM”, as the acronym conveniently spells out. The first part of the book includes chapters about Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, and other self-help celebrities – though curiously not Oprah Winfrey. If you’re a fan of any of these celebrities, it’s worth reading this book to open your eyes to a different perspective.

The second part of the book describes the consequences of these “sham artists” at work. However, this is where the book falls down. It often sacrifices rigour and logic in order to rant. Some of the points he makes are reasonable, no doubt, but a less overtly biased approach would have been more convincing.

Filed Under

Tagged With

>Social media marketing is about social first, marketing second

 14th September 2009 by gihan

>Somebody recently asked this question on LinkedIn (this is an edited version):

“What is all the hype around social media? Can you possibly make money or is it just a waste of time? How to spend less money on marketing yet have more clients coming more often? What are the fastest way to set up a referral program that delivers a constant stream of new (and qualified) leads? What are the 2 NEW Hybrid (online/offline) marketing strategies that is already driving a constant flow of traffic to people using them? What are the two proven techniques that will put your conversions through the roof?”

This is a common question, but it’s also a common trap many business owners fall into.

When you think about social media marketing, think “social” first, “marketing” second.

When I first started using the Internet 21 years ago, it was all about “social media” (though that term didn’t exist at the time). It was about sharing documents, helping each other in forums and connecting with other people in your area of expertise. In other words, it was about making genuine connections with other people.

It was largely an academic and technical community, not a business community. Then, in the mid-1990s, the commercial world discovered – and soon dominated – the Internet, and it became all about making money, “delivering a constant stream of qualified leads”, “driving a constant flow of traffic”, and “putting your conversions through the roof”.

We’ve come full circle now. The business world no longer rules the Internet. Instead, it’s back to its roots, dominated by ordinary people making connections with other ordinary people. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr are not primarily business tools. They are personal tools first, business tools second.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against using social media for business, and as an Internet consultant I help my clients achieve these outcomes. But if that’s your frame of mind when it comes to social media, you’re doomed to fail.

Asking “Can I make money from social media, or is it just a waste of time?” is like asking “Can I make money from my friends, or is it just a waste of time hanging out with them?” Of course you can make money from friends, with friends, and through friends, but that’s not the main reason you spend time with them (I hope!)

If you want to succeed with social media, be willing to make an investment in it. As with any other social situation, you’ve got to earn the right to be heard.

Filed Under

>The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins

 1st September 2009 by gihan

>A disappointment.

Dawkins spends most of the book criticizing religion rather than God. Fair enough – there’s a lot to criticize, but that’s not how the book is positioned.

I eagerly turned to Chapter 4, “Why there almost certainly is no God”, but it’s fairly shallow. That chapter would have been better titled, “Why Intelligent Design proponents are almost certainly morons”. No argument there. But that’s not the point.

Dawkins’ biggest point against the existence of God seems to be the “Who designed the designer?” argument. In other words, a God who could have designed the Universe must be a highly evolved being, and that can only happen through evolution. So what? Belief in evolution isn’t incompatible with belief in God.

In fact, it’s easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where technology is powerful enough for us to design thinking, feeling, computer-generated characters who “live” in cyberspace. In their world, WE would be their God – with omniscience, omnipotence and supernatural powers. If that could be the case, why couldn’t the same thing be true of a God who created us? I’m not saying this IS true, just that it COULD be true. And Dawkins doesn’t address this question at all.

All that said, when Dawkins takes aim at religion – which, in fact, is the majority of the book – he makes some good points, albeit obvious points to anybody who takes more than half a nanosecond to think about them.

An interesting read if you’re planning to debate religion with true believers, but a waste of time if you’re curious about GOD.

Filed Under

Tagged With

>The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt

 25th August 2009 by gihan

>This is a wonderful book! It’s an unexpected surprise to find a “personal development” book that’s backed by solid science instead of feel-good platitudes.

Haidt examines a number of factors affecting happiness, and presents interesting – and sometimes confronting – ideas. For instance, there’s some evidence that your average happiness is genetically determined, not solely the result of a “positive mental attitude”. And he suggests Prozac as a solution for a certain condition – which flies in the face of motivational authors who insist that drug-free answers are the only “true” answers.

If you’re interested in an in-depth – but still readable and inspirational – study of what makes you happier, this is it.

Filed Under

Tagged With

>The value of mentoring

 21st August 2009 by gihan

>I’ve recently started David Penglase’s sales and marketing mentoring program, and I’ve got to say … I’m loving it. Lots of work, and my brain hurts, but it’s very, very valuable.

It got me thinking about the value of mentoring in general. It’s something I’ve done a lot – both as a mentor and as a mentoree. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here. I hope you find this useful, especially if you haven’t used a mentor before.


If you’re going to use a mentor, you might as well get the best. I’ve had Glenn Capelli mentoring me in presentation skills, Matt Church mentoring me in my thought leadership and IP, Creel Price mentoring me in entrepreneurship, Paul Counsel mentoring me in wealth creation, Mal Emery mentoring me in marketing, and now Dave Penglase mentoring me in sales. Some of these names might not be familiar to you, but believe me when I say they are all masters at what they do.


I don’t think it’s necessarily true that free advice is only worth what you pay for it, but I do think it’s easier to be motivated to take action when you pay for the advice. A few of my mentors offered to help me for nothing, but I needed to pay so I could hold myself accountable for the return on investment. I suggest you do the same.

(By the way, the going rate for one-on-one mentoring seems to be around $3,000-$5,000 for a three-month program)


Paying for mentoring is a good start, but it’s not necessarily a commitment. Do something more to commit yourself – set up a support group with other mentorees, announce it publicly, hire a staff member you can’t afford in anticipation of your success, whatever.

The first year Matt Church was mentoring me, I spent more time sitting in airplanes flying between Perth and Sydney than I actually did sitting down with Matt. That was a huge commitment of energy and time, but it really motivated me to make the most of the mentoring.


Come to your mentor with a clear goal. For example, for my mentoring with David, I’ve set a specific income goal, with a specific deadline (this financial year), and with the additional proviso that at least 80% of it has to be earned without me leaving Perth. This makes it so much easier for him to help me, and it keeps us both focussed.


Whenever I learn something new, I immediately start thinking of how I can improve it! I suspect I’m not alone! But this isn’t appropriate for a mentoring relationship, so I have to keep stopping myself from “improving” my mentor’s advice.

Ask lots of questions, but don’t argue. They’ve got the experience, so do it their way, not yours. The path David has suggested for me is very different from the path I had in mind. But it would be crazy for me to insist on doing it my way.


There’s no point getting the advice if you don’t use it. Mentoring is not like reading a book, watching a keynote, or attending a training course, where you sift through the information and figure out what’s relevant to you. It’s not for you to pick and choose. That’s your mentor’s job; yours is to do it.

(From the other side of the table, I know my favourite – and most successful – mentoring clients are those who follow through with their actions)


I believe mentoring is the fastest way to accelerate your growth, in whatever area of your business you’d like to improve. So please do it sooner rather than later. Even if it seems like a big investment, it’s worth it!

Filed Under

>Reckoning with Risk, by Gerd Gigerenzer

 18th August 2009 by gihan

>The test for breast cancer is extremely reliable. It correctly detects breast cancer in 90% of cases when the cancer does exist, and only mistakenly reports it in 9% of cases when the cancer doesn’t exist. The incidence of breast cancer in women is 1 in 100. Suppose you (or, for men, a woman close to you) take a test for breast cancer, and unfortunately it returns a positive result (i.e. it detects the cancer). What is the probability that you do have breast cancer? Would you be surprised to know it’s just 10%? Not 90%, 99% or some other high number?

Another example: DNA testing on a murder weapon matches your DNA, and a forensic expert says there’s only a 1 in 100,000 chance of that happening. Are you doomed? Would you be surprised to know that in a city of, say, 2 million people, this means you’re 95% likely to be NOT guilty, based on that DNA evidence alone?

Do these examples surprise and confuse you? If so, take heart: They surprise and confuse most people – laypeople and experts (doctors and lawyers) alike. Unfortunately, this can have disastrous – sometimes tragic – consequences in law, medicine and other fields.

This is the topic of Gerd Gigerenzer’s excellent book about working with risk and uncertainty. Read it and you might be horrified at some of the horrible mistakes being made by experts giving advice. At least you’ll be in a better position to question them and become better informed.

Is this the best book ever written about dealing with uncertainty? I’m not sure. But it’s certainly well worth the read.

Filed Under

The Dip, by Seth Godin

 16th August 2009 by gihan

A brilliant book. Contrary to many of the other reviewers on, I think this little book (it’s under 80 pages) is essential reading for success in business and life. It promises to teach one simple, elegant and powerful idea: Know when to quit and when to persist. Or, as Kenny Rogers would put it, “You’ve got to know when to hold and know when to fold”.

The first time I read the book, I understood this. But it was the second time I read the book that I got the real Aha! moment. I think the book actually delivers two ideas, and the second – unadvertised in the promotional blurb but prominent throughout the book – is the more important.

It’s this: If you’re not the best in the world, quit.

This, more than the quit/persist idea, is what makes this book essential reading, especially in this connected, competitive world where being #1 brings all the success and being #2 leaves you highly vulnerable.

So how is it possible for everybody to become the best in the world at what they do? Well, the trick is that you get to decide what “best” means, and you get to decide what “the world” means (Well, actually your customers decide, but it’s your job to position yourself in front of the right customers). The point is, mass marketing is dead. Choose a niche market and a customised offering that makes you the best. If you can’t, quit.

Buy the book here from

Filed Under

Tagged With

>The Vendor Client relationship – in real world situations

 15th August 2009 by gihan

>There’s a very funny video going around about client/vendor consulting relationships, and how they might operate in “the real world”:

This is funny, no doubt about it! But let’s not allow the humour to trick us into thinking it’s making a valid point. All this proves is that consulting relationships are different from retail transactions.

For instance, let’s script another restaurant scene, but this time with the shoe on the other foot …

(Customer calls over the waiter …)

Waiter: Good evening, sir.

Customer: Good evening. I’d like the steak, please, but there’s no price on the menu. How much is it?

Waiter: Well, it depends.

Customer: Depends? Depends on what?

Waiter: It depends on how hungry you are, sir.

Customer: How hungry I am??? What’s that got to do with it?

Waiter: Well, obviously, sir, a hungry person would value it much more highly. It wouldn’t be fair to charge as much to somebody who isn’t so hungry. That’s why we rate your level of hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 before quoting you a price.

Customer: That’s ridiculous! But OK, if you insist: I’m a 6.

Waiter: Ha ha! Good one, sir. No, seriously – you’re not the best person to assess that. We’re the food experts, so we’ve designed a diagnostic survey that gives a far more accurate reading. And I might say, sir, that most people turn out to be hungrier than they thought they were! Don’t worry, sir – it won’t take long and it won’t cost much.

Customer: Cost??? Are you saying you’re going to charge me BEFORE you tell me how much my meal will cost?

Waiter: Of course, sir! How can we quote a fair price without knowing how hungry you are? We have to match our service to your requirements.

Customer: Look, I really don’t care whether I “match” or not. Here’s $20 – what can I get for that?

Waiter: Oh, sir – we can’t just take your money. Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice!

Customer (storming out): Forget it! I’m going to the burger joint across the street. THEY’LL give me what I want.

Waiter (sniffing haughtily): Yes … but not what you NEED.


Filed Under