Category Archives: Books

Book Review…from me?…Look Both Ways

I don't do many book reviews. Mainly because of press agents. As soon as you start talking about a book, they smell blood and a week later the Fedex truck arrives with stacks of books that you'll never read.

Today, I'm reviewing a book that I haven't read. I probably won't read it. Ever. (maybe I will).

But, I love it.

I like to open it up and get a whiff of some smart design. When I open this book at random, I'm knocked over by Debbie Millman's incredible use of some very cool hand-made design elements that totally align with the words she chooses for each chapter. I'm not so sure that "chapter" is the right word. The book reads more like a portfolio.

It's a great way to kick-start the right hemisphere of your brain. Open at random. Enjoy.

The book is called "Look Both Ways – Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design" by Debbie Millman. If you want a real review…go look at what they said on The New Yorker's Book Bench. Those people know how to write reviews.

Nice Try Samuel Adams

"Beer is banned in 13 states!" scream the press releases.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Samuel Adams recently uncorked this year's version of its biennial Utopias beer with lots of hype about the 27% alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit in 13 states.

Wow. You'd think people would be up in arms. You'd expect lawsuits, protesters, speeches from the pulpit, yet I haven't been able to find much negative news about this evil brew.

It turns out that it's not really a beer at all. Technically, yes it is beer. Functionally, not even close. What they've really done is make a sipping cognac out of beer. At $150 a bottle, even the Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn't have a problem with Utopias, and they are quoted as such in the original press coverage.

In chapter 8 of Tom Wanek's new book, "Currencies That Buy Credibility," he talks about risking your reputation and prestige to buy credibility. In essence, you do something that will cause some of your customers to be repelled while others embrace your brand more tightly than ever.

In the case of the Utopias press, it's a surface-level ploy to seem cutting edge and risky. They want you to be shocked that this is a beer that has been "banned" in 13 states. You should be outraged that it costs $150 a bottle at retail. Yet, when you dig a little deeper…or just blow the marketing dust off the label…you find out that this just doesn't live up to the hype. It's just another bottle of expensive sipping hooch for connoisseurs.

So, how could Samuel Adams ACTUALLY risk reputation and prestige?

They'd have to do something that would actually enrage the MADD crowd. They could put out a beer that's both strong, cheap and easy to guzzle…something that would attract the high school drinker as well as the street bum. They need a beer that would get them written up in for the hallucinatory side-effects of the dangerous secret ingredients.

Give that one a try, Sam.

Currencies That Buy Credibility by Tom Wanek

I've got a copy of Tom Wanek's new book, "Currencies that Buy Credibility." I got one of the first books out of the box, got it signed and everything because I was standing next to him when he opened the box.

I'm kinda sad that this book is out because I work quite closely with Tom and frankly, he's my secret weapon for finding a good strategic hook for clients. I shouldn't be sad though, because now you have a chance to apply what Tom knows.

In Currencies, he outlines six strategies for spending a business' resources to purchase credibility in the minds of customers and the public. Think of it as six ways to put your money where your mouth is…although it's not just about money.

You'll be hearing more about this book all over the web, and right here.

You can pre-order "Currencies that Buy Credibility" from Amazon for delivery in about a week. I really think you should.

Tom Wanek – small business consultant website.

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