Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Never Eat Alone — with Keith Ferrazzi

 
Do you know, what it’s like to drive a real Ferrazzi ?  Well, as far as this book is concerned (with a German Edition available as well), this Ferrazzi (model "Keith") clearly is driven by making both a connection and a difference.
 

Once you got used to sentences starting with expressions such as "networking super-hubs like me" ;-), you find this book to be a suprisingly complete guide to Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazzienhancing your very own interpersonal skills — always one connection at a time.
   At the beginning Keith Ferrazzi convincingly explains, why he believes reaching out to other people and offering your help being together the most effective (if not the only) way towards a happy as well as successful life, constantly telling examples from his own experience. You learn how to define your personal goals and then identify the right people to help you complete it. Then one gets instructions on how to get into the right mindset, while avoiding common pitfalls.
   Afterwards, Keith Ferrazzi teaches you the trade of how to successfully making connections, from in-advance research on the people you would like to meet, over pre-warming "cold" phone calls and adding meaning to small talk by showing some vulnerability, to detailed Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazziadvice on how to make sure, the people you once contacted won’t forget about you, while you still successfully survive the information flood caused by phone calls, appointments and contacts you gather.
   Then you proceed to the advanced concepts, containing guides to mastering typical business scenarios: You learn to systematically expand your network by e.g. finding "anchor tenants" out of other social groupings, getting most out of conferences by adding your own events and finally, well, not eating alone by inviting other people for dinner.
   Here it has to be said, that Keith Ferrazzi knows the art of pulling together the right people inside out and that his single chapter of tips on running successful dinner parties probably makes up for more substance than some entire magazines devoted to solely that topic.
 

Though some of the author’s advice may need some adjustment to your particular cultural environment, following his guidelines building your own brand by neither giving in to hubris, nor getting boring, will inevitably allow you to get along with other people in your own life much more joy- and successfully.
 

Want to give Ferrazzi’s practical approaches a try ?  Take this video as an example:
 

 
Unfortunately the book-accompanying website has been replaced by the one of its reportedly even more renowned successor Who’s got your back ?. But it’s still worth a visit, especially for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, containing a multitude of valuable networking tips (many of which "never eat alone" discusses in greater detail…), and its community section where you can connect to and exchange with many other people practicing Ferrazzi-style business networking.
 

OUTSIDE INnovation by Patty Seybold

Admittedly, I’m late. Patricia “Patty” B. Seybold’s work OUTSIDE INnovation already came out more than two years ago. And even though I started reading (or better: ‘devouring’) the first chapters immediately after it hit the bookstores in October 2006, the changes in my life, business and the moving left me up with always delaying OUTSIDE INNOVATION book cover this post until now. So what can I say after having lots of time to think through its ideas and concepts ?  Well, she got even better. :-)  The new book is even more fun to read than the earlier ones. Also the new structure with bite-sized information chunks is very pleasing if you don’t have a lot of time to read chapters in one piece. Though, now you have to pay attention in order to keep up with the thoughtfully chosen information structure, if you want to get all of the causal connections right.

However (again) Patty has done a terrific job assembling the case studies of quite renowned firms from Europe and the US.

Right a the beginning the reader gets an introduction into which changes have occured to corporate innovation efforts and where the author sees her customer-focussed approach to foster and collect innovative concepts right from a company’s customers related to the traditional ivory tower paradigm of traditional corporated R&D labs (“if we build it they will come”).
 

As these are:

  • finding lead users in your respective industry, giving them the tools to customize your products and then, in return, letting their inventions influence your product development
  • engaging with the most visionary customers to co-design new products, services and processes
  • enabling customers to help one other, share new concepts and build on top of each others ideas

 
Currently working for a personalized goods company myself, I’d personally recommend this read to any product manager, CEO and all controllers still thinking, continuously throwing out new cheap “quick & dirty” products was be the most effective way to e-commerce.