Beach Reads for a Business Owner

In one week, I’ll be at the beach. My out of the office message will be set on my e-mail, but like many business owners, my mind will be still very much focused on my passion — building my business. So in addition to sunscreen and sandals, I’ll be packing a stack of books that I’m hoping will inspire me. Here’s what I’ve picked, and why. Have tips for others? Leave them in the comments below. Happy reading!

Rework
by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

No venture capital. That’s how 37Signals has built their business, and it’s how we plan on building ours. We’re already avid readers of the 37Signals blog, and use this humbled-beginnings software company as a beacon for where we want to go.


Do More Great Work.
by Michael Bungay Stanier

This was a recommendation when I purchased Rework, but the subtitle got me — “Stop the busywork, and start the work that matters.” Having just come back from my corporate-world stint, I haven’t quite shaken the busywork bug. I feel compelled to be doing something all the time, almost like I have  a looming mid-year review over my shoulder. I’m hoping this book will give me ideas of taking control over my own schedule, and to, well, do more great work.


Making Ideas Happen
by Scott Belsky

When I freelanced, it was simple. If something needed to get done, I did it. In corporate, the team was so big that I knew my myopic role and did just that. But now, we have a small team, and a long list of things we want to do. I’ll be looking to this book for ways to get our ideas off of our index cards and into the hands of our customers.


The Official Scrabble® Brand Word-Finder
by Robert Schachner

One of the first things I do every morning is play a game of Scrabble on my iPhone. I find it’s a great way for me to wean in the day (I’m naturally a night-owl). Lately, I can beat the Normal setting without a challenge, but I’m stuck when it comes to Hard. I plan on using this study guide to beef up my Scrabble skills not only for my own enjoyment, but to ensure that I win at family game night (I have a slight competitive side, too.)


Ladies First: History’s Greatest Female Trailblazers, Winners, and Mavericks
by Lynn Santa Lucia

Stories of others who have risen to a challenge are most inspiring. So what better fodder for dreams than a collection of women who have changed the course of history. From Christine de Pisan, Europe’s first professional female writer, to Dorothy Levitt, the first woman to compete in a motor race in 1903, I can’t wait to read the seventeen mini-biographies and maybe find a piece of myself among them.


Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr Lilian Cheung

Mindful living has had a profound impact on my life. It helps me make better decisions in both business and in life. One aspect of mindfulness is around how we consume our food. Too often, I find myself gobbling down a breakfast bar because I’m running to a meeting. This book, written by one of the world’s preeminent Buddhist authors, shows how you can maintain a healthy weight and attitude simply by paying attention to your food.

The Blogger Writing Style Defined (Kind Of)

dragnet1.jpgOn my daily run between Market Square and Founder’s Park it hit me – the Writer’s Spectrum.

Writers dwell on a plane that lies somewhere between Dragnet’s “Just the facts, Ma’am.” and the insightful, introspective musings of the countless poets, novelists and philosophers we studied in high-school.

This all came about after a conversation with a friend of mine who is a screenwriter. As a copywriter, I am mesmerized at how someone can take a simple plot-line and blow it up with enough plot twists, character flaws, and details that it captures my attention for over two hours.

My job is the exact opposite. I take boundless amounts of information and form it into the most compact and concise sentences possible.

I even created a graph for you to explain my point (horray!):

writer-spectrum.jpg

Maybe you notice the fundamental problem with the spectrum. Bloggers are everywhere. With every other type of writer, our product is narrow and concrete. Copy is copy. A Speech is a speech. A book is a book.

But with blogs – they can be whatever the writer wants it to be. There are blogs that are to the point and dare I say damn near close to journalism. On the other hand, some blogs are nothing more than the dribbling swill of some schizophrenic college student trying to be “deep.”

In marketing terms, this means we bloggers have a pretty serious branding issue. Non-bloggers see us as simply egotistical writers who have nothing better to do than post a journal online (well, maybe they have a point).

I blog because I am a writer.

I blog because it is a way to grow my business and get new clients.

I blog because I feel I have something interesting to say (and since I have dedicated readers who tell me I’m interesting, that gives me motivation to keep posting).

I blog because I’m a dork and have nothing better to do with my time (semi-true. Dork, yes. But I could definitely find other things to do with my time – like sleep).

I blog because it gives me a sense of community. I’ve met some crazy, funny, wonderful, quality people because of this blog and I love it!

I blog because I hate watching my local news. It’s always “So-and-so shot so-and-so at the corner of so-and-so.” That can get depressing – so I get my news from blogs.

But these are just the reasons I blog. Every blogger has a different motive and since the product is so varied it’s difficult to define.

Maybe one day we’ll be able to accurately define where blogging is on the writer’s spectrum. But for now – we’ll just keep blogging and hope somebody someday can make sense of it all.

New Media Conference in Washington D.C.

If you’re in the Metro DC area, mark your calendar for the New Media Nouveaux conference July 13th. The focus of the conference will be “how to get your audience to fall madly in love with you, your message and your business” through strategic use of blogs, social media releases, etc.

Yours truly will be moderating the “Specialists” panel discussion with Alice Marshall of Presto Vivace, Qui Diaz of Ogilvy and Jennifer Cortner of EFX Media

Here’s a peek at everyone who will be presenting:

Keynote Speakers:

  • Toby Bloomberg – Author of the Diva Marketing Blog
  • Geoff Livingston – CEO of Livingston Communications and Author of Now is Gone (to be released this October)

Panelists: 

If you’re a regular reader, I’d love to meet you – so try to stop by and introduce yourself after the conference. Hope to see you there – you can get more info/register here.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Effective Marketing with Myspace.com

myspace-log.gifToday while checking my myspace.com account I found the following message from author Paco Ahlgren. On my profile, I list my interest in Taoism and quantum physics – so when I received this message I was glad because his book pertains to my interests.

The message is easy to read. It’s not salesy. It’s conversational style lets me make up my own mind.

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My first novel, Discipline, will be published July 2, 2007 by Greenleaf Book Group Press — a small independent house in Austin, Texas.

The book is a philosophical, psychological thriller exploring the connections between eastern philosophies and modern philosophies of science — focusing on Taoism and quantum physics.


“For two nights in a row, I stayed up past 3AM reading Discipline… In the hands of a lesser talent, the treatment of so many deep topics could easily turn superficial or stupefyingly dull. But throughout this exciting white-knuckle metaphysical adventure story, Ahlgren maintains a surprisingly light touch…expect to learn some edge physics, to peek into the details of exotic financial transactions, and perhaps to gain new insight about what it might really feel like to be an enlightened being.”– Nick Herbert, Ph.D., author of Quantum Reality, Faster Than Light, and Elemental Mind


Please add me to your friends list with the button below. I’m always looking for comments and criticism for all my work, and I would love to have your thoughts.


Pre-order your copy of the Discipline hardcover at Amazon.com now for $16.47 — 34% off the regular cover price.Pre-order your copy of the Discipline hardcover at Amazon.com now for $16.47 -- 34% off the regular cover price.
You can read the Discipline sample chapters at http://www.pacoahlgren.com.


“Science, politics, economics and spirituality fuse explosively in this visionary thriller. In some far future–or is it past?–Philip K. Dick nods with satisfaction.”–Jeffrey Satinover, physicist and psychiatrist, author of The Quantum Brain.


DISCIPLINE
Douglas Cole is being hunted—and protected—but he doesn’t know it. His life has been shattered by inexplicable tragedy, his mind haunted by ominous visions, and yet the more he questions the horrifying events plaguing him, the more elusive the answers become. Pushed to the brink of insanity, Douglas begins a desperate psychological battle with an enemy he can’t see and doesn’t understand, the outcome of which will determine the fate of humanity.Discipline dissects our assumptions about the limits of perception in a way that will terrify you as much as it enlightens you, weaving blunt, gritty realism with spectacular scope into an intricate thrill-ride that will drive you to turn each page as quickly as possible, while at once demanding that you slow down enough to absorb every critical detail.No matter how much you prepare yourself, the revelation at the end is going to blindside you, leaving you questioning reality in a way you never would have believed possible. And yet, once you recover, you’ll find yourself back on page one right away—looking for answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask the first time around.


“Ahlgren deftly melds the intimacy of one man’s personal journey of self-discovery with cosmic, mind-expanding concepts of quantum physics, time travel, and multiple universes. This stunning and skillfully constructed story is a page-turner that haunts you long after you’ve closed the book. Discipline is a masterful first novel that rivals the works of many more mature authors with dozens of books to their credit. I look forward with delicious anticipation to everything Ahlgren writes in the future.”– Marie D. Jones, author of PSIence: How New Discoveries in Quantum Physics and New Science May Explain the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena.

Catchy Store Names & Taglines

sitting-elf.jpgThere’s a restaurant in town called the Bilbo Baggin’s Cafe – their tagline? “Great Service is More Than Just a Hobbit”

Other store names that caught my eye…

  • A bakery called the Upper Crust
  • A bookstore called Books & Crannies
  • A hair salon called Bangs & Burns

I’ll keep my eye out for more and post as I see them. What are some wacky store names you’ve seen?

BTW, if you’re looking to create your own unique store name, Sam Horn wrote the book.

Congrats Ad Man!

Congratulations to my friend Geoff Livingston of Livingston Communications who celebrated the first-year anniversary of his business!

As he puts it…

“We’ve had great experiences, from promoting Godsmack lead singer Sully Erna’s new book “The Paths We Choose,” and the Washington Nationals to well over a dozen stories placed in the top 50 newspapers in the country.

 

To celebrate our birthday, we’ve published an interview on our Buzz Bin blog with Laura Ries, co-author of the celebrated books “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” and the “Origin of Brands.” The latest in a series of interviews with great marketing minds, Laura discusses the impact new media is making on brands. You can view this interview at http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog/?p=246. We’ve also launched a new version of our web site at www.livingstonbuzz.com.

 

Again, congrats Geoff and may you have many, many, many more successful years to come!

 

 

To your success,

 

Andrea Morris

Write Ideas Marketing

The Secret to Spectacular Writing

Idea PaintingMany of us search for the perfect words to help sell our product or service. We tweak the recipe until we have a proprietary blend of personality and professionalism. The words jump off the page and the reader feels connected. That is great writing.

I’ve discovered a secret during my career as a copywriter and marketing coach. Toning ideas down is a heck of a lot easier than jazzing them up.

My first few projects started from a logical point of view. I wrote and edited at the same time as most people do. The words were acceptable, but they lacked that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It needed some sparkle – but adding sparkle to swill isn’t easy.

One day I decided to give my thinking a makeover. I set a goal to find all the outrageous ideas lurking in the far corners of my brain and get them out of my head and onto my computer screen.

I decorated a piece of card stock with silly symbols and the words “JUST THINK” and covered my computer screen. Somehow the paper removed the tiny editor that sat somewhere in my head trashing ideas before they even got to the screen. Since I couldn’t see my work, all my crazy ideas (not just the logical ones) made the journey from my brain, through my fingers and onto the computer.

The result? I discovered many of the ideas that normally wouldn’t have made the cut were more effective than the so-called logical ideas. With a little tweaking and toning down I had writing that worked. The process also saved me time and was fun to boot.

So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block try covering your screen and opening your mind. Then sit back and watch your ideas blossom.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com