Second Wilhelm

Wing and Wilhelm translations

Last August, I was challenged to develop a habit of reading from a book that was written before Gutenberg every day. I didn’t have to think 10 seconds before deciding that the I Ching was the book I would use. I’ve done pretty well; I’ve probably consulted the I Ching at least a hundred and fifty times out of a hundred and eighty days since the challenge started.

Now that I’m working with it daily, instead of only when I have a clear question, I’m wanting to know more about the oracle. I want to know more about the history behind the hexagrams than is offered in my R. L. Wing translation. I took my first copy of Wilhelm to the office I use on weekends, and I keep finding out that I want to consult it when I met my weekday desk.

So I bought a second copy. It’s easy to do now; I can find anything on abe.com.

It’s just a little bit strange, finding that I have become someone who needs to have two copies of Wilhelm.

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Review: The Upside of Irrationality

The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

Writing as reviewer #31, having written a number of other reviews myself: what is it about this book that virtually all of the reviews thus far, even the negative ones, are multi-paragraph and thoughtful? Usually, by the time a book has 30, we’re seeing the “loved it!” “hated it!” “Didn’t arrive on time!” filler. Not here. Ariely’s work sticks in your mind, and you are inspired to write more than you normally would.

That said–it appears that behavioral econ gets really really close to marketing, as a field of study. Economists are testing and discovering what marketers have known since Ogilvy wrote his first ad.

Both of Ariely’s books are “news you can use.” I find myself referring to the stories–we cheat, given the opportunity. We make decisions about sex differently when we’re drunk (duh, but that’s rarely addressed in sex ed). (Still haven’t forgiven him for presenting 50-yo women as “beyond the pale” in that experiment, BTW.) Those experiments are from the first book. I know the one about Legos and meaning in work from this book will find its way into my life–watching work get canceled or undone has had a huge effect on my own career and motivation.

Many of the review copy books that come my way get passed on to book swaps, in hope that someone else will find them more useful. I’m keeping this one. I’ll be back in it.

The Upside of Irrationality

Review: How Much Should I Charge?

Pricing Basics for Making Money Doing What You Love

Writing this review in part to respond to the person who said the 5-star people must be family members. Not at all. Simply people who perhaps didn’t take a business course in high school (do they have those courses now?), or didn’t understand accounting as it was presented in college, or never thought they would be considering self-employment after 20 years of picking up a paycheck.

After eight years of part-time home business, I have missed grasping the difference between billable hours, overhead costs, and profit. I am most grateful that I had the sense to pick this book up at the library (“doing what you love” caught my eye) and now I am here buying it, and its companion. It took no time at all to read How Much Should I Charge, and perhaps buying it is a waste of money. I get the concept now.

However, I have spent a lot of time not understanding the concept, and I won’t be surprised if the finer points evaporate before I complete all the price-development exercises. I can make $30 back in one adjusted price on a piece of art.

I am envious, perhaps, of people who intuitively understand the relationship between effort and costs and pricing. Those people will waste their time and money with this book. I’m almost tempted, however, to buy in bulk and give copies away as project-end gifts to a number of contractors I know who, like me, flail when it comes to understanding the connection between their work and their income. Their rates may go up, but they will be more likely to stay in business…

How Much Should I Charge?

Dead Books 

Sometimes, you just have to declare that a book is dead. Sometimes, somebody has to be the grown up, and make the decision that nobody’s going to buy this book, nobody wants it, it has no resale value, and it’s time to return to that great paper pulp machine in the sky.

Intact books cause problems in the recycle stream. The glue holding the pages together is the problem.

The picture shows the remains of a book that was given to owners of brand new Porsches. Perhaps it was given to dealers. It had pretty photography, but except for its value as a record of that marketing campaign, the book itself had no resale value.

I cut the covers off, then tore the individual folios of pages away from the glue holding them together. The pages went in a box of mixed paper recycling. I don’t know if I can recycle this cover as cardboard as well.

I am more clear about making a decision to euthanize one of my pets then I am about destroying books and sending them into the recycle stream. I need to shift that around. It must be come easier to let go of books. Somebody has to make the decision, and they’re better off in the mixed paper recycling, than they are in the main landfill.

Donating unsellable books to the library sale or thrift shops is not helpful; they simply have to make the decision to kill the book and then cart it to the dump, and they have to pay for waste pickup.

Not all books are as easy to take apart. Paper backs don’t let go of their glue easily. I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to take a razor knife to as many dead and dying paper backs as are stashed around this house. If you know of an easy way to separate paperbacks from their glued spine, please let me know.

February 9, 2017 Update

Found Novel Living, by Lisa Occhipinti, at the library this week.

About collecting, displaying, and making crafts from books. Her display suggestions will not work for me; I don’t have any wall space or horizontal space that needs attention or embellishment. I have put “make a slipcase” on the project list for my collection of aging John MacDonald books that have come into my life from the Habitat Restore. They’re hard to find.

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Dragontree Planner Review

I collect planners. More hope is sold in the planner aisle at Staples than at Max Factor… The NEXT planner will solve my problems…. the NEXT planner will make me organized.

(Heck, I get as much benefit from last year’s calendars as I do from a new planner; they all have value. Often, I don’t need alignment between numbers and days. I only need the shapes of time. Different story.)

I saw the Rituals for Living Dreambook+Planner from The Dragontree on Instagram; looked interesting. The PDF version was an affordable experiment. The layout of quarters and months and weeks looked a bit new to me. I printed off the various pages that contained information I wanted to know, as well as one each of the quarter, month, and weekly layouts, so I could see in detail how they were set up. I hate reading PDFs online.

Selected pages from the Dragontree Planner.

Selected pages from the Dragontree Planner.


(Yes, that’s the way my desk looks much of the time.)

Good: Lots of information about how to think about planning; a mindful approach to integrating work and life; I like the content about creating rituals.

I like undated books; you can skip weeks if you don’t need them, and the unused pages don’t time out.

Less than great: The text is teeny weesny itty bitty, making me think the designers have not yet reached the age of needing reading glasses. This might be less of a problem if you purchase the professionally printed copy; I bought the PDF and printed onto ordinary paper with an aging inkjet.

Note Saturday and Sunday share a space. That’s not the way I live. My Saturdays and Sundays deserve (and get, in my regular planner) equal attention and respect as M-F.

No page numbers on the printed copy.

The bolded text on the daily (week-view) layout interferes with my own writing. ALL-CAPS heading, in bold, in tiny type, on my printer, are nearly illegible and therefore, merely blobs. (Most PDF-print-it-yourself tools face some version of this problem.) Rituals list is in all caps. Would be better for me if it weren’t.

Summary: I purchased the planner as a suggestion for tweaks to incorporate into my own planning system (a glued up amalgam of Outlook printouts and numbered pages in a hard-bound book, with add-ins), and I learned some new ideas.

If you think you will be using this planner for important work, you might do well to buy the professionally printed version. (Read someone else’s review to see if the paper suits your taste. I can’t speak to that part.)lanner

Quiet: The Power of Introverts

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking. Susan Cain.

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Susan Cain.

Oh Lord, I loved this book. Full disclosure: lifetime INFP; which I’ve known since 1987. Happy with it; no plans to change or “develop the other half of myself.” (A psychologist friend tells me Jung intended the system to help you know what you needed to work on. After reading Quiet, the thought flashed across my mind: Jung’s dead. Maybe he would have changed his thinking about needing to work on my weak side if he’d lived long enough.)

I was encouraged to open a bio of Dale Carnegie after reading Quiet, and I think Cain does him a bit of a disservice. Yes, he’s the key to the cult of personality. OTOH, he’s also the reason we learned how to teach public speaking in a way that worked. I’m a fluent and skilled public speaker as a result of that course. Carnegie’s system works. There’s no contradiction between introversion and acquisition of a skill like public speaking.

Funny, but while I’ll defend Dale, I loved the rip on Harvard Business School.

A few other quibbles from a note I made while reading:
>the habit of referring to content addressed in future chapters quickly became irritating.
>In the Collaboration / Creativity chapter, Cain dismisses those musicians training to be music teachers at the “elite Music Academy in West Berlin” as “the worst group.” Huh? Perhaps these people are the least skilled at musical performance. But by the time you’ve been accepted into the eMAinWB, you’re hardly the “worst” in any musical comparison. p. 80, my copy) Sloppy choice of words.

I think I will read Quiet again, and that is a rare behavior for me. I was encouraged by the chapter on creativity as a solo experience, having just struggled through Robinson’s Out of Our Minds, which says creative people love collaboration. I couldn’t finish that book. My creativity is a solo thing. I am encouraged to be reminded of “remote” and highly successful introverts; if “remote” and “introverted” aren’t redundant (they are at least side-by-side).

I can’t find more to say that the other reviewers haven’t already covered. A large % of the highly ranked reviews have been written by people who review a lot of books.

Unfortunately, no designer credit is given in the pre-release copy of this book. It is a joy to hold and read the paper edition.

Social Media for Business: the Book

Full disclosure: I’m a contributor, a friend of both co-authors, and business associate of most of the other contributors. I am a touch biased. On the other hand, I am also a prolific reviewer–you can see what I think about a range of books by clicking on the “see all my reviews” link. Didn’t just duck in here to promote one book.

Social Media for Business is written for the solopreneur and micro-business market, where you (mostly) are doing most of everything yourself. I teach classes on social media in the local Chambers and Community College system, as does Martin Brossman. If you’re likely to take those classes but can’t get to one, this is a good book for you.

Social Media for Business steps you through the theory of what’s happening in this space–primarily LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter–and then provides you with specific activities you can do, in a reasonable amount of time, to promote your business. The book touches on Mobile (phone apps for smart phones); GooglePlus did not make it into the printed copy but we anticipate online updates at the website, accessible to people who buy the book through QR codes and a password.

I’ve read some other books about social media marketing that open with, “Start with a small test budget of no more than $200,000.00.” Brossman & McGaha will not take you down that path. If you’re overwhelmed by all the online marketing you are being told you should be doing (especially by people who want you to pay them to do it for you) and need to get an understanding of the whole field before you start spending marketing money, Social Media for Business is a good place to start.

 

Pinterest Power, the book

Pinterest Power, by Jason Miles & Karen Lacey

Four stars.

Full disclosure: I paid full (Amazon) price for my copy of this book (that is, I did not receive a review copy) but I did receive a ton of associated “reserve your copy in advance” material as part of the purchase. The goodies aren’t changing my review. I reserve five stars for books that pretty much change my core thinking about something, and Pinterest Power doesn’t do that. However, it’s good, it’s as good as any of the current crop of Pinterest how-to books, and I like the tone.

One of the business-popular-tech magazines (Inc or Fast Company or Wired) covered the previous books about Pinterest a few months before Pinterest Power came out, and the reviews were all a bit dismissive. At that time, I held on to my money as a result. It may well be that Pinterest itself has matured and those books were premature. YMMV. I have followed Jason’s pins and blog for a while and I like his approach. Tested, responsible, pragmatic, proven.

The book is easy, straightforward, and thorough, and if you’re serious about using Pinterest to generate traffic, leads, and sales, you will be able to learn a lot. It’s WAY cheaper than any of the on-line education I’ve seen, and covers at least as much if not a great deal more. More accessible, IMO, and bathtub friendly in a way anything online is simply not.

I’m not completely happy with the explanation of how US Copyright law intersects with Pinterest (in short, the authors punted with an “IANAL” clause). IMO, businesses are much more likely to be the target of a copyright challenge, because we have (at least in the eyes of the prosecution) the money. Copyright law is not difficult. If you’re pinning for a business, you owe it to your business to understand how it works a little better than is explained here, although, I agree, the gist is correct: credit your sources (and, IMO, stay away from Tumblr).

After I posted the original Amazon review, I found an additional paragraph about copyright that more actively irritated me.  The authors advise NOT linking to any site that has the “do not pin” code.  Perhaps they meant to say, “do not copy from and then link back to,” but I don’t see any problem with linking TO any website, as long as you’re not stealing their content to create the pin.  (I link to non-pinnable websites with Quozio.) (This paragraph is is a call-out box several pages BEFORE the section on copyright law, which is why I couldn’t find it when I wrote the first review.  Didn’t think to look backward.)

I don’t know whether the “don’t pin from this site” functionality was available before the book was written; I wish it had been addressed. National Geographic is the most prominent site I have discovered using that code; stolen NatGeog images are all over Pinterest (and probably a few on my boards, although I have deleted some that I since came to recognize).

Somewhat minor quibble, unless your business is photography itself, which appears to have the most at risk.

Elsewise, you’ll do well with Pinterest Power, you’re bound to learn something, and follow Jason’s blog and boards to stay up to date, because Pinterest is changing faster than paper can keep up with.

Improving Your Pinterest Images

Professional product photography is a wonderful resource. If you can afford to have a professional photographer take images of your products, services, and events, use them. (Make sure you have have permission to use those images on Pinterest, according to your contract with the photographer).

However, you can spend a lot of money on good product photography, and Pinterest is hungry for more images than many smaller businesses can afford.

You can improve the photos you take.  This post talks about how to train your brain to think about images differently; plenty of pins point you to information about the technical elements of improving your images through camera settings and lightroom processing.

Crop!

When in doubt, crop your image! Cut out as much of the background as possible and get in close to what matters to the pin.

Pink bicycles example of cropping

Example of cropping to remove most of the sidewalk and show more of the color.

If your photo processing software offers a 3×3 grid during the cropping process, get one of the intersections of the grid close to the center of interest in the image.

Real world lesson: TV close-ups of a character (Law and Order pre-commercial fade-out) ALWAYS show the character’s face on one side or the other of the screen, NEVER in the middle.)

Educate Your Eye

Before you can create better images, it’s helpful to be able to recognize better images. As you read trade magazines, end-user retail advertising, or any other source of images including Pinterest, notice which images catch your eye. Tear out pages from magazines and keep them in a notebook or file folder. Pin interesting pin images to secret boards if you don’t want to do your learning in public.

From time to time, look over your collection and let it talk to you. You may find that the images group themselves into categories, by distance from object; time of day, color scheme.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is the camera?
  • Where is the light source?
  • Is there more than one light source?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What’s in the background and how did the photographer make the background look that way?*

*It’s possible to blur a background by changing the apeture on your camera; it’s easier to make sure the background is as simple and plain as it can be (or at least, interesting and deliberately selected) before you take the picture.

When you’re ready to create your own images, take this information with you and your camera.  Chances are, simply thinking about how an image you like was created will help you create images that you like a lot more.

Books

The board below shows pins about books and other sources of information about improving your photography. I focus on shifting your point of view and general artistic understanding rather than the technical information about how to use software.

Photograph Daily

See Everyday:  A Year Long Photo Diary, by Byron Wolfe.  Anohter book that has the same effect on me are Speck:  A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, by Peter Buchanan-Smith.

Wolfe is a photography teacher who set himself the assignment to make one good image every day.  Lisa Creed did the same thing with her paintings.  Julia Cameron teaches this about writing daily in The Artists Way.

Carry your camera / smart phone everywhere.  Allow / force yourself to stop and take photographs whenever something catches your eye.  Photographing the same thing every time you pass it will have much the same outcome, if that is easier to do.  (I have a series of the nuclear power plant plume; another of a highway intersection construction project in process.)

If you’ve ever watched a professional photographer work, you may have noticed that he or she took HUNDREDS of photos in order to get the 20 that appeared in your wedding album, or the three that were used in the magazine article.

The point of these exercises is to help you let go of the idea of “one good image” and move into an understanding of “lots of images will lead to one good one.”

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause Book image

Books that can help you be a better designer.

I love all of Jim Krause’s books.  People doing their own product photography should buy the Photo Idea Index (bright green plastic cover in the picture on the site). The chapters in this book take you through 350 ways of looking at the world (and products!) around you and taking pictures that will make people stop when they see them on the pin flow.

If your business is more specific and you KNOW you only need landscapes, or people, or products, you might want to look at one of Krause’s focused idea books.

If you do nothing but set yourself the exercise of duplicating each of his images with your landscape and/or products, you’ll have 14 boards full of images that work. Add your paid professional shots in with your own images, and your business account will look as good as any big business.

Caveat: I have not been able to duplicate professional interior design photography worth a hoot.  The pros use lights; more lights than you can image.  Using the homeowner’s in-home lighting is NOT enough.  If you pin in the interior design trades, pay for professional portfolio images.  Focus your own photography on close-ups and products, rather than finished installations.

Pins about Pinterest Photography

This is a board where I collect pins about how to create better images for Pinterest; not pins about photography in general.
(Board keeps disappearing, and I’ve submitted a help ticket into Pinterest. Stay tuned.)

Pitch Anything and Pinterest

Pitch Anything is a new book about presenting-to-sell by Oren Klaff. One of my marketing teachers, Glenn Livingston, said it was the best marketing book he’d read in the past five years. I’m not so sure I’d go that far, but I just finished the book and it is engaging.

Pitch Anything, by Oren Klaff

Pitch Anything, the new marketing book about using framing and hot cognition to influence your audience.

Klaff’s recommendation is, IMO, not quite as revolutionary and innovative as he’d like to think: Guy Kawasaki has been saying the same thing for a few years already. Tell the story. Don’t let them get you into the weeds. Give people something to believe in. They don’t care about your pedigree, resume and backstory. Use your business’ version of puppy porn…(that link is safe for just about anyone). (In his case, the big sale involved airplane porn. I hope you already understand the use of the word in the internet context…)

If you’re someone who reads marketing books, you’ll enjoy Pitch Anything. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it because it’s difficult to apply. Klaff uses examples from his own investment fund raising past, and they don’t directly translate to the kind of selling most of my clients do.

One point, however, struck me powerfully. Klaff talks about the importance of Hot Cognition–the instant, primal brain response that says, “I want it.” When buyers / clients are in hot cognition, they want what you have.

Reader, Pinterest is nothing BUT hot cognition.

I see it I want it I click it’s mine.

There is no sales letter than can compete with puppy porn, if what you sell can be represented by your market’s equivalent of this pin (also safe on a public PC).

As I write this post, I also realize that Pinterest is, in Klaff’s terms, a way to “stack frames.” The board and surrounding pins provide context you control, setting the scene for the item and how it will fit into your client’s life. Providing more detailed examples of boards and frames is more than I have time for in this post. More later.