pjhstudios blog

Recent non-fiction reads


HBR’s 10 Must Reads The Essentials – This complilation collects 10 articles that business leaders should readily consider–strategies for broad aspects of business.  Each article is summarized in a side bar with the key points. This is handy as the articles are 20-30 pages in length.  Drucker, Porter, Christensen are all present with topics covering leadership, innovation, strategy, analytics and more.  Standout articles: Michael Porter’s “What is Strategy?” and John P. Kotter’s “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail”.  If you have access to a good library, you should be able to find these articles, and with some effort, Google Scholar can dig them up.

Click by Ori and Rom Brafman – Ever wonder what causes people to click? Ori and Rom divulge five factors: vulnerability, proximity, resonance, similarity and shared adversity. Also, there are individuals who can adjust their temperament to their circumstance, which they call high self monitors. The book is a quick read, under 200 pages, and illustrates each point with well told stories.

Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman – Ever wonder what MBAs learn? Josh Kaufman distills key, critical and essential concepts and principles across all facets of business.  From the hard numbers of accounting, fuzziness of marketing and organizational development to fluidity of strategy, each concept is summarized and provided an example.  It’s not meant to be read straight through, it’s meant to be read as a reference, or perhaps a means to translate business lingo into something concrete and meaningful.

Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander – Across 12 points, uplifting and inspirational stories are used to tell the power of being inclusive, constructive, positive and seeking understanding.  Definitely worth a reread to focus on doing good things and keeping a good mindset.

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The story of Z. Vex effects pedals


Z. Vex creates handmade and painted guitar effects pedals, a business that started as a hobby.

Vex: “My first Z.Vex pedal was an improvement on an Apollo Fuzz-Wah fuzz, which was the Octane. I showed it to Nate at Willie’s American Guitars in St. Paul and he immediately ordered three. I hadn’t planned on going into business, it just happened by accident. I started making a living within about two months after the pedal company started. A meager living, but a living. I believe my apartment was about $300 a month.”

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Seth Godin’s Purple Cow


Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is a call for businesses and start ups to be remarkable. Being remarkable means being memorable, unique and doing business in such a way that it can be distinguishably different from the competition.

Godin explains his purple cow: drive about the country side and watch cows–brown cows, black cows, black and white cows. After a while, they’re boring and part of the landscape. But what if all the sudden you saw a purple cow? That would be remarkable wouldn’t it?

And his caveat: for a while, and then it too fades in to the scenery.

Where most businesses stumble, is that they create something new and exciting and make money, but then they become stuck in a cycle of protecting the product and doing things that are safe and for the masses. What businesses should do, he says, as the purple cow is making money, invest that money on the next thing, the next idea. He supports this stating that you make more money on early adopters who then tell the masses (their friends) about the product or service. This doesn’t mean you seek out they next cool thing immediately, but be attentive and creative to when the market will provide an opportunity for you to create your next purple cow.

Godin writes in stories, anecdotes and case studies. Purple Cow contains plenty of examples. My Pearl Jam nerd self received a little bit of glee when the band sold all 72 live shows from their 2000 tour–and made a profit–as an example. Sections are at most two to three pages in length, and some contain explicit take away points. Teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs, mid-level executives should be able to gleam morsels of inspiration within the books 200 pages.