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Are You Not Educated and Entertained?

When it comes to information, there is too much skimming and surfing. Too many soundbites, so little substance. We have a duty and privilege to inform and educate ourselves. Thankfully, a few publications don’t shy away from high word counts and provide deep reporting backed by tremendous research and fine writing. What follows are some of the better, longer business reads from last year. They are all jewels but among the shiniest are Marker‘s work on Alex and Ani, GQ‘s account of an infected cruise ship, and Leland Nally’s queasy look at Jeffrey Epstein’s black book in Mother Jones.

Much of the recent solid business writing is more true crime than entrepreneurial inspiration. I did not seek those out, I swear. Reporters and readers are drawn to the corporate grifters, start-up downward spirals, cult-like leaders with nefarious intent, and the shockingly inept. To be sure, they entertain and all stories carry lessons. So read on, learn and enjoy.

Unlucky Charms: The Rise and Fall of Billion-Dollar Jewelry Empire Alex and Ani

Medium’s publication, Marker, exposed me to a business and brand I’d never heard of. How reasonably priced bangles created such a wealthy soap opera will puzzle. The article eloquently chronicles a fall from towering grace. You’ll want to shake the main player so that the hubris falls off. It is also well written, “Clad in a simple pink cardigan over a T-shirt, Rafaelian stood at the lectern in a hotel conference room, her gum-snapping accent lending a common, relatable touch to what might otherwise have seemed a dubiously lofty message. “Every single person in this room is divinely put here by God,” she said, explaining that she knew this because He told her so.”

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Want to Write a Business Book…Write a Paper First

Having written a book on marketing and nurtured other nonfiction books from concept to shelf, I have learned much. Clearly, there are tangible and personally rewarding reasons to write a book. They establish you as a thought leader. Business books are proven to boost awareness, establish leads, and help close sales. Books are a ton of work but pay back in many ways.

It is a shame that the majority of them should never have been written.

There is an overwhelming amount of substandard work out there and more every day due to self-publishing and assisted self-publishing. I am not talking about books that have typos, horrendous grammar, and downright awful writing. My issue is with books that lack premise or have lazily and greedily repackaged what is commonly known and previously published. This happens across the nonfiction spectrum, from business books to self-help to the how-to varieties.

I have read over 500 marketing books and the law of diminishing returns kicked in 480 books ago. Further, when I was Chief Marketing Officer at DDB Worldwide, many colleagues were interested in writing to boost their personal brand. The global advertising agency had over 12,000 employees, so I expected waterfalls of thought leadership.

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What is a Group of Authors Called?

You have heard of a murder of crows and a pod of dolphins. Not to mention, a parade of elephants and barrel of monkeys. How about a warren of rabbits? Those are a bit obvious. Digging deeper, it is fascinating to see, how other wildlife groups are identified. Most are quite fitting. Let’s check them out before describing a group of authors.

Look out for that Cauldron of bats and Army of caterpillars. Don’t get run over by a Caravan of camels or fall prey to a Coalition of cheetahs. It is tough to join a Convocation of eagles or partner with a Business of ferrets. I’m too short for a Tower of giraffes and intimidated by the Flamboyance of flamingoes.

Time to run if you hear a Thunder of hippopotamuses or are threatened by a Mob of kangaroos. It is a Conspiracy of lemurs that led to a Prickle of porcupines and the Unkindness of ravens. All true!

Oh, and then there is Wisdom of wombats. No joke, it seems those critters get smarter in large numbers. When it comes to authors, hats off to tripfiction.com for soliciting submissions to name a group of authors. These are great…

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The Story Behind Richard Bachman

If you follow Stephen King in the press and social media, you will see he has passion for many topics. The author is politically vocal and not a fan of the 45th President. He is highly supportive of other writers, especially those starting out. He shares tips on the craft of writing and is delightfully self-deprecating, “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.”

King is amazingly well-known, having sold over 350 million copies of his 61 novels. It is fair to say, his name is synonymous with the term, “bestselling”. He and other contemporary mass market novelists like Patterson, Picoult, Roberts, and Stine, pump out novel after novel.

When King’s career took off, publishers limited authors to one book per year. It was thought that the public would tire of a more active author. King has always been prolific so decided to write under another name. The idea was to avoid over-saturating the King “brand”.

Signet Books agreed to print a series of novels under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. King used this opportunity as an experiment. He wanted to find out if his success was due to talent or luck? Would Bachman be as big as King? The Bachman novels were released with little marketing support. Unfortunately, the experiment ended too soon to come to a conclusion. King was linked to Bachman. Consider this though, the novel Thinner sold 28,000 copies under Bachman and then ten times as many when people found out it was King.

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Best (Business) Crime Reads

Having ghostwritten books and put out my own on marketing’s rich history, I have a grasp of what books do well. Self-help, leadership, romance, and wellness are hot categories. So, too, is true crime, and not only in the form of books. Podcasts, streaming content, traditional television, and long-read articles abound, sharing the depravity and cruelness of the human condition to huge audiences.

True crime is not my genre though I must admit, while cutting the lawn, I will listen to the podcast version of NBC’s Dateline. Spoiler alert: 99 times out of 100, the boyfriend or husband did it, or, the girlfriend or wife.

What I want to share are books that have fascinated me going back 30 years. That is, business crime. It all started on one of my first business trips. In 1988, I traveled from Winnipeg to Toronto. At the “tender” age of 25, I was a professional fundraiser for nonprofits. I was representing three Winnipeg institutions and soliciting big business Toronto for large corporate cheques.

Between meetings, I entered a Coles bookstore underground the towers of First Canadian Place. Later, in my career, I had an office in the building while working for Price Waterhouse. One book cover called to me from the shelf. The gold embossed lettering and clever title beckoned and enticed.

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Now is the Time to Write that Book

In addition to our branding and marketing services, Swystun Communications helps thought leaders get their book from concept to shelf. It is great way to get your thinking out there while growing contacts, leads and business. Click here to learn more.

Dive Into These Long Reads

As we all hunker down to limit the spread of covid 19, this is a time to reset our practices and reconnect with those dear to us in the best possible ways. Many of us will reassess our priorities, habits and rituals. One, I have allowed to slip is reading. Streaming services and screens have taken control over the last few years and I hope to change that around.

I have been a voracious reader for most of my life. At one time, I was the #12 reviewer on Amazon.ca, having only reviewed books. That statistic has slipped. But it is not about that number, it is about the joy of reading and the entertainment and education it provides. Groucho Marx said it well, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

What follows is a list of Long Reads that have impressed me in content and style. If you are not familiar with this brand of writing, Long Reads are dedicated to longer articles with larger amounts of content. The articles run between 1,000 and 20,000 words. Such pieces often take the form of creative nonfiction or narrative journalism.

Here are a few that I hope you will enjoy…

What It’s Like to Hike 2,000+ Miles with Your Best Friend

“Shortly after my college graduation, I trekked the entire Appalachian Trail with my roommate of four years by my side. Over the course of six months, we backpacked through 14 states—and learned a lot about ourselves along the way.”

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Excited to Introduce a New Service!

Who reads books anymore? 

Umm, people. Millions and millions of people. When it comes to business books, you know who reads them? Decision-makers. Most CEOs and executives read 4-5 books per month.

It is not inaccurate to refer to a business book as a thick brochure. One that demonstrates the depth and originality of your thinking, showcases your differentiation and, when done right, drives people to action. The kind of action that grows your awareness and business.

That is why we have introduced a new service that assists leaders and brands get their business book written, published and into the hands of desired readers. Check out more in our brochure.

The Frenemies of Reading

There are a few confessions in the following paragraphs. The first is, I was a mediocre student. Prescribed reading and set curriculum fired up my rebellious nature. Unfortunately, that meant denying myself the love of reading until my twenties. When I had choice of what I wanted to read, when I wanted to read it, it became a passion.

It is hard to know for sure but I estimate that I have read over 2,000 books. Many blogs and articles state that successful executives read over 50 books a year. I am now north of age 50 so suffice it to say, that if I averaged reading 50 books a year for 30 years then I have hit 1,500. I know it is more.

But it is not quantity. And, let me be provocative, it is not quality. It is what you pull out of a beautiful page of prose and it is how tightly you have held your nose when you read a stinker. Both offer equal value, if you get my drift.

The value is in the reading. It is the practice. It is the fun. It is the discipline. It is the sense of discovery. It takes you light years beyond learning. It is fireworks of enlightenment and understanding. It is fierce debate and collective understanding. It is an unexpected tear rolling down a cheek and a surprising chuckle that you cannot control. What we read moves us, can change our minds.

Both fiction and nonfiction are powerful vehicles, extraordinary time machines, and streaking spaceships. They take us on journeys.

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Swystun Communications Capabilities

This will make for a great airplane, beach or two-scotch reading. After two scotches, it may even seem brilliant. Download it here… SWYSTUN_Capabilities_2018.

 

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