Sunday, February 18, 2007

Advice From Business Books

I read business books. I do understand that this is a fairly uncommon practice amongst graphic designers. I’m not talking about the full-on, academic, formal MBA business tome, more the middle-brow management, marketing, and ideas genre. I have read Tom Peters, Seth Godin, and Chris Andersen. I can hold my own in cocktail chatter about Tipping Points and Freakonomics. I have worked my way through potted histories of corporations as varied as IBM, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, Go, Ikea, Starbucks, Ryanair, and Boo.com. Geek-wise I have even handed over good money for product histories of the Mac, Linux, and even Windows-XP. I have also been seen thumbing the occasional CEO autobiography, Overview of Economic Thought, or Pop History of the Limited Liability Company. I have read the good, I have read the the bad and, far worse, I have read the mediocre.
On the most practical level my clients are business people and to truly address their needs I need to understand as much as I can about the business realities and issues that they face. On another level: I am somewhat of a business-geek. (I am still slightly more of a typography-geek, as I have more books on typography. For now.)
Larry Winget is not a business author whom I have encountered before. You can download his recent essay ‘You are Being Lied To and Other Truths’ at ChangeThis. His essay is a fun read with lots of energy. I recommend it. I appreciate that, as a business author, he is refreshingly candid about how useful business books can be, and the realities of having to write more to keep earning. I also really like his one-line version of business book meta-advice.
“Do what you said you were going to do,
when you said you were going to do it,
in exactly the way you said you were going to do.”

Which is very succinct. It resonates with a lot of the themes I am reading in John Simmons’ new book about Innocent. You can argue that this is a simplistic mantra if you will. But, after mulling this over and then running a rule over a lot of the work issues that are currently bugging me, there is a lot to be said for aiming for something as pure as that. And even more to be said for delivering on it.