Tim Ferriss' book, The Four Hour Work Week, is clearly the business/lifestyle title du jour. Having now topped the New York Times and WSJ best seller lists, he is gaining a cult following over here in the UK and Europe.
In simple terms, it is a book about "lifestyle design" - or how to do the things you really want to do in your life and earn enough cash to do them without having to work 80 hours a week- and wait until 60 to retire.
There's obviously a lot more to it than this - he's very cleverly taken a lot of themes from existing business books on things like the 80/20 rule and wrapped them up with some original insights of his own.
One of the cornerstones of his approach is what he describes as the "Low Information Diet". A common theme running throughout the book is the call to minimise the amount of information input you have to deal with - and focus on maximum output. For example, in terms of e-mail, he recommends an auto responder that says you will only check e-mail twice a day - once at 11am and once at 4pm. If people really need to call you, then you give them a mobile number - according to Ferris, this drastically reduces the number of so-called urgent disruptions you get in a day. (Wonder how many PRs or journalists could get away with this?)
However, he has an even more radical approach to reading newspapers and magazines - namely, not reading them at all. He claims to have not read a newspaper in 5 years. He devotes a couple of hours per month to reading one trade mag. And according to him, it has had no negative impact on his life or ability to generate income whatsover. In fact, quite the reverse.
From a PR and publishing perspective, this has some interesting implications. His book is clearly very popular. So what if people start adopting Ferriss' low information diet in great numbers? Will magazine and newspaper circulations begin to fall further as people take this credo to heart and ignore virtually all printed mattter (or other media)?
To be fair to Ferris, he does suggest trying the low information diet for a week or month to see if you can truly remove your addiction - would be interesting to see how many PRs or journalists could get away with adpoting this approach - but perhaps we can indulge in a mass experiment to see if our lives are significantly changed in any way by doing it......
The dot come era certainly proved a fertile period for neologisms (coinages) - and interesting to see how some first came about and how they have mutated into current day usage. For example, we are all familiar with the term flashmob - but I hadn't realised the term was originally "flash crowds" - and this in turn had come from a Larry Niven short story of the same name. In the story, riots break out when thousands of people our out of teleportation booths to see major social events.
Other phases appear to have dropped by the wayside of lexical history (but perhaps we ought to bring some back). A particular favourite of mine is 'dustbuster': a phone call or e-mail message sent to someone after a long silence just to "shake the dust off" and see if the connection still works.
During a recent office tidy up, I stumbled across a small book I'd bought about 14 years ago. It's called Never Confuse A Memo With Reality (and according to Amazon you can pick up a copy for as little as 1p).
It's simply a series of pithy business aphorisms - and if anything exemplifies the idea of "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", this is it.
Here's a few worthwhile nuggets:
124: Give presentations that tell stories, not just provide data. 135. Spend your department's (or client's) budget as if it were your own. 150. Never go to more than two meetings a day or you will never get anything done. 168. Use metaphors to convey your point. 169. Be the first to use technology don't fight it. People talk about the Luddites, but they're history. 171. Being good is important; being trusted is essential. 199. The size of your office is not as important as the size of your pay check. 342. Career planning is an oxymoron. The most exciting opportunities tend to be unplanned.
"The Viking Manifesto is a call to arms for a new way of doing business. It’s
about having an original idea and a different way of making it happen. The
ancient Vikings got rich with swords and fast ships; the modern ones with safe
cars and sippable vodka. Both broke the rules. Both came from nowhere to take
the world by storm. Viking brands are trendsetters, yet all have living ties
with the past. These brands speak softly, yet all have a story to tell and have
succeeded on their own terms. And, they have two virtues that have long ago
fallen into disfavour in marketing circles: courage and a sense of humour.
The Viking Manifesto explains why biggest isn’t best, why advertising doesn’t
work and why this is good news; why competition is nonsense; why reward and
punishment are an inferior form of motivation and why money doesn’t make the
world go round. As if this isn’t blasphemous enough, The Viking Manifesto tells
you which gods to blaspheme, how to create effective PR that no one sees, and
why lawyers should wait outside."
Courage and a sense of humour - sounds like a good premise for a manifesto to me. Another one to add to the reading list.
My good chum Andrew J. Wilson has co-edited Nova Scotia, "an intriguing collection of stories, from a variety of established and up-and-coming writers, crossing all genres, with stories set in the past, present, future and parallel worlds. Some stories are very funny, some are moving, others are thought-provoking, but all of them, are a tribute to the Scottish imagination."