How I Raised Myself From Failure by Frank Bettger

If I had to give this book an alternate title it would be this: the magic of enthusiasm.  how_i_raised-myself_from_failure

As such I decided to dedicate all of my notes to the power of enthusiasm. Cos yes – it’s that important! 🙂 On the actual book – I found it a sweet read and very motivating (quite self-helpy if you like that sort of thing). Frank’s background is sales and baseball and his stories revolve around being an absolute failure in both until he turned his life around with enthusiasm.

And yes that sounds v. corny, but hey if it works!

Pumping up your enthusiasm – the how, the why and what it will get you

(all quotes directly from the book/author)

The how…. 

Force yourself 

“Can you acquire enthusiasm—or must you be born with it? Certainly, you can acquire it! Stanley Gettis acquired it. He became a human dynamo. How? Just by forcing himself each day to act enthusiastic.”


“When can you begin? Right now. Just say to yourself, “This is one thing I can do.” How can you begin? There is just one rule: To become enthusiastic—act enthusiastic.”

The why….  Read More

Steal like an artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative By Austin Kleon

This is the best book on creativity I’ve read all year.3d-Steal-Like-an-Artist-NYT

The end.

What you need more convincing?

Okay, here’s the book summed up on one quote:

Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The honest artist answers, “I steal them.”

This is the kind of book that you finish reading (in a single day cos you can’t put it down) and then go racing to your workstation and pummel out that first draft/blog/comic/painting that you’ve been wanting to do but procrastinating on forever. Yeah. Or, like self, you decide to set up a spontaneous word press site to blog about books!

And… here’s eight magnificent pieces of advice from the book, that you can implement right now.

Actually, just try five of these and I reckon you’ll be on your way to becoming a fabulous virtuoso (sounds so much fancier than artist)

  1. Start copying (note: this is not plagiarism, see note on lawyers below)>
  2. Keep a praise file (to make you feel good. I also highly recommend this for work related performance reviews – otherwise by the time the end of the year rolls around, you’ll have forgotten how magnificent you were)
  3. Start a swipe file (exactly what it sounds like – file of things you want to swipe. If you’re a digital person then I find Evernote beautiful for this)
  4. Your job is to keep learning, Austin says: “School is one thing. Education is another.”
  5. Get curious. Google everything
  6. Write a public/online fan letter (perhaps this blog post is almost one?)
  7. Leave it out. (there’s a beautiful chapter in the book entitled creativity is subtraction, what you leave out is sometimes more important that what you include)
  8. Use your hands (creativity is about pen and paper, not staring at a computer).

The list above is barely touching on all the gems in this book. This is going on my ‘read at least once per year’ list of books.

A word to those imagining lawyers and lawsuits thundering down upon them

Don’t get him wrong: Austin isn’t talking about plagiarism here. He lists the divide between ‘good theft’ and ‘bad theft’ rather skilfully. Examples of good theft include; studying, stealing from many, crediting, transforming and remixing. Bad theft is exactly the opposite and what you thought about doing more than once in your uni days (steal from one, plagarize, imitate etc)

Paperback baby

I rarely buy paperbacks these days but… this book is so scrummy I’m considering it! I really want to stare-at-on-paper at the awesome handwriting, charts, captions and other bits peppered through the book.

Purchase this bad-boy on Kindle or paperback @ good ol Amazon.

Happy stealing!

C x

Lipstick on a Pig: Winning In the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game by Torie Clarke

Don’t you just love this title?

What is it with pigs and marketing/comms? It reminds me of this quote:

“Creativity is like washing a pig. It’s messy. It has no rules. No clear beginning, middle or end. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is really clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place.” – From Hey Whipple. 

I digress! In this title Torie is comparing putting lipstick on a pig with trying to dress up/gloss over/hide a really crappy story or action. In other words = spin.

I was so pleasantly surprised with this book, as I’ve never worked in political comms I thought I’d find it quite dull – was I ever wrong! Regardless of your stance on politics – Torie was the communications boss at the Pentagon during the early years of George Bush – this is an amazing insight into what goes down at these high level jobs (Torie was at the Pentagon on September 11) and what we can learn as a result.

And of course it’s hugely practical – which of course I adore. And for those who still believe PR is completely about spin and dodgy dealings – Torie heavily endorses transparent, telling the truth and getting your (accurate) information out their first.

So thank you Torie, wherever you are, for writing such an insightful book that we can all learn from! Personally I absolutely love how you admit your own failings or mistakes in the book – and what you learnt as a result.

Here’s a few of my favourite quotes from the lady herself

And yes I found it incredibly hard just to pick a few. This one has gone onto my recommended reading list over here.  

(headings = mine, quotes all directly from the book) 

1. A way of handling crisis – 3 part strategy
Own up. Stand up. Speak up.
“Speak up. McCain and Hagee spoke up early and often. No matter what’s being alleged, charges unanswered are charges assumed to be true.”

2. Questions to avoid 
“That question put me in a tough spot. A pretty good rule of thumb for dealing with the media is never to answer questions that start with “if.” They’re hypothetical.”

3. Be first with bad news
“The reason is simple: in the Information Age, the bad news is going to get out. The only questions are who will tell it first and will they tell it accurately.”

4. When to slap yourself 
“….you ever hear yourself saying, “Don’t worry, no one will ever find out,” about something unpleasant in your organization, just slap yourself.” Read More

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

This book is pretty controversial for some. Me? I loved it! trust-me-im-lying

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t agree with many of the tactics Ryan has used (outright lying! fake documents/pictures etc) but I found this a fascinating read into his manipulation of the media system and particularly how he used the online news and blogs to spin different fabrications of stories.

The book delves into Ryan’s work as Marketing Director for American Apparel and his work for authors like Tucker Max. For his part he says he has published this book so people can see that the media system is broken (he likens his marketing job to feeding beast). And what they do with the tactics (use them for good or evil) is up to them.

Here are six of Ryan’s comments on the media system

(all quotes directly from the book)

  1. “Usually, it is a simple hustle. Someone pays me, I manufacture a story for them, and we trade it up the chain—from a tiny blog to Gawker to a website of a local news”
  2. “At the first level, small blogs and hyperlocal websites that cover your neighborhood or particular scene are some of the easiest sites to get traction on.”
  3. “And when I want to be direct, I would register a handful of fake e-mail addresses on Gmail or Yahoo and send e-mails with a collection of all the links gathered so far and say, “How have you not done a story about this yet?” Reporters rarely get substantial tips or alerts from their readers, so to get two or even three legitimate tips about an issue is a strong signal.”
  4. “Gawker paid writers twelve dollars a post as late as 2008. And of course these rates don’t include the other duties bloggers are stuck with, such editing, responding to e-mails, and writing comments. Professional blogging is done in the boiler room, and it is brutal.”
  5. “One of the quickest ways to get coverage for a product online is to give it away for free to bloggers (they’ll rarely disclose their conflict of interest).”
  6. “Pageview journalism treats people by what they appear to want—from data that is unrepresentative to say the least—and gives them this and only this until they have forgotten that there could be anything else. It takes the audience at their worst and makes them worse.”

Want a read? Grab it here. 

Ryan has also written on Growth Hacking. 

Happy reading,


Good Self, Bad Self: Transforming Your Worst Qualities into Your Biggest Assets by Judy Smith

If you are gloriously obsessed with the TV show Scandal (like myself), then you will know exactly who Olivia Pope is. goodselfbadself

What you might not know is her kick-arse character (a fixer for politicians) is based on a REAL person: Judy Smith.

I do believe I squealed with excitement when I found out

  • Scandal was based on a real person (ie one I could google stalk)
  • Said person had written a book that I could devour, thereby bringing me one step closer of embodying Olivia ‘Popeness’.

The book is based around Judy’s experience of handling many a high-powered crisis and delves into how character traits can be both our biggest success and our undoing.

I quote:

“While you may have already known that deep down, what you might not realize is that our best qualities and our worst traits are actually one and the same.”

She covers off different traits (envy, ego etc) and details how we can keep them in-check. My fav part of the book is the real life examples that she uses in each section. E.g. the CEO client with the out-of-control-ego – you get the idea!

Here’s my two favourite themes from the book:

1. Perfection

My words: Don’t attempt to be perfect, you ninny – or you’ll end up on TV and in a large disaster where you’ll have to phone the Pope team.

Her words: And here’s the crux of it: None of us is perfect. Expecting perfection—in life, work, interpersonal relationships, health habits, driving, studying, you name it—is a surefire ticket to failure. Read More

I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards

This isn’t a marketing manual by any stretch, but an inside look at google from a marketers point of view – I found it imfeelingluckyfascinating.

Douglas Edwards was (as you may have guessed) Google Employee Number 59 and he writes about the growth of the company from only a few marketing/PR staff and no outside agency – to the mammoth beast that it is today. Douglas lasted five and a half years at google and he provides a fly in the wall insight into what the company was like in it’s early days.

Even though the book is more of a life story than a manual – there’s still some lessons to learn! Here’s a few I picked out.

Marketing snippets from Google Employee Number 59

(headings = my comments, all quotes directly from the book)

1. A great idea for a Friday meeting
“TGIF was an all-company affair at which Larry and Sergey recounted the wins of the previous week as we sipped beer and chewed food on skewers.”

2. Make it simple 
“Nonfunctionality is a feature,” he instructed me. “We don’t need to increase page views by adding products.” Read More