Here are the books I ranked as #4 & #5 in books I read in 2017.
The subtitle of this book is “Why You Get More Done When You Work Less”. It was gifted to me by my coach, Scott Ballard. He sent it to me right before Towona and I headed out on a three week trip to Australia and New Zealand. Reading a book about rest while you’re resting is pretty cool.
There is a lot to this book. In it, the author goes over several studies about rest and how it affects us. He also covers some misconceptions that we have about work and rest.
He says there are four big insights that guide his thinking about rest.
Work and Rest are Partners
Rest is an essential component of good work. High-performance creatives and athletes alternate daily periods of intense work and concentration with long breaks. Even at rest, the brain is continually firing working on creative problems and looking for answers. Learning to rest better, we can give our brains more room to work more effectively.
Rest is Active
We think of rest as usually a passive activity, like taking a nap or vegging in front of the TV. He makes the point that physical activity is more restful than we think and mental rest is more active than we realize. For most highly creative people, exercise is an essential part of their routine. Some take long walks and some train for marathons. Why does this work?
Serious exercise keeps their bodies in top shape which in turn keeps their minds sharp and gives them the energy to do difficult work.
Rest is a Skill
He says that rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running. Everyone basically knows how to do it but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.
Deliberate Rest Stimulates and Sustains Creativity
Work and rest are like night and day. One cannot happen without the other. Some kinds of deliberate rest stimulate creativity. Many notable creatives do their most intense work early in the morning when their minds are freshest and least prone to distraction. They go on walks or take naps during the day to revive and maintain their energy.
The above is just an introduction to the book. There are 247 more pages in which he tells fascinating stories about different research studies about rest. He covers naps, sabbaticals, morning routines, exercise, sleep, and walks. I had a hard time putting it down. It did get me to thinking more deliberately about how and when I rest.
I’m a big fan of Donald Miller. I’ve read several of his other books with Blue Like Jazz being one of my favorites.
He is great at telling stories. So when he started a new company called StoryBrand, I jumped on board and purchased his online course of the same name. In the course, and now this book, he teaches how to harness the power of story to make your marketing more clear. His catch-phrase is, “If you confuse, you lose.”
We all like a good story. From the poems of Homer’s time to the modern-day series, stories have always played a central role in human life. Since humans like a good story and if you’re selling products you are selling to humans, how do you harness the power of story to sell your products?
Most marketing today is too complicated. When a prospect looks at our marketing, their brain doesn’t know how to process the information. He says that your marketing material has to be able to pass the “grunt test”. That is if a caveman got a glance at your website or marketing materials, could he grunt out what you offer? You also get bonus points if he could weave your product into the story of his life.
Have you ever been so engrossed in a novel or film that without evening realizing it, a handful of hours flitted by in what seemed like minutes? A good story is like a net, it captures your attention and holds it fast.
After writing the screenplay for a movie based on his book, Blue Like Jazz, Don began to see the pattern that all stories have. First, you have a character who has a problem who then meets a guide, who gives them a plan and then calls them to action. Based on how they follow the plan they either succeed or fail.
You can see that play out in the movies we love such as Star Wars. The character, Luke Skywalker, is stuck in a boring outpost of the galaxy and then his Aunt and Uncle are murdered by the Evil Empire. He then meets a guide, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who tells him to trust the force and calls on him to defeat the Empire. In the end, the Rebellion defeats the Empire.
StoryBrand is based on what is called the StoryBrand Framework.
The StoryBrand Framework
In order to employ the StoryBrand Framework to your marketing, you need to create what he calls the StoryBrand Script or BrandScript.
One thing that StoryBrand does is make you rethink your customer and what they want. The other big thing about StoryBrand is changing your marketing from your company being the hero to your customer being the hero of the story.
Principle: The customer is the hero, not your brand.
Who is our customer? What do they want? Who is opposing them getting what they want and what will their life look like if they do or do not get what they want?
The first step if getting clear on who your ideal customer is an figuring out what they really want.
With a Problem
Principle: Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
What is the problem that the customer is trying to solve?
StoryBrand points out that our characters are facing three types of problems:
- An external problem
- An internal problem
- A philosophical problem
For Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball, the external problem is the need to win baseball games. His internal problem is that he failed in his playing career and he’s filled with self-doubt about whether he can redeem himself as a general manager. His philosophical problem could be the answer to the question, do good guys ever win?
Who Meets a Guide
Principle: Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they are looking for a guide.
Instead of your company or brand being the hero, change your marketing message to your customer being the hero and your company being the guide.
Every good story has a guide. Frodo has Gandalf, Katniss has Haymitch and Luke Skywalker has Yoda.
He says the larger point is simple: the day we stop losing sleep over the success of our business and start losing sleep over the success of our customers is the day our business will start growing again.
Who Gives Them a Plan
Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
Plans can take many shapes and forms, but all effective plans do one of two things: they either clarify how somebody can do business with us, or they remove the sense of risk somebody might have if they’re considering investing in our products or services.
And Calls Them To Action
Principle: Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.
Most people think they are overselling and tend to not push or ask for a sell when instead, their failure to ask for the sell makes it look like they don’t believe in their product.
That Helps Them Avoid Failure
Principle: Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
Don says that a story lives and dies based on the question: will the hero succeed or will they fail?
Studies have show that people are more motivated by avoiding failure than they are by achieving success. Ask the question: what are you helping your customers avoid?
And Ends In Success
Principle: Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.
How will the resolution of their problem make your customer look and feel? What does success look like for them?
This is just a quick overview of StoryBrand. I recommend getting the book, and if you want to go further, sign up for the online course or go to one of the workshops.
There is a way to make your marketing efforts pay off. Using the framework you’ll be able to create and communicate a clear message that will speak to the needs of your potential customers.
Just three books left in the list. Can you guess what they are? What are your top three?