Book review: The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth

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The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is the latest book by my friend Chris Brogan. It’s a seemingly lightweight book that has been compared to other books about building business communities and working the way you want to work, from Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad to Seth Godin’s Tribes. While there are strong surface similarities (especially to Tribes), ultimately Freaks is its own entity.

Chris goes through 16 chapters in under 200 pages on different recipes that he and others have used to power their success. The recipes cover a broad range of topics, from personal finance as an entrepreneur to time management. Much of his advice is practical, coming from his own mistakes and discovering along the way.

There are two fundamental issues with Freaks that you need to know in order to make the most of a fairly valuable book.

First, Freaks is a lot like a cookbook. That means that it’s very densely packed, but doesn’t appear to be densely packed. Here’s an example, in the chapter on building your own media empire. If the picture’s not super easy to read, the section I want to highlight reads:

“What’s been most successful for me looks like this:

Blog: Great searchability, and a great way to have a home base.
Email newsletter: My #1 sales tool. I regret not having an e-mail newsletter sooner in my life.
Social network: Pick whichever you like most, but Twitter has a lot of serendipity, Google+ is a direct line to influencing Google search, and Facebook is often hard to convert into actual business, depending on what kind of work you do.
A little YouTube – again, for search reasons.”

This is a recipe, but if you know anything at all about content marketing, this seemingly short list requires a ton of work to do well. Writing a great blog has been the subject of many books. Writing a great email newsletter has had enough marketing books dedicated to it that they could fill a skyscraper. The number of books on social networking and social media would fill an arcology.

Freaks is peppered with these recipes throughout it. That makes it a valuable cookbook, but it also means that if you treat it like a light summer reading book, then you’re going to gloss over them and extract no value from the book beyond a cursory understanding of things you might try, in the same way that you can read a cookbook without actually making any food.

That brings me to the second major issue with Freaks: most people will read it and see the narrow, specific examples Chris gives and say, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me” and move along. Again, readers who do that will fail to extract the meta-lessons from the different chapters and will deem the book to be less valuable than it is. Readers who can see different structural elements and take solutions as written on the page and transmute them to their own businesses will find the book more valuable.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a casual summer read with a “big idea”, Freaks is probably not the book for you. If you’re looking for the equivalent of a cookbook with tons of recipes to try for your business, then Freaks deserves a place on your bookshelf. Trying out each of the recipes in it will require extensive testing, experimentation, and adaptation, but it will be worth your while.

Disclosure: you can bet that every link in this post is an Amazon affiliate link.


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2014 Summer Reading List (w/accessories!)

For many folks, summer is now in full swing. Pools are open, grills are dusted off, and we start scouring our refrigerators for fresh fruit to blend. Start off your summer right with this list of books and other goods. Here’s to a relaxing, educational, and fun summer.

Full disclosure, in case it wasn’t obvious, everything here is an Amazon affiliate link!

Summer Reading List

Hey Marketers, Get Your Priorities Straight: Setting Marketing Communication Priorities at Startups, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand
Hey Marketers, Get Your Priorities Straight
by Nicholas Scarpino and Avinash Kaushik
The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth
by Chris Brogan 
The Power of Visual Storytelling
by Ekaterina Walter 
Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer—Sell Like a Superstar Social Media Explained: Untangling the World's Most Misunderstood Business Trend 101 Steps to Making Videos Like a Pro
Duct Tape Selling
by John Jantsch 
Social Media Explained
by Mark W. Schaefer 
101 Steps to Making Videos Like a Pro 
by C.C. Chapman and Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
Think Like a Freak
by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Creativity, Inc.
by Ed Catmull 
Leaders Eat Last
by Simon Sinek

Other Accessories to Make Summer Great

Apple iPad mini with Retina Display (16GB, Wi-Fi, Silver) Kindle Fire HDX 7', HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 32 GB, Black) by ASUS (2013) Tablet
Apple iPad mini with Retina Display
$369.95
Kindle Fire HDX 7"
$229.00
Nexus 7 from Google
$223.99
Strathwood Basics Anti-Gravity Adjustable Recliner Chair, Dark Brown with Champagne Frame Cuisinart CGG-200 All-Foods 12,000-BTU Portable Outdoor Tabletop Propane Gas Grill Fujifilm X100S 16 MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Silver)
Strathwood Basics Anti-Gravity Recliner
$64.66
Cuisinart Portable Grill
$162.68
Fujifilm X100S 16 MP Digital Camera
$1,299.00
BAFX Products (TM) - Non Contact - Infrared (IR) Thermometer (-58F - +1,022F) - W/ Pointer Sight - BATTERY INCLUDED! Blendtec TB-621-20 Total Blender, Black Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player
BAFX Infrared Thermometer
$19.99
Blendtec TB-621-20 Total Blender
$388.24
Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player 
$34.49

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Marketing Red Belt now available!

Red-Belt-CoverAfter quite some time, I’m pleased to announce the availability of the sequel to Marketing White Belt, Marketing Red Belt!

Marketing Red Belt: Connecting You With Your Creative Mind looks at what makes up creativity and how to generate more of it in your life, work, and business. It’s intended for marketers and business folks who are faced with increasing creative demands but don’t regard themselves as “creatives”, didn’t go to art school, and run into writer’s block/creator’s block more frequently than they’d like.

If you perceive yourself as uncreative, or if you get stuck a lot trying to “be creative”, then Marketing Red Belt is for you. If being creative is never a problem for you, then this book won’t help much.

Marketing Red Belt examines how creativity works, from early research to the latest findings in neuroscience. From there, you’ll learn 5 practical idea-generating techniques, a framework to help set the stage to unlock your creativity, ways to prepare your mind to be creative, and even a way to measure your creativity for the purposes of improving it.

Get your copy of Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind in Kindle, iBooks, and PDF formats as one ZIP file.

It’s also available on Amazon.com if you’d prefer to purchase there.


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