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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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