SMUG Textbooks

Despite the decidedly social media nature of SMUG (“social media” is part of our name, after all), I’m still a big believer in books. They enable authors to make an extended argument and deal with a topic in more depth than the blog format allows.

I’ve written several book reviews here on SMUG, but it’s time for me to catch up, based on several more I’ve read or listened to via And I thought it would be helpful to develop a more comprehensive list of books that receive the SMUG Seal of Approval. As soon as I’ve finished adding related reviews and links to this post, I will be using it as the basis for a remodeled SMUG Bookstore.

Of course, everything about SMUG is voluntary, and tuition is free, so I can’t really say these are “required reading” for SMUGgles. As I get the reviews done, I will add links to the list of SMUG textbooks below. And if you have recommendations of books I’ve missed that you think would be helpful, please add them in the comments.

Personal Productivity

Social Media Theory and Philosophy

Business and Innovation

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
  • The Innovator’s Solution, by Clayton Christensen
  • Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter
  • Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni
  • Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  • Free: The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson. You can download this for free if you have an account.
  • Seeing What’s Next, by Clayton Christensen
  • Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
  • The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki
  • Selling the Dream, by Guy Kawasaki

The Gladwell Grouping

Malcolm Gladwell’s books defy easy categorization, but he has a wonderful writing style and has a thought-provoking approach to all sorts of topics. If he wrote it, you should read it.

The Seth Section

Like Gladwell, Seth Godin deserves a section of his own. These are all somewhat related to marketing, particularly as it is understood as designing delivery of your products or services in a way that enhances customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth.

  • Tribes, by Seth Godin
  • Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
  • Free Prize Inside, by Seth Godin
  • Meatball Sundae, by Seth Godin
  • The Dip, by Seth Godin
  • Small is the New Big, by Seth Godin

Chancellor’s Choice Award: A Picturesque MacHeist

As I mentioned earlier today, I was alerted to a great deal on a Macintosh software bundle last night via Twitter. With 14 fully functional software programs for $39, it’s hard to see how it could be a bad bargain.

But I still wanted to try a couple of the programs before the clock runs out tonight on the limited-time offer. The Times (retail $30)program, which uses a newspaper metaphor for pulling in RSS feeds, is a nice package. I played with The Hit List (retail $49.95) for a few minutes on the bus, and it’s a promising GTD application that will have a related iPhone version.

And here’s what I was able to do with Picturesque (retail $34.95) to enhance the look of our global map of SMUGgles. Here’s what I did in just about 5 minutes this evening:


Before (click to enlarge)
Before (click to enlarge)


After (click to enlarge)
After (click to enlarge)

I think these three programs alone are worth the $39 price of the MacHeist 3 bundle. But it’s only available until about 10 p.m. CDT today (or 3 more hours.) By the way, 25 percent of the proceeds go to charity, either evenly split among 10 of them or focused on a charity of your choice.


If you’re a Mac user, you should go get this bundle now.

If you’re not a Mac user, please pass this offer along to your friends who are.

4 Steps to Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

This post is from the SMUG Department of Philosophy. It isn’t about social media as much as it’s about personal growth. But in keeping with the rest of the SMUG curriculum, it’s based on my practical experience, and what has worked for me. In writing it I’m mainly reminding myself to apply what I’ve learned, so that in the coming year I might repeat my occasional successes instead of my more plentiful failures. If it helps you, so much the better.

In other words, it’s SMUG philosophy, not smug philosophy.

More often than not, January 1 has essentially taken me by surprise, like I didn’t even see it coming. As I overdosed on college football and enjoyed what was typically the last day of a break from the office, I suddenly realized I was at the start of whole new year and that I should think of some things I want to change. And without exception, those New Year’s resolutions have been shoved to the back burner within the next couple of weeks, and usually much more quickly.

But I have had some instances in which I was able to make meaningful long-term changes. So as I reflect on them, I want to draw some insights and tips that will help me as I look to mend my ways in 2009. You might consider applying them, too.

Continue reading “4 Steps to Keeping New Year’s Resolutions”

Yammer 108: More Yammer GTD

The David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow is an excellent model for maintaining your sanity in the midst of the daily onslaught of “stuff” that comes your way, demanding your attention.

The five basic steps of GTD are:

  1. Collect
  2. Process
  3. Organize
  4. Review
  5. Do

Yammer, or a tool like it, can be particularly helpful in implementing GTD because it can eliminate some of the “stuff” before it gets to you, and because it can make collecting, processing and organizing your information more automatic, not just for you but for all of the people with whom you work.

As a tool for Collection and Processing, Yammer can be great, particularly if you and your colleagues use it for your regular communication with each other. The GTD principle is that you should have as few collection buckets for your “stuff” as you can, but as many as you need. Yammer ties in extremely well with email, and lets you easily share and store information and links to Internet or intranet resources.

To the extent your work unit’s conversations can start in a posting to a Yammer group (a minor change to your habits that is actually easier, once you get used to it) and be continued through email (no change required), I believe you can make significant gains in productivity.

In the Processing phase of the GTD workflow, you go through your email Inbox and decide whether messages require action by you or others, now or in the future (Do, Delegate or Defer). If it’s not actionable, your choices are to Delete it or file for future reference.

We’ll get into the Delegate or Defer actions in a future post, but one of the beauties of handling the non-actionable items in your Yammer email inbox is that Deleting and Filing in general reference are exactly the same action.

Why? Because if the email has been generated through Yammer, the content already has been archived.

So instead of having to move the message into a General Reference folder in your email client (such as Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail), you can just quickly read and delete all of your Yammer messages, knowing that you can find the content later if you need it.

When you read a Yammer message, all you have to do is ask whether it is actionable: Should I do anything with this? If it isn’t, just delete it.

I also recommend setting your email client so that it has a preview pane, so you can quickly scan through your emails (including those from Yammer) and go through the read-and-delete cycle. That way you don’t have to double-click to open messages, and wait for them to pop up.

Effective use of Yammer groups and tags can help ensure that the email messages you get are more relevant to you. And as more of your colleagues use Yammer for more of their messages, the value will increase.

In a future post, I will examine how Yammer groups can help you create a personal GTD system, even if your colleagues aren’t yammering.

Yammering, Listening, and Improving the Product

This post is about a prime example of how companies can use social media tools to improve their products and services.

You would expect this from a company looking to make a name for itself in social media, as Yammer is. If social media is your core product, you should be out there listening and participating in discussions related to your company.

But by actually following through on this philosophy, and listening to your users, you can identify and solve the problems you didn’t know were problems.

As SMUGgles know, I like Yammer a lot, and have been experimenting with it. I’ve even started a Yammer curriculum in this university.

Continue reading “Yammering, Listening, and Improving the Product”