Steve Jobs Biography

I just finished reading Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. It’s taken me many months to complete this book. Summer has been busy with work, travel, and home renovation projects; moments with a book have been infrequent. Don’t get me wrong this book is a great read, it’s just not a page turner because you know how this one is going to end. I always enjoy a good biography and learning more about the twists and turns of the lives of people. The story of Steve Jobs is an incredibly interesting one. It’s a classic story of a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer; when told something could not or should not be done, Jobs would do it. His work was game changing and has had an impact on most all of us today.

I am not sure Steve Jobs is someone I would have wanted to meet in person. Known for his prickly personality and his drive to innovate at any cost, he was never afraid to loose a friend in the pursuit of progress. I think the thing I was most struck with, with his story was his total adherence to aesthetic and design to the exception of people. He was able to do the incredible things that he did because of his conviction, his powerful ideas and his and unwillingness to settle. What would easily be perceived as egotism was his greatest asset when it came to setting his products apart and changing the world. He would have never done some of the amazing things he did if he had been any other way.

The most interesting things I learned about Jobs in the book: He was a major force behind the movies of Pixar Studios, of which there are many I love. He was adopted. He credited taking LSD as being one of his life’s most profound experiences. Jobs got married at the Ahwahnee Hotel, in Yosemite National Park, where I worked for a number of years and met my own husband. Prior to getting married, but after becoming very rich he lived in a house that was hardly furnished, because he was so particular about furnishings and design. His commitment to simplicity and tendency toward exceptional design total was reflected everywhere in his life and work, from his signature black turtle necks, to what he decided not to do with his products, to his interest in and practice of zen meditation.

Ultimately this was a really interesting read about an major icon of our time. This book gives me a whole new appreciation for my iphone and how it came to be.

Youtility: A Book Review

Last year I ordered myself a stack of books related business, social media, and content marketing. I am still working my way through the stack but one of the best books so far has been Jay Baer’s Youtility.  Youtility is defined as creating and attracting business with content that is inherently useful, valuable and empowers content consumers to help themselves. The book is chock-full of examples of Youtility across industries. Businesses from toilet paper manufactures to computer repair services have found success when they have sought first to help with winning content and only later to promote.

“The difference between helping and selling is just two letters.”

Youtility-Cover

“Youtility is marketing so valuable people would gladly pay for it.”

I have spoken about content on this blog before. Content is king and all that. It’s an area of interest and I like to look at what separates the great from the rest. Developing great content requires a fundamental shift to thinking like a content consumer rather than a content creator. This is what Youtility is all about.

“ You’re not competing for attention only against similar products.You’re competing against your customers friends, family and viral videos of cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question. How can I help?”

Youtility as Baer, explains it is the highest and most sophisticated form of content marketing. It’s not just about having a blog or creating pretty infographics but doing those things with with the intention that the content always be helpful and most useful to the intended content consumer. The principle is simple: consumers of all types are turning to the internet for answers when researching solutions and or products. The question is, is your business providing the resources and solutions they seek.

The book’s forward by Marcus Sheridan, the owner of pool company, says “success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote”. Faced with the economic downturn and plummeting sales in 2008, Sheridan brainstormed a list of all the questions he had ever been asked by customers and then turned those questions into blog posts for his shiny new blog. The results: greater website traffic, reduced time on consults with clients, and web analytics that accurately defined likelihood to purchase.  Sheridan’s analytics told him that if a person had read 30 pages on his site they bought a pool 80% of the time and that customers who bought pools had read 105 pages of his website. Today Sheridan claims to have the most trafficked swimming pool site in the world. Further Sheridan says if you asked them previously what they did they would have said they built fibreglass swimming pools and today they would say they “are the best teachers in the world on the subject of fibre glass swimming pools, and we happen to build them as well”.

The book profiles numerous other examples of youtility. Geeksquad famously produced videos showing people how to fix their problems themselves. When questioned about putting themselves out of work showing people how to fix their problems, their founder explained that when someone did find themselves out of their depth with the problem Geeksquad would be the first party they would call for help. Companies should not just focus on being amazing, but on being useful.

I read this book a few months ago and had to scan it again to write this blog post. Scanning it I felt sure I need to read it again, soon! The concept and the way of thinking and approaching your marketing are just so dead on. Baer obviously explains this all in more detail and much more convincingly than me. I highly recommend this book for all marketers. If you are not thinking about Youtility yet, you should be. 

Baer rounds out his suggestions with wisdom about content for Youtility being a team effort rather than a product of the marketing department and making it part of the process rather than a side project. “If you don’t supply the information your prospects need to choose your company over the competition, they’ll get that data somewhere else, and the outcome may not be as favorable to you.”

If you are ready to start on Youtility right away here are some questions to ask yourself about your customers:

How is it that they discover information?

What are their preferences for consumption? (devices, channels, content types)

What motivates them to take action?

Questions via Lee Odden Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing