The commercial application of Greatest Hits

How Greatest Hits training can transform your business.

  • I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book
  • We discuss the content and its implications
  • Attendees have to work out how they can apply the thinking to their business, customers, clients, or staff
  • This generates a minimum of 10 ideas per book
  • Repeat 6-10 times and you have 60-100 ideas to stimulate the business
  • Over 250 books to choose from

number of view: 0


12 2012

The Internet Is Not The Answer – Andrew Keen

The one sentence summary

The Internet has had a disastrous impact on our lives by increasing unemployment and economic inequality.


  • Silicon Valley is full of hype, greed, egotism and inequity.
  • Far from bringing democracy to all, it has concentrated phenomenal wealth in the hands of the top 1%. This is the One Percent Economy.
  • Unemployment has been triggered by many Internet businesses. Amazon employs just 14 people per $10 million in sales, compared to 47 people for the equivalent in conventional bricks and mortar retailers.
  • Some studies predict that as many as 47% of all American jobs could be lost in the next couple of decades.
  • Meanwhile, the exploitative staff practices of Uber, Amazon and others give few, if any, rights, and unions are nowhere to be seen to represent the workers.
  • The ‘Golden Age of Labour’ has gone, to be replaced by a nasty divide between those whose skills ‘complement the computer’ and those that don’t. Wages for men have fallen 28% in the last 40 years.
  • In 2014 the global economy’s top five companies’ gross cash holdings (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Samsung) came to $387 billion, the equivalent of the 2013 GDP of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Trust is very much absent. Only 5% of people trust Facebook with their personal data (35% trust the Inland Revenue).
  • Facebook makes over 30% of its users feel lonelier, angrier or more frustrated.
  • Rochester, once the home of the now-defunct Kodak, has a Broken Center and is now pretty much a ghost town. Similarly, the new economy resembles a donut, with a gaping hole in the middle where millions of workers were once paid to produce products.


  • The Web’s architecture is made up of three elements:
  1. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – computer language for marking up hypertext files.
  2. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – a taxonomy for travelling between them.
  3. Universal Resource Locator (URL) –a special address code linked to each file that can call up any other file
  • By 2012 there were more than 3 billion email accounts in the world sending 294 billion emails, of which 78% were spam.
  • The loose collective running Wikipedia is estimated to be 90% white western males with a slight personality defect. This is an example of the Internet generating small gangs who talk to themselves, which is the opposite of democracy.


  • This is a polemic – well-researched, but angry overall.

number of view: 257

Not Knowing – D’Souza & Renner

The one sentence summary

Embracing the idea of Not Knowing leads to a more exploratory frame of mind and a better approach to life and business.


  • Those who ‘tolerate the unknown’ can use it to their advantage, developing an attitude that helps them to experience creativity, possibility, excitement and even joy.
  • This involves a path from fear to curiosity.
  • Not Knowing is the frisson that makes life worth living.
  • Knowledge has many dangers. It creates the illusion of power, based on the allure of the known.
  • However, overconfidence blinkers, and specialization creates limits, which often lead to wilful blindness, in which people (or indeed so-called experts) can’t or won’t see the truth. (Realistic confidence doesn’t get us in trouble, but its bedfellow overconfidence does.)
  • This can lead to the pretence of knowledge. This is a nasty chain in which we often depend too much on experts and leaders. If they appear too certain, then the weight of expectation falls on them and blind obedience to authority follows – often with disastrous consequences.
  • In essence, knowledge keeps changing, things are becoming more complex and ambiguous, so the size of the ‘unknown’ is growing.


  • Finisterre is the edge of the world. Most people avoid the unknown because they fear it suggests ignorance or incompetence.
  • But in fact, darkness can illuminate, so we need to reframe our approach to Not Knowing.
  • Creative people live in this world all the time – ‘the space between angels and demons’. This provides creative ambiguity and the freedom to deviate – arguably the lifeblood of innovation and original thought. This is usually where entrepreneurs find their ideas.
  • As such, it’s okay to say: “I don’t know”, and move from a position of control to trust. Entertaining doubt and working with resistance is therefore fine.
  • This gives greater scope to challenge assumptions, generate multiple hypotheses, bring diverse voices together, improvise and explore.
  • Experimenting, making mistakes, embracing fluidity, and embracing antifragility (see Nassim Nicholas Taleb) are all beneficial.


  • This book has a number of spiritual elements that have life relevance, but sometimes less so for pure business.

number of view: 379

The Anatomy Of Humbug – Paul Feldwick

The one sentence summary

It is vital to think about how you think about advertising, because many assumptions often taken for granted may well be misleading.


  • We need to think differently about advertising.
  • All theories of how it works have their uses, and all are dangerous if taken too literally as the truth.
  • The advertising industry will only be able to deal with increasingly rapid change in the media landscape if it both understands its past and is able to criticise its most entrenched habits of thought.
  • Humbug is the word PT Barnum used to describe the publicity he created.
  • The author reviews the history of communication, from Barnum to Paul Watzlawick, Bernbach, Reeves and Ogilvy.
  • The advertising industry has three main stories about its past:

1. The Enlightenment Narrative: The past was primitive, but now we are enlightened.

2. The Golden Age Narrative: The world has changed so much that the past is irrelevant.

3. The Year Zero Narrative: Fundamental changes are happening right now.

  • None are very helpful in working out how advertising really works.
  • Thinking differently about advertising is important.


  • There are lots of ways at looking at how advertising works, and the author highlights six.

1. Salesmanship: factual selling propositions, getting attention, message recall.

2. Seduction: understanding motivation, emotion, art, being liked.

3. Salience: fame, familiarity, weight of publicity, keeping your name before the public.

4. Social Connection: it is impossible not to communicate, and it doesn’t take place as a single, one way transmission but a continual exchange.

5. Spin: creating a relationship through PR.

6. Showbiz: pure publicity for the sake of it, warts and all.

  • Beware Meaningless Distinctiveness – finding tiny differences to accentuate in brand messages, when in fact everyone buys from a portfolio of large known brands anyway.

“It’s like love – the more you analyse it, the more it disappears.”

Bill Bernbach


  • This is a pleasant run through the roots of advertising but, by the author’s own admission, it doesn’t reach a conclusion.

number of view: 642

Copy, Copy, Copy – Mark Earls

The one sentence summary

Copying is to be cherished, and you can do smarter marketing by using other people’s ideas.


  • Copying strategies really work, so you can do smarter marketing by using other people’s ideas.
  • Constantly trying to come up with something original can be futile. Instead, look to successes elsewhere and apply them to your issue.
  • Tight, ‘single white copying’ (named after the film Single White Female) is no good for innovation because it just repeats slavishly what’s been done before.
  • Copying loosely works well and allows for error and variation.
  • Good copying seeks to fix broken things, and is productive when you look far away rather than close by.
  • This is a workbook to help you make intelligent marketing decisions.
  • The method is best understood by using the proposed maps.
  • Map 1 plots whether the behavioural choice is informed or uniformed, and whether it is made independently or socially:

  • Map 2 identifies the nature of the decision making process in each quadrant:

    • Map 3 specifies what type of marketing approach will work best for each quadrant:

    • So in total:

    Informed + independent = considered choice  > Better strategy

    Uninformed + independent = guesswork > Salience strategy

    Informed + social = copying experts > Expertise strategy

    Uninformed + social = copying peers > Popularity strategy

    • There is then a pattern book containing 52 suggested strategies to try. These can be copied and tested once the right quadrant is defined for the task.


    • What Kinda Thing? provides an early rangefinder for progress.
    • What kind of thing is this?
    • What kind of solutions might be appropriate?
    • What might that look like?
    • This iterative way of investigating strategies is far more fluid and informative than detailed planning, and allows you to move much faster.


    • This is not so much a book that you read end to end. Instead, get the gist of the method, home in on your task, and then use the most appropriate techniques to get a result.

    number of view: 945


    05 2015

    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

    The one-sentence summary

    Successful teams need to trust each other, engage in constructive conflict, commit, hold each other accountable, and remove ego to concentrate on results.


    • There are five dysfunctions that can ruin the effectiveness and cohesion of any team, particularly leadership teams. They are:
    1. Absence of trust. This stems from an unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Those who are not open about mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build trust.
    2. Fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered debate. Instead they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
    3. Lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in or commit to decisions, though they may feign it in meetings.
    4. Avoidance of accountability. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused people fail to call their peers on counterproductive actions and behaviours.
    5. Inattention to results. Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where team members put their individual needs, or those of their departments, above those of the leadership team.
    • Trust comes from overcoming invulnerability and admitting to weaknesses.
    • Constructive conflict needs to replace artificial harmony.
    • Creating commitment means removing ambiguity.
    • Accountability involves raising low standards.
    • Inattention to results can be addressed by removing status and ego issues.


    • The model can be used effectively in any management team awayday.
    • There are a series of questionnaires that can be used as a method to flush out opinions and character types.
    • Wasting time in unproductive meetings can be avoided by setting up 4 types: 1. Daily check-in (10 mins); 2. Weekly staff (45-90 mins); 3. Adhoc topical (2-4 hrs); 4. Quarterly offsite (1-2 days). These will only take 13% of your time.


    • The main part of the book is a fable, which may not be everybody’s preferred way of understanding a method.
    • The book should probably be read in conjunction with another of the author’s books, The Advantage, so that the behaviour of the senior team can be properly aligned to what the company is trying to achieve.

    number of view: 910