BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

What's not to like?

I actually “won” won this book … back in February author Dave Kerpen was the featured speaker at the Big Frontier meeting, and there was a contest for the most “live Tweeting” from it. Since I tend to be a clicky-clicky fool at these things, I ended up winning, and getting copies of two of his books. This one, Likeable Business: Why Today's Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver is the first one of those I've gotten to so far.

Kerpen got into the”likeable” business early on … in college he got a job at Boston Garden and Fenway Park, as a snack hawker and on his first night he sold a mere 12 boxes of “Crunch & Munch”, which really wasn't going to do it for him.
      I decided later that night that while it was fun being at games, I wanted to at least make a decent living hawking Crunch 'n Munch. So, my second day, I put some passion into my work – a little singing, a little dancing, a little screaming, and a lot of goofy Dave. I sold 36 boxes, three times as many as the first night. I stepped up my efforts for the rest of the week. The thing is, I'd be the first person to admit that I had no real talent as an entertainer. My only asset was passion, and perhaps fearlessness. I began to scream at the top of my lungs each night in a effort to pull attention away from the game people paid to see and towards the buttery toffee popcorn with peanuts I was selling.
      Passion paid off. Within weeks I had developed a persona as the “Crunch 'n Munch Guy”, and regulars began to take notice. The in-stadium cameramen liked my schtick and began to feature my goofy dancing on the large-screen Jumbotron during time-outs. After the Boston Herald published its first article about me, fans actually started asking me to autograph boxes … At my peak, I was selling between 250 and 300 boxes per game and making, with commission and tips, between $400 and $500 a night – an excellent living for a college kid.
Aside from Passion, Kerpen proposes “11 Principles of Likeable Business” here, which serve as a structure for the book, which features chapters on each of the following:
  1. Listening

  2. Storytelling

  3. Authenticity

  4. Transparency

  5. Team Playing

  6. Responsiveness

  7. Adaptability

  8. Passion

  9. Surprise and Delight

  10. Simplicity

  11. Gratefulness

Each of these ends with a section of “Social Tools and Principles” for that list item, plus a handful of suggested “Action Items” to begin to apply the chapter's insights in one's business. He also makes a Maslow-esque “Likeable Pyramid”, but while the list of principles are in there, they don't build in order, with numbers 1, 2, 8, and 5 across the bottom level, 9, 6, and 10 across the second level, 3 & 4 (combined) and 7 on the third level, 11 on the fourth level, and “likeability” (with his cribbed-from-Facebook thumbs-up icon) at the apex … it's interesting, but I'm not sure it actually adds anything aside from a branding graphic.

Each chapter has numerous suggestions and case studies. One thing I found fascinating in the “Listening” chapter was this exercise:
... go to and enter into the search bar the name of your company, product, or category. If you work for a large company, enter the name of your company and the words “I wish”. … You'll find lots of people talking right now about you, your competitors, your products, and your services.
This is in a section that's bookended by stories of how Build-a-Bear has thrived by listening (including a “Cub Advisory Board” made up of kids), and of how Blockbuster failed because it didn't listen (to customer dissatisfaction over late fees).

As regular readers of my reviews will recall, I “have issues” with those who advocate a squeaky-clean purged-of-all-controversy on-line presence. It's no surprise, then, that I found Kerpen's approach to “Authenticity” refreshing. In this he suggests:
As you develop your online persona, be sure to convey your in-real-life self in your digital presence. Learn to embrace the lack of boundaries between personal and professional and online and offline.
He further personalizes this with a statement about how he would react to the different approaches when hiring a candidate:
If two equally qualified job applicants were placed in front of me, one with a completely open Facebook profile with drunk photos displayed for the whole world to see and the other with a blocked account, I would choose the open one. Being authentic requires a willingness to share your true self with others.
He later adds:
Inauthenticity is cumbersome, ineffective, and, ultimately, a losing proposition. Because of the nature of the web and social media, along with the fact that everything is open and spreads, people need to know that the person they're speaking with is genuine and “for real”.
I was surprised to see that Kerpen was able to quantify an ROI for “Gratefulness”, but he includes in that chapter a case study about the Donors Choose organization, and a test they did of sending out thank-you notes to donors … the study found that those who received the notes ended up being 38% more likely to give again over those who were not specifically thanked (in actual snail-mail notes, not e-mails).

Likeable Business concludes with an interesting analogy … when faced with a quick decision, large or small, ask yourself: “Would this be a winning decision at a cocktail party?”
The person at a cocktail party who listens, who tells great stories, who is responsive, authentic, passionate, and grateful, will be the hit of the party time after time and will derive the most value from the party.
Now, this has been out for over a year, so might not be as widely stocked in the brick-and-mortar book vendors, but its a testament to its popularity that it hasn't dropped deeply in price in the used channels. The on-line guys have it at a bit more than a quarter off of cover, but you'll still be forking out ten bucks with shipping if you go with a used copy. I enjoyed this quite a bit, finding it informative and entertaining in nearly equal parts.

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Tags: book review

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