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Book Review #AskGaryVee

Today I finished reading "#AskGaryVee" by Gary Vaynerchuck a.k.a. Gary Vee, his forth book.

Way before #AskGaryVee came out, I have been a great Gary Vee fan since he started his video's for his family's wine business, back in 2006. Ten years later the family business in New Jersey (USA) is named WineLibrary.com with a very successful TV channel named: WineLibrary.tv. I strongly recommend you watch the first episode, the 500th episode en the 999th epsiode to find out what evolution Gary Vee made as a person and what revolution he created in the social commerce world!

In 2009 Gary Vee published his first book "Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion", followed two years later by "The Thank You Economy" and in 2013 his third best-seller "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World" came out. As huge fan of Gary I obviously bought each book when it came out and inspired my own teams at work to read them too. All of us not only learned a lot from these books in the rapidly changing eCommerce world, but also got inspired to capitalize on our extreme passion at Ace Jewelers.

AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuck book review

After Gary stopped at the 1000th episode of WineLibrary.TV in 2011, he hasn't done a real video show anymore... Until he started The #AskGaryVee Show in the Summe of 2014. An awesome, pure and raw video show where Gary answers any question of the audience and inspires them uncut. Including Team Ace and me. A brilliant Q&A Show on YouTube with cutting-edge knowledge and information, free of charge! A must-see show. Four days ago he posted episode 197 on his YouTube channel. As this show became such a success and many viewers asked why he doesn't summarize the best Q&A's, he decided to do so by writing his fourth book... Guess what he named it... Right, #AskGaryVee 😉

I highly recommend you start watching some video's  of the #AskGaryVee show, but when (like me) you are too busy 'hustling' (business-wise) and 'crushing it' (Gary Vee Style) and don't have time to watch every episode, you have to get this book! He summarizes the best questions from the show in a 344 paged book that reads so easily, you can read it in a transatlantic flight or long train ride!

Still skeptical and do not want to take my word for it, no problem 😉 Let the content convince you, here are five takeaways from the book itself with my personal feedback on each of them:

  • Pages 132-134:

    Q: "What's the best advice you can give salespersons in the social media/digital world age?"

    A: "... You want to be tactical, but you have to practice the religion of providing value first. How many people put out stories, give free stuff, or engage with people? Probably quite a lot. Now, how many do that without any expectations in return? Very, very few. Be one of these few. When you have no expectations people can sense it, and funny enough, the absence of pressure or obligation actually makes them want to reciprocate."

    Feedback Alon: This is how I have been raised by my parents and totally feel Gary in this subject and view of life. I have always been thought to do everything to the best of your abilities, add value and do good without expecting any thing in return. Call it karma, but I truly believe in doing good and good will come to you. This goes for anything in life, so in business as well!

  • Page 150:

    Q: "What will the next big social network have to do to challenge Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?"

    A: "There are two keys to the succes of a social network. 1. Win over the youth market. The network that makes Snapchat feel like it's for old people will be the next social superstar. 2. Be extraordinarily useful. Instagram was just a place to post pretty pictures until people realized it actually made them better photographers. ... In sum, if you're trying to develop the next big platform, create something the youth of the world didn't know it couldn't live without."

    Feedback Alon: In my previous blog post I wrote about the relevance of Blue Ocean Strategy, even ten years after the book was published. Gary basically says you need to create a blue ocean for your business and if that business has to do with social media, make sure you focus on the innovators and early adaptors in the market... The Youth!

  • Pages 158-159:

    Q: Will Facebook video become a rival for YouTube as a monetized video platform?"

    A: "It already has. ... So I suggest that those of you out there doing YouTube shows should start doing Facebook shows, too. ... I am not saying you should give up on YouTube. It's still extremely relevant and important. But if you're creating content for YouTube, throw it up on Facebook as well. Not with a link to the video - you won't get the reach you want that way. Remember, native is the way to go."

    Feedback Alon: This is a piece of really valuable information. At Ace Jewelers we have been investing the last five years in 100% unique in-house produced content: text, photo and video. We strugled with the question of dubplicate content and the effect it has on SEO/SEM.

  • Page 160:

    Q: "My little sister has Insta and Facebook but has no interest in Facebook. What do you think the future holds for Facebook?"

    A: "Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is an assassin. There's a reason he bought Instagram and there's a reason he tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion-he wanted teens. ... Don't ever count Facebook out. It's going to be the infrastructure for over-the-top TV, of free Internet, or the best phone we've ever seen. Just you wait."

    Feedback Alon: I think this question is on everyone's mind! I was really surprised by this bit of feedback and gave Team Ace Online at Ace Jeweler Group the confidence to strengthen our efforts and investments on the Facebook platform. We also thought Facebook was losing momentum!

  • Pages 200-201:

    Q: "How do I create interesting content for a boring product or a stale industry?"

    A: "... Next, think outside your industry altogether. When I was still selling wine, people would always tell me about other retailers that were doing interesting things and suggest I go for a visit. You know what my answer was? "I don't give a crap." The truth is despite all my years in wine, I spent an amazingly little amount of time within the industry itself. The same can be said for the agency industry, even though  am working in it now. I've been to maybe six other agencies in my life. I don't follow industry news. I try not to listen to what else is going on. ... Taking an open, optimistic attitude will keep your content fresh and exciting, and allow you to change the world's perception of your "boring" product."

    Feedback Alon: I am a huge fan of thinking outside the box! Huge! I always say that we are prisoners of our own minds and that impossible does not exist. When I read this Q&A I really started thinking about this and discussed this with my own team at work. We work in a very old and traditional industry, with products described in The Bible: gemstones, diamonds and gold. So, sometimes we also get caught up inside 'the box'... But, at Ace Jewelers, like our names says it: we want to excel, be the first and innovate. To innovate you have to map your own trail and be a trailblazer!

Hope this give you a little taste of what Gary Vee is about and what valuable insights and info he shares.

Finally, if you are an (future) entrepreneur and want to see what 'hustling' and 'crushing it' means by Gary Vee, make sure to check his autobiographic documentary styled Video Show "DailyVee" on YouTube.

In case you are a GaryVee Fan too and/or have seen The #AskGaryVee Show/read the book, please share your takeaways in the comment field here below. #ThankYou


Why the book Blue Ocean Strategy is still relevant

Have you read the book "Blue Ocean Strategy" by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim that came out in 2005 and create quite a buzz in the business world? Well, I did just when the book came out as a buddy of mine finishing his MBA at INSEAD recommended it to me. Now 11 years later I think it is still very relevant. What made me realize this, is when ING Bank asked to interview me for their homepage on the topic of books that inspired me...

Alon Ben Joseph describing Blue Ocean Strategy book

Although I love technology and everything digital, I am still very old school with somethings... I adore mechanical watches and physical paper books & newspapers. So, when I got asked by ING Bank to think of a book that inspired me as an entrepreneur, I went to my home office and browsed to all my (paper) books standing in my huge book case (collecting dust - huge disadvantage btw). When my eye fell on this book with a blue cover I read more than a decade ago, it clicked in my head. This book turned on so many lights in my head, I had to pick this one.

But, then a few seconds late, while holding the book in my hands and flipping threw it, I wondered if the theory/strategy described in this book still was relevant. I looked at when the book got released and it shocked me that more than 10 years have passed since it got introduced. This book and strategy created a buzz in the business world and not only for myself and our family business.

Before I jump to the interview and the reason I think a Blue Ocean Strategy is still a very relevant strategy, let's give a quick executive summary of the theory:

"Blue Ocean Strategy was developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. They observed that companies tend to engage in head-to-head competition in search of sustained profitable growth. Yet in today’s overcrowded industries competing head-on results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Lasting success increasingly comes, not from battling competitors, but from creating blue oceans of untapped new market spaces ripe for growth." (Source: Official website Blue Ocean Strategy)

Alon Ben Joseph's book review of Blue Ocean Strategy on www.ING.nl

Since the interview with ING Bank was done in Dutch a published on their website today (April 4th, 2016) for six weeks, I will translate the original text* here for my dear international readers as published via ING.nl:

"Alon Ben Joseph, together with his brother Amir, runs the family business Ace Jewelers since 2012, although both have started in the company since 1998. Ace Jewelers has the most exclusive collections of jewels, watches and diamonds. Their main goal is to serve customers skillfully and friendly, both physically as well as digitally. Alon was responsible for the launch of Ace Jewelers' eBoutique that they opened in 2008, the first luxury jeweller in the Netherlands to do so. 

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

When I think about entrepreneurship, I think about the following keywords:  creation (to make something out of nothing), relevance (adding value), creativity, leading and having fun. Since my early childhood I wanted to be an entrepreneur and even before I started working in the family business full-time, I already started an internet company. I am very fortunate to not only work in our family business Ace Jewelers, but also have had the ability start-up two more companies. Alle mentioned keywords are relevant for me on a daily basis and are the source of my energy and satisfaction.

What book has inspired you?

Many books have inspired me. Often auto biographies of other entrepreneurs, but a real eye-opener for was 'Blue Ocean Strategy' by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim back in the year 2005.

What did you learn from this book? And, how did it affect your daily operations?

It has been eleven year since the book been published and the theory launched, but it is still very relevant today.In a nutshell the book makes you see the market/economy in four quadrants. Three of these quadrants are oceans filled with blood, so-called: red oceans. Only one quadrant lacks blood in the ocean, hence a blue ocean. In case your company has a novel strategy that both deploys new technologies and penetrates new markts, then you are head of your competition and therefore the company will not bleed... Read: swim in a blue ocean.
What I have learned from this book is to think  'out-of-the-box'. To push boundries and redefine parameters. This book stimulated me to redefine the core strategy of our family business, to mutate from a classic brick-and-morter retailer to an omnichannel retailer. In 2007 we were the first luxury jeweler in the Netherlands and North West Europe that got authorized by the luxury brands to sell online. Ace Jewelers' website and URL have been online since 1998, but we only got authorized to convert this to an eBoutique where we could sell online in 2008. Insights learned in this book redefined our core being and that made us an industry leader and trendsetter. Today our omnichannel strategy en the actual Blue Ocean Strategy  might not sound that modern or innovative anymore, but many retailers still have to make the transition in to a modern organisation to cater the novel wishes and demands of consumers today. So, this book is still very relevant and I highly recommend it."

So, this is my short book review of "Blue Ocean Strategy" by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, a decade to late, but still so relevant. My next book review will be about the hard cover "#AskGaryVee Book" by Gary Vaynerchuck.
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* Original Dutch text published on ING Bank's website:

"Alon Ben Joseph runt samen met zijn broer Amir het familiebedrijf Ace Juweliers sinds 2012, maar is er al werkzaam sinds 1998. Ace Juweliers heeft de meest actuele collectie van sieraden, horloges en diamanten. Ze hebben als doel de consument vakkundig en vriendelijk te woord te staan, zowel in de winkel als digitaal. Alon heeft in 2008 de eBoutique geopend en was daarmee de eerste luxe juwelier in Nederland die online ging.

Wat betekent ondernemen voor u?

Als ik denk aan ondernemerschap denk ik aan kernwoorden als: creatie (van niets iets maken), zinnig (waarde toevoegen), creativiteit, leiden en plezier. Van jongs af aan wilde ik ondernemen en heb voor mijn toetreding in het familiebedrijf een internetbedrijf opgericht. Gelukkig heb ik de eer om nog steeds voor het familiebedrijf te werken, maar ook de kans gehad nog twee additionele bedrijven op te richten. Alle kernwoorden waar ik aan denk zijn dagelijks aan de orde en daar haal ik veel energie en voldoening uit.

Welk boek heeft u geïnspireerd?

Vele boeken hebben mij geïnspireerd. Vaak biografieën van andere ondernemers, maar echte eye-opener was voor mij, 'Blue Ocean Strategy' van Renée Mauborgne en W. Chan Kim in 2005.

Wat heeft u van het boek geleerd? Wat ging u wellicht anders doen?

Inmiddels elf jaar later is het boek en voornamelijk de theorie nog heel relevant. In een notendop heeft het boek inzichtelijk gemaakt dat er vier kwadranten zijn waar ondernemingen in opereren. Drie daarvan zijn oceanen gevuld met bloed, rode oceanen dus. Slechts een kwadrant daarvan is bloedloos en dus blauw. Als je een strategie volgt die zowel een nieuwe techniek en nieuwe klanten/markten aanboort zal je de concurrentie voorblijven en dus niet bloeden... Lees: zwemmen in een blauwe oceaan. Wat ik van dit boek geleerd heb is om 'out-of-the-box' te denken. De grenzen te verleggen en de parameters te herdefiniëren. Wij zijn onder andere hierdoor de strategie van ons familiebedrijf gaan herdefiniëren, van een klassieke brick-and-morter retailer zijn wij veranderd in een omnichannel retailer. In 2007 waren wij de eerste luxe juwelier in Nederland en Noord-West Europa die geautoriseerd werden door luxe merken om online te verkopen. Toentertijd een unicum, omdat de luxe merken fel gekant waren tegen online verkopen. Wij waren online met Ace Juweliers vanaf 1998, maar konden pas daadwerkelijk in 2008 online verkopen. Door inzichten geleerd in dit boek, hebben wij onze hele organisatie aangepast en zijn wij voorloper geworden in ons segment en industrie. Vandaag klinken zowel onze omnichannel strategie en de Blue Ocean Strategy niet zo modern en innovatief meer, maar vele retailers moeten nog steeds de slag maken om hun retail organisatie mee te laten evolueren met de wensen van de consument. Dus het boek is een echte aanrader."

Book Review: "The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr

Have you also noticed how your attention span has went down the last ten years? You can't focus on reading a book or write an article? How your multitasking skills improved in the last decade?

Well, I certainly did and when I read a shot book review about Nicholas Carr's new book: "The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we read, think and remember", I knew I had to read it.

Nicholas G. Carr

So I did and hereby I want to share a short summary with you.

The book is a great mirror to show us how the internet has been integrated in to our daily lives and is changing they way we use our brain and therefore think. Carr draws from historical and cutting edge scientific research to show us that Internet is rewiring our brains and actually creating more superficial understanding. The back cover summerizes is nicely:

"By moving from the depths of thought to the shallows of distraction, the web, it seems, is actually fostering ignorance."

Personally I totally I can relay to this, as I noticed that my short-term memory is really suffering. Because I am using GPS tools to navigate roads, search engines to find things and my Blackberry for all my phone numbers & appointments. I love to write posts for the several blogs I manage, but I notice that I often can't find my self in a concentrated mood to produce a quality post. I am trying to study new languages and find my settle shifting on my chair unable to concentrate. On top of that I noticed I love the days where I totally switch off: no usage of any electrical device whatsoever.

As I don't want to spoil too much of The Shallows, I will just conclude this brief post with a 3 parts of texts:

From page 217 (of the red paperback edition): "Automating cognitive processes in this way has become the modern programmers' stock-in-trade. And for good reason: people naturally seek out those software tools and Web sites that offer the most help and the most guidance - and shun those that are difficult to master. We want friendly, helpful software. Why wouldn't we? Yet as we cede to software more of the toil of thinking, we are likely diminishing our own brain power in subtle but meaningful way. When a ditchdigger trades his shovel for a backhoe, his arm muscles weaken even as his efficiency increases. A similar trade-off may well take place as we automate the work of the mind."

From page 219: "A series of psychological studies over the past twenty years has revealed that after spending time in a quiet rural setting, close to nature, people exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory, and generally improved cognition. Their brains become both calmer and sharper. The reason, according to attention restoration theory, or ART, is that when people aren't being bombarded by external stimuli, their brains can, in effect, relax."

From pages 221-222 I want to conclude this post about a must-read book: "We may lose our capacity "to concentrate on a complex task from beginning to end," but in recompense we'll gain new skills, such as the ability to "conduct 34 conversations simultaneously across six different media." A prominent economist writes, cheerily, that "the web allows us to borrow cognitive strengths from autism and to be better infovores." An Atlantic author suggests that our "technology-induced ADD" may be "a short-term problem," stemming from our reliance on "cognitive habits evolved and perfected in an era of limited information flow." Developing new cognitive habits is "the only viable approach to navigating the age of constant connectivity," Carr concludes chapter ten."

If you are interested in more articles by Nicholas Carr, check his blog: Rough Type.


Book Review: "When China Rules The World" by Martin Jacques

Usually I send out a ping/tweet about books that I read, liked and think my friends should read to. I just finished a book that I like so much, that I am posting a short review about it. I liked it so much, as it really opened up a new world to me and created a 'wow-effect', maybe even an enlightenment moment.

Martin Jacques

For the over a decade everyone is speculation that China is going to rule the world, but as China is slowly growing and becoming its own self fulfilling prophecy, nobody really quantified why and/or if China is going to rule the world. When I heard about Mr. Martin Jacques, and his newest book: "When China Rules The World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World", I knew I needed to read it immediately. (By the way, I first heard of him via TED.com, where I learn many mind gobbling things 🙂 ).

Although it is a thick (441 pages) and rather academic, it does read rather smooth. This book is not just a in-depth analysis of the current situation of China and where it is moving, but gives an deep, full historical understanding of the 3000 years old Chinese culture. It gives an inside view, seen from the Asian perspective AND Western perspective. Very well done.

As I declared this book as a 'must-read', I don't want to spoil too much... The books concludes in "The Eight Differences that Define China":

1. China is not really a nation-state in the traditional sense of the term but a civilization-state.

2. China is increasingly likely to conceive of its relationship with East Asia in terms of a tributary-state, rather than nation-state, system.

3. There is the distictively Chinese attitude towards race and ethnicity. The Han Chinese conceive of themselves as a single race, even though this is clearly not the case.

4. China operates, and will continue to operate, on a quite different continental-size canvas as continental in scale.

5. The nature of the Chinese polity if highly specific. Unlike the Western experience, in particular that of Europe, the imperial dynasty was neither obliged, nor required, nor indeed desired to share power with other competing institutions or interest groups, such as the Church or the merchant class. The Confusian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people, but instead insisted on its loyalty to the moral precepts of Confucianism.

6. Chinese modernity, like other East Asian modernities, is distinguished by the speed of the country's transformation. The Asian tigers are time-compression societies. They embrace the new in the same way that a child approaches a computer or a Nintendo game console.

7. Since 1949 China has been ruled by a Communist regime. Paradoxically, perhaps the two most significant dates of the last half-century embody what are seemingly entirely contradictory events: 1989, marking the collapse of European Communism and the demise of the Soviet bloc; and 1978, signalling not only the beginning of the most remarkable economic transformation in history but also one presided over by a Communist Party.

8. China will, for several decades to come, combine the characteristics of both a developed and a developing country. This will be a unique condition for one of the major global powers and tems from the fact that China's modernization will be a protracted process because of the country's size: in conventional terms, China's transformation is that of a continent, with continental-style disparities, rather than that of a country.

As quoted in the final chapter of the book. It also contains a great Guide to Further Reading on pages 438-441.

If you have read the book already, please share your thoughts. If you are interested in China, world politics and/or economics, please do read this book.

I really enjoyed it and learned a great deal from it.

看到您的到来 (Kàn dào nín de dàolái) = See You Soon