Hot Books: The Soul is Dead – Long Live the Brain

Once upon a time, every other book proposal that came in had the word “soul” in the title. There was Care of the Soul, The Soul’s Code, The Seat of the Soul, juggernauts that landed at the top of the bestseller list–often hoisted by Oprah–and sat there sometimes for years. Then, as now, publishers were looking for the next big thing that looked like what was already working. So if it had “soul” in the title, you could pretty much guarantee a feeding frenzy.

The same thing happens now around the brain and neuroscience. The Female Brain (full disclosure–I published this one), The Male Brain, Brain Rules, Daniel Amen’s books and more. The soul is nowhere to be found in the new quest for cracking the code to the computer in our heads–the organ that everyone seems to think is the cause of our happiness or unhappiness, the one that we think controls our destiny with the flip of a neurochemical switch. The one that may or may not have volition, drive, yearning, hope. From this perspective, says Rodger Kamenetz, “Instead of souls on our way to God we are brains on our way to the pharmacy.”

Interesting to note that Zombies and the Brain trended at the same time. Maybe next will come The Soul of the Brain or The Brain of the Soul. One without the other is a flat earth perspective: parts never make a whole.

Most Common Branding Exercise May Be Your Biggest Waste of Time

When a new client shows up, nine times out of ten, they ask, “Do you want me to make a list of qualities to get the conversation started about branding and positioning?” Our answer is “no.” That list is usually a waste of time. Almost everybody uses the same words, from individuals to groups, from small non-profits to publicly traded corporations.

The branding and positioning conversation requires the discovery of uniqueness, which making a list almost never yields. When your list looks like everybody else’s list, who you are and what you do won’t have a prayer of becoming visible. What does work is this:

  • Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • Becoming clear on how you want to impact people
  • Being sure of who you’re talking to, what you want them to do and where you want them to do it

 

The Fatal Mistake One Career Guru Says You’re Probably Making

When it comes to finding a job and building a career, Allison Cheston knows what she’s talking about because she’s getting her information from the front lines. What’s everybody saying to her? Nothing you haven’t heard before, but you probably ignored it: LinkedIn. Read her blog, Recruiters Say: Avoid LinkedIn At Your Peril to find out why working this network is the key to your next move.

 

How to Tell the Truth Without Getting Fired

It’s planning time in most companies. When you’re trying to set the budget and your goals for the next year, wouldn’t it be great if everybody just told the truth? Tangerine Ink’s client, Ted Harro does a great job of explaining why honesty is at the bottom of everybody’s list of policies and what to do about it. Here’s 5 Steps to Getting the Truth Your Employees Will Never Tell You and 4 Ways to Tell Your Boss the Truth Without Getting Fired.

We’re Older, Funnier and Less Likely to Goof

We found this on the 11 reasons you shouldn’t let an intern handle your brand on social media. No offense to young people–they’re teaching us something new every day about what’s possible on social media. Yes, we’re more expensive, but it’s a time on the planet thing. Do the kids have a sense of the big picture? Context? History? Judgment? Do they remember the things your customer base, your audience, is thinking about? You decide.

A Middle Way?

Steve Jobs is being held alternately as an icon of management and a cautionary tale. Ben Austen’s thoughtful article in Wired draws the contrasts. With the need for excellence comes a certain amount of stress. You don’t usually bring your best game unless the pressure is on and sometimes even a skillful manager will create that pressure artificially. Humanely, but artificially. On the other hand, consensus style decision-making has created dishonest environments of polite mediocrity in corporations. It’s an epidemic that’s hurting everyone. There has to be a middle way, somewhere between the two extremes.

When do you do your best? Under pressure where everybody lets everything hang out or in an environment of politeness?

Hi. Glad You Came

It’s an interesting time to start speaking to each other, what with Mike Shatzkin predicting the demise of illustrated books and Publishers Weekly talking about bringing the concept of “Agile” to publishing. “Agile” seems to me to be a lot like “synergy” was in the 90s: if you have to say it, it isn’t happening. There are so many new opportunities, so many creative ways to get your ideas out into the world. We look forward to exploring them with you.