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The Entrepreneur Log #33 - December 2023 - 2023 Book Reviews


Joyce Tsang Content Marketing Book Review 2023
Joyce Tsang Content Marketing Book Review 2023

Instead of ending the year with a log of what has happened, I've decided to make this a 2023 book review and dedicate this entry to the books I've read this past year and what I thought about them!


Stay until the end because I'll also share my 2024 book list as well.












 

i) Book Review 2023 - Alchemy - The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of MInd-Numbing Conformity, Rory Sutherland


Book Review 2023 - Alchemy - The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of MInd-Numbing Conformity, Rory Sutherland
Book Review 2023 - Alchemy - The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of MInd-Numbing Conformity, Rory Sutherland

This book truly lives up to all the testimonials on the cover. It's wonderfully applicable to everything in life and is as inspiring as it is entertaining. Every concept of alchemy that Sutherland mentions is backed not just by business case studies but, more interestingly, by his own personal experiences.


One story that made the biggest impression on me was from Chapter 1.15 on "Same facts, different context." He talks about how he chose his house. While the average person would choose it based on the view, investment value, or personal preferences, he focused on the land-scraping of nearby architecture. He disregarded the usual assumptions and chose a house in a way that most people would not, avoiding competition for the same houses and resulting in his acquisition of a relatively undervalued place. What made this story stand out to me is the advantage of having eccentric tastes, which puts oneself in a completely different basket, free from status envy.


As he writes, "Logic may be a good way to defend and explain a decision, but it is not always a good way to reach one. This is because conventional logic is a straightforward mental process that is equally available to all and will, therefore, get you to the same place as everyone else." In this statement, I believe he has essentially distilled the whole idea of what creativity really is, without realizing it. Sometimes, it's not about forcing yourself to think outside the box. By simply seeing beauty in something others don't and prioritizing certain elements others find mundane, you can reach a unique destination that cuts away from the noise with ease.



ii) Book Review 2023 - Published. The Proven Path From Blank Page to 10,000 Copies Sold, Chandler Bolt


Book Review 2023 - Published. The Proven Path From Blank Page to 10,000 Copies Sold, Chandler Bolt
Book Review 2023 - Published. The Proven Path From Blank Page to 10,000 Copies Sold, Chandler Bolt

I haven't actually finished this book because it felt like I was physically behind in terms of what it was discussing in the later chapters. While I am someone who is considering writing my own book and wants to understand what it really takes, this book does somewhat of a good job highlighting the things I need to be aware of before jumping in. However, the reason I didn't find this book as enjoyable as I would have liked is that it reads like a guidebook or user manual that doesn't involve much engagement or reciprocation unless you're strictly following its instructions.


I didn't find myself able to digest, reflect, or think much with the resources provided. It was more like, 'Here are the things we did, and you should just do them too.' I can see how this type of book would work very well for those who are looking to be handheld through a process like this. However, personally, I enjoy reading books that offer ways and strategies to help me reach my destination but also allow me the freedom to venture and explore other options on my own without feeling like I would fail.



iii) Book Review 2023 - Building A Story Brand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen - Use the 7 Elements of Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business, Donald Miller


Book Review 2023 - Building A Story Brand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen - Use the 7 Elements of Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business, Donald Miller
Book Review 2023 - Building A Story Brand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen - Use the 7 Elements of Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business, Donald Miller

I think this book is a good coffee table book for me. I like that it includes graphics, resources, and frameworks that serve as sounding board techniques for the reader as they navigate and explore the establishment of their brand. However, I would say it only scratches the surface of topics that I am already well familiar with through online research and reading.


If you're someone who wants to have a ready-to-use handbook and isn't a fan of searching through different online resources, this would be a great book to have. But for someone like me, who is constantly on the hunt for new knowledge, I would say this book doesn't offer much beyond reminding me of existing techniques. However, I did enjoy their BrandScript. It provided a slightly different brainstorming journey compared to what I had already experienced while building Joyce Tsang Content Marketing's story.



iv) Book Review 2023 - Known - The Handbook for Building and Unleashing your Personal BRand in the Digital Age, Mark W. Schaefer


Book Review 2023 - Known - The Handbook for Building and Unleashing your Personal BRand in the Digital Age, Mark W. Schaefer
Book Review 2023 - Known - The Handbook for Building and Unleashing your Personal BRand in the Digital Age, Mark W. Schaefer

I didn't actually have the drive to finish this book. I'm not sure if it was the content or the writing style that didn't work for me. The tone and manner were highly casual, which is not a bad thing, but I think the content could have been more engaging if presented in video format instead. I found myself skimming through many passages due to redundant fillers. I believe the author aimed for a personal tone, but amid the personal snippets and bullet lists provided, nothing really stuck in my mind. The structure and format were not consistent either, making it feel like I was reading a disjointed conversation and trying to extract key messages on my own, rather than having impactful conclusions at the end of each section.



v) Book Review - The 4-Hour Work Week - Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss


Book Review - The 4-Hour Work Week - Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss
Book Review - The 4-Hour Work Week - Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss

This is another really great book that all solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or those who aspire to a digital nomad lifestyle should have on their bookshelves. The messaging is clear, unique, and unapologetic. I suppose I unconsciously adopted some of the concepts mentioned in this book throughout the year because I naturally ended up working four-day weeks, cutting back on my hours but still achieving roughly the same income. I do believe that exposing yourself to a different mindset naturally helps your brain rewire the way it approaches work, rethinking the priorities of what to do and what to neglect.


Apart from his emphasis on the importance of having a virtual assistant, one of the things I took away from the book is how to communicate with and segment your existing customers. Although his case studies often revolved around B2C product-based clients, I still find it relevant to Joyce Tsang Content Marketing, which is predominantly a B2B service-based company.


In the section 'The Margin Manifesto,' he writes, 'put high-maintenance, low-profit customers on autopilot - process orders but don't pursue them or check up on them - and "fire" high-maintenance, high-profit customers by sending a memo detailing how a change in business model requires a few new policies: how often and how to communicate, standardized pricing and order process, etc. Indicate that, for those clients whose needs are incompatible with these new policies, you are happy to introduce other providers.' Now that I reread this passage in 2024, I realize that I did exactly that in 2023, turning down certain clients without hesitation and refining my agreements and contracts with clauses on modes and frequency of communication.



vi) Book Review 2023 - Making Websites Win - Apply the customer-centric methodology that has doubled the sales of many leading websites, Dr Karl Blanks & Ben Jesson


Book Review 2023 - Making Websites Win - Apply the customer-centric methodology that has doubled the sales of many leading websites, Dr Karl Blanks & Ben Jesson
Book Review 2023 - Making Websites Win - Apply the customer-centric methodology that has doubled the sales of many leading websites, Dr Karl Blanks & Ben Jesson

Last but not least, this is the final book I've read in 2023, and I'm glad it ended on a high note. To be honest, I'm only watching or reading up on website optimization because I believe there is a need for me to understand what is going on. However, I am so sick of the repeated conversation on SEO all the time. Instead, this book really focuses on all the other things that are much more important.


I had a sticky note on every second page about something that I think I need to apply to my website. The book starts with strategy, which is something I love, before delving deep into tactics and techniques. This is also one of the first books I've read that places as much emphasis on conversion rates as I do (instead of boasting about traffic all the time). It views marketing on websites as a scientific experiment and introduces ways in which they have helped clients test for results. One of the key takeaways I've gotten is their belief in how incremental iterations are always better than complete page redesigns. Under Principle 3, they write, 'Any work-in-progress is wasted money until it sees the light of day. Managing work-in-progress is work in itself, particularly with large projects. Large projects constipate companies.'



Reflecting on Books Read and Looking Ahead to 2024


For each of the books mentioned above, I have folded corners and sticky notes indicating things I should go back to, think more about, or directly apply to my business. I think that's the best part of reading a book. The reading itself is enjoyable, but unless you act upon the things you've learned, it's nothing more than having a nice dream.

For 2024, I'll continue to invest time in reading books related to entrepreneurship, marketing, storytelling, and especially personal finance. Here are some books I have on my to-buy list for the new year:



How about you? What were the books that you've read in 2023 that were really good or not very helpful? What are some books you're looking forward to purchasing in 2024? Let me know in the comments below, and happy reading!


  • Joyce



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