Dear friends – here is a brief update on just some of our clients’ most recent successes:
Some recent books…
Stanford psychologist and international bestselling author of The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is in the middle of a huge media tour for The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, (Avery/Penguin), including a 1-on-1 with Matt Lauer on the Today Show and 23 radio interviews in a single day. Building on Kelly’s 2013 TED Talk, “How to Make Stress Your Friend,” this fascinating and surprising book highlights new research indicating that stress can in fact make us stronger, smarter, and happier — if we learn how to embrace it. The Upside of Stress is not a guide to getting rid of stress, but a guide to getting better at stress by understanding it, embracing it, and using it. There aren’t enough pixels in the world for us to link to every rave review the book has already received.
Also on a big national tour is Elle Luna, author of the inspiring and transformative The Crossroads of Should and Must (Workman). A noted artist and writer (with over 125,000 followers on Instagram alone), Elle has worked as a designer at Ideo and on major apps and websites including Medium, Mailbox’s iPhone app, and Uber. Moved to share her own life path, she wrote and illustrated a brief online manifesto that quickly went viral, touching hundreds of thousands of people. She talked about her own experience of “standing at the crossroads of Should and Must,” where ‘Should’ is what we feel we ought to be doing or what is expected of us, while ‘Must’ is the thing we dream of doing. Now she has expanded these ideas into this inspirational, encouraging, highly visual gift book that has already prompted a social media movement: #choosemust.
The idea of membership is not new. Churches, social clubs, professional associations, even book clubs have long used membership as a means of building loyalty and growth. Now in the business world, some of the smartest, most successful companies are moving to radically new membership models, subscription-based formats, and ‘freemium’ approaches. One of Silicon Valley’s leading strategy consultants helping companies seize these opportunities is Robbie Kellman Baxter. Based on her work with Netflix, Yahoo!, Oracle, eBay and many more, her new book, The Membership Economy: Find Your Super Users, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue (McGraw-Hill), shows entrepreneurs as well as executives at established businesses how to turn ordinary customers into members for life.
It’s the perfect meeting of minds. One, a general whose epigrammatic lessons on strategy offer timeless insight and wisdom. And the other, a visual thinker whose succinct diagrams and charts give readers a fresh way of looking at life’s challenges and opportunities. A Bronze Age/Information Age marriage of Sun Tzu and Jessica Hagy, The Art of War Visualized: The Sun Tzu Classic in Charts and Graphs (Workman) is an inspired mash-up, a work that re-energizes the venerable classic and makes it accessible to a new generation of students, entrepreneurs, business leaders, artists, lovers of games and game theory. For The Art of War Visualized, Jessica uses evocative ink-brush art and bold typography, making each passage of the complete canonical text into a singular diagram, chart, or other illustration that brings new wisdom to each of us.
Innovators today are told to run loose and think lean in order to fail fast and succeed sooner. But in a world obsessed with the new, where cool added features often trump actual customer needs, it’s the consumer who suffers. In our quest to be more agile, we end up creating products that underwhelm. Today’s leading companies understand that emotional connection is critical to product development. And they use a clear, repeatable design process that focuses squarely on consumer engagement rather than piling on features for features’ sake. In
Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love (Harvard Business Review Press), a refreshingly jargon-free and practical book, product design expert Jon Kolko maps out this process, demonstrating how teams in every field can conceive and build successful, emotionally resonant products again and again. Whether you’re a designer, a product developer, or a marketer thinking about your company’s next offering, this book will forever change the way you think about — and create — successful products.
A few recent deals…
Dan Roam is the world’s leading teacher of visual thinking skills and the internationally bestselling author of four books on the topic, including The Back of the Napkin and Show & Tell. His next book, acquired again by Emily Angell at Portfolio/Penguin Random House in a significant deal, is Draw Me the Money, drawing on (no pun intended) and extending the techniques in his earlier books to create a concise guide that walks readers step-by-step through the Ten Commandments of business visualization and introduces the Ten Tools for creating pictures that make a difference.
Emily Taber at the MIT Press recently acquired the next book by Joshua Gans, Disruption: How Great Companies Thrive. Joshua is winner of Australia’s Young Economist Award and professor of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management. Disruption is the first work to synthesize Clayton Christensen’s venerable theory of business disruption with other approaches, as well as the latest business research, to yield important new lessons for companies of every scale, showing how and why all incumbents are at risk and what they must do to shield themselves successfully from upstarts.
For years, fans of Austin Kleon, the author of two New York Times bestsellers — Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work! — have been asking what tools he uses to foster his own creativity. Now Bruce Tracy at Workman has acquired Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs in a good deal, a guided creativity journal with exercises, inspirational quotes, creativity prompts and more, for writing down and sketching out new (and lifted) ideas.
We are proud and honored to have negotiated recent book deals for two of America’s leading Buddhist teachers. Gil Fronsdal, Ph.D., is a founder of the Insight Meditation Center and Insight Retreat Center in California and a noted translator of original Buddhist texts, including his revered edition of The Dhammapada. Now he will be publishing the first-ever English translation of the The Book of Eights (Atthakavagga), one of the earliest Buddhist discourses, which provides an important, pragmatic foundation for all the Buddha’s teachings. Dave O’Neal at Shambhala acquired the project.
Dave O’Neal at Shambhala also acquired Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas, by legendary meditation teacher Leigh Brasington, the first book to offer a comprehensive guide to reaching each of the deep concentration states as taught by the Buddha himself.
Other exciting news…
Yes, that’s artist, author, and activist Trevor Paglen, backstage at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, holding that beautiful, golden Oscar for Best Documentary. Trevor helped film CITIZENFOUR, about Edward Snowden, contributing remarkably beautiful and thought-provoking footage of ‘secret’ government spying installations scattered around the globe in plain sight. If you are new to Trevor’s art and writing, he was recently profiled in a short, fascinating Vice/Creator’s Project video, Photographing Secret Sites and Satellites, that is really worth watching.
If you didn’t have a chance to catch it, Austin Kleon, Jessica Hagy and Elle Luna dominated the PBS coverage of BookCon at Javits Center this year. Video of their fascinating conversation together about art and creativity is streaming here (jump to the 2:05 mark).
And even a few book recommendations…
And last, because good writers are always good readers, we asked our clients to recommend books they have loved recently. Here are a few of their suggestions — for after you’ve read their own books, of course.
- Robbie Kellman Baxter: Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, by Eddie Huang
- Alex Cohen: The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti
- Mark Cohen: When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa, by Peter Godwin
- Phil Edwards: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley, by Neal Thompson
- Keith Devlin: How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordan Ellenberg
- Jennifer Fulwiler: The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson
- Leander Kahney: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson
- Austin Kleon: Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast
- Jon Kolko: The Bartender’s Tale, by Ivan Doig
- Marc Levinson: Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
- Elle Luna: Frederick, by Leo Lionni
- Karen Maezen Miller: The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti
- Kelly McGonigal: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker
- Ramez Naam: Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Andrew McAffee and Erik Brynjolfsson
- Mika Ono: The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande
- Andy Polsky: Transatlantic, by Colum McCann
- Dan Roam: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh
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