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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?
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on 25 October 2012
Chris and Julien are becoming the Dynamic Duo for all things entrepreneur and media. What I found most refreshing about The Impact Equation is that they don't hide behind any bs, something that's all too common out there in the marketing/entrepreneurship/media space. These guys haven't just conjured this stuff up out of thin air, with one eye on the cash rolling in and the other on how clever they appear to everyone else, they've actually been living and breathing this stuff. They do it consistently and authentically.

They've tried things out and screwed up as much as they've succeeded (or perhaps more) and don't shy away from that; they've used it all to inform what they've put into this title.

What I also love is how they openly criticize (constructively) their last book, "Trust Agents", saying that it didn't go deep enough and wasn't as actionable as they'd have liked it to be. Not only have they addressed that here by making sure there's real depth, insights and a liberal scattering of action points (which, for my money, is where the gold is), but it requires an openness and honesty that's present right through the book.

The book's content is rich, covering a heap of topics within the structure they've laid out: CREATE - Contrast, Reach, Exposure, Articulation, Trust, Echo. I may have rolled my eyes a little when I saw the acronym they'd coined, but you know what? It kinda fits.

I suspect they could easily have written a separate book for each of the elements within the CREATE model, but that would have left gaping holes in the completeness of the information they wanted to offer. And it seems pretty clear to me that establishing concrete value is something that was the most important thing to them in writing this - something I think they've achieved.
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on 25 October 2012
At first I groaned. There was a natty acronym with a "formula" attached to it. The formula was C(R+E+A+T+E). Personally I would have added an L and made it TREACLE, but there you go. In fact Chris and Julien are taking their own medicine, and "giving their idea handles". I could be sniffy about it, but I bet it works.

The formula is a series of ingredients that when combined are designed to help you connect to more people, more effectively. As a series of things to do, there's a mix of inspiring calls to action, practical tips for getting better at stuff, and general principles that will affect the way you work. It's a big toolkit held together by the formula. Whether it's too much stuff or manages to keep itself on the rails is a challenge that so far they seem to be managing.

As an ambitious book, it doesn't feel too big. I'm reading it half way through Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (also recommended) which gives me a peculiar slant on everything I read at the moment, as I constantly look for my own biases and try to correct them. It's chock full of stuff, rattles on at a giddy pace, has a style that feels warm and generous without getting too slushy, and has a big idea that it really wants to share with people. The authors have both done great things with this knowledge, and you feel that they genuinely want to make their approach available to all.

Blessedly short on social media mumbo jumbo, long on purpose, direction and useful tips. I think most people will take a lot away from this book, and I suggest you give it a whirl. The proof of the pudding will be the impact it has on what I do next...

Thanks Chris and Julien, looking forward to pressing on.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2013
Those who have already read Chris Brogan and Julien Smith's previously published book, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust (Wiley 2010) may recall their citing of David Maister's concept of a success equation in his book, The Trusted Advisor. The formula for high-impact business success (I = C x R + E + A + T + E) to which the title of this review refers is explained in the first chapter. The nature and extent of Impact are determined by the nature and extent of six additional components:

Contrast: Is your idea significantly better?
Reach: How well-connected are you?
Exposure: How often do you connect and interact with those in your audience?
Articulation: Is your idea both clear and compelling?
Trust: Do people believe - and believe in - you?
Echo: How well does your idea resonate with your audience?

Brogan and Smith observe, "By working on each part of the equation, one at a time, you will begin to see what you're doing right, doing wring, or nit doing at all. You will see where your strengths are and why your ideas are spreading, or why they aren't spreading as much as you'd like. You'll understand what you need to work on, and you may even be able to prevent your mistakes. Thus last part is the one that's vital." I agree.

They are world-class pragmatists who possess an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn't, and why, then share what they have learned with as many people as possible. They devote a separate chapter to each of the seven, devoting most of their attention to HOW to achieve and then sustain high-impact business success. I commend Brogan and Smith on their skillful use of various reader-friendly devices that include checklists, bullet-point reviews, and dozens of boxed insertions of interactive initiatives such as these in the first three chapters: "Rating Each Attribute for Yourself," "Action: Get Your Game Face On," "Tying Emotion to Ideas," "Contrast: How to Improve," and "Impact Example: Skylanders from Activision." These devices will facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of their coverage:

o Impact = C x (R-E-A-T-E, and, Why the Impact Equation Matters (Pages 10-16)
o The Attention War (25-29)
o Build Before the Need (42-47)
o An Ecosystem of Ideas, How to Recognize Bad Ideas, and, Obvious but Somehow Not Obvious Bad Ideas (60-68)
o Method #2: Have More Ideas (74-77)
o Too Many Ideas (107-109)
o Discovering the Core Message: Three Methods (122-126)
o Why Platform Is Essential to Audience Capture (146-148)
o The Fallacy of Needing a Vast Platform (169-171)
o Three Very Different Interactions (200-203)
o Basic Human Behaviors (209-212)
o How to Become Credible, and, How to Become Reliable (215-218)
o The Benefits of Human Sacrifice (229-230)
o Ways to Untangle (253-254)

On Page 197, Brogan and Smith observe, "We hope the concepts in this book help you develop the channel you have always wanted -- one that helps spread a message that matters and helps everyone reach the audience they know they can speak to. Once you have these tools and have mastered them, the next step is to pass them on, to give someone else the ability to leave an imprint. So give this book to someone. It may help them a lot."

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that Chris Brogan and Julien Smith provide in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to master and then apply the formula for high-impact business success.
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on 9 January 2013
I was curious to read this book as like any small business owner, I need to connect to others in order to succeed.

However, like someone who has gate-crashed a trendy party, I am completely the wrong demographic compared to the target audience. (Julien describes the ideal reader for his blog in the book, being a 20-30 year old man, and the quirky references in the book made me feel sure the ideal reader for this book would be similar).

Because of this, I found the book quite noisy, as it jumps around covering many varied examples, from a managing a book launch date, to Richard Branson, to `The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho and gaming references which I found educational in ways that were never intended, for example I now feel like the only person on the planet who has not played the video game Pokemon!

That is my only criticism, the Impact Equation itself is easily understandable, and illustrated with entertaining up-to-date examples, such as The Dollar Shave Club being an example of 'contrast'. Concepts from the authors' previous book Trust Agents is also included and updated. Practical gold nuggets of the authors' wisdom such as the impact of the regularity of their blogs and tweets, what kind of things they would suggest you do tweet, and things that you can do wrong, and why sometimes it doesn't matter.

The main thing is that at the end of an entertaining book, I will be able to use The Impact Equation to evaluate my USP as well as my very next blog, tweet or advertisement to make them more effective. If I can grasp this, given the comments above, I'm absolutely certain this book will be a valuable tool for anyone wanting to do better at connecting with their customers and prospective customers. Thank you!
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on 14 May 2013
This is possibly the book that I have liked the most in the last year. It was recommended to me by somebody with an interest in social marketing.

The book really offered two strands for me. The first is the more general, what we could call strategic advice. The impact equation itself is the broad-brush strategic part. The other strand is the more specific practical, information. There are many very specific tips interspersed with the book that anybody with an interest in social media will find useful.

I bought the book late last year and have recently read parts of it again. There is so much to take in from it that I learned a lot more from the second read!

I would recommend this book to anybody with an interest in social media or social marketing.

A must read!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 June 2013
used to write business books (this kind of thing), but I always find it strange coming back to them after being so immersed in popular science, because a popular science book is usually so packed with fascinating information, where the actual content of business books is often incredibly sparse, with about a page's worth of useful information packaged in a whole load of woffle. Interestingly, a while ago, a company did try to do business books on two sides of a sheet of laminated A4. They genuinely did get everything in, but even though people are supposed to want bite sized chunks these days, they wouldn't pay a book price for something so slim. We are victims of our own greed.

The Impact Equation doesn't entirely escape the limitation of having a lot of padding between gems, but it definitely does have some good content. It describes using modern communication channels, essentially the internet, in order to get noticed and achieve things rather than, as the subtitle says, 'just making noise.' The authors point out that just setting up a blog, say, and expecting it to make you widely noticed is a bit like running a seminar and only advertising it inside the venue. You won't get many people turning up.

The equation in the title is the rather corny one that Impact = C x (R+E+A+T+E), where C is contrast and the others are reach, exposure, articulation, trust and echo. You'll have to read the book for the detail of what these are, but they do mostly make sense, though there's the inevitable feeling that the categories have been stretched a little to fit the acronym. Along the way the authors make some very good points that may not be original, but that so many people get wrong. So, for instance, you don't get impact from constantly blogging about what you are trying to sell or tweeting your products 24/7. You need to create content that works with the relevant medium and that people actually want to consume.

There was a really interesting programme on the radio the other day about the slender man phenomenon on the internet. I confess I had never heard of this, but it's basically a story that has gone rogue, taking on a life of its own and becoming a kind of internet myth. One of the contributors made the point that we have gone through what he calls the Gutenberg Parenthesis. This is grandeous-academic-speak for the simple but powerful observation that for all of human history we have had individuals communicating stuff (stories or whatever) directly to other people or groups of people. The printing press took us into a side world where the stuff communicated was set in concrete (or at least paper), without the directness of communication. But now the internet has brought us back into the historical mainstream of direct links. Brogan and Smith don't mention this but I think it underlines everything they say. All their wisdom on good ways to enhance impact is about being aware of this different, more personal type of communication - even if you are tweeting to several million followers.

I did have a few issues with the book. The authors are constantly referring to 'Chris did that' or 'Julien once did this'. I know they are trying to connect with their audience, but as a reader I really don't care about them or want to know about them. I just want the good stuff to make my online impact better. I got really fed up of this self-referential approach. They also clearly haven't read (or at least haven't absorbed) the message of the Black Swan, apparently thinking that you can somehow learn to be another Richard Branson (say). I don't agree with a lot that Taleb says in that book, but his central point that you can only achieve mediocrity as a result of ability in fields like this, and the rest is down to uncontrollable luck (I crudely paraphrase) is incredibly important. You can't learn how to be another Branson by emulating him, nor can you learn how to be another internet sensation by emulating an existing one. Black Swans aren't like that.

There's also one point the authors miss, which is that the internet is international, and it is very easy to assume that your world view (typically a US one) will work everywhere. They unintentionally demonstrate this very well with this blooper: 'BBC viewers may become upset if something interrupts Coronation Street.' This misses the point anyone in the UK could have corrected that Coronation Street (the UK's most popular soap opera) is not broadcast by the BBC, but by its commercial rival ITV.

Overall, then, if you are struggling to know how to go about improving your impact through the internet this is a good place to start. But like practically every other business book, do expect to have to wade through a lot of padding to find a collection of nuggets that would probably fit on two sides of a sheet of paper.
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on 19 August 2015
Soooooo much actionable stuff!
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