A couple weeks ago, Nancy Duarte invited me down to her beautiful offices in Mountain View, CA to share ideas about “Vivid Thinking” and my new Blah Blah Blah book. We had so much to share that we ended up shooting three videos. Here is the first, an introduction to the big ideas in the book.
As of today, it's official. My next book has just been formally announced by Penguin Portfolio.
Blah, Blah, Blah
What To Do When Words Don't Work
by Dan Roam
It will be published 11-1-11.
I completed the writing and drew the last of the book's 469 pictures two weeks ago. Now everything is in the good hands of the Portfolio editorial and production masters.
Until they finish, here is something to get started with… (click to enlarge/download)
The Strategic Studies Group is located at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. This group reports directly (and solely) to the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon. The SSG is tasked with coming up with revolutionary ways of thinking about conflict and winning wars.
I was honored to be invited to give a full "back of the napkin" workshop to the senior officers of the SSG. Last week I packed up my tablet PC and whiteboard and headed off to face the bracing December winds of Newport.
Although I'm not at liberty to share what we talked about, I can say that I had an amazing time and left the Naval War College with an extraordinary sense of confidence in the innovative abilities of our political and military leaders. In other words, the people (quite literally) calling the shots are infinitely more open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and asking tough questions than those of us not in the armed forces are usually lead to believe.
(Aside: Although my father was an Air Force Captain, my uncle a Naval Commander, and my cousin is a career Marine, I never served in the armed forces. I decided early on that I'd rather learn about the world "out there" by wielding a pencil rather than a gun, but that's another story.)
Simming in Sims Hall
From a visual problem-solving perspective, one of the fascinating aspects of the SSG's operations (that I can share) is the floor. Yes, that's right; the floor of Sim's Hall is a historic landmark. Why would a rather somber checkerboard of white and gray stone be of historical significance?
Because it was on that floor that the naval battles of World War II were acted out in advance. "Sims" Hall was named after Admiral William Sims, the commanding officer of the US Navy's European fleet during WWI and who later became a leading advocate of warfare simulation.
When WWII broke out, the floor of the cafeteria in the building bearing Sims' name became a huge oceanic chessboard. As admirals and commanders moved model ships about the floor, strategists and junior officers watched from the gallery above. Here the battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, and the island-hopping campaign were first visualized.
Sims Hall; appropriate name, isn't it?
Another insight I learned from the Marines and Naval officers about communicating ideas is the BLUF principle. When presenting to a senior officer, always keep BLUF in mind:
In other words, get to the point immediately. If that is compelling, there will be plenty of time for details later.
Good lesson. Thank you USMC, USN, and USAF.
One of the really great unexpected outcomes of getting your book published is that other publishers send you advance copies of their upcoming books for review and (hopefully) positive comments. I suppose it shouldn't have come as a surprise since my publisher did the same thing for my book, but it has been fun to collect a nice stack of pre-release business books.
I make a point of reading each book that I receive, thinking not only about the karma involved but also recognizing how lucky I am to see some of what's coming out before many other people get to. Besides, it's a tremendous honor to be asked, and I figure I owe it to the other authors to do my part.
The only problem is that it takes time to really read everything that comes in and formulate an opinion about it that's worth sharing. Which means I sometimes fall behind on getting my comments in on time.
That's what happened with Guy Kawasaki's new book REALITY CHECK: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. I got an advance copy three weeks ago, put it on the "to read" stack, finally read it, LOVED it (more on that in a moment), drew up a 'cover blurb' that I really mean, and sent it back to the publisher… only to find out they'd already printed the book!
Yikes. Good timing, Dan.
So back in that karmic mood, let me present here for the first time my never-to-be-published blurb for Guy's latest:
Now I know what they mean when they talk about "encyclopedic knowledge".
They mean Guy Kawasaki. This book is the proof.
- Dan Roam
This book is amazing. It really is a complete encyclopedia of everything anyone starting a start-up needs to know about money (and where to get it), planning (more rather than less is the ticket), marketing (I think I finally understand what that means), and succeeding (or failing magnificently, which according to Guy is almost as good).
What I found best about the book was that although it contains way too much to ever fully process (much less remember), everything is presented in short sections, category by category — which makes it easy to find exactly the guideline you need when you need it.
I wish my timing had been better: this is really a book I'd have liked to have a picture on!