The Power of Goodreads


It started when I read that Goodreads has about 8 million users. I might have that number wrong, but tonight it doesn't matter.

What matters is that I have two Goodreads members sitting in my living room, rating books, writing reviews, and starting book clubs.

That's right. I told my kids they should join Goodreads. (If you want to tell your kids to do this, and you feel nervous about how to do it safely, read these Guidelines for Setting Students up on Goodreads).

Honestly though? I didn't read the guidelines. Because my kids and I are always discussing Internet etiquette and safety, as a matter of course.

So far, the features that have wowed my "non-reader" (she's only rated 56 books, while her sister is topping 150...um, since last night :)... anyway, so far the features that have wowed are:

- rating books (for a student, it's fun being the one to give out the gold stars)

- friending "real-life" friends, especially the ones who live at a distance

- recommending books to those same friends (because when you are together you forget about books and are always making funny videos)

- taking and making literature quizzes (one quiz is called the "never-ending quiz," because people keep adding to it)

- being able to give your mom's own poetry book 5 stars (no, I didn't pay my Littlest off; she just did it)

- marking books to save for later, by clicking "want to read"

- keeping track of what page you have read up to on a book you're currently reading, and seeing a little thermometer-thing rise (and translate your progress into a percentage)

- getting your mom to happily teach you how to write a review—she did this by making you read a bunch and decide why you liked them (or not)

- writing the review and having your mom be astonished (yeah, my Littlest's Clementine review simply tickled me)


Join me on Goodreads?

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Get Rich Click: Wow!

Get Rich Click by LL Barkat

"Should I read the book?" she asked.

"No worries, I'll give you the highlights," I told her.

Last night I emailed her: "You have got to to read Get Rich Click. It has a ton of actionable ideas."

Since reading the book (in less than two days), I have had so many brainstorms I hardly know where to begin. And in some cases, I'm simply going to let things sit on the back stormy burner for a while.

Today, I just want to share one BIG IDEA, about making money by becoming an Affiliate.

You thought you could only do that through Amazon, right? Because they have made it so obvious and simple to do?

Guess what? Amazon is only the beginning. There's a whole Affiliate world out there, waiting for you to dip in.

Five of the top 25 Affiliate sites Marc Ostrofsky recommends are:

Commission Junction

Now, in some cases, you've got to be interested in selling... I don't know... cufflinks?

But in other cases, you might be especially motivated to help sell gifts for writers and creatives, simply because you know the seller (TS Poetry) and one of the art creators (Emily Wierenga).

If you're more interested in helping TSPoetry than selling cufflinks, you can create a TS Poetry store widget for your blog.

(Also, depending on the kind of marketer you are, you may also find it easier and more powerful to promote something or someone you love.)

1. Just choose to set up the widget by "store," then type tspoetry into the white box.

2. To become an affiliate at Cafepress, email affiliatesales@cafepress.com

3. Or if you just want to share the widget, you can do that without becoming an affiliate (but hey, why not get referral fees? You wanted to Get Rich Click, yes? :)

Oh, and I'll write more about Get Rich Click. But you might want to get if for yourself (mine's overdue now at the library, because someone put a hold on it! Smart person. :)

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Home-Educated Students the Winners?

Homeschool Domination
Created by: College At Home

Kind of interesting. The language is a little self-satisfied for my taste.

And of course home education is no guarantee of success. Nor is public school a guarantee of non-success (says the public-schooled woman :).

My guess is that there are nuances not covered here. For instance, if a parent of a public-schooled child is as involved as a home-educating parent, this might be an important indicator of overall success.




5 Secrets to Making it in Business

Teapot Out of Focus

Over the past few months, I've been thinking more than ever about what it takes to make it in business.

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs—my father's grandfather was a watchmaker, my grandmother owned a salon and later a yarn shop and a framing business, my father was partner in a chemical company, and my uncles have had their share of boat businesses.

In Rumors of Water, I recall, fondly, my own forays into the agriculture business (a road stand at the end of my grandmother's driveway, where my sister and I would sit in the shade and eat more berries and cherries than we ever sold; needless to say, I have never lived into my Ten Acre Dream).

There is so much to learn from reading about other people's business dreams, and I've been doing that. A few books on my recent shelf are:

Stall Points: Most Companies Stop Growing—Yours Doesn't Have To

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don't

Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

The lessons in these books are many, but when I consider the central messages, I come up with these five secrets:

1. sell what you love or believe in. Tony Hsieh of Zappos didn't believe in shoes so much as he believed in Customer Service (though I'm guessing he enjoys a good pair of shoes.) He built Zappos to be, more than anything, an experience in great Customer Service, and it's not surprising that today his interest has begun to shift into the idea of "delivering happiness," a movement of sorts.

Is it possible to sell something you don't love? Maybe. There are always exceptions to every rule. But since these are *my* secrets, we'll have to stick with love. (I was the only person to sell one dismal stuffed animal in a high school fundraising campaign. I didn't believe in stuffed animals, especially those cheap and unattractive ones, and therefore I couldn't market them beyond Mom—sorry Mom, you shouldn't have bought one either... forgive me?).

2. give everything you have to make it work. Across the board, whether we're talking George Cadbury, Eric Ries, Tony Hsieh, or my dad, we can note a terrific dedication that extends to both time and money. It's as if the business is our life itself. We feed it, clothe it, give it our choice moments. If we can't do this, maybe we don't really love or believe in the business. Maybe it's time to eat the cherries, cut our losses, and close up the stand.

3. Stay humble. In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don't, one of the outstanding qualities of the Great companies was a humility in top leaders.

Now this is a tricky one, because we don't necessarily think of a Steve Jobs as being humble. We think *bold.* But humility comes in different flavors. A bold leader might actually be humble when it comes to listening to customers or understanding that a company's, or an industry's, position is never a foregone conclusion.

In Stall Points: Most Companies Stop Growing—Yours Doesn't Have To, one of the prime reasons for downturn was this very issue: neglecting to humbly understand that a position can be wrested from us by a "lesser" company that *is* paying attention to customers, price points, or new technologies.

4. Know who you are, and who you aren't. Also in Stall Points, a major factor pinpointed in downturn was overreaching and diversifying too much. These days, I am watching Amazon with fascination, because it actually seems to be engaged in excessive diversification. (And yes, the bookseller did acquire the shoeseller Zappos). Yet perhaps Amazon is about something other than books. Maybe it is about E-commerce, the way Zappos was about Customer Service. So it will all work out in the end.

For my own part, I recently decided I'm chocolate (not peppermints), tea (not coffee), hot pink or red (not maroon). Around early June, I hope to be able to show you what I mean. In any case, it has helped me focus, to know who I am and who I am not.

5. Make the hard calls, without burning bridges. Not long ago, I heard from a guy whose business was going down the drain. And he was still trying to be all things to all employees, hold on to the past of what the company had been. The result was that he was losing everything. This is such a delicate matter. We need to maintain our compassion and good-dealings, but if something is "failing," we need to be realistic too, and save the ship by necessary means.

For me, this is one of the biggest challenges, as I never want to hurt people. It takes a lot of vision to see beyond the current circumstances, to understand what is ultimately at stake, and to make the necessary hard calls. This is where *loving* the business will ultimately serve us. And if we find we can't love the business that much, we should probably close the stand, after all.

How about you? Have you tried making your way in business? What are your favorite secrets?

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