I have something slightly embarrassing to admit. When I ordered this book online, I saw the purple cow and I thought I was ordering Seth Godin's book Purple Cow. Could the title BE any larger on the cover?? Oh well. I still haven't read Purple Cow but I have now read The Big Moo.

The book was edited by Seth Godin and written by "33 of the world's smartest business thinkers." The book is a compilation of short, anecdotal chapters and, although the 33 names of the authors are on the cover, they are not on the chapters that each one specifically wrote. I found this problematic as it ended up producing a book with no context that was very disjointed.

I guess the biggest thing I took away from this book is the affirmation of my long-held belief that there is no one way to be successful in business. Clearly the authors come from very different experiences and did not confer with one another before submitting their chapters because the book is full of contradictory advice. At different points we are told to:

-Be a visionary innovator - 3 steps ahead of the competition -AND- don't necessarily be first in your industry but do what the first guy did BETTER because those who are the first to do something often fail and are forgotten.

-Don't give in to the customer's desire for you to lower prices and homogenize -AND- listen to your customers more than your peers.

-Don't wait too long to change - the important thing is to act now! -AND- "Remarkable doesn't always mean right now."

-Capitalize on what makes you special -AND- don't get stuck in a rut - be willing to branch out and try something new.

So take your pick! All of the above strategies apparently work.

I gave this book only 2 stars. It was OK. It's easy to read and there are little gems in it here and there. But that's about all it has to offer - a few gems and motivational tidbits. Clearly there was enough that hit me to fill up two full pages of cliff's notes that I once again wrote on the inside cover:
Here's a selection of some of the notes I wrote:

-"The thing about Wal-Mart is that it forces you to be better." Welcome competition.

-Failure should always be an option - otherwise there's no room for experimentation and risk.

-New hires are your #1 source of new ideas - they have fresh eyes. This point motivated me to put "MJ lunches" on the calendar every 3 months - to sit down with Sara regularly to get her feedback and ideas and to brainstorm together about how to move Melissa Jill Photography forward.

-Observe companies in other industries to get great ideas. What makes the experience they offer so awesome?

-You never know when a small idea will morph into a big one - entertain them all. This point made me decide to start an idea jar in which to keep all my business-related ideas. I want to make sure I write them down right when I think of them - even if we are not ready to implement them now, they may be good to revisit in the future!

When it comes down to it - there's no one way to be successful in business. There may be some commonalities in the experiences of the authors. But clearly there were some marked differences as well. That's good news and bad news. It's bad news in that you can't just look at the guy two steps in front of you and copy everything he does. It's good news in that the things that are already remarkable about you - the things that make you unique - can be the key to making your business remarkable as well.
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