Dan's Biz Bookshelf: It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be

Reading time ( words)

Books on advertising are among my favorite types of books. You can read all the business books on strategy that you want, but if you really want to cut to the chase when it comes to creative ideas for setting your business direction, there are no better books than those on advertising by people in advertising.

This one, by long time adman Paul Arden, is one of my favorites because it is short (my favorite kind), but that is not the only reason.

It is 127 pages chockfull of ideas on how to position your company. If you think about it, advertising is positioning your company. It is telling your company’s story in as few words as possible.

It is also a great instigator of ideas and the encouragement of finding new ideas through creativity.

When I work with companies in our industry, the first thing I notice is that we are not very creative or very courageous, to say the least. We are terrified of standing out, of doing something different from the rest of the herd. Yes, this type of thinking hurts us to the point of retarding our companies’ strategic growth.

We are scared to fail, which is one of the downfalls of great creative thinking.

“Fail, fail again, fail better,” Samuel Beckett said. That is the key to being successful. In other words, if you are not failing enough, you are not creating.

No other part of the industry takes risks like advertising. People involved in advertising spend their days and nights thinking of ways to get their clients’ messaging out and getting it right.

How many of us can say that?

How many of us are willing to stand out?

How many of us have the courage to withstand the criticism of the two percent of our audience who will not like our message?

Arden advises to seek criticism, not praise:

“If you have produced a pleasant, acceptable piece of work, you will have proved to yourself that it’s good simply because others have said so. It’s probably okay. But then it’s probably not great either. Instead of seeking approval, you ask, ‘What’s wrong with it? How can I make it better?’”

This same thinking should apply to your company’s strategy, marketing, and branding. Your goal is to gain more business, not please your audience. No matter what you do, do it honestly and with courage. Stick to it, see it to the end. And in the end, you will stand out and you will succeed.

This is a good book if you are serious enough about your business to be thinking seriously about it.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.


It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be: The World’s Best-Selling Book

Author: Paul Arden

Copyright: 2003, 2017, Phaidon Press

Price: $12.95

Pages: 127


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