I am reviewing the pop album Only Human by Cheryl Cole which is an excellent album. Cheryl had her 4th and 5th solo number 1 singles from this album making her the first British female soloist to achieve 5 number 1 singles. She is formerly a member of pop group Girls Aloud and and they did reform a while back but have now announced they have split permanently. This album has had average to positive reviews from most critics. Many have said it is her best solo work though. It only reached number 7 in the British Album Chart and wasn’t a huge success. She did have a 12 month break from the music industry. This album is about what she experienced in that period. She is also one of the judges on the hugely popular British TV show the X Factor. My favorite track on the album is I Don’t Care which was also a huge single. Her record company tried to encourage people to pre order the album by giving them a free sample track in advance if they did so on iTunes. This also features Sia Furler, Nicola Roberts and Tinie Tempah among others. Nicola was a fellow member in Girls Aloud. The title track was originally recorded by Kylie Minogue as an album track. A few years ago Cheryl won the most beautiful woman in the world award 2 years running with the British Edition of FHM magazine.

I am reviewing the book Practical Guide To Direct Marketing by JG Frost which is a very good book that I bought by mail order a long time ago. This was one of those home published jobs and I think you might be able to get it secondhand on Amazon. This book was written in 1996 so is quite dated. I was written at the height of the direct marketing boom and a lot of it can be applied to web marketing. In this book you buy stock from various suppliers around the world and sell it with the aid of a mailing list but you could do something similar with a website you promote nowadays. You could always buy stock from say Amazon and sell it to your friends with a marked up price. Of course they would be able to get the item immediately. Ideally you should concentrate on an item with at least 200 % profit which might mean using a site like Price Runner. There are importers/exporters you can also try for good deals who have direct access to warehouses abroad. The chap who wrote this book claims he made £1 million in 6 months in direct mail starting with very little. One thing worth trying is getting them to send a sample and ideally if communicating use letter headings and a business name at the very least in communication. It looks more professional. This book is around 140 pages so is quite short. I did enjoy reading it and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. This book is about the various types of subscription based business and how to implement them. The sheer variety of these businesses is astounding and normally they work because someone knows how much they will be paying each month and often they provide something that is than it otherwise would be. Amazon Prime is a great example of a subscription services where members pay $99 per year and get streamed online video and free first class postage on anything they buy. Members spend on average much more than nonmembers on Amazon. They are eager to make the most of the free first class postage they get. Amazon did consider rolling out Prime as a free service but decided it would miss the point that people spend $99 per year and buy stuff to make the most of what they have spent. There are lots of other subscription services on Amazon which seems to have really embraced it. They want people no matter what they are about to buy to consider Amazon first. Other companies like Microsoft are also embracing this with services like Office 365 where they get paid direct and do away with the store middle man. Alot of these companies are trying to subscribe and for one year or more in one go as opposed to paying monthly. They normally offer incentives like free gifts or reduced rates for this. These subscription companies also can sell mailing lists or sell additional services to make more money. This book is around 220 pages so is reasonably long and I did enjoy it and do recommend it.

 

The book I read to research this post was 67 Business Productivity Apps by Mike Fishbein which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is around 110 pages so is fairly long. It is about various tools that can make you more productive in business. There are lots of useful websites and apps and programs. One of the most useful and also one of the most over looked is a blog where you can establish yourself as an expert on any subject. There are platforms like Tumblr and Quora. Tumblr is better suited to photos and video clips where it has quite an audience. WordPress is the biggest platform. Slideshare lets you share Powerpoint presentations on the web. There are 10 million accounts on their site and they get 50 million visitors a day so the potential in promoting your business are huge. If you are self employed there is Elance where you register and then people advertise jobs that they pay you to do. Twitter is the main microblogging site around at the moment and there is a service called Qwitter that lets you unfollow at a glance people who have unfollowed you on that site. Fiverr lets you hire people to do small jobs priced at $5 each of which they get about $3.60 I think. If you can do lots of small jobs and get paid this could be quite worthwhile. I very much enjoyed this book and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Online Privacy And Internet Security by JP Goss which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. The period we live in is called the Information Age largely on account of the huge amount of information available on the internet. Much of it is reused and recycled like with this blog being a book review. There is also a dark side to all this with people stealing information & identity theft. A lot of websites have cookie files which tell them what parts of the site you accessed. This in itself isn’t usually a breach of security although 3rd party cookies which pass this information along with possibly personal information to a 3rd party are. This book recommends finding out how to clean your browser history in your internet browser which you can probably find on YouTube or in blogs. You should also use a different password for each account and the password should be a random set of upper and lower case letters and numbers never a word. You should also never put personal identifiable information like an address, e-mail address or phone number on the internet. The vast majority of hackers are what they call script kiddies who will be after easily found information and will use programs that automate what they do as much as possible. If these people can’t find what they are after easily they will simply move on. This book is only around 25 pages so is quite short. I did quite enjoy reading it and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Continuous Improvement Tools by Krasimir Kirov which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is about 6 S which along with things like Lean is a methodology or series of processes that can be applied to business particularly in manufacturing. 6 S comes from Japan and used to be called 5 S before a safety component was added. The idea behind this is the company is constantly refining its processes and improving. In terms of manufacturing a lot of emphasis is placed on being able to locate tools easily and keeping these in a clean and workable condition. Workshops also are kept clean. This book is only around 35 pages so is quite short. Sadly it doesn’t give you the nitty gritty on applying 6 S to your business. Krasimir is a black belt in Lean Six Sigma among other things with many years of experience in business. One thing they do look at in terms of manufacturing is waste whether that is unnecessary movement or processes or waste material left over. it is a good book and I do recommend it even if it is only an introduction.

The book I read to research this post was Business Lessons From Bill Gates by Michael Winicott which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is only around 25 so is quite short. Bill is one of the founders of Microsoft the largest software manufacturer in the world. He was a gifted child at school and the turning point in his life was when the Mother’s Club bought a computer for his school. In those days computers were very expensive and it was highly unusual for a school. Bill had a natural aptitude for computer programming and years later at Microsoft would review the code programmers had written line by line which a thankless task. This kind of dedication was important though. This book claims he wrote BASIC from scratch but I think it was one he bought from a company that was going bankrupt and adapted it. He apparently also bought software from a supplier in Seattle and then sold it to IBM for a fat profit which he later got taken to court. There were similarities between Windows and the Apple Lisa operating system but this didn’t go to court because at a time when Apple almost went out of business Bill Gates invested a load of money in it. Apparently Gates left Microsoft as CEO in 2000 to concentrate on philanthropic work and resigned as Chairman in 2013 although he still remains a technology advisor. I think Gates is the classic example of doing something he believes in with regard to him leaving university to start Microsoft. His parents thought it was a bad decision and wanted him to study law which they considered a safe profession. I did quite enjoy this book and do recommend it although I think it’s a shame the author didn’t write a bit more about him.