Column by Stephen Johnson
CEO & Publisher, the419
Earlier in my career, I wrote a column for an International Marketing Organization entitled, “No Time to Read” that highlighted my favorite books, magazines, and articles – usually read in airports while traveling for a large media corporation. The column became a popular share with my colleagues and friends (even before Facebook!) and grew to a list of over 2,500 readers. The ‘Why’ of the column was to share items that I thought would be of interest to others, and as we approach Father’s Day a few friends asked me for recommendations for books to get for their dads.
Here are a few of my recent reads that I recommend are worth giving:
The Industries of the Future by author Alec Ross, gives us his view of what the next ten years will bring in specific fields and industries, examining how they will shape our economic future. This includes robotics, cyber security, genomics, big data and digital technologies. This is a book particularly good for a baby boomer father to help reinforce the dramatic changes of today, and also for younger fathers, to foster a discussion of what the future holds for their own sons and daughters.
I found Ross’s writing a blend of storytelling and interesting insights from his perspective, as well as from other leaders in industries and defense. As an example, on page 154 he offers some statistics which shouldn’t surprise me, but is a focused look at today’s world: “Every minute of the day, 201 million emails are sent, 2.4 million pieces of content are posted on Facebook, 72 hours of video are posted on YouTube, and 216,000 new photos are posted to Instagram.”
A bit overwhelming to me as a baby boomer father.
What I found even more fascinating is on page 155 where Ross shares, “Over the course of the 2012 campaign, Obama’s 18-person email team tested over 10,000 versions of email messages. In one instance, the campaign ran 18 variations of a single email, all with different subject lines, to determine which would be the most effective. The most effective subject line, “I will be outspent,” raised $2,673,278.” Ross further writes, “In 2012, the Obama campaign raised $1.123 billion total, with $690 million coming online from 4.4 million donors” Reading this caused me to pause for a moment …to reflect how social media has dramatically changed political campaign marketing and funding solicitation.
Author Steve Case offers another excellent choice for dad with The Third Wave ‘An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future’ (Steve Case co-founded America Online, which at its peak handled nearly half of the U.S. internet traffic and became a top-performing stock of the 1990’s). Case writes in the preface that during his senior year of college he could not put down Alvin and Heidi Toffler’s book of the same name, The Third Wave. As futurists, the Tofflers described these three waves: First, the Agricultural Society that lasted thousands of years. Second, the post-Industrial Revolution with mass production and distribution transforming how people lived. And third, what was then perceived as the coming of the Information Age.
Case takes the Information Age and breaks it down into three waves as well. The first wave is 1985-1999: Building the Internet, which laid the foundation for the online world. Second, the years 2000 – 2015 where search, social and e-commerce startups grow on top of this foundation. And third, where we are now in 2016 and forward. It was in this third wave where I found examples and predictions including Impact Investing, “Profit with Purpose” companies, and his plea to stop confusing startups with small businesses. I must admit that a lot of the fun I found in reading this tome was I have spent most of my years in the first and second waves, and now am anxious to get in front of the third wave!
The inside book cover flap states, “This book is part memoir, part manifesto, and part playbook for the future. The Third Wave is essential reading for anyone who wants to survive and thrive in this rapidly changing digital age.” I agree, and hope you enjoy the read – or give a copy to a young or older dad.
Either of these books can be easy weekend reads, and will help create some interesting family and dinner time conversations. I recommend both of these tomes for your reading stack.
With the419 being a local start-up business that supports ‘buying local’, I look forward to sharing more great reads with you, and will alert our friends at our local Hallmark Readmore Stores so you can find the books there.
Stephen Johnson, publisher / ceo the419