Reading List for Internet Execs

I’m halfway done re-reading Permission Marketing by Seth Godin, the classic text (written in 1999) for internet marketers. This time, in good Tim Sanders fashion, I’m marking the book up like crazy and making it mine. Permission Marketing was very influential at MyFamily.com/Ancestry.com. Problem was, whenever I read a key book, I’d give my copy away and never see it again. When you haven’t pick up a book for 5 years, you forget all the details and just have some general notions about what you should be doing. I love getting back into the details of how internet-based permission marketing is revolutionizing advertising and will eventually overthrow the Interruption Marketing that was used to build all the great brands of the past. Godin spent millions of dollars on wasteful television advertising back when that was the only way to reach mass markets. But he has spent much of the last decade pioneering the use of the internet in marketing, and he shares his learning freely.

I have a recommending reading list for entrepreneurs, but I need to update it.

Books are so underrated. As Tim Sanders says in Love is the Killer App, 80% of your reading time should be spent with books.

I’m thinking of creating a curriculum for employees of Infobase Ventures companies, a reading list, as it were, for every major position in the company. There are a handful of books that I hope all our CEOs read, including The Art of the Start, Good to Great, First Break All the Rules, and Game of Work. I can think of a dozen critical readings (including MarketingSherpa summit transcripts) for all marketing employees.

Phil Windley (BYU CS Professor) told me the other day that when he mentors a graduate student in the lab, he provides him/her with all kinds of reading materials as part of the learning process. But once someone has a job, how much is invested in their ongoing training? Steve Jurvetson (my favorite VC) says we should embrace lifelong learning–how many companies help employees do this?

I think most companies neglect the development of intellectual capital among their employees.

Google may come closest. By requiring all employees to spend 20% of their time on a pet project (while Larry and Sergey keep a list of the top 100 most promising projects in the company) I think Google will unlock the creativity and promote the ongoing learning (we learn more when we’re applying what we learn, rather than just talking about it) of thousands of bright employees. This culture of learning and experimenting at Google will go far towards making the company one of the most valuable companies in the world.

In addition to a reading list of core books and documents, each position in a company should have its own set of keywords for Google News Alerts as well, so that key employees can stay up with the latest news on competitors, new technologies, marketing trends, etc.

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