Studio Neat — It Will Be Exhilarating

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about Kickstarter.  I was doing my best to explain how process works and giving her examples of successful projects that I have funded in the past. One of those examples was Studio Neat with the Glif.  This morning I opened up my reader and see that Shawn Blanc wrote a piece about a new book from the founders Tom and Dan about their expereinces over the past two years. From Shawns site to Studio Neat to check out.  Looking forward to reading "It will be exhilarating" ebook today!

 It Will Be Exhilarating

It Will Be Exhilarating

What We Believe In

Author Patrick Rhone released another book last week called Minimal Mac: What We Believe In. The entire book is made up from posts from his website that have been carefully cultivatated and curated down to the essays in the book. Everything in the book is on his web site. For free.

I have been following Partick’s site since late 2010. I have read everyone of these posts on the site as he wrote them. As patron of the site I received a copy of the book. And to make things even crazier I bought a few copies as well for friends.

This is a book worth purchasing for the flow of the essays. Do yourself a favor even if you have read all the posts - buy the book here (currently not on Amazon or iBookstore but you get both versions for your devices). It’s a very good use of $5.00. I think you will really enjoy it.

Carmine Gallo's "The Apple Experience" matches reality

This is a funny post because it combines a book review as well as my shopping expereince.  Last week I finished reading Carmine Gallo’s new book The Apple Experience. The book deals with the a lot of the “hidden” or little things that makes up Apples Retail customer service. Key elements revolve around listening to the customer and building a relationship. Not every customer will buy something in that trip but they may in the future. That initial visit to the store could be very important.

Today I went to the Apple store to drool over the Retina MacBook Pro as well as the revamped 11“ MacBook Air. I was planning on making my decision but I needed to see the Retina for myself.  A woman walked into the store at the same time I did. She was in her early to late 50’s early 60’s. We were both greeted and specialists were assigned to both of us. While we waited we went to the same table to begin looking at the new 15” Retina MacBook Pro. She was in the store first so the employee went up to her and asked her how he could help her today. This is an almost verbatim dialog that occurred:

Apple Emp: My name is Fred. How can I help you today?
Woman: Hi I am Carol.  I need a new computer, for home. I work at a University and the guys there told me I should get a mac and gave me these specifications.
Apple Emp: Carol may I look at what they recommended?
Woman: Here you go. (She passes the paper to the employee)(I see this and it is the MAXED out 15" Retina)
Apple Emp: (Laughs) Well they have great taste ! Is this for them or you?
Woman: It is for me and they told me I should get as much as I can.
Apple Emp: I understand. May I ask what you do with your computer? What programs you use most, how you use your computer, do you travel with it?
Woman: Well I use email and the internet to get recipes, I print things and occasionally I get a picture of my grandkids that I would like to save. We do go back and forth to Florida and trips to see our grand kids. Will this computer do that for me?
Apple Emp: Why yes it will.

And with that he could have stopped there and handed her the new machine. But he knew it was overkill. This is a classic example of using a bazooka to kill a mosquito. He helped to educate the consumer on what she was buying. This sale would have been upwards of $3799. I am sure if he was commissioned from a big box store the sale would have ended.  But Apple retail employees are not and the goal is deliver a happy customer.

Apple Emp: Carol if I heard you correctly you do email, photos and 3 or 4 things a lot with your computer. This computer will do all of those things and more. It is an excellent machine and geared toward high end professionals. Would you be interested in looking at some other models that are less expensive and would also fulfill your computing needs?  
Woman: Sure

With that he took her to see both the 13, and 15 MacBook Pros and then to the table to show the MacBook Airs for her. I was glad the store was busy and my specialist was delayed a few minutes because it allowed me to watch the ongoing interaction.

Fred explained the difference of the lines and the models. Pro first and then the Airs. When she saw the 11" Air her face lit up and smiled as if she has see a new dawn.

Woman: I wish this computer would do what I need - it looks amazing. So small and beautiful.
Apple Emp: This will ! and more. This is a very powerful machine that will fit your needs now and still allow you to grow should your computing needs change. Do you like to rent movies?
Woman: Yes we do from Netflix online and the iTunes store. Can I watch a movie on this?
Apple Emp: Yes

She then went into a litany of little questions. Can it… Yes Can it… Yes Can it… Yes

Her face changed a little. She then became a little wary. Thinking how can she afford this tiny powerhouse that can do all these things AND print recipes. (one of the goals)

Woman: How much is this one?
Apple Emp: This model is $999 and the one with double the space is $1099.
Woman: Really?
Apple Emp: We have both models here when and if you decide this is right for you. Woman: I will take the $1099 model.
Apple Emp: I think this is a wonderful choice for you and you will save more than $2400.
Woman: Hmmmmm
Apple Emp: Is there a problem that I did not address?
Woman: Can you help me prevent my husband from using it? Or should I just get him one as well.
Apple Emp: I am sorry I don’t have a device that will prevent his use. But you should bring him in if he likes yours and I can show him some options.

Again a commissioned sales representative might have got her the second computer to line their pocket with money.  But instead Fred invited her to come back with her husband and make a decision then.  Watching this type of customer service mirrors exactly what Carmie talks about in his book. Needless to say my time at the store was equally pleasant and productinve. I walked out of their with an 11" MacBook Air loaded up.

These ideas are not really earth shattering, to me it is common sense.  This type of service is what other companies should strive for as well. It just makes sense. If you have any interest in learning how to deliver an exceptional customer expereince you should read this book !

Insanely great read

I just finished reading Ken Segall’s “Insanely Simple” book that came out about two weeks ago. I have to say this has been one of my favorite books in a long time. Ken worked for Chiat Day who was part of the team responsible for some of Apple’s best advertising.

For anyone who thinks this book is just another book about Apple - you are couldn’t be more incorrect. This is a book about marketing and design, and how Apple uses it to make a better expereince. There are some great personal stories of Ken’s interactions with Steve included as well that really give you more of an insight into how he thought and his rational behind his decitions.

Ken also provides examples for comparision from Dell and Intel. He was a team member on those accounts as well. Some of the comparisons are brutal. While Apple could make a decision on the spot in a meeting one of the other companies might have to send it to committe and test it and get user feedback before there was any movement forward.

The premise that surrounds the whole books is this :

“People prefer Simplicity”

One of the things that I think confuses people is that because something is simple it should be easier. This is not the case at all. In fact it is usually quite the opposite.

Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there you can move mountains. - Steve Jobs

If you are interested in marketing, Apple, design or simplicity this is a must read book.

 Each chapter breaks down a concept into the smallest form. Think Brutal, Think Small, Think Minimal for example. The last chapter give a great summary of all guiding pricinples throughout the book. I highly recommend this its a fantastic read.

Design is a Job

 

Design is a Job 

I just finished reading Mike Monteiro "Design is a Job" book. This book is the seventh that has been publised by A Book Apart. The tag line of a A Book Apart is "Brief books for people who make websites".  Mike is the cofounder of Mule Design. And a host of the podcast called "Let's Make Mistakes".

The book is certainly geared toward those running design firms.  But I would not say running a design firm it mandatory to read this.  There are many points in here that could be used by a project mananger or a small business owner.  A lot of it is common sense but Mike backs it up with great examples that everyone should be able to relate to regardless of what they do. This certainly should be required reading for anyone in the design field today.  Some real obvious takeaways:
  1. Communication
  2. Contract protection (but not to be used as shield)
  3. Clear project goals

Mike blends the rules  and lessons learned of running a design firm with great humour. His case studies are on point. Considering I don't run a design firm I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it for others.

Bartending: Memoirs of an Apple Genius

 

I had read Stephen's announcement about his first book called ‘Bartending: Memoirs of an Apple Genius' and had made mental a note to myself to read this when it came out. To my knowledge there has not been another book from a retail employee let alone a genius. I was so looking forward to this book that I added a reminder for myself to get the book on the 10th when Stephen originally thought it would be available. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up his site tonight and saw it was already available.

A quick download of the ePub file and I was reading it in iBooks. The book is a collection of customer interactions and Stephens personal thoughts and comments. The stories are short and well written. I imagine that it must have been difficult time narrowing it down to the few that we're selected. The book is a quick read and gave me some insight to the amount of stress the geniuses go through day after day. If you are interested at all in a small piece of the inter working of the support staff and wha they have to go through I recommend you buy this book. I have never really had a bad experience at the Genius bar but the next time I am there asking for help I will be sure to thanks the men an women behind the counter even more.