Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Those are the THE FOUR examined by author Scott Galloway in his first book, out early October. Having listened to an advance review copy, I was astonished by some of the material not covered in earlier tech and marketing related books such as Future Shock, Rise of the Robots, Wonderland, and Brandwashed. Galloway is a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and has served on the boards of Eddie Bauer, The New York Times Company, Gateway Computer, and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where he teaches Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing. He is the founder of several firms including L2, Red Envelope, and Prophet. The takeaway quote from his new book: “It has never been easier to become a billionaire, and never harder to become a millionaire.” What he means is that domination in markets has become an endgame in which only those few giant corporations that utilize data mining and artificial intelligence can gobble market share, and end up controlling not only how people make their purchases, but what they are exposed to, and how they perceive the world (think.) This goes beyond what Wal Mart has done, in going to rural America with big box stores and putting mom and pop shops out of business by undercutting their prices. This is spying and influencing on a subliminal level, and then utilizing influencers in sports and entertainment and politics. Product placement is old news, as in the movie Mission to Mars when a Coke saves the crew by finding a leak in the hull. Today it is all about controlling the entire experience of living, making you rely on the brand to service your every need. Facebook can hear every sound in your room when you’re on their site. They may know more about you than you do. They cooperate with the FBI, and while this sounds like a good thing, they also sell your data to third parties, who may then be hacked. Amazon began with books, and now sells electronics, food delivery, and soon cars. Jeff Bezos, he says, will be the first Trillionaire, and his vision of the future is robots replacing humans everywhere. (This was also my plot in The World’s First Trillionaire, a scifi satire at Amazon.) Better get that robotics degree or high tech trade license! Standing in line at AGT is a futile gambit in a winner-take-all culture in which the judges make more per show than the ultimate “winner” gets. Apple has a billion credit cards in their system, and are paranoid about security and secrecy. At their product launches the stunning images are offset by a CEO and tech guy who come out dressed in jeans and untucked shirts like rappers, the message being “we’re just like you. We’re cool.” Then they get into their new red Ferraris. Google can punish companies by demoting them in their search results. “Page two is like being dropped off the Earth,” says Galloway. Shareholder value can plummet overnight. Cooperate or else. “In the future,” the author says, “one percent will be lords, and the ninety-nine percent will be serfs.” In many ways, we are there already. A must read for anyone wanting to survive in an age when fitness must be mental, and willingness to change, emotional maturity, empathy, and knowledge are the four keys to success.
A twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed—many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations, and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection. Together with the Osage, they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating. Read on audio by actors Will Patton, Ann Marie Lee, and Danny Campbell.
Fear and horror makes headlines. From Kim Jong-un to the IT movie. So what about it? World leaders and the news hunt for viral videos with extreme events, extreme weather, and Stranger Things which may generate the most clicks, (so that they can get votes or sell soda and junk food, along with prescription drugs.) We have a rubberneck culture looking for escape. But what are the real dangers? Driving while drunk, sitting too long in a chair watching TV while ignoring health, not reading enough to get the full picture. (Twitter is dumbed down reading into polarized belief reinforcement.) The answer is audiobooks, listened to on the road or while exercising, and without eyestrain. Here are a couple new entries… —In the new audiobook FantasticLand a hurricane has ravaged Florida, and a group of teens fight for survival at a theme park cut off from civilization. Meanwhile, in The End of the World Running Club, Edgar Hill is thirty-five and caught in his own headlock. Overweight slob, under-performing husband, and reluctant father-—for Ed, the world may as well have already ended. So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief. But nothing’s ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force. Suddenly he finds himself facing a grueling journey on foot across a devastated United Kingdom. Edgar must race against time and overcome his own shortcomings, not to mention hundred-mile canyons and a heavily flooded west coast, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever. This is a vivid, gripping story of hope, long-distance running, and how we break the limits of our own endurance. Tired of playing the watcher or victim? New non-fiction includes The Last Arrow. (Shades of The Hunger Games?) When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.” What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets. On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did. The Last Arrow is your roadmap to a life that defies odds and alters destinies. Discover the attributes of those who break the gravitational pull of mediocrity as cultural pioneer and thought leader Erwin McManus examines the characteristics of individuals who risked everything for a life they could only imagine. Imagine living the life you were convinced was only a dream. We all begin this life with a quiver full of arrows. Now the choice is yours. Will you cling to your arrows or risk them all, opting to live until you have nothing left to give? Time is short. The Last Arrow is about the quest for life.
What makes for a good summer read? Regardless of whether you enjoy suspense, mystery, romance, biography, or non-fiction, one great option is to try an audiobook version of the book. No eye strain at the beach, or you can watch the scenery go by as you travel instead of having your nose in a print book.
Or you may prefer a print book nonetheless. Or an ebook reader. Your best choice should depend on where you are, and how much time you have. No matter what, smart people make time for books.
Here is the audiobook blurb from The End of Advertising: The ad apocalypse is upon us. Today millions are downloading ad-blocking software, and still more are paying subscription premiums to avoid ads. This $600 billion industry is now careening toward outright extinction, after having taken for granted a captive audience for too long, a choice that has led to lazy, overabundant, and frankly annoying ads. Make no mistake, Madison Avenue: Traditional advertising as we know it is over. In this short, controversial manifesto, Andrew Essex offers both a wake-up call and a road map to the future. Essex helped run what was generally considered to be the hottest shop in the industry, Droga5. He is therefore uniquely qualified to report on the industry’s demise—and what it must do to reinvent itself. He gives a brief and pungent history of the rise and fall of Adland—a story populated by snake-oil salesmen, slicksters, and search-engine optimizers. But his book is no eulogy. Instead, Essex boldly challenges global marketers to innovate their way into a better ad-free future. Rather than clutter our world, ambitious marketing campaigns could provide utility, services, gifts, investment, and even patronage of the arts and blockbuster entertainment. Ads could become so enticing that people would pay—yes, pay—to see them. With trenchant wit and razor-sharp insights, Essex presents an essential new vision of where the smart businesses could be headed, to the cheers of brands and consumers alike. Interesting, huh?