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“...to give a bullet-point summation of takeaways is to deny the real value of this lovely book.”--Harvard Business Review
About the Author
Youngme Moon is the Donald K. David Professor at Harvard Business School. One of HBS’s most popular teachers, Dr. Moon has received the Student Association Faculty Award for teaching excellence on multiple occasions. Dr. Moon’s research focuses on innovative consumer-marketing strategies and her work has been published widely, including in Harvard Business Review.
I have an MBA from Harvard Business School, and to be perfectly honest, I think it was one of the biggest wastes of my time and money. I regularly discourage people from going to business school, telling them that they'll make more "connections" in 2 good years of work in a reputable company, and that anything they NEED to know will be a fraction of what is taught, and is available in categorical business books.
There's one exception to my education at HBS - the part I don't think was a waste. It was the Consumer Marketing class I took with Youngme in my second year.
I am not a marketing person. I have tended to work for technology/internet companies and have a technical/math background. First year Marketing at HBS opened my eyes to the fact that marketing was more than just advertising fluff, but it was Youngme (second year) who really taught me things that I regularly use today to both see the world and shape the products I manage.
I remember when she was able to tell us - *4 YEARS BEFORE THE IPHONE CAME OUT* that the ipod was obviously a stealth way for Apple to get back into the smartphone business after their brand disaster with the Newton. That if they came out with anything that seemed like they were entering the smartphone business, there would be too much baggage. I went back and told my friends (outside of school) "The ipod is Apple's entry into the phone business!!!" and they all thought I was nuts. Apple was too pure for that. Well of course, she was right and in hindsight it seems obvious (but go back and ask people in 2003/2004 what they thought and it wasn't so obvious then ...).Read more ›
Youngme Moon is not only one of the most popular professors at Harvard Business School and the recipient of the student association award for teaching excellence, she has insights into business and life that are unlike anything I've ever experienced. She is the author of Different, the new book called that will blow you away.
Differentmay well break into the business vernacular as powerfully as Jim Collins' Good to Great and Built to Last and Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Outliers. Her insights are just as powerful and counter-intuitive and her storytelling and language are breathtaking. What I love about Different is that it's like two books interwoven into one coherent narrative. One is a brisk marketing strategy volume that any CEO and marketing officer should read if they want to understand, perhaps for the first time, why despite their best efforts and 24x7 pace they often feel that are running so hard just to stay in place. The second book, though, is interlaced throughout, and is for me personally, even more impactful. Youngme offers the clearest explanation I've seen of the world we live in and why we often feel numb by all the dazzling technology, abundance, and utter convenience with which we find ourselves. Or why, as parents it's hard to understand how it is that our kids don't appreciate "how lucky they are." Youngme says aptly that Different is "a book for people who don't read business books."
Here are just a few of the gems offered up in Different:
* There will always be a place for brands, or people, or things that are hard to come by. "Restraint," she writes, "can be the new desire." Value is created by being mindful of what we have in abundance and then offering something that is scarce.Read more ›
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The core concept of Different, that unfocused and short-sighted competition breeds sameness that ultimately hurts all parties involved, is so elegantly simple that it's easy to take Youngme Moon's work for granted. Different is very approachable and written in a colloquial manner instead of what might be expected in a traditional business text, and thus appeals to a broad audience. It assumes very little about the reader's business knowledge and instead relies on familiar brands such as Harley Davidson, IKEA, Red Bull, etc. to drive the point. Even if some of the brands are unfamiliar, Youngme is very good at identifying particular traits and extracting a brand's essence. For me, one of the most compelling comparisons was the parallel between companies deadlocked in competition and the autonomous self-organizing and directional behavior of migrating birds.
From the beginning, the author says that Different is the start of a conversation and not a how-to. It is successful from that perspective, but at the same time, since it never really gets in-depth, I found myself unsatisfied and wanting more. Each of the discussed brands justifies its own in-depth analysis, and Different only really scratches the surface. While the Harvard Business School case study numbers are provided for further reading and these reports do go in depth, they are not free.
I decided to buy this book after reading about it and watching the animated trailer. I honestly learned a lot and thought the fresh take on brands I was already familiar with was intriguing. I also appreciated the advice about how to nurture the creative process.Read more ›
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