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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2008
Guy Kawasaki illustrates in his foreword to Rohit Bhargava's excellent new book that it's not enough anymore to produce something great, rather, an absolute necessity to create something "insanely great." Otherwise, you are simply pushing your great product out into the market flush with other great products.

So how do we ensure we create something "insanely" great? We cultivate personality.

Luckily, cultivating a personality is - when boiled down to its basic elements, one of the easiest things in the world to do. Unfortunately, the exact same can be said of golf.

The power of Bhargava's book stems from its ability to take high level marketing themes and elements and make them instantly relatable through exercises, case studies, and pop culture analogies ranging from The Simpsons to Fletch Lives - from Die Another Day to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Of course, sharing themes is only one half of the battle - and also almost exactly one half of this book.

It's second half is stunning in that it exists as a virtual how-to guide sharing new, yet proven, marketing techniques that can turn even the stodgiest, faceless corporations into the next corporate darling - seemingly overnight.

Techniques shared include karmic marketing - or doing something good without asking for a reward, antimarketer marketing - or making fun of traditional marketing techniques in general to prove you are above it all, and fallibility marketing - or playing up your own mistakes to build a personality.

In the end, "*Personality Not Included" exists in equal measure as a text book new marketing students will find themselves hiding behind the jackets of stodgy, traditional marketing tomes; and as a vital "how-to guide" for rapid cultivation of something many corporations will be embarrassed to admit they may have never had.

Students and kings of industry alike are encouraged to hold this book close at bay.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2008
Should a business have a "face"? Should an enterprise exhibit human-like traits to set it apart from straight-laced, by the book and bureaucracy-deep "corporations"?

The answer to these two questions is unequivocally "yes", according to this excellent book.

I must confess he had me at hello on this one, because my bias was already pointed firmly in this direction, but nevertheless, Rohit did a great job of drawing me in with his no nonsense writing style, intelligent pacing and organization, and a clear passion for the subject.

Once drawn in, I was impressed by the way Rohit lead me through the process of properly "building" a company personality.

First he outlined all the key elements. I especially liked his "UAT Filter"- the three core qualities of a company personality: Unique, Authentic and Talkable

Spot on. And he presented great examples from several companies for each element.

Then Rohit did something that many book writers do not do - he wrote a "Part 2" that showed us how to actually put those elements into action, and gave us a bunch of tools to use to boot.

I'm all about the human side of a business. Actually showing that side to our customers is surely a good thing - it's the key to delighting them and making sure they stay with us for a long, long time.

Because people just aren't buying a product or service - they are buying "into" a positive experience. Rohit Bhargava, by virtue of his great experience as a marketing consultant, gets this "big time", and better still he's written a definitive book that explains it all in a practical, understandable and actionable way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2008
Rohit's book is a must read for businesses seeking to understand the new landscape of branding. It's equally good at explaining how an individual can benefit from standing out in a crowd, but as the primary reader of this book will be a business, let's stick to that. Simply put, the book delivers.

What Rohit Bhargava shares with us is that companies who dare to expose their human side are the ones who will keep our business. As I write this, the economic downturn is throwing financial ripples in all directions. Good service is one thing, but a human-feeling relationship with your customers is most certainly equally important.

Filled with examples and suggestions on how you can implement similar efforts, the book delivers lots of actionable value. There are worksheets, web-based extras, and lots of easter eggs included in PNI.

I'm a big fan, and recommend this highly to companies looking for advice from an industry leader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2008
Rohit Bhargava is the author of the leading "Influential Marketing Blog" (IMB) and is a founding member of the 360 Digital Influence team at Ogilvy. That means he is no "feather weight" in the world of marketing.

His first book "Personality not included" is a solid attempt to explain to marketers why many of the old corporate habits of dealing with their customers and the general public iare obsolete. Who came up with all the stupid policies anyway? If you are in marketing you might not find that book ground breaking because it just reiterates what you can read in the blogosphere pretty much every day. Rohit is not as radical as Seth Godin would be.

Actually Rohit is a very good showcase for his own book: He has a mind of his own and has no problems sharing his thoughts. At the same time he works for a large organization with over 10,000 employees. He is a watch and learn case for many guys who think that blogging and working a corporate job simply don't go together.

This is a book that everyone in business can read and get something out of. It is not too academic or plastered with acronyms that nobody but 50 people in the world would get.

So if the book is not ground breaking in my eyes, why should you read it?
1. Stories: Rohit has a lot of first hand experience to share and throws in many other stories to add to his theories. That is valuable information for any marketer.

2. This book will make you more conscious about your marketing. Many potential readers might apply some principles of the book in their daily work already (myself being one of them). Rohit makes a good effort of structuring and organizing what many of us "feel" is the right thing to do.

3. It might give you some more ammunition when you are arguing with other in your organization on what is the right thing to do: How open do you want to be to the public? How do you portray yourself? How do you deal with your mishaps? Sucking a little less than your competition would be nice, wouldn't it? :-)

4. Power to the people: The book makes a very strong case that the employees of a company are their strongest asset - if they are empowered and have a face and aren't just XYZ employees. Companies embracing this thought will advance and it will make our (corporate) world a nicer place to live in.

The book has only 6 chapters in part one. Rohit explains that almost all marketing books tend to be most interesting until chapter 6 and then become repetitive or boring. So he stopped right there. But then he continues with a nice hands on part that serves as a good reference point for making changes to your own organization (or the ones of your clients).

So even if you are super-smart and know much more than I do you can read the book, put a check mark on every page and know that the top guys at Ogilvy don't know more than you do. That should be worth the price of the book.

Rohit is a humble man: He only gave himself 4 stars for his own book. Many people will disagree and give him 5 stars and I know he will continue to be in high demand.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2008
Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back
Rohit gets it. I have heard him speak at several forums and I watched as he spread the word about this book implementing and practicing what he preaches. The book itself is a unique product ( cartoons from Hugh Mcleod, tags and place marks that let you go to the relevant worksheet), Its written in a very simple authentic way so you can read it like a book. ( I did on a 4 hour flight). Its talkable having some new things like a "Intermission". If you watch enough Bollywood movies you know you need an intermission.

Every small or large business wil find things in this book that will hit home. If they don't then pat yourself on the back that you are doing the right thing. In case you need to be walked through step by step the book also contains worksheets that you don't have to tell your boss about but they will make you look good.

As for me I bought 3 books for everyone above me in the reporting hierarchy and now I am expecting a promotion. Thank you Rohit for writing a great book. I hope it becomes a NY Times best seller
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2013
Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava has a bit of a misleading title. This is because if there is one thing that this book is filled with, it is personality. A critical analysis of marketing "do's" and "don'ts" in the modern era could have easily been a very dry read, but Bhargava manages to maneuver the classic pitfalls that most books in this genre fall into to create a surprisingly engaging book. Once I began reading, I could not bring myself to stop until I reached the end. Or should I say the middle? I will explain how that could be a little later. I am giving Personality Not Included five out of five stars, and would recommend this book to anyone interested in the field of marketing or who is interested in starting a small business or just about everyone else that I have ever met. This book has me so inspired that I have not been able to stop telling anyone and everyone about it.

Personality Not Included has a very clear message that it immediately identifies at the beginning of the book aimed at anyone interested in marketing, whether it be as part of a large corporation or as the sole owner of a small business. The message is that "In short, personality matters." (Bhargava 3) Bhargava has found that personality is vital to the success of brands in today's modern marketing environment, and the days in which consumers buy into large, faceless corporations are over. He claims that "Uniqueness plus authenticity plus talkability equal personality" (Bargava 186) and that brands that follow this model (known as the UAT filter) will be more effective in reaching consumers. Bhargava theorizes that once a brand has developed a personality, it can effective utilize some of the latest marketing strategies such as embracing "accidental spokespeople", generating word of mouth, and capitalizing on "personality moments".

The chapters of Personality Not Included focus on each of these points individually, providing insight into how each is important to developing a brand's personality. For example, Chapter 2 is all about the rise of the "Accidental Spokesperson" and how they are a crucial factor in how consumers perceive your brand. This format where Bhargava separates each topic into an individual chapter allows for him to examine each topic extensively. You will not only find out what an "accidental spokesperson" is in chapter two, but you will also learn where they come from, what they mean to your business, and how they can be used to your advantage.

Bhargava also uses many relevant examples of companies who have found success in the topics covered in the book. The key word here is relevant; all of the examples that Bhargava uses in Personality Not Included are of companies that many readers have probably heard of and feature events usually from the early 2000s. This makes for a much better reading experience because the reader can relate the story to a company that they most likely have had an interaction with. In Chapter One, Bhargava takes a look at "The Plight of Starbucks" (Bhargava 31) and how it is working to maintain its identity as the company continues to grow. Using a company like Starbucks lends an additional credibility to his claims because the reader is able to apply a face to the corporation.

The most noticeable element of this book that sets it apart from all the rest of the books in this genre is the writing style Bhargava chooses to use. In fact, Personality Not Included is written unlike any other book that I have ever read. Bhargava has written Personality Not Included as if he were having a conversation with the reader, which is equally as captivating as it is refreshing. By providing a human voice to the content, Bhargava is able to pique the reader's interest. For example, a footnote on page 44 reads "From a "Tweet" in Hugh's Twitter microblogging stream on 11/18/07 (Should this be called a "twuote?")." This type of injection of personality into the even the smallest aspects of the book can be found throughout the entirety of Personality Not Included. When a book reads like a conversation, it is easy to give it your undivided attention. Furthermore, the fact that it is written in this way actually lends additional credibility to Bhargava's message of the importance of personality. Whether you notice it or not, Bhargava is using his own personality to market his new ideas to you, the reader.

Although the book is filled with great new ideas on how to build your brand and Bhargava uses his own voice to explain to you why these ideas are so great, the most impressive aspect of Personality Not Included is simply in the organization of the book itself. I said before that the end of the book is technically the middle. That is because Personality Not Included is split into two parts, the first focusing on the theory Bhargava has developed and the second providing guides and tools on how to implement his theory and create a personality for your brand. This is ingenious because it makes Personality Not Included something that no other book in the genre is; it is useful. Most other books develop a theory and then spend far too much time telling you over and over again in many different ways how it is that the theory is correct. This tends to drag on, which turns many people who are normally interested in the topic off to that particular book. With Personality Not Included Bhargava decided not to harp on why he was right, but rather how these ideas could help the reader to succeed. Bhargava states, "The ultimate goal of this book is to be useful... Part Two is meant to off you everything you will need to apply the ideas presented earlier to your business." (Bhargava 185) Numerous step-by-step guides on how to bring each aspect of his theory to life can be found in Part Two of the book. Part Two also features bulleted charts explaining the types of various back-stories, breakdowns of the elements of personality, as well as explainations on how and why these things are important. There is even a link to a downloadable version of the elements of personality available on that same page! Bhargava takes great care to ensure that Personality Not Included is not only well thought out, but also that it could be applied to the reader's real life, accomplishing his ultimate goal of this book being useful.

Personality Not Included should be the new standard for examining marketing in the modern era. Thought provoking, engaging, and useful, this book is a far cry from the typical book establishing a marketing theory. Bhargava's observations are astute, and he provides relevant examples to bolster all of his claims. His voice throughout Personality Not Included is conversational and captures the reader's attention before the reader even knows what hit him. And Bhargava's breakdown of each aspect of his theory into simple, intuitive steps makes it more useful than any other book of its type. The assistance with application that these steps provide will have me referencing Personality Not Included for years to come.

So if you have even the slightest interest in marketing or if you want to learn how to grow a small business, I highly recommend Personality Not Included. It is as entertaining as it is educational, and implementation of its ideas can begin immediately with the guides provided in the book itself. While personality may not be included in business, Bhargava provides you with the vision and the tools to build a personality for your business yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2011
A friend who is a public relations guru recently recommended that I read, "Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get it Back" by Rohit Bhargava (a friend of hers from her days at Ogilvy and Mather). I've read a ton of marketing and business books, so I expected to hear a lot of the same old strategies and hard-to-generalize examples, but I gotta say, I was really impressed here. In the beginning, every marketing book seeks to show why it is different from everything else you've read. This one did that too, but then followed through.

This is just a sampling of some of the ideas from the book, but the way I approach marketing and communications now is definitely different having read it.

The underlying premise of the book, as the title suggests, is that marketing your brand today requires more of a personal touch than it may have in the past. Conversations about your brand are happening online, whether you want them to or not, and if you don't join the conversation, you are setting yourself up for trouble. If someone has a bad experience with your product or company, it is very possible that hundreds or thousands of people will hear about it. Blogs, social media, consumer reviews sites, etc. have become game-changers.

Ok, so people are talking about you online. This isn't news to most companies. So, where does personality fit in? First, a personality is defined in the book as being unique, authentic, and talkable. These are required. Memorize them.

So, if your company participates in a conversation in an online forum, and presents itself with the typical faceless corporate lawyer-talk ("Our warranty states that blah, blah, blah"), how do you think customers will respond? Yeah, poorly. But, if your customer service person is authentic, such as if he has been a long-time contributor on that site, he can say something like:

"Hi, this is Bill from Acme Co. I'm so sorry that the product is having trouble with its flux capacitor. We know it is supposed to activate at 88mph, so our engineers are going to figure out why yours won't enable time travel until you reach 92mph. We're really sorry, and we'll keep you in the loop as soon as we have more information." (sorry for this example, but I love 'Back to the Future')

Bill is respecting the audience by giving them some real information, not hiding behind the corporate mumbo-gumbo. People still may be unhappy about the problem, but at least they know Bill is a specific person at Acme that is looking out for their interests. It's easier to be mad at a faceless company than a real, living breathing person who is trying to help you. Hopefully Bill has always been a nice guy in the forum and has shared helpful product tips before, so they'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The book also talks a lot about "accidental spokespeople", both internal and external, that become brand advocates and evangelists without compensation. If a customer loves your product, whether they're an influential blogger or not, be sure to embrace that opportunity. Find ways to enable him/her to better spread the word. Send product samples. Give "sneak previews" of upcoming product information. For internal spokespeople (employees), be sure to establish guidelines of what is appropriate or not, but seek to find ways to encourage these people's excitement.

Finally, take careful note of your actions during "personality moments", which can be opportunities for you to excel in building relationships with your customers. These may be positive moments to leverage, such as getting some huge story written about you, or negative moments to show how you respond under pressure, such as if you have to do a product recall. Either way, when people's eyes are on you, be sure to show your true colors and don't be fake... people will see through it.

I hope this was a helpful summary for you. It's a book that I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend. The examples were interesting and many were easily relatable to my line of work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2008
Kudos to Rohit Bhargava for writing a handy guide to marketing in what he calls the "social media era."

Gone is the era of one-way communication in which corporations conveyed carefully scripted brand identity to consumers. The advent of internet and the proliferation of social media have facilitated the dialogue among consumers and between consumers and brands. Consumers are now active drivers behind the formulation of brand identity. This paradigm shift from a one-way communication to collective dialogue among brands and consumers is forcing brands to adapt by embracing "personality," the main topic of this book.

From leveraging the power of "accidental spokesperson" to crafting compelling back story, the author explains how brands can become "unique, authentic, and talkable" to thrive in the social media era. The strength of the book lies in the clarity with which the author illuminates the concept and application of "personality" while seamlessly incorporating an abundance of examples. Reading the book felt like listening to Bhargava share what he gleaned from his experience as a consultant over a cup of coffee: the book is easy to read and never repetitive or pedantic.

One of the great points Bhargava makes is that, while many corporations are apprehensive about losing control of their brand amidst the din of social media, it is not about their giving up control to consumers but sharing control: participating in the conversation with the consumers and guiding the collaborative task of shaping the brand.

Part Two of the book introduces guides, tools, and techniques for implementing successful marketing plans. Like Part One, the content is easy to follow. What I personally would have liked is an in-depth look at some of the techniques he cites, as this part of the book may be too brief for those who are seriously thinking about implementing them in real life; perhaps Bhargava could offer bonus chapters/resources on the book's website that are accessible only by those who purchased the book (like Tim Ferriss did with his book, Four Hour Workweek).

Overall a great read: 4.5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2008
I recommend this enlightening book on a number of counts. In an increasingly crowded (and sometimes superfluously smelly) elevator of social media and marketing how-tos, Rohit Bhargava sets himself apart: one of the most noticeable distinctions Personality Not Included has is its non-linear, self-referential structure, which makes it easy (and rewarding) to skip around if you're compelled. I didn't, but the option is there, which can't be said for less adventurous texts.

The book largely deals with personality (of course) and the looming ennui of "faceless" companies that don't connect with their customers, which benefits no one. It sounds obvious, but as staples like The Consumerist hammer home time and time again, even the glaring gets forgotten. I suspect this is due to "idealogical incest", the echo chamber of corporations copying each other on the WRONG things, compounding their screwups by being over-cautious and de-humanizing themselves!

Why did I pick this up?

I read PNI to do some professional development at my job as Resident Enlightenment Manager at Linden Lab, since just about everything I do in Second Life is avatar-centric, and hence, personality-driven.

In solidarity with Seth Godin's teachings, PNI makes a strong case for the benefits of storytelling to compel and intrigue your customers. What I learned within wasn't entirely new, but it did affirm, and reaffirm some independent ideas I had been cooking up for some time -- and now feel more confident about, knowing I'm far from alone here.

I especially found comfort in the overall presentation of PNI: from the colorful cover depicting a unique, rainbow-mohawked rooster who stands out from his peers to the fresh, well-spaced typesetting inside, these details all add to the overall readability and value. These are in themselves aspects of personality which a lot of people experience, yet have a difficult time articulating. Even if you can't put your finger on it, they make a positive difference in aggregate!

Other benefits include valuable numbered lists (e.g., types of company spokespersons) which are punchy, clear, and non-trite (an all-too-easy trap to fall into) and the practical exercises found in Part Two (intriguingly, Part One ends after Chapter 6 since Rohit reasons where this is where the "sweet spot" is). Also see his fresh approach to a non-bibliography, while still backing up his claims. It's rare to see such a self-aware "breaking the 4th wall" perspective in a serious-yet-fun business book, and I must mention the well-designed companion website, which may in itself serve as inspiration for future campaigns you'll do.

It's also nice to see Rohit practices what he preaches: I emailed him with kudos and a correction (he misspelled "Jaron Lanier" as "Jared Lanion"... what a spoonerism!), and he warmly contacted me back, encouraging me to review and spread the word -- here I am!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2008
"The moment that organisations lose their personality is when their employees become "people" rather than individuals...".

As many of my readers and friends know. I'm very much in touch with the "human side of business", especially forming a connection with people. Revealing, the honest, sincere and human side of your business to your customers has repeatedly proved to be a good thing. It's the key to delighting them and making sure they stay with us for a very long time.

Rohit Bhargava as an author is right up there with the likes of Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Why? Because he tells it like it is. Jargon is left at the door and the book uses great worldwide examples of excellent personality branding. It's nice to see an American author who shows a refreshing awareness that we all don't live in America!

Wow. I must admit, Rohit actually had me at "hello" with this book. The book brings together, my own personal experiences of business differentiation. Learning, from companies such as Moo and Innocent Drinks (Also mentioned in the book). Rohit did an excellent job of drawing me in with his great writing style and a clear passion for the subject.

Throughout the book he provides many examples of businesses which are successfully using the techniques within the book. The case studies were almost enough to sell me the book alone. However, learning about each technique and then being given an interesting and detailed example of how each idea can be implemented in real life was fantastic. It was was great to see Steve, Hugh and the Blue Monster also getting a mention - Rock On!

Personality Not Included successfully leads the reader through the process of building a company personality. Rohit's approach impressed me in a number of ways. Firstly he outlined all the key elements. I especially liked his "UAT Filter"- the three core qualities of a company personality:

1. Unique
2. Authentic
3. Talkable

Spot on. Secondly, he presented great examples from several companies for each element.

As I finished reading Part 1, Rohit did something that many marketing writers do not usually do. He wrote a "Part 2?. The second part of the book focuses on how to put the discussion in Part 1 into action. To further guide the reader through the process, Rohit provides a number of tools and frameworks to help. The book is broken down into the following chapters:

Part One

Chapter 1 - Faceless used to work because big meant credible. This is no longer true

Chapter 2 - Accidental spokespeople are speaking for your brand - Embrace them

Chapter 3 - Uniqueness plus Authenticity plus Talkability equals personality. Use the UAT Filter

Chapter 4 - Backstories establish a foundation of credibility. You need onq.

Chapter 5 - Fear of change leads to barriers. Finding your authority overcomes them

Chapter 6 - Personality moments are everywhere and unexpected, but you must spot them

Part Two - (Putting Personality into Action)

* New Styles of Marketing (Ten Techniques are Described in Detail)
* Taking Theory Further (Tools and Guides to Accompany Chapters 1 - 6)

The key theme from the first half of the book is that personality matters, because it is the element of your brand that inspires loyalty more than any product feature or element of your service ever can.

Rohit reminds the reader, that consumers aren't just buying a product or service from you. They are buying "into" a whole experience. If they find the experience positive, they are very likely to purchase again, and/or recommend your business to others. As a text book, Personality not Included could also be used to boost your own "Personal Branding".

If you love Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki then you'll love Rohit Bhargava. If you are looking for a refreshing and up-to-the-minute business read, then you could do no better.

To conclude, Bhargava's marketing experiences with the world's leading companies has produced the definitive book that explains "Personality Branding", in a practical, understandable and actionable way. I can't recommend this book highly enough for any entrepreneur, business person, or anyone who wants to better understand how `personality' can impact a business.
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