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The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable Hardcover – October 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Godin derived the title for this engaging anthology of business homiletics from his marketing manifesto Purple Cow, which extolled the importance of garish new products that grab customers' attention. Phrased as a feel-good kindergarten platitude ("you are not ordinary/In fact, you're remarkable"), the principle seems a harmless nod to fancy-free individualism. But set in an adult business context of constant "change" and cutthroat price competition, where "winning the game has absolutely nothing to do with hard work and paying your dues" and "a constant stream of industry-busting insights and remarkable innovations" is the only guarantee of survival, the exhortation to uniqueness becomes terrifying and demoralizing. Fortunately, the cacophony of unsigned contributions from a "Group of 33" writers (Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Peters are in there somewhere) includes more reassuring and realistic lessons. There's a lot of New Economy histrionics ("They say, 'sure, we need change'"/ "I say, 'we need revolution now'"), but also comparatively restrained parables about marketing and customer service. Some writers note that competent imitation of proven ideas is often a better strategy than innovation, that self-effacing Bill Murray did better than self-aggrandizing Chevy Chase, and that, yup, hard work and paying your dues does pay off. The selections are for the most part brief and pithy, and while they don't add up to a coherent viewpoint, browsers are bound to find something that hits a chord.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

The Group of 33 is an all-star team of business writers and doers: Julie Anixter, April Armstrong, Dave Balter, Marc Benioff, Kevin Carroll, Carol Cone, Mark Cuban, Dean Debiase, Lisa Gansky, Malcolm Gladwell, William Godin, Lynn Gordon, Jay Gouliard, Amit Gupta, Marcia Hart, Jackie Huba, Guy Kawasaki, Tom Kelley, Polly LaBarre, Tim Manners, Red Maxwell, Chris Meyer, Jacqueline Novogratz, Tom Peters, Promise Phelon, Dan Pink, Randall Rothenberg, Heath Row, Donna Sturgess, Robyn Waters, Alan Webber, Robin Williams, and Seth Godin.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; First Edition edition (October 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Meryl K. Evans on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Seth Godin, editor of the book, has collected 33 inspiring ideas and they become _The Big Moo_. The Group of 33, as the book references these successful business people, includes Mark Cuban, Dave Balter, Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters, and Guy Kawasaki. The aim of the stories or ideas is to show what it takes to become remarkable.

The book's title comes from Godin's previous best seller, _Purple Cow_ which shows how to stand out in a world of brown cows. According to the book's synopsis, "... sometimes you need something even bigger than a purple cow. You need a big moo — an insight so astounding that people can't help but remark on it."

While _Purple Cow_ focuses on standing out, it lacks the second and very important step — getting others to talk about your business. Standing out alone doesn't lead to business. How do people find out about you? That's what _The Big Moo_ is about — sharing ideas and real-life examples of how to get people talking.

"Some Things Just Don't Translate" points that the way we see our products may not be the way customers see them. Sounds obvious, but it isn't. An Italian in the house ware business opened a store in the U.S. His foot traffic wasn't match by sales. He observed his customers and remained baffled as to why they were looking and taking an interest, but not buying.

He asked a customer how she liked the store and merchandise. It turned out that what Americans considered vases, Italians saw as glasses — and vice versa. The owner, of course, was selling glasses of six in a case and vases as singles. Americans didn't want to buy six vases — they could've bought six glasses with ease, though. This type of valuable advice appears throughout the book.
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87 of 104 people found the following review helpful By David M. Giltinan on January 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I don't know what came over me in the bookstore. Mysteriously, when I got home, this book was at the bottom of the bag. It's an embarrassment.

I would have thought it impossible to come up with something more stupid, more openly contemptuous of the very managers purportedly being 'helped', than the horrendous "Who Moved My Cheese?" of a few years back. You remember, the one which portrayed employees as mildly retarded rodents. But one shouldn't underestimate the intellectual arrogance of the consultant class, nor the gullibility of corporate management.

This book is infinitely worse. It turns out that there is no apparent limit to the degree of atrocity of the rubbish that can be generated (and printed) in an "unprecedented collaboration of the world's smartest business thinkers". Despite the separation of material in this book into separate chapters, there is no individual attribution of responsibility for the individual chapters. This is not a good sign.

Seth Godin, the nominal 'editor', obviously sees no problem in publishing a book which, for any concrete piece of strategic advice that is included, hedges its bets by also advising the diametrically opposing strategy. Thus, to succeed companies should:

1a. Stick with what they know and do it well. (Focusing on your specialty is key).
1b. Not get stuck in the rut of what they know, they should branch out. (Focusing on your specialty is fatal)
2a. (page 23) "ignore your customers" (the customer is ignorant and wrong).
2b. (page 64) the customer is always right.
3a. (page 31) "Every organization that gets into trouble falters because it waited too long to change...". (urgency is crucial)
3b. (page 136) "Remarkable doesn't always mean right now" (urgency is detrimental).
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Q: What's this book all about?

Godin: This is a book about how and why to grow. It's not a book of facts or logical reasoning. Instead of lecturing you about how important and wonderful it is to do scary, brave, and remarkable things, [this book] paints a very different picture for you. My colleagues and I are intent on slipping some subversive ideas into your subconscious...ideas that will help you dream bigger dreams (though they might cost you some sleep as well). We believe one way to get past [what we call] the growth paradox is to avoid addressing it head-on. Instead of warning you about the dangers of stagnation, or promising you benefits of growth, we've decided to tell you some exemplary stories instead. Stories that are easy to read, memorable, and, most important, useful parables for putting growth to work in your own organization.

Q: What's the "growth paradox"?

Godin: Most organizations are paralyzed, stuck in a rut, staring at the growth paradox. On one hand, they understand all the good things that will come with growth. On the other, they're afraid, petrified that growth means change, change means risk, and risk could mean death. Nobody wants to screw up and ruin a good thing, so the organization just sits there, motionless.

Q: Individual contributions by your 33 colleagues aren't credited. Pretty unusual, perhaps even remarkable. You identify them. Why not credit them?

Godin: We did it because it makes it easier to read the book as a whole, to avoid being interrupted by the noise your brain makes as it shifts gears from one voice to another. That and it lets you guess who wrote what.
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