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Shift: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career, and Your Personal Brand by [Arnell, Peter]
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Shift: How to Reinvent Your Business, Your Career, and Your Personal Brand Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Matt Tyrnauer Reviews Shift

Matt Tyrnauer is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and a filmmaker. His documentary feature film, Valentino: The Last Emperor, was short-listed for an Academy Award for best documentary feature.

Advertising guru, branding god, industrial design maven, and man about New York Peter Arnell has written an astonishing, emotional, revealing, and very honest memoir in the form of a self-help book. Shift reveals how Arnell rose up from a bright and industrious kid in the last years of the old, innocent Brooklyn to make his mark in the rough world of Manhattan advertising, marketing, and publishing. When we meet Arnell in this vibrant and disarming book, the author has undergone a life transformation: the shedding of more than 250 pounds. Once a famous, kinetic Big Guy who wore un-tucked tent-like white shirts in his high-stakes account pitches in the world's fancier boardrooms, Arnell tells us how he remade himself after one visit to a diet doctor following some simple math about life expectancy for 407-pound short guys. Shift is, in part, the story of Arnell, master brander, rebranding himself, and, along the way, learning and relearning lessons about his present and past. The author is an intuitive edge player, who always dives in head-first to whatever he is doing, and what he is doing is beguiling: Inventing electric cars; re-inventing the fire extinguisher; helping Frank Gehry sell himself to a reluctant world; aiding Samsung in a bid to overtake the American market. It is fascinating to learn about Arnell's motives for his own rebranding (the weight loss, a totally new bespoke Italian wardrobe, and a reframed view of himself and his ability to contribute to the culture), and to go with him back over his own life and career and learn how his wildly eclectic mind synthesized tropes to create some of the most successful and artful corporate identity programs in history. Pepsi, Donna Karan, Home Depot, and McDonald's all benefited from Arnell's vision. Arnell brings us on a very personal voyage, introducing the reader to the countries he loves (Italy above all others), and the big players in the city that made him: New York, New York. The heroes of this book are the good friends (most of them highly accomplished people) and geniuses (some historical figures) from whom Arnell drew strength: from Michelangelo to Martha Stewart to the obscure, brilliant shrink, Milton Wexler, who taught to Arnell to "go helium," and rise above the petty problems of everyday life. Arnell shows us in fast-paced and exciting prose how we too can float on a helium jet stream to happiness, success, and fulfillment of our biggest dreams.


“Peter Arnell’s genius is that he creates a total 360-degree world.  Once you enter into this fantastical place with him, you can’t help but emerge changed for the better.”  --Frank Gehry
“He transformed my vision into a brand and our name into an icon. His passion and desire allow him to see endless possibilities and move dreams into reality.” –Donna Karan
“An intriguing look into the mind and creative genius of Peter Arnell...This is an invaluable read for anyone seeking true change in their life and business.” –Gwyneth Paltrow
“If you want to know how to change your life for the better, read Shift.  Peter Arnell is living proof that you can do it too.” –Mark Wahlberg
“Peter has the unique talent of integrating design, branding, marketing, and innovation. I have seen him work magic.” –Robert Nardelli 
“Peter Arnell has defied the odds to lose 256 pounds and keep them off. Anyone trying to make positive changes in their life will benefit from his inspiring focus and discipline.” –Dr. Louis Aronne, Weill/Cornell Medical Center

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 716 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (June 9, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 15, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4EWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,638 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul G. VINE VOICE on June 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was on the fence about ordering this book. I don't think of myself as a "brand", and while I could use some self-improvement I don't think I needed to "rebrand" myself. Still, I thought I'd give it a shot...the author has had some great successes in marketing, something that interests me, and I was curious to see how he tied the self-help and marketing together.

Two days and two hundred pages later...

I enjoyed the book. Arnell certainly has a lot of stories to tell (many surrounding his prodigious weight loss) and he tells them well. I was engaged from the first page - he begins the book by telling us he eats 50 oranges a day. Something like that will certainly get your attention.

Arnell has a formula he sticks to throughout the book and it makes the book easy to read. The chapters are short and he usually tells one or two stories in each chapter, relating them to the point he's trying to make. His writing is energetic - the passion he has for his subject clearly comes through. He's helped companies revitalize brands, he's changed himself, and if you follow what he writes then you'll be able to change yourself. The sky's not the limit, he writes.

It's good, entertaining material (it's fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at marketing, even if it is a light treatment of it) which makes the book a quick read. However, is there any substance to the book?

If the first half of the book is the appetizer, the second half is the meat. That's where Arnell tells you how to shift your life. He continues his engaging formula of short chapters peppered with stories while he reveals the secrets to bringing out the best in yourself.

You know what? There are no secrets.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't expecting a book about weight loss. Since the author is a prominent brand strategist I expect his book would be about that. It's not, much.

The book goes on for nearly 80 pages talking about the author's weight loss and formative experiences before he starts talking about advertising. If you don't care about his personal battle of the bulge, but are interested in gaining marketing insight you might skip to chapter 12 and read from there.

The central idea of the early chapters seems to be that Arnell was morbidly obese and disciplined himself to lose 256 lbs. so as not to put himself in an early grave.

He goes on about it quite a lot, I suppose because it's a real triumphant victory for him personally. But I was, like, "yeah, I get it," after his accomplishment was mentioned 2 or 3 times.

Arnell is a good writer. The early chapters of the book are arranged more like a collection of short essays and I didn't see much structure underneath it.

As an advertising book it has some valuable insights. I liked that about it. I read a lot on advertising, but I don't pay that much attention to the "branding" stuff, because most of what's out there focuses on "branding" for clients with enormous financial resources and a willingness to burn through millions of dollars a year testing branding ideas for, mostly, mass-market products like soda, clothing, soap and so on.

I'm in direct response advertising for small businesses who would usually be ill-advised to invest in the brand advertising Peter
Arnell creates.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author of this book is a celebrity in advertising circles, and I was looking forward to reading this book.

Unfortunately the book left me very underwhelmed.

First, it focuses more on his personal triumph with weight loss (not a mean feat by itself, but there are better books on that subject out there) rather than on his prowess as a marketing/branding genius. For instance, the discussion on branding/positioning triumphs are too cursory to make it into any text on marketing.

Second, the personal reinvention advice provided is too vague to be of much use. It feels like a motivational book that has a few pages missing in each chapter. Do note that I didn't disagree with the concepts - but that was the problem - there was nothing to get excited about, one way or the other. For example, the whole "Go Helium" idea is nothing but recycled 'aim for the sky' advice.

Third, the author indulges in serious name dropping - which begins to grate after some time. Anecdotes with these "big-names" mostly tend to focus on how much of a visionary and high-achiever the author is, rather than providing any specific insights to the topic at hand. For instance, comments from Eunice Shriver and Bill Clinton laud the author's ability to think big and achieve the impossible.

In conclusion, the biggest disappointment to me was not what the book was, but what it wasn't. The author is one of the most colorful characters in the advertising business - an eccentric genius according to some and a fraud according to others (see the Newsweek article by Daniel Lyons for a quick snapshot).

Instead of providing a cool view into the mind of a visionary, this book ends up being little more than a 30-second commercial spot.

Happy Reading!
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