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Customer Review

on October 25, 2012
I have to be honest: I wasn't a big fan of Trust Agents, the first book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. It was just a bit too nebulous and didn't contain enough actionable information for my tastes. So when I received a pre-release copy of The Impact Equation in the mail a month ago, I approached it with a bit of trepidation. I shouldn't have been worried.

The Impact Equation does a marvelous job of explaining how to build or expand your personal brand online. Refreshingly, it maintains a very strong human focus, rather than focusing upon specific tools and "nuts and bolts." Building influence and impact is an inexact science. There's no "do these 10 things and you'll be unstoppable" formula you can follow. Brogan and Smith acknowledge this, and focus instead on presenting a cohesive set of strategies and principles - a platform - that has proven to be successful.

As an experienced blogger and publisher of several websites for a decade now, I was pleasantly surprised to discover many fresh insights and ideas throughout The Impact Equation. Its conversational tone and numerous examples kept me engaged and turning the pages; I found myself devouring it with a highlighter and a pen, underscoring key concepts and jotting notes in the margin on how I plan to put them to work - always a great sign of a valuable business book!

Because I write extensively on creative thinking, brainstorming and visual mapping and love sharing awesome ideas, one of my favorite parts of the book was the authors' discussion of ideas. But not how to brainstorm ideas - that topic has been covered ad nauseum in numerous books and blogs. Rather, they concentrate on how to make your ideas stronger and more persuasive, a topic that has actually gotten surprisingly little coverage in other media.

Brogan and Smith emphasize that it's not enough to come up with great ideas; they need to be relentlessly refined and shaped to ensure that they have a deeper impact upon our target audiences. They need to stand out against an increasing volume of background noise; they need to connect to other knowledge and concepts that your audience already understands. Metaphor is one way to do this. There's actually something Darwinian about successful ideas - they not only fit tightly with their customers' needs but also are designed to be eminently sharable and spread easily in social channels.

"The best ideators aren't just creative; in fact, creativity is but a single aspect idea creation. The rest is a matter of fitting the idea into its environment in an effective way - finding ways for it to spread naturally and quickly and to live beyond its initial contact with its host."

Successful ideas have designs "that help them replicate effectively and take hold in the mind." And they emphasize that "an idea's reach is a consequence of its fit within the ecosystem of its time."

Clearly, I need to spend less time generating new ideas and giving more thought to how to shape, refine and improve the ones I've already created to ensure that they have a greater impact on the people whom I'm trying to influence.

The authors also talk extensively about sharing others' great ideas, rather than just promoting your own - a great way to grow one's influence. It's a "give before you get" philosophy that can't be emphasized enough. It's definitely time consuming but is well worth the investment. It's actually the only sustainable way to grow one's influence online. I've tried to practice this, but Brogan and Smith have challenged me to do even more in this important area.

The Impact Equation is a great read, filled with tons of valuable advice that can help you to expand your influence and impact, both on- and offline. I highly recommend it!
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