Every so often, people will ask me if I’m willing to write a review of their work, book or project.  I’m always flattered to be asked, and I take this responsibility seriously.  After all, I’ve got all of my readers to think of, and want to make sure I’m not recommending stuff “just because”, and it obligates me to investigate something or read a book thoroughly so I can give it a meaningful review.  Plus, having written a book myself, I’d rather get reviews that are in depth than a simple “thumbs up”, because it lets me know, as an author, what worked for the audience and what didn’t.

When the publisher approached me to take a look at Michael Dalton Johnson’s new book, The Rules of the Hunt: Real-world advice for Entrepreneurial and Business Success, I thought it sounded interesting.  When I visited his blog, Salesdog.com, I was worried that the book would be “Rah Rah” sales pitch stuff, and something I would not be particularly excited about reading.  The book came in the mail, and sat on my desk for a week or two, as I contemplated finding the time to open it and take a peek within despite my presumptions that it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.

It’s such a well worn cliche- you can’t judge a book by its cover.  In this case, it’s true.  While I expected all sorts of simple sales advice, instead, Rules of The Hunt is more like the I Ching.  For one, the book is set up into little vignettes of advice and story telling collected roughly into chapters- yet each short piece is compelling and meaningful on its own.  Each piece of advice can be unpacked for deeper meaning, beyond just sales.

For example, I regularly surprise audiences of non-profits and educators by trying to explain to them what they can learn from sales and marketing.  All the time I spent in law school, learning how to construct a case and use facts and the law to my client’s advantage- that’s exactly what sales and marketers try to do when selling a product.  Likewise, if you’re an educator, you’ve got to be able to “sell” the purpose of your math, science or history class to the students, and get them to “buy in” that all the time and effort they spend in their class is worth the investment.  If you’re a non-profit, you have to figure out how to make your mission attractive enough that donors and volunteers are willing to help you and believe in your mission as much (or more) than you do.  Whether we realize it or not, even trying to get a kid to eat his vegetables involves sales and marketing, and we’re foolish if we don’t look to that field for advice on how to do it better.

The Rules of The Hunt is almost like a collection of business proverbs with examples attached.  There’s creativity, ideas, and out of the box approaches galore.  It’s the kind of book I love, because you can open it to almost any page and find something useful, unlike some books that seem to run out of ideas in the first few chapters and the rest seems like filler or justification for the book deal.  As a test, I’m going to randomly flip through a few pages here and give you a sampling:

  • Red Hot is Risky – (By the time you get into a hot market, it’s starting to fade)
  • Get Two Mentors- inside and out.
  • Service Justifies Price
  • Dropping Out is good for business (Unplug, why don’t ya?)
  • Don’t call without a reason.

These are just a few, but each and every page has at least one or two great nuggets of advice you can use right now.  It may be stuff you already know and think about regularly, but even those things can be reinforced.  The stories are short, to the point and entertaining.  This is a book you could keep on your desk or in that “reading room” at home, for just a few minutes worth of advice just when you need it, whether you decide to read it cover to cover or a page here and there.

I was taken by surprise at how much I’ve enjoyed Rules of the Hunt, and how it’s going to be on my recommended reads list for the classes I teach.  This is the Sales book for folks who insist they hate selling.  It is really about getting to the heart of the matter, identifying your goals, and getting the good advice you need to map out your plan to the finish line.  Even for the earnest, die-hard academics and other purists who insist that nothing they do is about sales, this book is helpful if they take it, instead, as a book about how to make your audience care, win an argument, or simply convince someone else that you have a good and workable idea.  And in the end, that’s what we all have to do every day, whether it’s business, family or personal- we have to make our case and find a path towards our goals, big and small.

Thanks to McGraw Hill and especially Michael Dalton Johnson for a really delightful book- it took me by surprise and I’m sold.