Social Media is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson (*book review*)

January 11, 2013

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With the advent and ubiquity of social media over the past 10 years, everyone seems to be a social media cheerleader, including myself. That’s when I came across a book with a completely different perspective titled Social Media is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson. The basic premise of the book is that social media, particularly from a business standpoint, has been artificially hyped beyond actual results.

The book is separated into four parts: Social Media is Bullshit; Meet the People Behind the Bullshit; How to Sell Bullshit Without Really Trying; and How to Really Make It on the Web. Mendelson illustrates that alleged social media successes always come on heels of large corporations with big wallets, celebrity-backed promotions, and traditional media.

Mendelson states the following in his book: “Offline matters more than online. This will never change. Your location, your circumstances, your audience, that determines everything. Trying to make a niche platform on the Web is a bad idea. Not many people can do it, and most of those who do are either trying to sell you something, were in the right place at the right time, had the right connections, or get backing from the media in some form.” Mendelson’s biggest criticism is against those high-fee-charging marketing consultants and speakers who push the virtues of using social media, but cannot actually demonstrate success or ROI (return on investment) for small companies or the bootstrapping entrepreneur.

The book is 179 pages of actual content, and I was able to read it in one evening. I thought it would be a useful resource for higher education administrators and students alike, particularly those who are involved in social media marketing efforts on campus. Mendelson’s argument offers a different perspective that is rarely discussed on our campuses. To his credit, his argument holds true within the realm of higher education because hundreds of likes and retweets does not necessarily translate into higher admissions numbers, increased student engagement, and more fundraised dollars. While Social Media is Bullshit needs to be read with a grain of salt, particularly since our target market (i.e., college students) are the largest users of social media, the contents of this book would provide great content for staff development discussions and even department and institution strategic plan sessions.

Not only is the book informative, but it is entertaining as well as Mendelson writes in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. However, he is not afraid to hold punches against those he criticizes and offers many examples and case studies throughout the book. Social Media is Bullshit offers a cautionary tale for those who think that social media is a magic bullet upon which you can obtain immediate fame, money, and success.

The first 25 people who retweet or share this post on Facebook will be entered into a random raffle to win a free copy of Social Media is Bullshit courtesy of B.J. Mendelson and St. Martin’s Press.


The Leader’s Pocket Guide (book review)

December 5, 2012

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The road to leadership begins with self-understanding and so does John Baldoni’s leadership book, The Leader’s Pocket Guide.  “Leadership has often been defined as a journey. The journey begins with a starting point, and that starting point is the self.” He immediately catches the reader’s attention as he describes leadership as a journey of understanding, learning, growth, and humility. The first of three sections (“SELF”) provides the reader with 20 suggestions for improving their self-leadership skills and helps the reader understand how they interact with others as a leader. At the end of the section, there is an assessment that evaluates how well a reader leads and understands who they are as a leader. Baldoni outlines tips for growth and learning as a self-leader.

In the second of three sections (“COLLEAGUES”), Baldoni declares that one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader is leading your peers. He captures the essence behind interacting with peers and improving the relationship with them in the 33 different suggestions. He encourages the reader to understand how they are influencing their peers and gives them knowledge on how to do it in a positive manner.  The book also gives the reader an opportunity to evaluate how they interact with their colleagues and tips for improving those relationships.

In the final section, (“ORGANIZATION”), Baldoni coaches the reader on what it takes to lead an organization. He addresses everything from authentically interacting with your people and instilling a purpose in them to making time for yourself outside of the organization. Like the other sections, he provides the reader an opportunity to evaluate how they lead their team. To lead a team successfully you must execute positive change so that your team is learning and growing together. Baldoni understands what it takes to be a leader and passes on his knowledge so they are developing into positive and productive leaders.

The Leader’s Pocket Guide is an excellent tool and resources for all leaders because it provides well-rounded and diverse suggestions for improving leadership skills that can be applied to any field and any leader. It would be an excellent resource for new supervisors because it would help them evaluate how they lead themselves, interact with their peers, and supervise their workers.  It is a book that can be used over and over again to improve how a leader learns and grows.

The first 25 people to tweet this post on Twitter, like or share on Facebook, or pin on Pinterest will be entered into a raffle to win a copy of  the book. Two books will be raffled.


What Makes Great Leaders Great (book review)

August 12, 2012

Every once in awhile a leadership book is published that is easily read and pertains to both management executives and student leaders alike. What Makes Great Leaders Great: Management Lessons from Icons Who Changed the World by Frank Arnold profiles important leadership lessons from 56 iconic individuals, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Benjamin Franklin.

The book is divided into three sections, including Managing Organizations, Managing Innovation, and Managing People. Each two to four page chapter is dedicated to a different individual and provides a short biography of that person. The leadership lesson is presented along with a final bulleted Action Points and Food for Thought that is intended to provoke discussion related to your own organization. Some of the lessons include: Demand Effective Management (Warren Buffet), Innovate Systematically (Thomas Edison), Embody Integrity (General George Marshall), and Create Trust (Levi Strauss).

What Makes Great Leaders Great is an excellent resource that can be easily incorporated into student leader training or as a text in a leadership development class. The book is versatile in that various chapters can be assigned and discussed without having to read the entire book. Lessons from chapters can be easily incorporated into meeting discussions and for staff development activities.

This book can be purchased via Amazon.com in hardcopy or Kindle versions and makes a perfect gift for a leadership-minded colleague or student mentee.


Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations (book review)

February 17, 2012

Combating apathy can be one of the most challenging aspects of leading or advising a student organization. The book Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations by T. J. Sullivan aims to offer concrete solutions for this often reoccuring problem on our campuses. T.J.’s premise is that there are three different types of student organization members: the Top-Third; the Middle-Third; and the Bottom-Third. The “Top-Third” are your organization superstars that participate in everything and are high achievers. The “Bottom-Third” members, on the other hand, are those individuals who are doing the bare minimum, if that, in terms of organization involvement.

T.J. suggests that student leaders concentrate on developing those “Middle-Third” members who are not the stellar achievers, but who do indeed participate and engage more than the “Bottom-Third” individuals. They may simply be involved in other activities, have other responsibilities, or just simply want to be involved under their own terms. By developing these particular members, the organization can benefit from increased participation and renewed vigor.

The book is 64 pages in length and is easily readable in under an hour’s time. Where many student life leadership instructors miss the mark by offering theory-dense texts that may be largely academic and undigestible for student leaders, Motivating the Middle is a leadership resource that offers concrete solutions for solving organization member apathy. This book is not only appropriate for students, but for student life professionals as well. I highly recommend this book as a text for any type of leadership course your campus offers or as an appropriate resource to include during organization board training.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com by clicking HERE. For bulk purchases of 20 or more books, contact T.J. Sullivan at sullivan@campuspeak.com and mention “StudentLifeGuru” to receive 20% off the list price. The first 50 people to share this post on Twitter by clicking below will be entered into a raffle to win a signed copy of T.J.’s book.


140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (book review)

November 3, 2011

In 2009, one of the founders of Twitter, Dom Sagolla (@Dom), wrote the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. This is a fun little read that not only has a sense of humor, but is also practical for those who are new to or are veterans of the Twitterverse.

The book is broken up in five parts (Lead, Value, Master, Evolve, and Accelerate) and 19 separate chapters. The titles of the chapters serve as snippets of advice themselves and is a nod to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (you may remember this from high school or college composition or English). Here are a few examples:

  • Simplify: Say More with Less
  • Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information
  • Reach: Understand Your Audience
  • Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency
  • Open: Give and You Shall Receive
  • Increase: Do More
  • Fragment: Do It Smaller

As is the case with many of the “self-help” Twitter books that I have read, 140 Characters comes complete with a short history of the founding of Twitter, practical tips, and recommended individuals to follow.

This is a nice resource for both professors and student affairs professionals alike. It is a short read (179 pages) that can be completed in one sitting and applied to various student learning applications, such as networking (career services), composition and writing (English / poetry / creative writing) and communication skills (leadership development / Greek Life / Residence Life / clubs & organizations).

Thanks for reading, and I encourage you to sign up for our blog updates to receive exclusive content and special offers. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE.


Career & Leadership Resource: “Business Fitness” (Book Review)

April 26, 2011

Recently I made the acquaintance of a business blogger on Twitter (@businessfit) who offers remarkable content related to business development, leadership, organizational development, and employee supervision. She shared a book with me that she had published called Business Fitness.

Business Fitness is written by Dawn Lennon, an expert in organizational development and business coaching. Lennon defines being “business fit” by “developing intellectual strength and steady nerves so that you are positioned to handle any circumstances at anytime, anywhere” (p. 7). The book is divided into four parts: Business Fitness, Private Moves, Public Moves, and Lifelong Success. Each chapter comes complete with thought-provoking “do-it-yourself” inventories to complete to help you on the way to better define personal and professional goals related to career moves and entrepreneurship.

Business Fitness is written in a format in the conversational style of a thoughtful coach. It captures the essence of John Maxwell’s leadership and teamwork books. Although the book is is geared toward entrepreneurs, it is also appropriate for goal-minded achievers and leaders of all types. While the book does not illustrate how to incorporate a business or other operational means by which to run a business (i.e., taxes, insurance, etc.), it does coach the reader how to prepare to become a leader within your chosen career. The book is rife with inspirational quotes throughout each chapter and also includes stories of success and shortcomings of individuals to illustrate the ideas taught.

I recommend Business Fitness for all student affairs professionals and student leaders alike. The text would be appropriate to use for staff development activities, supervision meetings, and team conversations.

Lennon, D. G. (2007). Business fitness: The power to succeed – your way. Centennial, CO: Glenbridge.


Guest post for TheSABloggers.org: Content Rules (Social Media Book Review)

January 5, 2011

 I have written a new post for The Student Affairs Collaborative regarding a newly published (2011) book titled Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C. C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). Although the book is primarily written for entrepeneurs, the 282 page book would definitely benefit student affairs professionals and student leaders alike who are looking to develop and market educational and social program initiatives on campus.

Click HERE to read the entire article.


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