Even while I was still digging out from the avalanche that hit me this summer, I took a creative break a couple of evenings and read “Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment.” David Bodanis thoroughly researched the period and writes a story (not fiction) of perhaps the greatest mathematician of the 18th Century and her love affair with one of the greatest writers. The picture of the French aristocracy of the time also give an idea about the pent up fury unleashed by the French Revolution.

My management reading was Bill Hybels’ “ax-i-om” — or “Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs.” This is a book that can be read in chucks and pondered. There are many thoughts and practices that, if digested and practiced, will enable you to become a better leader. We all need that–personally and professionally.

For you social marketeers out there, I also read “Trust Agents” by Brogan and Smith and “Six Pixels of Separation” by Joel. These are both billed as “new media” or “social media” how to books. I found them mostly very light reading and neither told me much that was new. But then, I practice and read this stuff daily–and have for six years. If you are a marketing consultant with a client who doesn’t get it (or the other way around), or if you just heard all about blogs, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the rest and want to learn more–then these books will work for you.

There are two types of selling as far as I’ve seen. There are those who, kind of like terriers, can’t let go until they get a sale–any sale. Then there are those who approach clients and potential clients as trusted consultants. Both can get results. During my brief time in sales, I tried the second approach–mostly because that fits my personality. I wanted to be the person engineers called when they had a problem. If I could solve it and sell something, then that was great. But if I could figure out a solution and didn’t have a product that would do the job, I’d refer them to the competition. I wouldn’t make that sale, but I’d be the first one they called the next time. Well, that’s a “trust agent.” You can read Brogan and Smith’s book for new media ideas–or you can read it to learn about a better way to market and sell. That is by becoming a “trust agent.” When you blog, tweet, post on Facebook or whatever be authentic, transparent and considerate of others. It’s a shame that people still have to write books to tell people about this, but so be it.

Six Pixels takes the old theme of six degrees of separation (we are all connected to everyone else by no more than six linked contacts) and explodes it in the face of the connectedness of the Internet. We are all just a link and click away from everyone else. If you are not connected and if you’d like to market and sell stuff, then you’d better get connected. If you don’t know how, then Joel will tell you.

Required prerequisite reading: “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and “Naked Conversations.”

And you can catch me discussing these things at the ISA Sales & Marketing Symposium in Boston Thursday and Friday.

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