Data Crush Wins getAbstract International Book Award

image of getabstract company logoWe’re delighted to share great news from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Data Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave is Driving New Business Opportunities by Christopher Surdak was honored with an International Book Award by getAbstract.

Beginning 14 years ago, getAbstract has recognized the best business titles as measured by innovation, style, and applicability—selecting two English-language and two German-language titles. Past winners include Malcolm Gladwell as well as Nobel laureates.

This year’s prizewinning English titles are Data Crush and The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman.

Photo of Nancy Roberson, President and Publisher of AMACOM and Chris Surdak, author of Data CrushWe are very excited that Data Crush—which looks at the vast amount of data generated by mobilization, digital communication, and technological innovation and how machines will outpace human communication and decision-making—has been honored with this prestigious award!

Chris Surdak and our president and publisher, Nancy Roberson, accepted the award at a ceremony at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week.

Congratulations to Chris and the other honorees!


Anticipate Now Available on NetGalley

Jacket image, Anticipate by Rob-Jan de JongWhile business schools and thought leaders in management agree that vision is a key part of leadership, not every leader has the vision to inspire or the skills to communicate that vision. Anticipate: The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead by Rob-Jan de Jong aims to fill that gap in leadership knowledge. Journalists, booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, and media professionals interested in the strategic benefits of looking forward are invited to request Anticipate for review.

You’re not leading your organization anywhere . . .unless you’re leading it into the future.

Business schools, leadership gurus, and strategy guides agree—leaders must have a vision. But the sad truth is that most don’t…or at least not one that compels, inspires, and energizes their people. How can something so essential be practiced so little in real life?

Vision may sound like a rare quality, unattainable by all except a select few—but nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can expand their visionary capacity. You just need to learn how. In Anticipate, strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains that to develop vision you must sharpen two key skills. The first is the ability to see things early—spotting the first hints of change on the horizon. The second is the power to connect the dots—turning those clues into a gripping story about the future of your organization and industry.

Packed with stories and practices, Anticipate provides proven techniques for looking ahead and exploring many plausible futures—including the author’s trademarked FuturePriming process, which helps distinguish signal from noise. You will discover how to:

Tap into your imagination and open yourself to the unconventional • Become better at seeing things early • Frame the big-picture view that provides direction for the future • Communicate your vision in a way that engages others and provokes action • And more

When you anticipate change before your competitors, you create enormous strategic advantage. That’s what visionaries do…and now so can you.


Photo of Rob-Jan de Jong, author of AnticipateRob-Jan de Jong is one of five faculty members in Wharton’s flagship executive program “Global Strategic Leadership.” A sought-after international consultant, he helps leaders and companies anticipate the future and arrive at winning strategies. His clients include Philips, ING, HCL, Dannon, and other top organizations.

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There are a number of different reading options for this e-galley:

Find all of AMACOM’s e-galleys on NetGalley.

You can review how to get AMACOM’s digital galley request approval on NetGalley HERE.

Darlene Christopher on Five Things You Can Do to Become a Better Live Virtual Classroom Facilitator

Photo of Darlene Christopher, author of The Successful Virtual ClassroomThe following is a guest post from Darlene Christopher, author of The Successful Virtual Classroom: How to Design and Facilitate Interactive and Engaging Online Learning.

Distractions in the traditional classroom abound and keeping learners focused and engaged is a challenge. In a live virtual classroom environment (sometimes referred to as a webinar or synchronous learning), distractions multiply at the quantum level. Unseen by instructors and absolved of the cultural imperative to publically “pay attention”, facilitators needs to work even harder to ensure success. Here are five things you can do to become a better live virtual classroom facilitator:

1. Tell a Story with Your Content
Story telling never gets old. In the virtual classroom tell concise stories, directly tied to your content and supported with images on slides that move along every 10-20 seconds or so as you make your point. Garr Reynolds offers great ideas for presenters.

2. Engage, Really Engage, Participants
When participants join your virtual classroom, you are competing for their attention with email, social media and a variety of other distractions. Manage this and take the “attention initiative” by inserting interactivity into your session every 3-5 minutes. Ask participants to respond to a poll, write an answer in the chat box or on the whiteboard.

3. Compensate for the Absence of Body Language
In the virtual classroom, you can’t depend on traditional visual cues for feedback from participants such as the “perplexed” expression or the “I’m lost” expression.” However, you can use virtual engagement tools to make up for the absence of body language. Use instant feedback tools and ask participants to select “agree” or the thumbs up sign if they have completed an exercise. Do check-ins via chat to get input and opinions on pacing and comprehension.

4. Practice Makes Perfect
Rehearse your session with a mock audience to make sure everything goes smoothly before you go “live.” Practice how you will open the session, transition from one topic to the next and handoffs between speakers. Also take the time to rehearse exercises to determine if your instructions are clear and if there is sufficient time to complete an exercise.

Jacket image, The Successful Virtual Classroom by Darlene Christopher5. Don’t Work Alone
As the song goes, one is the loneliest number….Successful live virtual classroom sessions are typically supported by a team. Working with a producer is the best way to sustain a high level of interactivity. While you speak, advance slides and engage the audience verbally, your producer monitors chat, sets up exercises and polls, and troubleshoots technical issues.


Darlene Christopher is a Knowledge & Learning Officer at the World Bank. She oversees the learning program for staff in 20 Asian countries and advises foreign federal government agencies on distance learning programs. She has been designing and delivering synchronous training programs for global audiences for over ten years.



Micah Solomon on How to Test Your Customer Service in 30 Seconds or Less

Photo of Micah Solomon, author of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer ServiceAs part of Customer Service Week, we present a guest post from Micah Solomon, author of High Tech, High Touch Customer Service: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce, sharing tips to help businesses test, and improve their customer service in under a minute.

Here’s a test you can run at your own company to find out if you have an existing customer service culture. It shouldn’t take more than 20 seconds; if it does, that tells you something right there. Try–or if necessary have a friend try–standing around looking like you’re lost in your parking lot, corridor, or lobby. (If you’re primarily an online or phone-based business, the equivalent is calling in or “typing in” in a confused, flustered manner.) Do any employees help you find where you are going? Or do they rush by looking distractedly self-important, not realizing that the confused customer/prospect/human being who needs help is their job, rather than is an interruption of their job?

In a company with a customer service culture, employees will notice the lost, mystified expression on your face. They will know it is their job to help you. Their managers in turn will understand the value of what the employee is doing, and if the employee in question is back a bit late from their lunch break because they stopped to help a customer along the way, the employee will be celebrated rather than hassled for it.

This, better than some academic definition I could give you, is what a true customer service culture looks like.

Customer service culture: Why your company needs one

The way to ensure extraordinary, sustainable customer service is to involve everyone in your organization in a pro-customer corporate culture, a culture that values something beyond the immediate padding and protection of the bottom line.

If an employee can believe in the organization and its customer-centered goal (which must, by the way, include the goal of supporting those who support the customers), that belief will tend to lead to appropriate action. This in turn will inspire the actions of other employees through positive peer pressure, which is one of the most powerful forces there is in an organization.  In such a culture, someone not practicing excellence in their relationship with customers will stick out like a sore loser.

How do you get there? First the goal, then the framework, and only then the ‘best practices’ 

So, how do you get there?  Well, you could jump right into training your people to look for open maps and dazed expressions, in other words, you could zero in on this one necessary behavior at this one point in the customer journey that Micah just told you is telltale.

But I don’t think that’s really the place to start. When people call and tell me “Micah, we need a bunch of ‘best practices’ to import into our company” I try to gently push them toward a different approach.  Because this is a case of the chicken and the egg (or the chicken and the egg cream, if you’re a New Yorker) that I think is easy to solve: You need to start at the beginning, or if that’s already impossible, start with a new beginning.

Start at the beginning–or begin anew

Both ways–starting at the beginning and re-starting to create a new beginning–work as long as you truly start fresh. Let me illustrate both scenarios, with one of my favorite juxtapositions. A begin-truly-at-the-beginning starts with a visionary leader who knows where she wants to go from the start, and builds that into the guts of the company from the start.   The phenomenally culture-rich Ritz-Carlton is an example of this: It was set up from day one with a central founding philosophy — “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” — informing all that it did.

If it’s too late to be born well, don’t fear. Take heart from the example of the Ritz-Carlton’s friendly arch-competitor, Four Seasons, born more haphazardly (as the Four Seasons Motor Hotel, believe it or not, an outgrowth of the founder’s family’s construction business) until some years down the road, founder Isadore Sharp put the brakes on the random way the Four Seasons culture was growing, and set up a new framework, from which all hiring, growth, and other business decisions would now flow: “In all our interactions with our guests, customers, business associates, and colleagues, we seek to deal with others as we would have them deal with us.”

Either way, try not to start with the details, but with the goal, and building a framework, a skeleton, that can support the achievement, over and over, of that goal.  Then get to the details.  How you address the details can, and will, change over time, but only in service of the unchanging goal.

Jacket image, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service by Micah SolomonMicah Solomon has been named by the Financial Post as “a new guru of customer service excellence.” He is a top keynote speaker and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture. A successful entrepreneur, he coauthored the bestselling Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit. His expertise has been featured in FastCompany, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek,, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere.

Random Quotes from New Books This October

Jacket image, Creativity and Problem Solving by Brian TracyThe Brian Tracy Success Library, Creativity & Problem Solving by Brian Tracy

“Lateral thinking forces the mind out of comfortable or conventional ways of thinking. It was pioneered by Edward de Bono in England. One way to illustrate lateral thinking is to remember that when people find themselves in a hole, their natural tendency is to dig the hole deeper. However, the solution may be to go somewhere else and to dig a totally different hole. Lateral thinking is used to break your pattern of habitual thinking, or the tendency to fall into the trap of the comfort zone and continuing to do things the same way you have always done them in the past.” (page 59)

Jacket image, The Little Book of Big PR by Jennefer WitterThe Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed by Jennefer Witter

“Tip#28: The first thing you need to do is decide what your objective is in using social media. Is it to build brand reputation, recruit employees, attract new audiences? Once you decide what your goal is, you need to decide which social media tool to use. There’s an abundance of social media tools out there, and they are constantly changing. Keeping up with them and using them can become a full-time job. But you don’t need to do that. I truly believe you need to pick and choose which social media will provide a return on investment in an effective and efficient manner.” (page 33)

Jacket image, Primal Teams by Jackie BarrettaPrimal Teams: Harnessing the Power of Emotions to Fuel Extraordinary Performance by Jackie Barretta

“Letting yourself feel the emotions of others doesn’t mean letting those emotions overwhelm you. That can cause another set of problems as you get swept off your feet by a flood of someone else’s feelings. Fortunately, you can learn to sense another’s emotions and observe how they affect your body without letting them emotionally hijack you. Gradually, you will be come a more skilled emotional diagnostician. Periodically, pretend you are an objective doctor by placing a stethoscope to your chest and taking your emotional temperature. Try to diagnose any symptoms of unusual sensations. What is causing those bodily reactions? Why has your heart begun beating a little faster?” (page 100)

Jacket image, The Successful Virtual Classroom by Darlene ChristopherThe Successful Virtual Classroom: How to Design and Facilitate Interactive and Engaging Live Online Learning by Darlene Christopher

Depending on which virtual classroom tool you use, the instant feedback feature might be called a “raise hand” feature, “status change” or “emotion indicator.”  This feature allows the participant to communicate with  instructors at any time throughout a virtual classroom session without interrupting the flow of the instruction by selecting from a menu of feedback options. The type of instant feedback that participants are able to select varies, depending on the virtual classroom tool. See Figure2-5 for an example of the types of instant feedback participants can provide.” (page 30)

Jacket image, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership by M.A. Soupios and Panos MourdoukoutasThe Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders by M.A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas

“In short, the role of a good leader is critical under all conditions, and it is for this reason too that failures of leadership will virtually ruin the organization. And of all the many potential shortcomings an assumed leader might bring to an organization, none is more lethal than arbitrary applications of power. Supervisors who constantly micromanage, who second-guess every subordinate decision, who gleefully await any and all opportunities to criticize and bully, are a toxic presence in any environment. Their abuses will predictably waste corporate resources, destroy worker motivation, compromise institutional loyalties, and create debilitating resentments more rapidly than any other managerial failing—prompting the most talented employees to jump ship.” (page 23)

The Truth Doesn't Have to Hurt by Deb Bright Ph.D.The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt:How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change by Deb Bright

“We each have a preference for how people talk to us. Some people want to be spoken to honestly and directly, while others need to have things sugarcoated and delivered more carefully. Delivering criticism can be like approaching a wild animal. And depending on the type of animal you are dealing with, you are going to approach the individual with varying styles. Is your receiver a bear or a bunny? You need to know before you approach the person with any kind of criticism.” (page 71)

Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.