Read The Top Business Books—Fast—With ReadSmartly



Like many people, I have great intentions to read the best business books. However, my intentions meet with reality, and sadly I find myself staring at a stack of unread books, along with a digital trail of other titles in my Amazon Wish List that I can’t seem to find time for.
So I was excited recently to get an email from Steven Hoffman, cofounder of ReadSmartly. This is a new service that distills the key ideas from 52 of the best-selling business books and sends the information to you weekly. You get a quick, two-page PDF for each book or you can read the summaries online.
ReadSmartly video
Watch this video to see more about how it works.
I admit I was a little skeptical, but Steven agreed to send me a few examples. I was impressed. As an example, I’m currently reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which admittedly is a great book. But it’s taken me about a week to get half way through it, and my head is swimming from all the information. Meanwhile, I got a PDF from ReadSmartly on a similar book, Running Lean by Ash Maurya. In two minutes, I was able to glean roughly the same “big idea” takeaways that I got from Ries’ book, along with a few actionable to-do items. Bam! That is an efficient—and dare I say, a much leaner way—to learn.
There are a bunch of books that have been on my “to read” list for far too long that I’m looking forward to getting from ReadSmartly. These include:
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma
  • Likeonomics
  • Influence
  • Blue Ocean Strategy
  • The Wisdom of Crowds

Excerpt from a recent ReadSmartly report

ReadSmartly has started with the first “series” of 52 top-selling business books.  Steven says they are working on the second series now, which will will have another 52 books.  They plan on adding more series as time goes on.

Cost: ReadSmartly agreed to offer a special discount code for my readers that will knock 40% off the regular price of $99.99. Use the promo code UTTLEY and they will send you the 52-book series for $59.99. Think about it this way: At an average of $10 for a Kindle book, you’d paid $520 for these 52 books…plus it would take an eternity to read them all.

Having An Event? Text Your Attendees!

Gather By Mailchimp

If you are having an event, Gather is an amazing way to communicate with attendees. Developed by Mailchimp (the company behind this email), Gather lets you send and receive text messages to and from attendees.

To start using Gather, you’ll need to set up a Mailchimp account. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

Next, download the Gather app for iPhone or Android. When you launch it, you (as the event organizer) will pick a Gather phone number specific to your area in order to keep your personal mobile number private. You can’t receive calls at this number, but it’s a good idea to keep it on file for reference. This number is yours for the lifetime of your Gather account.

Then, create your event and link it with a Mailchimp list to invite subscribers. I did all this, and it took about five minutes.

Finally, send guests a link to your Gather form, where they can sign up to receive text alerts. You can do this with a bulk message within Mailchimp, or by copying a link and posting it somewhere else.

Using Gather, you can text message your whole group at once. Attendees can also text you back, with no app or setup required. From within the Gather app, you can text back and forth with attendees before or during the events.

All phone numbers of attendees get deleted when the event expires. When you create an event, you choose the expiration date—which can’t be changed later.

Cost: You pre-pay for bundles of text messages. There are bundles for events big or small. The more you purchase up front, the cheaper it gets. You can purchase 175 messages for $8.99, 500 messages for $18.99, or 2,000 messages for $48.99. A Gather phone number comes free with your first message pack. And you keep any unused messages as credits.

Track Remote Workers With Worksnaps

If you have remote or virtual workers, wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what they are working on—so they are staying on task, getting your work done and only billing you for your jobs and not someone else’s?

Great news: Worksnaps does all this, by giving remote workers a place where they can accurately track what they are doing. Better yet, it takes screenshots of the workers (using their webcams) to ensure they are really in front of their computer when they say they are.

According to Fred Sexton (a partner behind Worksnaps and a personal connection of mine), you can also integrate Worksnaps with some of the leading project management and billing systems, including Basecamp, Freshbooks and Harvest.

There’s more to it, so be sure to check out all of Worksnaps’ features.

Cost: Free to $60/month depending mainly on the number of users.

Take Advantage of Text Messaging For Business

Message Media

Did you know that nearly 98% of all SMS messages are read, and 90% are read within the first three minutes of being received?

If you have a business and you’re not using text messaging, you could be missing lots of opportunities to reach your customers. It’s easier and cheaper to do  than you might think!

Message Media is one of the leading text messaging companies. Using Message Media, you can reach customers who might typically ignore (or even miss) emails. (Note: I don’t have any affiliation with the company).

Message Media lets you save templates of the information you want to send, as well as a database of recipients’ cell numbers. Of course, you need permission before you text customers the first time.

I know someone who told meit used to take one of their staff people at least eight hours a week to track down late payers. Now, they just send a text message to late payers every day or so—and it takes about two minutes to set up and send a bulk message. They also use SMS for birthday greetings, new client welcome messages and more.

Other good SMS services to check out include CallFireEz Texting and JustRemindIt.

Costs: Rates will vary depending on volume, but generally they are in the range of $0.02-$.0.07 per message. Some services also have a monthly fee.