Back-to-School Reading Challenge: Update #1


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I’m 15 days into August so this seems like an excellent time to write about how I’m doing with the four books I committed to reading for the Back-to-School Reading Challenge.

First up was Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. As I said in my kickoff post, I purchased this book originally when I heard about it at the Blissdom conference in February 2012, but never started reading it. I’ve subscribed to Mr. Hyatt’s blog posts for about a year now and had an opportunity to see him speak live at a local university on July 31st of this year, which was a great kickoff for my reading of his book.

The book starts from a belief that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way that products are marketed. The idea is that once you have a strong product – a physical item, a service you provide, an e-book, your blog content, whatever it might be – you can and should use the various electronic means at your disposal to put that product in front of as many potential consumers as possible. Specifically, Mr. Hyatt talks about the need for three Internet strongholds: a Home Base (your blog, website, or community pages), Embassies (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc), and Outposts (Google Alerts or something similar to monitor and report online mentions of your name, your product, your blog, or whatever you want to be able to respond to quickly).

Platform is organized into five large parts, each containing many small chapters that are chock-full of to-do items. In Parts 3-5, he goes into great detail about each of the three critical Internet strongholds I mentioned earlier, including how to set them up, how to grow them organically, and how to use them to make money (if that’s what you’re after). There is even an oh-so-helpful Appendix outlining what you must do to comply with recently-revised Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines about blogs, brands, and the interactions between those two entities.

Bottom line: This is not light reading, but if you want to make sure that your online presence – monetized or otherwise – is a strong, accurate representation of you and/or your product, this book will give you more than enough to think about and work on for quite a while. [Note that I did a ton of (electronic) highlighting and bookmarking for things I need to go back to do for my blog.]

Once I’d finished Platform (last Saturday), I started Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. It’s still early days, but I’m enjoying Dr. Brown’s stories about her quest to live “wholeheartedly”, and in particular, her daily struggles in cultivating Courage, Compassion, and Connection. A passage that hit me particularly hard was this one, about the difference between Fitting In and Belonging:

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

I have spent most of my nearly 46 years trying to Fit In but I’m ready to learn more about the efforts required to actually Belong instead.

Still to come:

On deck is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, which Leslie shared that she’d read and enjoyed, so that’s a good sign.

Batting cleanup will be The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman by Karen Karbo. Recommended to me by our challenge leader, Joy, who also introduced me via Twitter to the author, I’m really looking forward to diving into this one.

Read any good books lately? Any recommendations for me if I finish my list early or for others who might be looking for something good to read?


    I wish I had more time for reading, but that second blog takes that time. I have my Kindle loaded for our upcoming vacation — 2 weeks and I bet I read a dozen books.


      I love having a good vacation read (or five) but I haven’t taken a relaxing vacation – as opposed to attending a blog conference or going to Disneyland or something active like that – in several years. I’m making time for reading in the evenings as a warmup for when I start school in October and have to carve study time out of every day.

  • Thanks for your thoughts on Platform. I have a copy but only made it about half-way through since it was kind of overwhelming. Now, I’m ready to keep going with it.

    The Gifts of Imperfection sounds really helpful!


      The great thing that I discovered about Platform is that you can read just certain sections, implement/think about a few things, then come back later when you’re ready for more.

      I’m really enjoying The Gifts of Imperfection and I recognize many areas where I have room for growth. What I’ve been surprised by are all of the areas where I’ve been yearning to make a change & do something differently but never really made the connection between that behavior and living with my whole heart. Lots of “a-ha” moments!

      Thanks for the comment,


    I was very struck by Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, but it’s not exactly a NEW book. I you haven’t read it, highly recommended.


      I’ve heard so much about that book, Ginger, and if you loved it then I need to put it on my “to-read” list, too!


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