Books. Podcasts. YouTube Videos. There was a time when each of these existed in their own ecosystem. But of late we are seeing a melding of these, just as popular fiction books got to be made into movies, today we are seeing management and self-help books becoming podcasts and YouTube videos [my own book Sponge – Leadership Lessons I Learnt From My Clients became The Sponge Podcast on IVM Network]. Now we are seeing a new phenomenon, titles moving from podcasts to books.
Steven Bartlett’s entry into the world of media was through his social media ad agency. He started a side gig hosting a podcast called ‘The Diary of A CEO’. He knew something about the magical allure of the words ‘Diary’ and ‘CEO’. There is a voyeur in every one of us; we would love to read what is in the diary of someone else even if it is a Wimpy kid. And anyone joining the corporate system has his or her eyes on the corner office. The title ‘CEO’ has a magnetic pull.
Bartlett hit paydirt with his podcast ‘The Diary of a CEO’. In the podcast he interviews leaders from all realms of life and brought out many interesting insights on how we can pursue a better life. At one time this podcast was rated as one of the top two podcasts in the UK, just after Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Little wonder then that Bartlett decided to do the classical ‘brand extension’ from podcast to a book. I may have gone for a simple condensation of the 100-plus episodes of the podcast into a book version. But it is not. In fact, the book claims to offer ‘33 laws of business and life’. You will get to meet some of his podcast guests in the book but not all of them.
The book is presented in four pillars or four sections: The Self, The Story, The Philosophy and The Team. Each section contains around nine ‘laws’. Some of the laws are obvious but there are a few that come as a surprise. Given the fact that Bartlett is just 32 years old and started his first company when he was around 22 years old, you do get some out-of-the-box advice: You must lean into bizarre behaviour; You must piss people off; You must be an inconsistent leader…
Then there are the usual parables touted out by every management guru: To master it, you must create an obligation to teach it; Ask don’t tell – the question / behaviour effect; Never compromise your self-story; Friction can create value [something this reviewer wrote about in the book review of the excellent book The Crux; The frame matters more than the picture; Let them try and they will buy; You must sweat the small stuff; Leverage your power of progress… and so on.
In the process of writing the book Bartlett has managed to dive into numerous good books, some classics as well. You will get to meet Steven Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Seth Godin (This is Marketing), Steven Pinker (A Whole New Mind), Jim Collins (Good to Great), C Duhigg (Smarter Faster Better), Simon Sinek (Start With Why), Richard Feynman (Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman!), Daniel Kahneman (Think Fast & Slow), Nasim Taleb (Skin in the Game) and many many more.
If you have read some of the above books, as this reviewer has, you will get a quick refresher of what you may have forgotten. If you have not read these wonderful books, hopefully you will pick them up after your appetite has been whetted by this book.
Bartlett does make several references to his own start-up journey, the amazing success and how he built his company from scratch. There is a nice story about a blue slide in his first big office that became the talk of the town. But for that there are not too many detailed stories from his own business success.
The law #33 is a bit of a surprise but I will not spoil your fun by revealing it here.
Steven Bartlett is a great salesman and a creature of the digital era. Pick up the book to learn his tricks. Who knows some of them may be of use to you in your own career journey.
Ambi Parameswaran is a best-selling author of 11 books and is an independent brand/executive coach. His latest book All The World’s A Stage is a personal branding story.