Monthly Book Review — May 2020

Each month I share the books I’ve read, what I thought of them, and favorite excerpts.

As you’ll see, from the books I’ve listed below, I’ve been thinking a lot about creating some online courses. Here are this month’s reading excursions:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This book tells the story of Ove, hence the name. Ove is a 59-year-old Swedish gentleman who’s going through some tough times. Throughout much of the story, Ove wants to attempt suicide, but something inevitably gets in his way.

Ove lives on a lively street where neighbors just make themselves at home, even when they haven’t been invited. Not the entertaining type, Ove has a hard time adjusting to his neighbors’ actions.

Throughout the book, Ove, unintentionally, gets talked into helping his neighbors in various ways. And, even though Ove would never admit it, he becomes attached to several of them. Without trying, Ove becomes a hero to many in his community.

I found the story an enjoyable read with a few unexpected turns along the way.

Teach Your Gift: How Coaches, Consultants, Authors, Speakers and Experts Create Online Course Business Success in 2020 and Beyond by Danny Iny

If you’ve been thinking about creating an online course, reading this book first may be a big help. Danny Iny, the founder and CEO of Mirasee, outlines some of the keys to creating a successful online course business.

The book contained some key concepts about the steps to follow for successful course creation. It focuses on creating a minimal product, co-creating with your learners, and not spending a lot of time creating your first course (and, hopefully, avoiding the pitfall of wasting time building a course that will not be profitable and helpful to students).

The book does not go into a lot of detail and is somewhat of a jumping-off point for the author’s other course creation business services. But even with the plugs for additional services sprinkled throughout the book, there is still enough meat to give you some good ideas for how to proceed.

You will also find a six-step process for creating a successful online course:

  1. Validate Demand
  2. Identify Minimum Viable Scope
  3. Plan Your Pilot
  4. Pre-Sell Your Course
  5. Deliver
  6. Pivot, Iterate, or Scale

In addition to the steps above, here are some of the key ideas I got from the book:

  • There are two teaching paradigms: the paradigm of information and the paradigm of education. The former paradigm provides details about a topic; the latter seeks to teach the learner how to do something.
  • Information is freely available, but providing an education comes at a higher cost. When creating a course, don’t just give the students information; they can get information anywhere. Instead, educate your students on the topic so that they learn something they didn’t already know and transformed.
  • Just teaching about something is providing information. Educating involves supplying supplemental learning materials and coaching and helps the learner transform in some way.
  • For your first course, create a minimal viable course and co-create the remainder of the content of the course with your students adding content that they tell you they need as they progress through the course.

I may not agree with the entire process laid out in the book, but it was helpful to review and consider. If you’re ready to create your first online course, consider picking up and reading this short book first.

The Visual MBA: Two Years of Business School Packed into One Priceless Book of Pure Awesomeness by Jason Barron

I was interested in reading this book because I have worked in various size companies, and, especially in the larger companies, I heard many terms I was not familiar with. I thought that The Visual MBA might plug some holes in my understanding of business terminology. The book did fill me in on some things, but there’s still a lot to learn.

The Visual MBA is a quick, to the point, no fluff kind of book. If you want to get a jump start on the terminology found in an MBA program, this book will do the trick. The author just gets to the nuts and bolts but doesn’t go into much detail.

If you learn better by seeing things in pictorial form, this will also be an excellent book for you to check out. The significant concepts are all diagrammed in images that relay the main point of each idea.

There was also some practical information throughout the book. Some key insights I highlighted included:

  • If you want to be happy in your job, you need to hit the sweet spot. You need a balance of competence (really good at something), passion (need I say more?), and opportunity (there is a market need).
  • The link between the product and personal benefit is where the magic happens.
  • We think people care about what we do or how we do it. Actually, they don’t. People care about WHY we do what we do.
  • Being incremental wins every time vs. trying to get everything right off the bat.
  • A company creates a strategic advantage when it has various connected activities that support its core differentiating value.

Learning and indeed understanding all of the ideas put forth in this book would require a lot more content, but if you just want the main idea, this book might work for you.

The Completed Course: The Secret To Creating Lasting Impact, Raving Fans, And Increased Profits With Online Courses by Dr. Carrie Rose

If you are thinking about creating an online course, it’s essential to understand what involved to ensure learners complete the course or at least have a successful outcome from the course. The Completed Course outlines many ideas about how to accomplish just that.

This book is not a complete “how-to,” but it does include many ideas about how to create courses that learners will want to complete. The content in the book will give you ideas of what needs to be done and a jumping-off point for more research on the topic.

There are also links to more resources in the book. Clicking any of the links will take you to Facebook Messenger. There, you’ll type the keyword of the resource you would like. When I attempted this, the Facebook bot returned a link for me to utilize to get the resource I wanted, but the link returned a 404 error and did not provide me with the resource. I sent a message back to the bot regarding the error, so hopefully, this will be fixed at some point.

There were some useful nuggets of information in the book, including:

  • “…course creators need to do a better job of holding people accountable.”
  • “…in order for it [your course] to be valuable, it needs to be personal and relevant to that person or that audience.”
  • “Determine your expertise and build products that solve problems based on your expertise.”
  • “Whatever you do, always focus on your people.”

Course creation is about solving problems. The Completed Course is about solving the problem of solving problems through courses that people want to complete.

Tune in next month for details of the books I have read.

Software coach showing others that software is easy to learn.