die empty book review“How much of your day do you spend doing work that you’ll be proud of later?”
– – From “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

There are many books on how to become a success, but only a few on how to be a persistent success. Even fewer cover how to be a persistent success over your lifetime.

Die Empty is that kind of book. A new edition of Henry’s book,  asks readers to realistically confront the value they offer to the world through their work, whether they are managing a corporation, delivering interoffice memos, or crafting the next artistic masterpiece. Small Business Trends reviewed an earlier edition of the book some time ago.

What The Book Die Empty Is About

Die Empty deals with the core psychology of workplace engagement, an increasing topic of concern in the “work as work” vs “work as happiness” debate. Die Empty’s contribution to this conversation is to redirect the conversation to the individual. Specifically, the question shouldn’t be “What kind of work can I do that will fulfill me?”. Instead, the question should be “What kind of person am I offering to my work?”

Todd Henry explores the answer in the book.

He begins by pointing out that we often begin any endeavor (new job, a new position or the next project, etc.) with energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. As we become more invested in the work, we fall prey to mediocrity. The book, however, uses “mediocrity” in a way different than the common use of the term. In Die Empty, “mediocrity” isn’t just “average”; it’s a compromise. We’re no longer feeding our energy and passion into the project, rather we are accepting a lower standard to match our lowered expectations.

To get to the level of persistent creative output that “Die Empty” wants us to achieve, we have to do a couple of things:

  1. First, we need to recognize our passion (your “Big Why”) and what we’re willing to do to pursue it.
  2. Second, we need to feed our passion with healthy and energizing practices (engaging in the skill set used in the book)
  3. Third, we need to starve opportunities that drain our passion and motivation (The “7 Deadly Sins of Mediocrity” and other concepts mentioned in the book).

If we can achieve the above three things and make it a part of our daily habits, a person can build a habit of success, not just the products of success.

Todd Henry is a writer, speaker, and founder of The Accidental Creative, an organization that helps businesses foster and cultivate creativity through innovative workshops. He also hosts the “Accidental Creative” podcast.

What Was Best About This Book

The best part of Die Empty is the optimistic tone (despite what might be assumed by the title) that Todd Henry brings to the topic of self-help. His language is conversational and easy to digest but is hard-hitting and innovative. As discussed above, Todd Henry has a different perspective on the common terms we use in “work-life balance” like “passion” and “mediocrity” that deserve attention.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

Die Empty is a great book for getting the inspiration a person needs to move forward. It covers the language of the “self-help” in a way that is refreshing and new. The book does not provide a step-by-step guide to HOW to use that self-help on a daily basis.For example, the book helps readers understand that chasing a “good job” to fulfill a dream without understanding our motivation will lead to a wild goose chase, but it doesn’t tell you how to get started. It also focuses almost exclusively on an individual level, not organization-level change.

Why Read This Book

Die Empty is the kind of book that you want to read when you feel a nagging or sinking feeling that you (or your team) could and should be doing more. The book walks you through the common obstacles that everyone faces but does so in an engaging and unique way. Todd Henry asks pointed questions that really make you stop and think. It is in those thinking moments when your mind shifts from mediocrity to greatness.

This article, "Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day" was first published on Small Business Trends

customer service call

Telephone sales agents are the backbone of many organisations. These guys cold-call prospective customers to generate leads for the business, as well as handle incoming calls from new and existing customers. They are the first contact for customers, so you need them to be good at their job. Clearly sales agents need to be motivated and well trained, but there are other things you can do to improve results from your telesales people.

Analyse Calls.

It is sensible to monitor calls using Code Software or similar, as this will help you spot if there are any weak links in the team. Call analysis provides lots of useful data for the tracking of agent performance, as well as how long customers are kept waiting and other important metrics.

Mentoring.

Less experienced telesales agents tend to be more effective when they are paired up with a mentor. Working with someone who is a high performer teaches the agent how to handle customer calls more effectively.

More Carrot and Less Stick.

People rarely respond well to endless criticism and no praise. It is important that you spend time improving the performance of under achieving sales agents, but not at the expense of ignoring those people who consistently hit their targets. Be sure to praise your high performers. Make them feel appreciated, as this will encourage them to try even harder.

Don’t Rely on Sales Scripts.

Scripted calls are useful as a guide for standard situations, but there is a danger that the customer will not feel they are getting a personal service. Customers much prefer talking to someone they can relate to. For example, if your customers are mostly older people, hire telesales agents of a similar age. This will improve your results.

Encourage Regular Breaks.

Making endless sales calls can be draining, so encourage staff to take regular breaks. This will help them keep their energy levels and enthusiasm up, which is better for the customers and better for your sales targets.

Make Agent Scorecards Public.

Have an up-to-the-minute sales results board. That way everyone can measure how their performance compares to the other sales agents in the room. This is a powerful tool, as it puts pressure on the low achievers to up their game. Not everyone responds well to this type of pressure, but generally speaking, those that don’t are not in the right job.

Offer Incentives and Prizes.

Material rewards don’t motivate everyone, but offering big prizes such as holidays and cash bonuses is a powerful incentive for sales agents. Long-term prizes will motivate people, but a few surprise rewards thrown into the mix are useful for focusing minds when you need results.

Hire Enough Sales Agents.

Customers forced to wait on hold are not normally very pleased when they finally get through. Try to maintain the right staffing levels in line with call volume, or agent effectiveness levels will be compromised.

By providing the right telesales call centre environment, you will have a lower turnover of staff, and therefore greater productivity as a result.

Is bad design sabotaging your business website? With so many great (and affordable) small business website options on the market these days, picking the right theme for your business can be a bit overwhelming. It’s tempting to grab the first topic that looks good and call it a day. It’s the little details that make all the difference. Does your site instantly connote professional legitimacy or a does it leave would-be customers scratching their heads and clicking straight over to the competition?

The three biggest website design “fails”: failing to compress images, failing to use the right type of logo file, and failing to use standard navigation. They may seem like no-brainers, but folks are still failing to follow the rules here. These three little mistakes can end up costing you bit time when it comes to clicks, customers and brand credibility. Here’s how to fix these problems now.

Mistake 1: Failing to compress/optimize images.

Site speed matters! I’ve written before about how just a one second delay (or three seconds of waiting) could cost up to $2.5 million in lost revenue. Broken links, redirects, and failing to use browser caching are all familiar site speed problems. Another, often overlooked issue: image size. According to this shocking study by Radware, nearly half of the top 100 e-commerce sites don’t compress their images. The bigger the image size, the longer it takes to load.

Fix this problem by setting image dimensions (the specified width and height) directly in the code of your site. This way, when the browser begins to render your page, the browser won’t have to wait for the image to load fully; it can allocate an appropriately sized box and move forward. Dynamic Drive and Riot are two great image optimization tools that will make all the necessary changes for you, including removing additional colors from the palette, converting to the right format, and stripping redundant meta data.

Starting in 2015, Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool also began offering webmasters optimized site images, CSS, and JavaScript for download. With all these great (free!) tools at your disposal, there’s no excuse for failing to optimize images!

Mistake 2: Failing to use vector logos.

If you’re new to the design world, it’s easy to assume all logos are the same type of file. Just like images, however, logos and other illustrations can come in different file types. I’m not a logo expert, so I talked to graphic design logo expert and Designhill founder Rahul Aggarwal to learn more.

“Vector graphics are composed of thin lines and curves known as paths,” says Aggarwal. “Any line or curve in this image can be assigned a color value. This defined, formulaic approach means a graphic can be sized and repeatedly scaled without ever becoming pixelated or losing resolution. Vectors are an absolute must for logo design – they’ll look just as good on a smartphone screen as they will expand upon a 4K TV.”

Here’s another advantage to using vectors: because these files are mathematical descriptions and not individual pixels, the accompanying file size is pretty small, ensuring speedy download times. Vectors also convert quickly to png graphic files, making them ideal for web use.

Mistake 3: Failing to use standard navigation.

Don’t make life any harder than it needs to be for your visitors. Don’t hide navigation bars or clutter them up with too many options. Put your menu bars at the top and bottom of your website; these are the two locations visitors expect to find navigation options. Non-standard navigation means higher bounce rates, fewer pages per visit, and lower conversions, reports Kissmetrics. Navigation isn’t the place to try to stand out from the crowd: your mission is to help people easily and quickly find content, not force them to learn a new way around websites.

Bottom line:

As you continue to refine your SEO strategy for 2016, don’t overlook the most basic element: solid website design. You don’t have to pay a small fortune for a professional designed small business website, but if you’re not a design expert, consider bringing in someone who is. From crowdsourcing a logo to hiring a college design intern to tweak a custom WordPress theme, small design changes can be affordable AND have a significant impact on your site’s performance. Finally, confirm your images are optimized, your logo files are easily scalable, and you’re employing navigation best practices.

At a time when many European countries are looking to tighten borders, Ireland’s international focus and young, educated workforce are among some of the many features paying dividends for their growing startup community. The economic recession initially drove many Dubliners to entrepreneurship (with great success) and now the region looks to a promising future with the economic downturn behind Ireland. Dublin’s next wave of growth as a startup community will rely on an uptick in angel investments and new, supportive investors at the local and international level. Here are a few key features that position Dublin as an excellent place to start an angel investing journey:

Dublin’s startup ecosystem is established and respected.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking named Dublin just outside of the top 20 startup ecosystems in 2015. According to Compass, the firm behind the ranking, the ecosystem is now estimated at roughly $2.8 billion. This may not sound like a lot when compared to the likes of London (estimated at $43.9 billion), but its value comes in right alongside Amsterdam – despite being a third of the size.

The community uses its small size to their advantage.

At just over 527,000 people, Dublin is notably cozy in size — a trait that would, for some areas, indicate a lack of resources. For Dublin, the smaller population has served as an advantage for early-stage startups in particular. Startup Commissioner Niamh Bushnell points out that Dublin’s size makes for a naturally connected, supported community where entrepreneurs can seek out advice and next steps from a VC even if the company isn’t quite ready for funding. Dublin’s small size also means that sourcing talent through the tech community and scaling at earlier stages is highly feasible, making it a great test market for many young companies.

“Irish Hospitality” holds true for startups.

When it comes to finding a supportive, tight-knit ecosystem to start your company, Dublin outclasses most. The city has a vibrant pay-it-forward mentality that emulates what made Silicon Valley great. This pay-it-forward mentality is one of the primary non-financial motivations that drives entrepreneurs to become angels. Having this supportive foundation should motivate more right-minded angels as Dublin sees more and more startup successes.

Champion startups have modeled success for newcomers.

Dublin is home to numerous enterprise software companies, a reputation that is steadily growing. Fintech is another hot area in Dublin’s tech scene that has thrived with special emphasis on payments. Some of the most notable startups to come out of Dublin’s ecosystem include Intercom, Boxever, Ding, CurrencyFair, Teamwork, and FoodCloud. Apart from leading startups, many corporations have taken root in Dublin thanks to their 12.5% corporate tax rate (one of Europe’s lowest). Microsoft has been in Ireland for 30 years and employs 1,200 people, Apple took up roots in 1980, Intel has been in Ireland for 27 years and employs over 2,000 people, and Google has had its EMEA Headquarters in Ireland for 13 year and employs over 5,000 people. More recent arrivals in Dublin include Facebook, Airbnb, and Twitter.

Community support for startups is strong.

Dublin’s leaders recognize the power of a strong startup ecosystem. Local fixtures such as the Dublin Commissioner for Startups, Startup Ireland, Dogpatch Labs, and many more exist solely to support Dublin’s aspiring entrepreneurs. Dublin also benefits from a government that values startup, as seen with recent efforts to drive additional support through Enterprise Ireland, an organization that aims to help new companies start, grow, and find their place in global markets. At the earliest startup stages, Startup Weekend Dublin consistently brings together aspiring entrepreneurs to continue building and testing new ideas. Most recently, events like AngelSummit Europe have signed on to bring more investors into Dublin to motivate more local angel investing and share best practices that can be applied within the community – a gathering hosted by Google for Entrepreneurs and Startup Angels.

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International Investors continue to fund Dublin’s potential.

In 2015, over $300 million in funding was secured for Dublin-based companies, and over 46% of those funds were brought in through international investments. According to the Irish Venture Capital Association Venture Pulse survey, first-round seed funding in Ireland has doubled from the same time frame last year, and about half the funds raised in the region came from international investors. Dublin alone attracted more than 2/3rds of these funds. Since 2008, over $1.4 billion has made its way into Dublin’s tech community via international funds – a clear indicator that the region draws consistent interest from around the globe.

A couple of months ago, Journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote a controversial op-ed column in The New York Times about how “The Media Helped Make Trump.” In the piece, he argued that the $1.9 billion in free publicity that the media has given Donald Trump so far during this election cycle has provided him with a platform from which to spew “outrageous statements that [draw] ever more cameras — without facing enough skeptical follow-up questions.” In the aftermath of Kristof’s piece, readers and journalists fervently debated the veracity of his claims.

Because we work with media sites around the world to help answer questions about how readers are responding to content, Parse.ly is in a unique position to provide insight into this particular debate. We analyzed more than one billion page views across more than 100,000 articles to figure out which of the last five remaining major U.S. Presidential candidates were getting the most attention both from reporters and readers.

Go to our election dashboard

Play with our Data

The results surprised us, suggesting that while journalists seem to be preoccupied with covering Trump, the public is not especially interested in reading about him. The average number of page views for an article on Donald Trump is very similar to the average number of page views for an article on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Ted Cruz. In fact, Clinton — not Trump — receives the most views per article.

This data highlights the strong influence of the media: to a large extent, the public reads whatever it is the media decides to write about.

Trump Does Not Drive Revenue

Page Views per Article for US Presidential Candidates

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Kristof’s piece narrows in on the widely held belief among online media that they have opted to cover Trump because he drives revenue:

‘Trump is not just an instant ratings/circulation/clicks gold mine; he’s the motherlode,’ Ann Curry, the former Today anchor, told me. ‘He stepped on to the presidential campaign stage precisely at a moment when the media is struggling against deep insecurities about its financial future. The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.’

The two charts above suggest this is simply not true: on average, an article on Hillary Clinton receives six percent more page views than an article on Trump. Thus, Trump does not appear to be driving revenue.

But if the media isn’t covering Trump to boost revenue, then why have so many articles been written about him?

Perhaps, articles on Donald Trump were initially popular but readers came down with a case of “Trump fatigue.” Maybe the media didn’t respond to this fatigue in time, leading to a glut of articles written on Trump. Let’s take a look at average page views per article over time to see if this is the case:
Page views per article for US presidential candidates

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The chart above reveals that, in the last six months, there was no single month where articles on Trump consistently outperformed articles on other candidates. Clinton and Trump had similar numbers back in December, and there is no clear trend in this chart that could explain why the media wrote so many articles about Trump.

Trump Does Not Drive Social or Search Referral Traffic

Perhaps the media writes so many articles about Donald Trump because these articles tend to go viral on social networks and bring in a lot of social referral traffic from sites like Facebook and Twitter. After all, Facebook has become the number one source of external referrer traffic, and many publishers are pursuing strategies to become more viral. Search engines, led by Google, are another important source of external referrer traffic, so if Trump articles brought in a lot of readers through Google, it might also make sense for the media to devote more articles to him.
Page views per article for social and search sources

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However, as you can see in the charts above, publishers who wanted to bring in external referrals through social or search should have written more articles about Bernie Sanders versus any of the other candidates.

Sensationalist Reporting Dominates the 24-7 News Cycle

Parse.ly data clearly shows that online media is not providing equal coverage to candidates, as one might expect if it were trying to live up to the ideals of our democratic society. This may come as no surprise. However, our analysis also shows that online media did not maximize revenue or social virality by focusing its attention on Trump, despite widely held perceptions to the contrary.

So why did online media write as many articles on Trump as on the other four major candidates combined?

The fact is that in the midst of today’s 24-7 news cycle, most journalists can devote only a small amount of time to their next article, and so they often find themselves choosing topics that are convenient to write about. Imagine you’re a journalist in front of a blank screen, thinking about your next story, and faced with intense pressure to pump out content. There may be no clear breaking news on Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, or Kasich — so writing about these candidates may require you to conduct research or reach out to voters. On the other hand, your Twitter feed is full of the “events” that Trump so routinely creates and which feed personality-driven celebrity journalism: politically incorrect comments, bogus claims, and far-fetched promises.

Whom would you write about?

By choosing which stories to present to the public, journalists have the power to set the political agenda. The charts at the top of this post show that readers paid similar attention to articles written on any candidate (with the exception of long-shot candidate Kasich), indicating that by and large, readers will follow journalists wherever they lead them. Trump’s scandalous behavior produces soundbite after soundbite, and journalists — racing to post the latest story — are letting their readers down by allowing non-events to dictate their coverage. The media’s focus on Trump has not benefit either readers or publishers.

Data “Trumps” Other Factors When Covering the Election

There is a widely held view that Donald Trump is a necessary evil for the media in this election cycle — a topic that will generate page views and revenue for publishers. This analysis demonstrates that Trump coverage may not be so necessary, and that editors and journalists should let data, rather than “gut feelings,” guide their decisions about future coverage. Yet, if this analysis proves anything, it is that newsrooms are not beholden to the data that they uncover.

Many of the media companies we work with at Parse.ly encourage a data-driven culture that makes it easy for their employees to make informed content decisions. For example, anyone using Parse.ly can perform an analysis similar to the one we shared above. Simply select all articles associated with each candidate by tagging each post with the candidates that it covers. Then, look at key metrics associated with each candidate, such as the number of page views and page views per post. It’s also possible to break these metrics down by different referral sources.

Are you listening to the type of content that resonates with your readers, or has your newsroom covered topics (like Donald Trump!) that are not as appealing to them? No matter what you ultimately publish, it is important to take the data into consideration.

Check out our interactive graph now