I think she did and I’m going to explain why.
While most business books don’t start off with an exchange between women in a public toilet, I believe that if you only read this book through the eyes of the entertainment industry, you’ll miss some incredibly powerful learnings. Particularly her obsessive focus on her fans – aka the customer.
So here are my reasons for nominating Amanda Palmer’s book – The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help as the business book of 2015.
All throughout the book, Amanda gives the reader a lesson in what true customer obsession really means. She is constantly communicating with her fans, lifting them up and helping them be successful (Giving Economy 101). She’s giving back to them all day every day in her own way, she’s accessible, responsive and she listens to them. She brings customers into her life, and there are no walls or blocks between Amanda and her fans. Remarkable for a celebrity no?
I also have great admiration for Amanda in not letting other’s gain access to her database – aka the record company. She completely understood the value of the bond with her fans, while the record company was not able to understand it’s human value – to them, they were nothing more than revenue opportunities.
She always knew it was people at the end of her Tweets and not one of them was a number to her. That’s special. Be it a rock star or a CEO, authenticity, openness and accessibility is a critical part of success in today’s authentic, online world – however you interpret that.
She built a tribe
Based on her customer obsession, she understood the idea – very early on – that today is about building tribes. Tribes are never one way, they are all dependent on each other for survival, and when she went through some brutal times (the mob certainly go after her – my word) it was her tribe and her closest community that got her through.
She definitely made a big impact on me with this mindset, and although I have always been a tribe builder, I think I am more conscious in my thinking around the power of the tribe since reading this book.
She trusts her fans
Amanda trusts her fans completely, and this is a critical element of who she is. It’s important to her. She listens to them, she hears them, and when the moments are right, she uses her rock diva power to reach out and help people if she can. Although with great trust comes great disappointment, but I have tremendous respect for the fact she hasn’t let the small amount of people who did let her down reshape her persona. She never went to their level, and instead focused on the great trust she has gained from the majority – because trust is a two-way street.
Trusting customers, employees, partners, colleagues, etc… is a critical part of the way we should all be doing business today.
She experiments with technology, social media and disruption
Amanda Palmer is a disruptor and when you read a lot of the coverage about her, you’ll notice some brutal headlines. Well I recommend we all need to read between the lines on her, because let’s face it, disruptors change the world and not everyone likes that.
Amanda Palmer has shaken up the music industry, the arts industries, and has embraced social media powerfully. She offers a masterclass in how communicating on social media can be done in an authentic and meaningful way. She’s offering the possibility of a new business model, one that empowers the performer, in an industry still stuck in the old ways. They don’t like it. It takes their power away.
Of course, let’s also not forget when her crowdfunding hit a world record of $1.2 million in 2012 – shaking things up to a whole new level. Absolutely brilliant.
Amanda provides an education in digital and social disruption if ever I’ve seen one. Definitely an example to all of us to always be looking at what we’re doing today and working out ways we can do it better based on the new possibilities available to us.
She’s not scared to try and innovate, even when the backlash is brutal
Amanda keeps being Amanda and is true to herself, but it hasn’t been an easy ride. For me she comes across as honest, earnest, thoughtful and is 100% focused on delivering to her fans – the only audience that matters. She experiments, fails, learns, and sometimes picks herself up from a swimming pool full of tears to get going again. She slips sometimes, but eventually gets back to the bigger goal – delivering to her truly loyal fan base. She’s really remarkable.
The lesson for business is be authentic, fail, learn and keep going, and don’t be fearful of the backlash. Yes it may happen, but really, most people in the world are kind. There are a few trolls out there for sure, but the bigger goal is more important – an open world, an open society with social media and authentic storytelling at the core.
She knows her customer
I think the critical piece here is focus – absolute focus. She has spent years investing in her customers, in-person, around the world. She knows them and what they care about. She feels their pain and their joy. So when she executes her “content marketing” campaigns, who is better equipped than Amanda? The true success of content marketing is to deliver compelling content that is useful to your customer, thereby building loyalty to your brand, which ultimately builds sales. It’s not an overnight success story, it takes years to get it right. She’s a great example of what perseverance and focus can deliver
There is so much more I can say about The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. It touched me on so many levels, and I’m not a very good “asker of help” so it was great guidance for me, just in that regard.
I couldn’t recommend a book more highly. I loved everything about it. I felt Amanda’s pain. She made me laugh. And it pissed me off too – women really do get a harder time on social media!
I leave you with two requests. First, next time you see the media go to town on Amanda, or any other woman in the media glare, step back and ask yourself: is there more to the story than is being portrayed? Is it fair she’s being attacked? Who is she disrupting and are they leading a lynch mob?
Secondly, get inspired, get focused, and do yourself a favor. Buy this book, but make sure you tell me what you think if you do – I’m sure it’s not for everyone! And if you already have read it, I’d love to know what you thought? I don’t expect everyone to agree with me here.
And please, if you like this, I’d love a comment, a discussion or your best cooking tip? Of course, please also feel free to share with your communities. That’s what this is all about today – sharing and giving to each other. If you like my style and what I talk about, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter or on Facebook. Thanks for reading.
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