Tag Archives: goodreads.com

Quote of the Day

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“This then was the ultimate goal of totalitarianism: not simply to deprive the new Soviet man of his freedom, but to make him fear freedom in favor of security, and to affirm the goodness of his chains even in the absence of coercion.”

People like author Francis Fukuyama make my head hurt. Not in that John Cougar Mellencamp “make it hurt so good” kind of way; more in that “someone is using a jackhammer on my brain” sort of thing.

Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man is one of the most engaging and informative non-fiction books I’ve read on political history. I’d sum up the book myself, but I’m feeling lazy, read the book years ago, and stumbled upon a review on goodreads.com that does a nice job of simplifying an otherwise big book.

Per the goodreads reviewer known only as Hadrian:

“[Fukuyama] does start off with the bold assertion that liberal-capitalist-democracy is the end point of history, but uses the rest of his chapters to back off from this assertion into a more tepid series of observations.

He does not support liberal-capitalist-democracy from a moral grounding, but instead notes its ability to survive and continue to reproduce itself after repeated economic crises, and its ability to outlast other alternatives from the far-right (fascism), and the far-left (communism). Its status as part of the end of history is taken from Hegel, interpreted by Kojeve and a bit of Kant. Fukuyama draws on these to say that the overall ‘meaning’ of history itself, or at least the general trend of it, leads to the continued spread of liberal-capitalist-democracy, and its perceived effectiveness in allowing the individual to act and express according to their own personal liberties in a universal, if homogeneous, state.

Despite this, it is still easy to pick apart his argument. The greatest possible drawback is that the historical conditions which led to the spread of liberal-capitalist-democracy might not necessarily continue into the 21st century and beyond. A chief example among these is the economic catastrophe of 2007, and how many have perceived this international system has being unable to meet the needs of its citizens.”

Now, if Mr. Fukuyama were to create some new idioms in the context of the current political climate in Washington, I imagine he might come up with one or more of the following zingers:

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t trump it.
  • You don’t be down with my there interpret of the constitutions, you be don with the wind.
  • My hair, my hair! My kingdom for my hair!
  • I vanka answer your question, dumbass, but I also vanka get me a piece of *$%&.
  • My mind thinks alike, small minds are for the (mostly immigrant) peons.
  • Be the change you will force on the world.
  • Money is the root of which all trees grow across America. Except in the blue states, where they grow on fake news, corruption, “facts,” liars, despicable people, evil lifestyles and rational intercourse (sic)

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World Mental Health Day

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In support of #WorldMentalHealthDay, which falls today, October 10, I’d like to point out a few things.

1) It’s encouraging to see countries finally starting to realize that mental health is not a stigma, but a bona fide disease. In Canada, for example, 20% of us Canucks will experience some form of mental illness in our lifetime.

2) Kudos to Bell Canada through its Let’s Talk campaign, and its spokesperson, Olympic champion Clara Hughes, for making this a subject of national conversation here North of 49. Since its launch in 2010, the initiative has raised more than $50 million, and plans to raise at least $100 million for mental health-related projects by 2020

3) Here in Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is playing a hugely positive role in addressing this issue and subsequently treating the disease to the best of its ability. Of course, places such as CAMH could always use more funding – especially private donations – but despite  allegations from someone south of the border whose skin tone matches his man rug, Canada’s healthcare system (and by extension its mental healthcare system) is not “catastrophic,” nor do we head en masse to the U.S. for medical treatment annually. (In a comprehensive study of 18,000 men and women that was published in the journal Health Affairs, 0.005% of Canadians received medical care in the U.S. based on a recommendation from their doctor, while a mere 0.001% did so of their own volition.)

4) There are a million and one scholarly books on the subject of mental health, yet there are also a number of down-to-earth fiction/non-fiction works on the subject, too. Goodreads.com has a pretty long list of books shelved as mental-health, with some of the top-rated ones (in alphabetical order by title) being the following: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks, Impulse (Impulse #1) by Ellen Hopkins, Equating the Equations of Insanity: A Journey from Grief to Victory by Durgesh Satpathy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

(P.S. Many of these same writers are what are known as “Goodreads Authors,” meaning they often hold chat sessions with readers in real-time through goodreads.com, and sometimes even take personal emails to talk about their work(s).)


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Keys to an Effective Marketing Mix

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While reading an article about creating an effective marketing mix on boundless.com, I had to laugh to myself. Not because I’m the funniest person I know (obviously), or because of my extensive training in the field (through my MBA at Harvard and Ph.D. in economics at Oxford), but because of something I noticed while carrying out a little experiment over the past 12 months.

In my never-ending quest to market my first novel, A Father’s Son, I have tried everything under the sun these last three years. Most recently, I wanted to do something productive with the extra copies of my book rather than simply giving them away to random people (which I’ve done) in random parts of the city (been there, done that).

Thus, therefore, consequently and as a result, I came up with a BRILLIANT! scheme. I asked the owners of a popular convenience store in my ‘hood to sell my book for about 50% off the retail price on Amazon in return for a small profit to be given to them after the sale of each copy. The store had lots of traffic day and night, and the husband-wife team genuinely liked me (who can blame them, right?). To my chagrin, they put my books way off to the side of the cash register, above the samosas and deli meats. Which makes sense. Clearly. Furthermore, they didn’t ask me a single question about the story and simply placed it atop a fridge display case.

Over the course of the following three months, I sold exactly one book. Discouraged, I took the remaining copies of my novel home, a long, cat-like tail lodged firmly between my legs. Then, in the coming weeks, I had a different thought, the four P’s of an effective marketing mix, usually seen as product, placement, promotion, and price.

I knew I had price down ($10 a copy) and felt that the final product itself met the threshold for a potentially successful commodity. That left placement and promotion. I’d been a one-man wrecking crew for promotion since 2013, doing as much as I could with my enviable marketing budget of approximately $9.74. And the placement? Well, it was being sold on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and talked about on goodreads.com by people from around the world, especially in the book-buying meccas of Lichtenstein, . Laos, and Liberia. ‘Nough said, right?

In a moment of ethereal sales bliss, however, I was struck with an idea, so I marched across the street and talked with my friend Andrew, an ethnically Korean man who was born and raised in Ecuador and had been raising his family in Canada since the birth of his first child 14 years ago. Global citizen, anyone?

Anyway, he was a big supporter of mine, and although he didn’t run a convenience store with nearly as much foot traffic as the previous place I’d displayed my book, he agreed to put A Father’s Son front and center and vigorously promote it.

The result? Thirty books sold in its first three weeks.

Despite my impressive marketing background and unparalleled credentials in the field of marketing, I’m now convinced that of the four P’s to an effective marketing campaign, placement is king.

As a sidebar, I tend to watch YouTube for roughly 27-32 hours a day. Like many of us, I usually hit SKIP AD while waiting for a clip to stream. Not long ago, though, I watched a video on The Tube for an insurance company that was actually very, very well done. I guess effective marketing really does transcend preconceived biases. Click here to check it out.

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