I was one of who knows how many people who volunteered to read an advanced copy Chris Brogan and Julien Smith's new book The Impact Equation: Are you making things happen or just making noise? (Available for pre-order). Here are my impressions:

The Impact Equation is an enjoyable and informative read. I blew through it easily on a plane ride. The sections are short and easy to skim/scan. The tone is friendly but authoritative, as you’d expect from accessible gurus like these guys. The self-assessments, mini case studies (called Impact Examples) and how-tos are the most useful content.

For me, less story-telling – especially related to video games – would make the book better, but I realize that a lot of the people who follow Brogan and Smith are into gaming. Some of the anecdotes could be more clearly linked to the core concepts – I often wondered where they were going. But because the book is organized in short sections – and there is a lot of valuable insight elsewhere -- material that didn’t resonate wasn’t in my way very long.

The big idea

The core concept is that we need a process to ensure we communicate with impact so we can get the right attention and desired response. Brogan and Smith explain it this way: “The most complex and competitive the ecosystem, the more adaptable and targeted our messages must become”. They offer us a way to deliver information that’s useful to the people we hope to reach and a insights on how to build relationships that lead to value via the Impact Equation:

Impact = Contrast x (Reach + Exposure + Articulation + Trust + Echo)

  1. Contrast: how you differentiate or position
  2. Reach: how many people you connect to
  3. Exposure: how often you connect
  4. Articulation: how well you are understood
  5. Trust: how reliable and credible you are
  6. Echo: how you connect

The acronym formed by the attributes, CREATE, is, Brogan and Smith contend, "at the core of everything you’ll have to do in the 21st century business game. Creation is at the center of lots of your future work, and Impact is the goal. Our plan is to make it clear as day how you can do that.”

The authors show how we can use these six traits to develop ideas, share them effectively, create a community or network around them and compel people to take action. I especially liked how they expressly referred to them in the mini cases.

The intended audience

The Impact Equation is written for anyone interested in communicating effectively, building momentum and getting things done. Though not a follow-up to the authors’ previous title, Trust Agents, the book does expand on many of the same concepts. Though it references a lot of social media tools, it’s not a social media book and you don’t have to be a social media power user to benefit from the process.

You’ll get some actionable advice even if you only read the easy parts like bullet lists, examples and self-assessments. It’s a fast read that will impel you to reconsider how you look at your vocation/ avocation and develop “relevance and relationships” to get results.

I enjoyed the book and now have a list of things I want to try for myself and some of my clients. That’s reason enough to buy and read it!


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