The best books for disruptive marketers in the 21st century

Who am I?

Ever since touching my first computer (the Apple IIC) in 1985, broadcasting a radio show in 1988, logging onto the world wide web in 1991, launching my first podcast in 2004 or producing the highly viewed YouTube show The Download in 2020 I've been interested in what Marshall McLuhan has dubbed, "The Medium is the Message." Not only how media and technology are used but how it intersects with humanity, education, entertainment, marketing and popular culture to drive word of mouth. To me, marketing isn't just about the technology or the quantified metrics but about how it shapes long lasting impressions on people and leads to sustained behavioral change.

I wrote...

Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us about Navigating the New Normal

By Geoffrey Colon,

Book cover of Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us about Navigating the New Normal

What is my book about?

In the 21st century, the best marketing comes from what Geoffrey Colon calls “creative hybrids,” marketers with training in design, video production, psychology, and statistics. Creative direction is driven by customer experience and social media research, he says. Colon brings a fresh view to marketing in this provocative and useful book.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different

Why did I love this book?

If the Conceptual Age of marketing is here where imagination reigns supreme, will the same types of personalities in business from the Information Age be the ones to dominate? Nope. Authors Ashley and Sunny urge people to treat each one of our quirks as helpful virtues rather than harmful vices. Less logical and more emotional, things like fringe interests, strong personalities, and bold antics have their place in a creative and disruptive world. Applying your unique characteristics strategically could help you stand out, forge your path, and connect with others in ways that following rules just does not deliver. If you read this from the lens of a marketer, there are some great takeaways to apply to the personality of what brand it is you are trying to sell. Oh, and what profile am I of the 7 vices? A rebel of course.

By Sunny Bonnell, Ashleigh Hansberger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rare Breed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unconventional business book for the rebels and misfits--the Rare Breeds--who don't fit the traditional mold, offering an approach that's anything but business as usual.
What if your biggest weaknesses are actually your greatest strengths?

Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger, award-winning brand consultants and founders of Motto, bring their wisdom and insights to this radical "outside the box" business guide written specifically for the mavericks, oddballs, and visionaries they call Rare Breeds. While most advice guides encourage you to change your inherent characteristics to get the job, get the promotion, get the client, Bonnell and Hansberger identify a different approach:…

Book cover of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Why did I love this book?

Find something you want to do. Go deep into it. Stay hired forever. Great advice? Maybe for much of the Industrial and Information Age. But in the impending Imagination Age this advice isn't good. And Epstein explains why. If you can't see how things interconnect, you can't figure out how they play off one another and work in new and unique ways. This is for all of the generalists and Renaissance folks who have been told their whole lives, "Jack/Jill of all trades and master of none will just leave you in the unemployment line." Not true and we need more imaginary thinkers than ever before. Especially in marketing.

By David Epstein,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Range as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fascinating . . . If you're a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you' - Bill Gates

The instant Sunday Times Top Ten and New York Times bestseller
Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
A Financial Times Essential Reads

A powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize.

From the '10,000 hours rule' to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialization and many…

Book cover of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Why did I love this book?

Shirky explained the fascination with how everyone becomes media long before TikTok was even a gleam in the eye of its founder Zhang Yiming. In this world that becomes louder, faster, and where attention is harder to come by we might think that it becomes every person for themselves. Not so. Communities become stronger and we enter the age of "We" rather than the age of "Me." A fascinating read on the power of organizations that don't rely on traditional organization hierarchies. If you want to know how good ideas spread in the 21st Century, this is a good book to read.

By Clay Shirky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here Comes Everybody as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A fascinating survey of the digital age . . . An eye-opening paean to possibility.” —The Boston Globe

“Mr. Shirky writes cleanly and convincingly about the intersection of technological innovation and social change.” —New York Observer

An extraordinary exploration of how technology can empower social and political organizers

For the first time in history, the tools for cooperating on a global scale are not solely in the hands of governments or institutions. The spread of the internet and mobile phones are changing how people come together and get things done—and sparking a revolution that, as Clay Shirky shows, is changing…

Future Shock

By Alvin Toffler,

Book cover of Future Shock

Why did I love this book?

This book is a classic. It's from the 1970s and you might think, "What a joke, why would I read this, it's old?" Because Toffler explains the world we live in right now in 2022 back in 1972. How did he see it? Not through some crystal ball but by studying the remixing of history. All good futurists understand the future based on how we redesign the past to fit the present. The biggest takeaway is with regard to a 'surfeit of subcultures' which explains the modern world of online behavior better than anybody else. Tired from not being able to keep up? Toffler explains that too. Forget studying technology use cases to understand where things are going. If you want to truly understand disruption, read this book on how technology affects and moderates our behaviors/lifestyles/modes of living.

By Alvin Toffler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Future Shock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The classic work that predicted the anxieties of a world upended by rapidly emerging technologies—and now provides a road map to solving many of our most pressing crises. 

“Explosive . . . brilliantly formulated.” —The Wall Street Journal 

Future Shock is the classic that changed our view of tomorrow. Its startling insights into accelerating change led a president to ask his advisers for a special report, inspired composers to write symphonies and rock music, gave a powerful new concept to social science, and added a phrase to our language. Published in over fifty countries, Future…

Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Book cover of Humankind: A Hopeful History

Why did I love this book?

Somewhere in the last decade of the 2010s marketing lost the plot. Look, technology is always going to be around us and help us do things. But in marketing, the fascination became about the tech and the metrics and less about the people. In this decade we got caught up with the notion that people are bad because of what they say or do on social media. What Bregman notes is that people actually are good with econometric data to prove it. We don't create environments like Lord of the Flies. We actually do the opposite. But somehow in the 2010s this lack of trust fostered itself in the narrative. This book will help you realize team humans are pretty awesome and are important to the 2020s. Regardless of what some of the stories on the news tell us.

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Humankind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Guardian, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and Daily Express Book of the Year

'Hugely, highly and happily recommended' Stephen Fry
'You should read Humankind. You'll learn a lot (I did) and you'll have good reason to feel better about the human race' Tim Harford
'Made me see humanity from a fresh perspective' Yuval Noah Harari

It's a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, the roots of this belief have…

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