From time to time I am reminded of the world's best business book title. It's not surprising that Dale Carnegie's 1937 best seller ‘How to win friends and influence people' has sold more than 15 million copies in numerous languages. A more compelling promise has never been put so succinctly – seven words that nakedly sum up the aspiration that unites every human being on the planet. (I like to think that Dale Carnegie wasn't his real name and that the whole thing – classy nom de plume and bold compelling title – were the work of an uncharacteristically inspired publisher).
The reason this came to mind recently was that in a rather idle trawl through the blogs of various business journals (a good source of Market Leader ideas) I was struck by the HBR list of ‘most read' blogs. Here are a bunch of them: 'Six ways to be excellent at everything' ‘Six ways to supercharge your productivity'. The single biggest mistake a leader can make; How I downsized myself' – and so on. (Admittedly lists are always a big draw as is the opening words ‘how to'). But this is the Harvard Business Review, not Psychology Today or The Human Resources Gazette. One might have thought HBR bloggers might have some insights about business, or some witty observations about the economy or a view of international competitiveness or something with a loftier what's going-on-in-the world theme. But no, each and every one of them is insistently and unashamedly about ME. Is this a particularly American thing – this willingness to blog about self-improvement in a highly prestigious intellectual journal? A look at the blogs for the Marketing Society or Warc sees no such self-help panaceas. We are all busy showing off our insights about the world we make a living in. Are we just being arrogant and that down deep what we really want to read about is simply how (it can't be avoided)… to make friends and influence people?