2017 Q3 - Back Mechanic, Growth Hacker Marketing, Intelligent Fanatics Project

Back Mechanic by Dr. Stuart McGill   McGill is a Back Pain Researcher turned Researcher-Clinician at the University of Waterloo, Canada. This introduction to one evidenced-based approach to Low Back Pain (LBP) is very user friendly while maintaining a strong science-based perspective. He is a strong proponent of the idea that most individuals suffering from LBP have not been adequately evaluated. This youtube video of his talk in Florida is worth watching. His general plan involves the following steps:

  1. Eliminate the cause of pain - find pain free postures, avoid pain causing activities.

  2. Develop posture & movement patterns that enable you to function pain-free - find alternative motions or postures/positions that you can adapt to your particular situations.

  3. Essential Exercises to stabilize the torso, core, and spine when moving through life - The Big 3 Exercises.

  4. Develop a walking plan - even if that means starting with 5 steps per hour or day.

  5. Mobilize the hips

  6. Make daily use of exercises based on patterns of movement: push, pull, carry, etc.

  7. Make healthy spine choices when engaging in any activity.

Prior to these steps McGill guides you through the most critical aspects of your rehabilitation: understanding the science of pain, and performing a self-assessment via carefully guided 6-step process. He admits that this may benefit up to 80% of individuals who go through the entire process from self-education, to self-assessment, and self-treatment.

Reading this easily accessible text motivated me to purchase his much more clinical and in-depth textbook written for clinicians.


Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday   Ryan Holiday is an incredible curator of knowledge and wisdom from books he has read, as well as the surprising variety of life experiences he has acquired in such a short amount of time. His perspectives have shaped some of my world-views and my general interactions. In fact, this QuarterlyReading List is also greatly influenced by him. Having said all that, Ryan worked as the Director of Marketing at American Apparel while still in his 20's. During that time he executed some adverts that were undeniably attention-grabbing. He also learned an enormous amount while in the job. This book is a summary of some of what he learned and applied in his future works. This book is about how growth hackers think about marketing a product or service. "Growth hacker" is defined as "someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable." It involves 4 basic steps:

  1. Product Market Fit - basic idea: "the best marketing decision you can make is to have a product or business that fulfills a real and compelling need for a real and defined group of people - no matter how much tweaking and refining this takes." Companies tend to spend vast amount of monies on advertising and marketing without a product that is immediately useful and fills a need. Many of us haven't heard of them because they quickly realized that their product never took off, or they ran out of money because of a poorly planned marketing strategy. Step One is always Make Sure You Are Providing a Product/Service That Fills a Need.

  2. Finding you growth hack - pulling on the longest lever available without breaking the bank. The focus here is to spend your time, energy, and money on the right people, not all people. Start off by marketing exclusively to groups that you know will need, use, and love your product/service.

  3. Going viral - this section speaks to a deeper understanding of what it takes for something to go viral. "Virality is not an accident. It is engineered."

  4. Close the Loop: retention and optimization. This final step is all about the importance of customer retention. Rather that wildly chasing new marketing initiatives and press attention, "it's better for business to retain and optimize what we already have."

His closing chapter titled "My conversion: putting the lessons into practice" is an excellent example of how he applied all the ideas and concepts mentioned in the book to push a new product.

This book fits some of my current pursuits; I will likely read this book repeatedly. It pairs well it with The Method Method.


Intelligent Fanatics Project by Sean Iddings & Ian Cassel   This collection of business leader & company origin stories profiling some of the greatest companies in the world led. They include:

1. John Patterson - National Cash Register

2. Simon Marks - Marks & Spencer

3. Sol Price - FedMart & Price Club

4. Les Schwab - Les Schwab Tire Centers

5. Herb Kelleher - Southwest Airlines

6. Chester Cadieux - Quicktrip

7. F Kenneth Iverson - Nucor

8. 3G Partners - Garantia, Lojas Americanas, and Anheuser-Bush In-Bev

These incredible business leaders had certain commonalities, including Leading by Example, Bucking Industry Dogma, Teaching by Mentorship, Long-term Focus, Detailed Understanding and Execution of Incentive Systems, Experimentation, Productive Paranoia, Decentralized Organization (minimal to no bureaucracy), Dominating the Small Market before Growing Organically/Opportunistically, and, finally, Courage and Perseverance in the Face of Adversity.

Some of the biggest lessons I learned from this book:

  • Incentives are Incredibly Powerful. They should be structured in accordance with the company's long-term vision, mission, and core values. This includes incentivizing the entire structure from employees holding the least responsibility to higher-ups in charge of greater responsibility.

  • Clear & Frequent Communication. This applies within the company, as well as with the relevant entities outside the company. This minimizes bureaucracy and educates everyone on the company's core values and mission, including their role within these larger objectives.

  • Hire Selectively for a Culture of Excellence. Efficient hiring AND retaining is a key to growth. All hires must be educated on the company's values and mission; and their incentives must be structured accordingly.

  • Provide Opportunities for Employees to Grow and Succeed.

  • Educate yourself, your employees, and the public.

  • Be adaptive to changing environments.

  • True Long-term Vision is a powerful differentiator.

It was an excellent read, and I'm looking forward to their next publication.

Jason Boddu