Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Books Worth a Look XXIV

Having started a new job in a new industry in the last month or so, I've been trying to hurry along my learning curve as efficiently and effectively as possible. I've signed up for news alerts on our competitors. I've subscribed to all of the industry-relevant newsletters and discussion groups. I've picked up a couple of used textbooks on the subject matter. And just last night, I discovered a new tool that might be useful regardless of what you're trying to learn.

For 45 years, the Research & Education Association has offered a line of test preparation and study guide materials on a wide range of subjects. Sure, they have your SAT, GRE, and other prep packs. They also offer a line of Problem Solvers booklets addressing a bunch of different mathematic and scientific practices such as calculus, fluid mechanics, and transport phenomena.

But what's gotten me excited is their line of accounting and business Essentials. Last night, I picked up their Marketing Principles volume, a 70-page pamphlet written by the chairman of the marketing department of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Think CliffsNotes, only for an entire area of study, not a single book.

This Essentials booklet runs readers through the basics of marketing research, product planning, promotional strategy, and other topics. For the most part, it's surface- and entry-level stuff -- if you want to really know your stuff, you'll need more than a 70 pages and $7. But it feels good to be able to start dropping phrases like "primary data" into conversations at work.

If you want to learn a lot fast, make Essentials part of your self-led learning program.

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