Thursday, March 04, 2021

Recommended Reading: Rules for Radicals


Script below...

The best community organizing, marketing, and leadership book I’ve ever read is a 1971 book written by a political organizer who worked with poor, working class people in Chicago and other cities. Every one of you should read Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals. I first read the book in 1997 or so early in the development of the Company of Friends readers network for Fast Company magazine. It was also a useful read during the campaigns and activism leading up to the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

The overarching point to the book is that activism—leadership—cannot be self-serving, self-centered, or selfish. The best organizers, activists, and leaders meet and serve the needs of other people. That’s what they do. That’s the whole point of civil service and public office: representing and serving your constituents—all of them. That can also be true in business and marketing. The best leaders meet the needs of their employees. The best companies provide a needed product or service to their customers. Serve first. Then benefit.

Secondly, organizing and activism leverage the process of highlighting and showcasing what is wrong—and persuading people they can do something about it. The same is true in leadership, as well as communicating, marketing, and sales. The best leaders solve problems. The best ideas solve problems. The best products and services solve problems. The worst of each creates problems.

And finally, to communicate successfully with anyone, you have to meet them where they are. As a communicator, community organizer, or leader go to them—whatever community you are serving or doing business with. Speak their language. Listen to them until you understand. Then act on their behalf.

My advice to you: Regardless of your role in business, buy a copy of the book—or check it out of the library—and read it. Politics aside, identify at least one thing—perhaps even one of the rules—to incorporate in your approach to leadership, marketing, and communication. Let me know what you decide to implement, and what impact it has on your work, team, or organization.

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