Book Review – Simple Rules, How to Thrive in a Complex World

I thought that it would be good to track my reading list here and also capture a few thoughts as I go through each one.

Tonight as I passed through the Airport in Melbourne a book called out to me. This is often how I will buy a book. Initially I fight to resist the call but if the ideas on the cover keep pulling me back then I will usually succumb.

Simple Rules, How to Thrive in a Complex World.
By Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

The sight of this book was like someone reaching out and plucking forth the very ideas that I ponder every day. It was impossible to ignore. It’s introduction positions it as looking at the wonderfully unpredictable complex world that we live in, and then seeking simple guiding rules that can either model behaviours or guide decisions.

It differentiates its narrative from both popular science texts that provide technical insight but not practical usage, and self help guides and anecdotes that offer simple rules but lack scientific rigour.

The fun part for me is that one of the stories in this book relates to the flocking of starlings (birds) and how they can be modelled by 3 simple rules. This is the very same example that I use in my Essentials of Product Management training to try and distill the analysis of Product Management to just 2 simple questions.

I’ll update this post as I read further.

Internet Marketing – WordPress Visitor Tracking

If I am going to get people visiting this website then I should be able to count them. The whole point of this exercise is to take a volume of existing visitors to the website and

  1. Grow that number
  2. Increase the engagement with that group such that they may buy something.

The gorilla in the WordPress Visitor Tracking room of course is Google. So headed over to the Google Analytics page to get started. As user friendly as they claim the service to be I found it to be speaking in a secret club language that requires of reading and video watching to understand. Suffice to say I blundered through it crossing my fingers that I have done it correctly. I now have a Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and a Google Webmaster Account set up for Visitor tracking.

Unfortunately, aside from trial and error at the moment I have no idea how to effectively use these tools, and don’t want to waste too much time finding out. If anyone reading this can help me find a fast and simple resource for learning the Analytics basics the please leave a note in the comments.

I was then faced with the challenge of connecting the Google Analytics account to the WordPress site to allow Google to start collecting website visitor tracking data.  I remembered that rather than touching the HTMP and PHP code in WordPress I needed to find a plugin.  A quick search surfaced “Google Analytics”, again by Yoast.

The Plugin was well reviewed and is well documented. I’ll have to get back to that aspect of it later.


Internet Marketing – WordPress SEO first looks

Tonight I have spent some time reviewing the WordPress Theme that I have selected to tidy it up a bit, before getting back to the Internet Marketing project. This is just a quick first look at my initial experiences with setting up SEO on WordPress.

In the last post I followed an initial recommendation to try WordPress SEO from a company called Yoast.  Unlike the version that we use on Brainmates website, WordPress SEO offers a real time SEO check to ensure that the information that is being added to the post will give it a fighting chance to be found.

The WordPress SEO plugin workflow

  • Step 1 – Uses a keyword as a starting point to help discover the Google friendly topic to structure the copy around. (I have selected “WordPress SEO” as the keyword.
  • Step 2 – Ensure the that the Post title has the Key word or phrase contained in it. It needs to be the full phrase or it won’t work. for example WordPress SEO is acceptable but WordPress with SEO will fail the “Article Heading” test.
  • Step 3 – Next I have the option to edit the Page Title independently from the post title or the overall website Title. Again, this needs to contain the key word or phrase and needs to be kept short. The plugin will tell you if it is too long.
  • Step 4 – Edit the Permalink to include the keyword.
  • Step 5 – Write or review your content to ensure that the keyword is mentioned (WordPress SEO)  and ideally mentioned more than once.
  • Step 6 – Taylor the Meta Description that provides a short overview of the content. This is what will be displayed in a text link.

If you have done all of these things then to basic SEO checks are complete.

The WordPress SEO Plugin also has a number of other features that I haven’t event scratched the surface on so I am going to have to spend some time going through the WordPress SEO Manual as it seems to have lots of interesting tips to explore and try out.

Next Stop, “Visitor Tracking” with Google Analytics.



Learn Internet Marketing from Scratch

It is one think to know that you don’t know something, but it can be altogether different when you try to properly attack it and learn it from scratch. For me I believe that I understand the principles of lead capture and slowly turning them into customers and fans, but the actual execution of these activities is baffling me. I need to learn internet Marketing for the very beginning.

Read more

Complexity and small things

I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico and have had a very interesting week. Santa Fe is the home of the aptly named Santa Fe Institute that is an inter disciplinary research center that focuses on complexity and complex systems.

For many years I have been reading about this place without ever knowing where it is. I can say that Santa Fe is a beautiful town and unlike any other place that I have been to in the past.

This week I had the chance to briefly meet Murray Gell-Man who wrote the book “Quark and the Jaguar” and is won a Nobel prize for his work In describing the behavior of elementary particles inside the atom. For me this is a journey that started in high school when I wondered about the difference between the simple, idealised linear models that were used to describe science to a 15 year old and the real world that is fundamentally non-linear and, well, messy.

My father bought a book called Chaos, by James Gliek, that seemed to be the antidote to this simplified thinking. It differentiated between simple, predictable order, complete randomness and something beautiful and unpredictable called Chaos. I am not sure if he bought it for me or if I stole it from him but it is with me still decades later.

That book was the beginning of a thirst for more information about complex systems that better explain the beauty of the world around us. Many of the best books that I remember have had their origin here in Santa Fe.