Posts Tagged ‘The Rackspace Book’
February 22, 2013
[THOUGHTS ON THE B-BOOK FORMAT]
We have hardback books, we have paperback books, we have Kindle books, we have e-books, we have iBooks…
I’ve had some success with all of those, over the years…
But the format that has given the most joy over time, is the B-book i.e. the blog book.
The B-book is a book that starts life out as a blog post. My first book, “Ignore Everybody” began life that way, as did my friend, Austin Kleon’s delightful classic, “How To Steal Like an Artist”.
Sure, both became mainstream bestsellers later, but only AFTER their magic was already ignited all over the web. In B-book format, both have been seen by literally millions of people. “Ignore Everybody” has been downloaded well over 5 million times over the years, maybe 10 million. That’s an incredible number, really.
Whereas most blog posts get buried and forgotten within days, often hours, B-books keep getting discovered again and again, passed around again and again, forever. The original Ignore Everybody is almost a decade old, and it still gets read by thousands of people, every month. Most conventionally published books can’t say that, not even close.
The disadvantage is, of course, that it’s hard to get people to pay you for B-books. I never tired, frankly. I just assumed if enough people read them, I’d find a way to make a living from it in an indirect way, eventually.
And time proved me correct: a lot of people who first discovered me via Ignore Everybody went on to become gapingvoid art collectors and/or corporate clients. Same is true for the other B-Books I wrote.
“The Art Of Not Sucking” is my latest effort; I’m also currently working on another one about my client, Rackspace.
True, the format may not be for everybody. I’m totally OK with that, to be honest. It’s an exciting medium that, although I’ve been working with it for almost a decade, I still feel like it’s new to me, it still feels like it’s a new world worth conquering. Like I said, it’s exciting.
February 21, 2013
[More thoughts on The Rackspace Book…]
6. ROB LA GESSE
Rob La Gesse is the groovy cat who first hired gapingvoid at Rackspace.
He’s also the guy who hired my friend, Robert Scoble.
He’s a lot like me and Scoble, i.e. very much his own man, very much an individual.
I suppose that’s why we get along.
Above is a T-shirt design I’ve never showed Rob before– he’s seeing it for the first time here on the blog, the same as you and everyone else. He may like it, he may not.
That’s how Rob and I work together. Like I said in my last blog post, “he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…”
The thing is, there’s a method to the madness. If the idea fails, hey, it’s just a wee cartoon on a blog post. We can quickly and easily try something else the same day. It’s not like we blew money on a Superbowl ad that ended up bombing…
But if the idea works, it works REALLY well. The idea gets emailed around, both inside and outside the company, to employees, shareholders, customers and non-customers alike. It suddenly takes on a life of its own, on its own merit.
In other words, it suddenly becomes a cultural object (i.e. a social object that articulates the company culture), as opposed to just a usual piece of commercial, “Here’s-why-you-should-give-us-your-money” messaging (You know, the kind that noboday actually cares about).
Rob and I never planned it this way, we just started talking and this is kinda how it evolved. That’s kinda how we both roll. Rock on.
February 20, 2013
[Screenshot of the cartoon showcase page we did for Rackspace etc.]
I’ve started writing a book about gapingvoid’s experience working with Rackspace. Here are some initial thoughts, some more formed than others:
i. WE’VE LEARNED A TON IN THE PROCESS.
I thought I’d share what we’ve learned about Rackspace along the way, about how this small little web-hosting company from San Antonio, Texas turned their unique take on “just being social” into a billion-dollar business.
ii. CAN A BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY ACTUALLY BE “SOCIAL”?
I know. Right?
We’ve all been bombarded with the Social Media catchphrases, we’ve all seen the hype spewing out of every Internet orifice out there, we’ve heard every cliché and platitude known to man, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
The number of people calling themselves “Social Media Gurus” on Twitter numbers over a hundred thousand. “Business is Social!” “Join the conversation!” “Don’t sell, engage!”
“Hire me!” “I’m available for consultation!” “Write me a big, fat check and I’ll solve all your Social Media problems!”
Like I said, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
And yet… what if it actually works?
iii. “DEATH BY COMMODITY”.
Rackspace basically sells a commodity i.e. web hosting and cloud services.
They basically sell a lot of ones and zeroes, that they move through a lot of pipes, back and forth between their customers and their servers.
Not sexy, and highly competitive. What’s more, they’re competing with a lot of blue chip companies A LOT Larger than them: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc
It’s an easy place to get your lunch eaten by the big boys.
It’s an easy environment to be killed in.
And yet, they thrive.
iv. THE SECRET WEAPON: “FANATICAL SUPPORT” THE CREATION MYTH.
Two young guys start a web-hosting company, with Graham Weston as an investor. Graham gets an email from an irate customers. “Guys, we have to offer our customers Fanatical Support or this isn’t going to work. An ethos is born…
v. SOME MORE IDEAS TO PLAY WITH:
“IF YOU LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENOUGH, YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT PRODUCT, END OF STORY…”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT R.O.I., TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW WHAT WE”RE DOING IS ACTUALLY BEING HELPFUL TO OUR CUSTOMERS.”
“HOW THE OPEN CLOUD CHANGES EVERYTHING”
HIRE THE CRAZIES e.g. SCOBLE, LA GESSE, MACLEOD
“A SHOPPING MALL CAN BECOME A CASTLE”
“COMMODITY? ODDITY? OR BOTH?
“PRODUCT IS THE PEOPLE…”
“TAKE HUMAN BITES”
“LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING MEANING, NOT TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO”
“RACKSPACE HAS TO BECOME A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE’S HIGHEST NEEDS ARE MET, OR WE’RE WASTING OUR TIME.”
“IT’S WHAT RACKSPACE MUST BECOME THAT’S INTERESTING. IT’S WHAT ALL BUSINESS MUST BECOME THAT’S EVEN MORE INTERESTING.”
[To be continued…]
[UPDATE:] Rob La Gesse, the guy who hired me at Rackspace (and also hired Robert Scoble) left the following comment below:
I’ll be interested in seeing how this series progresses. Not sure everyone here knows this, but I don’t vet Hugh’s work — I see it when you see it. And that is pretty cool to me. I experience his work when you do. No preconceptions.
Yep. It’s what makes it fun– he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…