Monday, April 29, 2019

"How Customers Buy . . . & Why They Don't," by Martyn R. Lewis - A Revolutionary Approach To Sales By Decoding The Buying Journey

In writing "How Customers Buy . . . & Why They Don't," author Martyn R. Lewis brings several decades of experience to the table. His broad experience ranges from running sales and marketing teams to consulting with companies to teach their sales and marketing teams a better approach to revenue generation. This is simply the best book I have read in several years on sales, precisely because it turns the concept of "sales" on its head, and approaches the topic through the mind of the buyer.

Writing for an audience of sales and marketing professionals, Lewis makes it clear that the major fallacy that limits the effectiveness of many sales teams is the mistaken belief that "if you clearly demonstrate the value proposition and ROI of a product or service, the reasonable person will make a purchasing decision." Nothing could be further from the truth. Chapter by chapter, the author decodes what he calls the DNA of the Buying Journey. He spends the first half of the book building a case for understanding what is happening on the buying side of a purchasing journey. He strongly advises his readers to resist the temptation to jump ahead and think about how to apply the emerging principals until a full understanding of the Buying Journey has been reached. He then spends the second half of the book describing what he calls Outside-In Marketing and Outside-In Selling.

The main segments in a typical buying journey involve Triggers, Sequential Steps, Key Players, Buying Style, Value Drivers, and Buying Concerns. Using effective case studies and clear logic, he demonstrates that most sales efforts are directed at the early stages of the Buying Journey. And at a point when the potential customer really needs help in overcoming internal push-back and addressing Buying Concerns, the typical sales team is absent.

Mr. Lewis has constructed a very helpful and simple 4Q model of four distinct Buying Styles based on the dual dynamics of Choice vs. Value and Solution vs. Product. The four styles are:

  • Search & Choose
  • Trusted Advisor
  • Sort & Select
  • Starbucks. 

He makes it clear that each Buying Style dictates a different approach to engaging with the customer's Buying Journey.

This book is so effective that I am sending copies to clients whom I feel will benefit from these insights. You may wish to buy several copies to distribute to members of your Sales and Marketing teams.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Stop Talking, Start Influencing" by Dr. Jared Cooney Horvath - A MUST READ for Leaders, Learners, Teachers and Coaches

What does is take for a book to be considered a MUST READ? I can think of several criteria:

  • The book presents new ideas in ways that are intriguing and engaging
  • The book presents familiar ideas in novel ways that cause the reader to see things in a new light
  • The author creates a context for the content that makes the ideas comprehensible, accessible, and practicable
  • The writer weaves the concepts into memorable stories
  • The writer employs a literary style that is pleasing and frictionless

All of these things can be said of "Stop Talking, Start Influencing" by Dr. Jared Cooney Horvath. The author is an Educational Neuroscientist from the University of Melbourne and Harvard. He employs up to the minute research on neuroscience to address issues of how we learn, remember, and uses these insights to suggest impactful ways to influence those we teach, coach, and do business with.

Over the course of twelve chapters, Dr. Horvath introduces a dozen concepts that shed light on how to make a message stick. Each of the chapters is filled with insights gleaned from neuroscience discoveries, many of which were enabled by breakthrough fMRI technology. Horvath has a knack for presenting complex ideas in ways that are accessible to readers who are not scientists without devolving into simplistic summaries.

Key concepts include:

  • Explaining how the brain processes images and speech
  • Demonstrating that the brain tags memories using three dimensional space as an important tool
  • Explodes the myth that multitasking is possible
  • Introduces the concept of "interleaving" that impacts how a coach should set up practicing specific skills
  • The important role that story plays in recall and retrieval
  • The vastly different effects of moderate stress and extreme stress
  • Using distributed sequencing to enhance long term recall of important information

I am already making plans to send copies of this watershed book to friends and clients. It is that good and that impactful. I have also begun to watch and listen to several of Dr. Horvath's sessions that are available on YouTube.

If you are in a position to influence others - in your role as teacher, coach, business owner, then order this book now and put the insights to work immediately.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

"Lone Soldier," by author Leo Rozmaryn - An Epic Coming of Age Tale of Israel and Israelis

In writing "Lone Soldier," author Leo Rozmaryn has penned an epic tale of Israel that would make Leon Uris proud. The nonstop action centers on Arik and Dahlia, who meet as high school students at a summer camp in Pennsylvania that serves the purpose of instilling a passion for Zionism in American Jewish students. This coming of age tale follows a grueling arc as they fall in love, fall out of love, and come back together again against all odds. Along the way, each character is tested in a variety of ways that are literally life or death.

Dahlia begins her journey as a "hothouse plant" - the spoiled daughter of Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. She learns to withstand withering challenges, and blossoms into a mature and productive woman. Arik is the son of an impoverished and embittered veteran of Israel's War of Independence. Ze'ev was a hero who saved lives, losing a leg in the process. But through an error of mistaken identity, he is labelled a terrorist and flees to America to live off the the table scraps of his brother's charity. Arik grows up in poverty in a rough neighborhood of LA. He excels athletically, and his strong moral fiber shows up early in life as he risks his safety and reputation to rescue an African American boy who is being bullied. He is arrested, but is crowned a hero in the African American community. He is convinced that his father has been woefully mistreated by the state of Israel, yet he makes the tough choice to turn down a basketball scholarship to play for national champion UCLA in order to go to Israel and fight for the IDF. His motive is to find a way to rehabilitate his father's reputation - and to spend a life in Israel with Dahlia.

The mismatch of Arik and Dahlia's social and economic positions prompts Dahlia's father to use his weight as Ambassador to sabotage the relationship. In rebounding from the loss of Arik, the naive Dahlia is lured into the snare of rich sociopath Za'ev Ehrenreich, son of one of the wealthiest American patrons of Israel. He leads her down a primrose path of sexual depravity and drug abuse that almost extinguishes her candle. Over time, she rebounds, due to therapy, the harsh realities of service in the Israeli Army, and responding to emergencies that wold have crushed a more delicate flower.

As the heroic story unfolds of Arik, and the redemption of Dahlia and of Arik's father, the author weaves the action around real historic events: The War of Independence, Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Munich Olympic Massacre, the raid at Entebbe. The action ricochets from the slums of LA to the mansions of Washington, D.C. and Herzliya, from the desert of Las Vegas to the Negev, from the fortress of Masada to the summits of Mount Hermon.

The author provides a balanced view of the many faces of Zionism, from the Orthodox and observant to the secular and liberal who want to find a way to coexist with the Palestinians. The result is a stirring work of art that creates an indelible hero in Arik. I cannot help but wonder who will play Arik in the film that should inevitably follow.

Enjoy this well crafted saga.


Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Flea Theater Presents "Southern Promises" by Thomas Bradshaw - Through April 14th

The Flea Theater, and its resident troupe of young actors known as The Bats, have a reputation for taking bold risks in telling important stories. In their current staging of "Southern Promises" by Thomas Bradshaw, they take that boldness to a chilling extreme in dramatizing the worst rapacious excesses of American slavery. Bradshaw assaults the audience with graphic imagery that limns twin evils. The first evil is the constellation of dehumanizing violence perpetrated by slave owners over their chattel. The second evil is the fig leaf of religious hypocrisy behind which the slave owners hid to justify their inhumanity to men, women,and children of color.

This play is not for the faint of heart. The portrayal of violence and hypocrisy is literally and figuratively naked. Acts of simulated rape are portrayed in agonizing brutality and clarity. In a preamble to the play, each cast member introduces himself/herself and points out that the cast is composed entirely of persons of color. The point being made by the Playwright and Director is that the evils being depicted are not rooted in color, but in the human heart. Under the deft Direction of Niegel Smith, the Flea's Artistic Director, the cast members are uniformly effective. Especially impressive is Shakur Tolliver as Benjamin, the slave whose promised freedom was taken away by his late master's treasonous widow. The master on his deathbed had made his wife promise to flee all of the slaves, but she claimed that he was not in his right mind when he made that demand, and she refused to free them. She, her brother, and her new husband all claimed that they were doing God's will in brutalizing their slaves, misquoting Scripture by claiming that by punishing them, they were saving them from a worse punishment in Hell.

The writing and direction of this raw play are most arresting in the moments of violence, and in the moments when the unctuous misapplication of Scripture screams hypocrisy. Like those who caution that the horrors of the Holocaust must never be forgotten, so too this play reminds us that we must not be allowed to cover over the ugly wounds that still fester from the abuses of slavery and its lingering aftermath.

For those who have the courage to confront the ugly realities of the past, this production os worthy of your consideration.

Shakur Tolliver, Marcus Jones, Jahsiah Rivera, Brittany Zaken, and Yvonne Jessica Pruitt
Southern Promises by Thomas Bradshaw
The Flea Theater
Through April 14th
Photo by Joan Marcus
(Southern Promises plays at The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, through April 14, 2019. The running time is 85 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Mondays at 7, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7, and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $15 - $50 and are available at

Southern Promises is by Thomas Bradshaw. Directed by Niegel Smith. Set Design by Jason Sherwood. Costume Design by Claudia Brown. Lighting Design by Jorge Arroyo. Sound Design by Fabian Obispo. Hair and Makeup Design by Nikiya Mathis. Violence/Intimacy Choreographer is Rocio Mendez. Stage Manager is Anna Kovacs.
The cast is Adam Coy, Darby Davis, Marcus Jones, Timothy Park, Yvonne Jessica Pruitt, Jahsiah Rivera, Shakur Tolliver, Adrain Washington, and Brittany Zaken.
Content Warning: Please be advised there is physical and sexual violence, full nudity, racial slurs, and a gunshot in Southern Promises.

The Barrow Group Presents the World Premiere of "PERP" by Lyle Kessler - Through April 11th

Tony-nominated playwright, Lyle Kessler, has written an enigmatic new play. "PERP" is a bit of a morality play, set as if it were a "Law and Order" style TV cop drama. Jack (Tricia Alexandro) and Harvey (Paul Ben-Victor) portray a parody of the Good Cop - Bad Cop routine as they interrogate a murder suspect. Douglass (Ali Arkane) is a naif - a collector of bugs who may be on the spectrum. In his innocence- think of Lenny in "Of Mice and Men"- he falls for the cops' ploys and pleads guilty to a crime he did not commit. He is led to believe that by doing so he may be able to help the police apprehend the real murderer.

There are some plot twists that strain credulity. Douglass ends up sharing a prison cell with kind-hearted Myron (Craig Mums Grant). Over checkers games, Myron helps Douglass plan an escape so that he can go back to the woods to find the real murderer. In a Dickensian chain of coincidences, Douglass does indeed encounter Harry (Javier Molina). The final scenes play out the subtle confrontation between Harry and Douglass.

Mr. Kessler's theme in this play seems to be that good and evil can be found in unlikely places, and that innocence can prevail over malice. In the Barrow Group's cozy performance space on 36th Street, the metallic Set Design by Edward T. Morris, complemented by the Lighting Design by Marika Kent, enhance the storytelling. Costumes are by Kristin Isola, and Sound Design by Matt Otto. The excellent cast of five actors is ably directed by Lee Brock.

The play, even with its flaws, is worth watching. The actors create credible characters, even those that are written as caricatures.

Perp runs through April 11 at The Barrow Group (312 West 36th St.). Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday–Monday. Tickets may be purchased by calling (866) 811-4111 or visiting