Something different on my blog today – a book review.
Of a new book out last week called “SmartCuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success”.
It’s by Shane Snow, a young entrepreneur and journalist based in New York City. I approached Shane after he sent an email calling for people to read and review his book prior to its release. Although I’ve never met him, Shane is one of many New York entrepreneurs I monitor for their content and thoughts on the tech and startup scene in this city.
Shane’s journalistic credentials speak for themselves. His work has been featured in the New Yorker, Wired and Fast Company. He’s also the co-founder and CCO at Contently – an online editorial company that offers a software platform and marketplace for freelance journalists to connect with brands to deliver high quality content marketing.
So what is a smartcut? Shane describes them as strategies individuals use to achieve rapid, ethical and sustainable success. They are not short cuts – instead they are strategies for amplifying success such as lateral thinking, training from masters, adjusting from rapid feedback and thoroughly rejecting the traditional corporate ladder. Shane examines historical and current careers (ranging from President Lyndon B. Johnson to the dubstep DJ Skrillex) and explores what they have in common – they all used strategies (or smartcuts) to accelerate their success.
In a style similar to Malcolm Gladwell, Shane presents interesting, well-written and well-researched anecdotes to demonstrate and support his stance. Like how Gladwell writes, this is not a formulaic, cookbook style discussion or a how-to for replicating the same kind of career success for yourself.
Nonetheless this is an interesting and worthwhile book that makes a couple of salient points that I’d like to explore in more detail. Let’s begin.
1) Innovation extends beyond products or companies.
But innovation isn’t just about companies or products. What I think is cool (and what I think Smartcuts is really about) is recognizing that innovation is more than a hip company or snazzy product. It’s possible to have an innovative career and this book ultimately looks to find the commonalities between a handful of notable and outstanding ones.
2) New York City is THE yardstick.
Writes Shane of New York..
New York has indeed become a global yardstick – for artists, businesspeople, and dreamers of all stripes… If you can make it in New York, people assume you can make it anywhere.
So true. Because of this, there is tremendous value in being a New York City import and coming from an environment that’s nothing like it. Shane and I have that in common – he came from Idaho, I came from the suburbs of Melbourne. Coming from a far flung place makes you appreciate the quality and accessibility of everything that’s amazing in this city – be it culturally, professionally or socially.
Shane describes a sense of awe, of star-struck, and the push that comes being surrounded by such talented and high quality professionals at the top of their respective game. I feel exactly the same way about being here. I can identify with this book just that little bit more because of the New York City references it contains.
Bottom line – should you read this book?
Yes. This book will appeal to those with an interest in business, innovation, startups and entrepreneurship. More than that, Smartcuts shows us there is value in finding links and putting structure around interesting and divergent careers. It’s then up to each of us to emulate them.
Get Smartcuts via amazon.com. Link is here.