Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis

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I have a special affection for the book What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World by Jeff Jarvis. It not only changed how I thought about business and marketing; it is the book that ignited my passion for nonfiction. Here, you’ll find good business strategies, but you’ll find something else, too: a new way of thinking about economics, creativity and society.

Read this book to get your mind blown in the way that the best nonfiction books are capable of doing.

Key Takeaways

We are in a new age of marketing and business, the author writes. The new rules of the new age are as follows:

  • Customers hold the power now–not marketers, managers or CEOs.
  • With social media, customers have the ability to have a major impact on large organizations in an instant. Be aware of the power of the crowd. People have easy access to information and can either support or harm a company based on their experiences.
  • The key to success is no longer just marketing, but having meaningful conversations with customers.
  • Trust and control have an inverse relationship. Trust your customers and let go of control.
  • Listen to your customers. Be honest, transparent, and collaborative. Encourage, enable, and protect innovation. Allow customers to feel like they are a part of the process and able to provide suggestions.
  • Life is always in a beta stage! Embrace changes and improvements.
  • Amazingly, “free” is a now viable business model! Many of the largest online companies (Facebook, Google) started by offering their services for free–and still do. The “tree” business model involves giving away value to expand your market base, then making money through alternative means.
  • The mass market has been replaced by a multiplicity of niche markets.
  • Don’t just be a product; be a platform! Help others build value on your site. Examples of platforms: Home Depot (for contractors) and Continental Airlines (for booking tours).
  • Ownership is no longer the key to success–openness is.
  • Google commodifies everything, especially knowledge. The economy is no longer based on scarcity, but on abundance. Control over products or distribution does not guarantee premium profits.
  • Focus on intangible solutions and rethinking physical products for an online presence.
  • Determine what business you are really in and protect it by offering solutions better than competitors.
  • Blunt honesty is more effective in marketing materials and blogs. When creating marketing materials, always use a natural and human tone.
  • Examples of Google-league marketers include: Facebook, Craigslist, Amazon, Flickr, WordPress and PayPal.

Google Laws:

  • Give control to customers and they will use it.
  • Your worst customer can be your best friend, providing valuable feedback about how to improve.
  • Your best customer is your partner. Incentivize them to spread the word.
  • Links are vital. Get linked to and talked about.
  • Focus on what you do best and link to the rest.
  • Join a network or, ideally, become a platform for others.
  • Think in a distributed manner.
  • Being searchable is essential for visibility.
  • Life and business are transparent.
  • Learn to handle mistakes well.
  • Rethink company structure for an “elegant organization.”
  • Small is the new big in a post-scarcity economy.

About the Author

Jeff Jarvis is a journalist, author, and professor. He is best known for his work as a media critic and commentator on the intersection of technology, media, and society. He is the author of several books, including “What Would Google Do?” and “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live”. He is a professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where he teaches courses on technology and entrepreneurship.


Can’t quite get to all the nonfiction and self-help books that interest you? Read Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday here.


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