Remember when Cliff Notes were the lifeline to all those classics you had to read in school? It was a novel idea – taking complex topics, like literature, and breaking it down into quick and easy to understand guides. Then emerged the “Dummies” series whose tagline is “Making Everything Easier” and covered how-to guides from computers and software to religion and spirituality.
Now a new series has hit the market, The Skinny On, which plans to bring the Cliff Notes concept into the 21st Century. Based on the idea that our brains adapt to changing environments, the books are tailored to match the “faster, more staccato, bottom-line and visual reading experience” of the digital era.
The author, Jim Randel, graciously sent me two copies to review:
Just as the website claims, it only took about an hour to read each during my Thanksgiving roadtrip.
Ultimately, each book should provide the reader with a broad overview without diving into further details. Not to say that the book doesn’t give details, just that it’s more of what you need to know versus everything you could know.
You can actually take a decent look inside each of the books. And all of the summaries give you a good feel for what you’ll be learning.
Top 10 Networking Lessons
- Make networking an important part of your business strategy.
- When you have a specific need, start with family and friends.
- When you want something, be precise in explaining it to others.
- Reach outside your comfort zone.
- Find ‘connectors’ and buddy up to them.
- The Internet is a super-powerful connector.
- Don’t assume people will help you just to be nice. Give them a reason to help you.
- Give before you receive.
- Be aware of your social capital.
- Networking is not just about business.
Top 10 Creativity Lessons
- You can develop your creative thinking.
- Ignore limits.
- Break mental patterns.
- Embrace disruption – good ideas are often disruptive.
- Creativity is energy.
- Change your environment.
- Solitude is part of the process.
- Find your inner child.
- Capture your thoughts immediately.
- Go with the flow.
Formatted almost like a PowerPoint presentation, there are four “slides” per page. Short stories are used within the books as examples to illustrate the underlying themes. Whenever something important comes up, it clearly stands out. Big, bold words on dedicated slides key you into what deserves your attention. Another way points are driven home are through historical quotes. Clever ideas are recirculated through generations and it’s humbling to be reminded of something someone wrote 200 years ago.
Overall, the books were an enjoyable read. While they seemed overly graphical at times, that could have been related to trying to digest the information in a moving car. We all strive towards traits like being creative, successful, and well-connected, but may often fall short given how stretched we’ve become. Living a world strapped for time, it’s nice to have an abridged “cheat sheet” on a topic to help steer you in the right direction.