101 Things I Learned in Film School
by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick
“In my… twenty years of teaching, screenwriting, and filmmaking, I have been continually struck by how the creative process of filmmaking is at once painstakingly deliberate and fortuitously experimental,” writes Neil Landau, who teaches at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
Creating a film or television program entails a variety of skills including budgeting, screenwriting, directing, acting, and numerous technical proficiencies. Here’s a sampling of the insights shared by the author.
“Film is a director’s medium; television is a writer’s medium. A movie is a one-of-a-kind undertaking: The production team and actors come together for several weeks or months to create a unique world that disappears upon the completion of filming. A strong director is essential in defining this world—form its artistic details to its broad nuances, script approval to casting, set design to special effects, and lighting and equipment to the overall visual style. A successful television series, by comparison, is long running, and production becomes rather standardized during its first season. The greatest challenge becomes the generation of new material each week, giving the gifted writer a proportionately greater opportunity to shine.”
Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business
by Aswath Damodaran
Aswath Damodaran is a professor of finance who has written several books on business valuation, including The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit.
In this book, he computes valuation based on the business narrative. “One of the most important lessons I have learned is that a valuation that is not backed up by a story is both soulless and untrustworthy and that we remember stories better than spreadsheets.” Conversely, “when a storyteller has wandered into fantasyland, the easiest way to bring him or her back to Earth is with data that suggests the journey is either impossible or improbable.” Thus, “you need to bring both stories and numbers into play in investing and business, and valuation is the bridge between the two.” Continue reading
One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering
by Marty Sklar with introductions by Richard M. Sherman and Glen Keane
Marty Sklar was hired by Walt Disney in 1955, prior to the opening of Disneyland. He rose through the ranks to president of Imagineering, the group responsible for Disney’s theme parks worldwide. He retired in 2009 after a 54-year career with the company.
The first part of the book explains Mickey’s Ten Commandments, guiding principles developed by Sklar in 1983. The second half of the book consists of career advice from 75 Imagineers. The most prominent recurring theme in this book is storytelling. Continue reading
Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business
by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
“Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company. Once you understand that, you can manage your business from the outside in… To achieve the full potential of customer experience as a business strategy… you must manage from the perspective of your customers, and you must do it in a systemic, repeatable, and disciplined way.”
The benefits of providing exceptional customer experience are “higher revenues resulting from better customer retention, greater share of wallet, and positive word of mouth, plus lower expenses due to happier customers who don’t run up your service costs.” One example from the book is a $1.7 billion per year savings in customer service costs and bill credits as a result of Sprint simplifying its confusing plan options. Continue reading
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
by Jonah Berger
Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has studied why certain ideas and products get talked about and shared more than others. He refers to the “psychology of sharing” and identifies six common attributes: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.
Berger puts the hype of viral marketing in context. “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.” However, “Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online… Continue reading
The Brand Challenge: Adapting Branding to Sectorial Imperatives
Edited by Kartikeya Kompella
The Brand Challenge consists of four general branding topics followed 11 sector-specific chapters, namely: luxury, retail, business-to-business (B2B), media, financial services, non-profits, fashion, hotels, cities, technology, and football (soccer). Each chapter is written by a different author. Continue reading
TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks
by Akash Karia
The premise of this book is that “the best speakers on the TED stage were the ones who had mastered the art of storytelling.”
The first 30 seconds are critical. “Opening with a story is a tested and proven method for grabbing audience attention and keeping your audience mentally engaged.” Continue reading