Review of Ctrl Alt Delete – A Book You Must Read

First, a disclaimer. I have been a Mitch Joel fan since the first time I ever met him at a Podcamp what seems like a million years ago (it was actually only about 6). He’s a friend, and if that makes my review biased, well, so be it. But…

You need to read this book.

Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It, is the latest collection of things to fall out of Mitch Joel’s amazing brain. The minute the book arrived in my mailbox, I put everything else on hold and started reading – and I couldn’t put it down.

Our hyper-connectedness has altered the way we do business and fundamentally changed the way we communicate, and it’s not over yet. The shift is still happening around us, as we find more ways to connect and as technology continues to innovate and help us to become even more connected, more easily, in more ways than ever. In fact, Mitch says we are in a sort of purgatory when it comes to all this stuff – the dust has yet to really settle, and a lot of people are having some real challenges navigating this new terrain.

Ctrl Alt Del is a user guide for anyone who is feeling lost in this purgatory. It is intended as a reset (or reboot, as Mitch calls it) of some of the old ways and thinking around communication and marketing, and charts a course for some new ways of doing things.

As I dove into this book, I began thinking about my own personal experience with this shift. I thought about all of the people I’ve formed relationships with online over the past several years – people I would have otherwise never crossed paths with – and the tremendous value those people have brought to my life. I thought about how, in 2009, when the economic downturn was at its peak, a significant portion of my company’s new business came through Twitter, 140 characters at a time. I considered that I’ve recorded over 100 hours of a podcast with a person on the other side of the planet that I’ve never even met face-to-face. I gazed in awe at my iPhone, and marveled in the fact that a whole world of information and possibility now rests in the palm of my hand.

We live in amazing times.

The book is broken into two sections; the first part is focused around business. It provides blunt advice on how smart businesses can navigate this purgatory. The truth told here is that using digital channels to market one’s business is no longer a choice. This isn’t a fad, and so the best thing smart businesses can do is embrace it and figure out how to make it work for them.

One of the concepts that really stood out to me in this section was Mitch’s discussion of utilitarianism marketing. It’s no longer just about having the lowest price or the slickest ad campaign. Businesses need to start being truly useful to consumers, and he provides some really great advice on how they can do that. He also talks a lot about the “one screen world”, and my favourite line of his (and one that I quote him on all the time) is, “The most important screen is the one you’re looking at.” Oh, and this section of the book also has the single best chapter title ever in the history of business books, “Sex With Data”. You’ll just have to read it to find out what Mitch means by that!

The second part of the book is more personal in nature. He dives deep into topics around career development (which he describes as a “long and squiggly road”), and provides common-sense advice for marketing yourself online. But what really got me thinking was the section on the new way of working. We are swiftly moving away from a world where everyone commutes downtown to go sit in a stuffy office all day surrounded by filing cabinets and cubicle walls. We now live in a world where our connectedness allows us to work anywhere; be it in collaborative spaces or on our own. Work environments are changing, and with it, work itself. We are no longer at the mercy of some mid-level manager to dictate every step of our career. Connectivity has sparked a new kind of autonomy, and it’s now up to each of us as individuals to take charge of our own careers and figure out how we are going to navigate our own squiggly road.

I love reading stuff by Mitch, because he has this uncanny way of being able to really relate deep concepts to real life. The book breaks down a topic that seems overwhelming into bite-sized chunks and gives really practical advice. You’ll walk away from Ctrl Alt Delete feeling smarter and you’ll have a few steps you can take to actually make this purgatory we are in work for you.

Ctrl Alt Delete is a user guide for the 21st century. Get in on the goodness, the book comes out May 21st but is available for pre-order now.

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1 Comment

  • June 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

    […] The Pageview Industrial Complex Ok, call me a Mitch Joel fangirl. I don’t care. This guy just makes me smarter, and he’ll make you smarter too. I admit, this post is so meaty I had to read it a few times for it to really sink in. If you’re at all interested in the future of online advertising and the struggle that brands are having to continue to be relevant in an ever-changing world, then you need to read this. Oh, and while you’re at it, go buy Mitch’s new book, CTRL ALT Delete. […]



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