©2007 Mark Penn; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"The ideas in his book will help you see the world in a new way." (Bill Clinton)
"Mark Penn has a keen mind and a fascinating sense of what makes America tick, and you see it on every page of Microtrends." (Bill Gates)
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"Interesting ideas, but fell asleep"
I was very intrigued by the description of this book and all the "rave" reviews it has gotten, but once I got through 4 hours of it I couldn't stand it and turned the radio on. It started out well and I really enjoyed listening to how the demographics of the world has been changing, but it got stale after a while. It seemed like the same idea being expressed..... the world is changing.
This book alternates between facinating and infuriating. The author's thesis that America is hardly a melting pot, but a pointalism painting that must be examined on the small-scale to be appreciated as a whole is rivetting and enlightening. However, the slightest knowledge of statistics, research methods, or polling methods makes his use of numbers and polls down-right frustrating. He never really properly addresses the problems of bias, skewed results, or problems with the ways questions are formed. And while many of his assertions are interesting, some of them are too hastily made (and many are down-right silly), which distracts from the overall message. However, by ignoring his playing fast and loose with numbers and rush to hypothesis, it's a great book. In other words, if your looking for an interesting introduction to polling, go for this book. Most people can find themselves in at least one of the categories-I'm a bit of an oddball so I was suprised that I was only in the "Upscaled Tattoo" group (in which he makes NUMEROUS errors in assumptions-the Macdonaldization of tattooing is a terrible idea). This helps support his overall thesis-we can't insist everyone be "American," when there are so many ways to be American. Plus, he points out many things that are easy to overlook. For instance, railing against illegal immigrants may not be a great idea for politicians because, even though the aliens can't vote, chances are they have family and friends in country who CAN.
But if you want serious numbers and accounting of actual trends in America, this book will leave you wanting.
This was a good book but it basically runs through one trend after another maybe 100 trends are discussed. Some trends seem to contradict others and it felt like it just went on and on. Although I never quit on an audiobook, I was tempted to just stop listening. After several dozen trends they just keep going and going and going...
It would have been a better read if the trends were organized in sections: Economy, social, political, US, International, etc.
"Lots of Fun"
The central thesis of the book is that the same transformations that are creating long-tail markets, (e.g., NextFlix and Amazon) are transforming societal behaviors. The importance of the mega-trend is radically diminished compared to the shear weight of all the micro-trends.
If you think a lot about market creation, entrepreneurial ventures, or politics you probably already have some familiarity with this thesis. In this case you probably need to read this book simply because it’s the defining work on the subject. However, if this is your situation you’ll almost certainly find the book a lot of fun. Of the 75 micro-trends I was only unaware of 2, yet the book added something to my understanding of all but 3 or 4. He has access to a powerful empirical data collection machine that is not available to most readers; this allows him to add content to most of the implicit discussions.
If you’re not already into trend analysis then this is a very nice introduction by example. He talks about 75 specific micro-trends, which collectively are a compelling case for his point-of-view. The result is a gentler, less superficial introduction to an important topic.
Many of the trends excite political passions. He attempts to be fair, but with so many micro-trends the odds of a reader being hyper-sensitive to at least one of the topics seems modestly high. In addition form a more traditional perspective many of the micro-trends are just funny. His attempts to point out the humor in many of these micro-trends work less well and are occasionally annoying. My advice, however, is maintain a thick skin; the book is worth it.
Penn and Zalesne have done a fabulous job of identifying small but significant trends that while seeming very common sense,(i.e. I should have thought of that!) however have been under the radar of mainstream America. Political, economic, religious, social implications of these trends are examined in light of what we, as a nation should be doing in the here-and-now to address these trends. An interesting and thought provoking listen! Made my weekend job of painting a room go very quickly and feel as though I gained insight!
"I love statistics..."
Along the same lines as Freakonomics, this book explores new conclusions based on statistical data. Although you may not agree with the author on all points, he presented many arguments that broadened my perspective. I would recommend it to entrepreneurs and marketing directors.
Fascinating. What a great window into all the little pieces that make up American society. Every entrepreneur (political, social or business) should read this book - as well as anyone with a general interest in who we are and where we are going. The recording is also high quality and engaging.
"Even keeled, analytical and insightful."
I like patterns. No, let me say that again. I REALLY like patterns. The problem with trending macro views of social changes and cultural shifts is that you tend to be drawn to the obvious and overlook the small stuff. And when it comes to people there is no small stuff.
Microtrends points out, with great detail, over 25 trends that are growing in and outside the US. I have to say I did read this book with some apprehension given that it was written prior to the economic downturn, but I also approached it with the mindset of let's see what I can spot that still holds true. I am now curious as to how the economy will affect some of the emerging trends detailed in this book or possibly not affect them at all. I have my hunches but only time will tell. Hopefully Mark Penn will tell us about the impact the economy had on existing micro trends in a before and after comparison and possible trends the down economy spawned.
This was a surprisingly outstanding book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about our changing society. I don't think I will watch a TV car ad or walk into a BestBuy without the thinking of what I learned in this book.
At the end of each chapter the question that came to mind for me was: So what? Sure, their is a lot of interesting information but don't expect to see the world from a new perspective.
As with any audio book, the narration is very important. This is one of those books that will captivate you with not only the content, but with the narration. The verbiage is succinct, clear and well spoken.
The book itself was a compilation of, as is in the title, current trends in our culture. I found a number of them I was already aware of, but there was still a surprise or two. Even though I have not verified any of the statistics, they seem solid from various sources.
If you are interested in what is going on in the world around you, this is a must listen.
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