Book Summary

  • The Alter Ego Effect Sketchnote Summary

    Last year I finally decided to do something about my imposter syndrome. I picked up the most recommended book I had heard of “The Alter Ego Effect”. Little did I know that once I had finished reading it, I would have come to the conclusion that I don’t really have imposter syndrome (though sometimes suffer from self doubt) and that this book would have helped me greatly.

    Table of Contents

      Sketchnote summary of the Alter Ego Effect

      Core Idea

      You should use a different persona or “Alter ego” for different areas of your life to help you perform at your best. This helps you have emotional distance and get over the hangups you might have with acting the way you need to be the best in this area.

      Key concepts

      • Fields of play
      • Ordinary world & Extra-ordinary world
      • The trapped and heroic selves
      • Alter egos
      • The enemy
      • totem or artefact

      Why do we fail to live up to our potential?

      There are always moments when we fail to perform at our best or don’t fully apply ourselves to a task. Sometimes it comes from an external source such as an incapacity but internal forces can also hold us back.
      These internal issues can be far more frustrating as they can be both more opaque and/or easily preventable. And yet, they have a nasty tendency of sticking around and become entrenched as part of our identity.
      This is how a sport person can become known as “skilled, but missing the killer instinct” or a employee

      Fields of play

      The athletes field of play is the arena where they test their skill. This is the time and place where their performance is measured. But all of us have different areas of our lives where our performance matters. It might be in how we relate at home with our families, or how we do our core jobs at work. We may even require very different skills for different tasks we have at work (such as leading a meeting vs creating a report).
      Each different arena of life is a field of play with its own criteria for success. What make us excel in one field may hold us back in another.
      This is where an alter ego can come into play. An alter ego allows us to apply the right traits in one area of life, and apply different traits in another without any conflict.

      The Ordinary vs the Extra-ordinary world

      There are two worlds, the ordinary and extra-ordinary world.
      The ordinary world is full of negative self-talk and a destructive place. It’s the place where most of live, listening to the internal monologs that say we shouldn’t, can’t and won’t do what we long to. That’s why Todd says our “Trapped self” live here. This is the version of us that fails to perform, that is held back.
      The Extra-ordinary world is a positive environment and is an enjoyable place to be. It’s a place of flow where we get lost in the task without conscious thought. This is where the “heroic self” lives: the version of ourselves that fully applies itself to the task.

      To create an alter ego, we need to define what our heroic selves look like from the deep levels of our beliefs up to our core actions. It can be helpful to both identify when things have gone well and how we acted differently then, as well as when they went badly and the negative beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions we want to avoid.

      The Enemy and Negative Self-talk

      “The enemy” is the personification of our negative self talk. It is the dark voice that says we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t or don’t deserve to do something. It can appear in four common ways.

      • Imposter syndrome – the phenomena that makes experts feel worried they will be found out at fakes.
      • False narratives – stories we believe that prevent us from doing something. I.e. “[people like me] don’t/can’t do this.”
      • Past trauma – when past events cause us to worry about next events. For example, “last time I failed to… I bet it will happen again.”
      • Conflicting values – some of our values may hinder ourselves in other fields. For example, if we value justices, we may struggle to win in competitions.

      By identifying an enemy (giving it a name) and making it an external force, it provides us with something to fight again that is outside of us.

      Creating an alter ego

      This is an iterative process and may follow different paths usually refining as it goes along. However, the first steps are consistent.

      1. Define a field of play

      You need to pick an area of your life to build an alter ego in. The largest divisions are home and professional but you can narrow either of those down to a particular relationship or activity.

      2. Identify the goal and key actions

      What do you want to achieve in this field of play? What would success look like in this area? With that identified, break down the key actions that bring that success as well as the underlying thoughts, beliefs and values required to create those actions.

      Either 3a. Identify your desired traits

      With your goal and attributes identified, you can list out the traits you need and what they look like. You should describe them as vividly as possible. If you start with this step, move to the next one, if you start with the next one, come back to this step.

      or 3b. Identify an alter ego

      Sometimes it’s easier to jump to an alter ego straight away as your subconscious resonates with someone or something. If that’s the case, it’s worth going back to the previous step and identifying the attributes that make this alter ego a good choice.
      Some possible candidates for an alter ego include.

      • Real people
      • Fictional characters
      • Animals
      • Concepts
      • Images of a person
      • Combinations (merging aspects of two previous items)

      Activate with a totem or artefact

      A totem or artifact helps you to “activate” (put on the personality) of your alter ego. It should be a tactical item that you can touch and can even have a ritual associated with it to help “get in the right mind”.
      This works through “enclothed cognition” where we take on a trait due to associations with an object. An example is glasses which people perceive as for smart people, so we feel and act smarter with them. Or wearing a suit often causes people to be more confident.
      When our totem matches our alter ego, it helps enrich that association.

      Grab a copy of The Alter Ego effect

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    1. Hello, My Name is Awesome Book Summary

      I’ve taken part in a few brand naming exercises over the last couple of years. Most of these were for products but the need for a good name was the same. While it’s easy to spot a good name in the wild, coming up with one is another matter.

      For years I had just assume that it was a matter of luck, thinking and waiting, but the action plan in the book Hello, my name is awesome makes this process more straight forward, even if it does still require a lot of time, energy and thought to come up with a good name.

      This books summary has my main takeaways and will provide you with a guideline that you can implement as well.

      Table of Contents

        How to create brand names that stick Actions steps to come up with a brand name

        There are really four steps to generate a brand or product name.

        1. Generate 12 words that describe or are related to your brand.
        2. Follow a nine step brainstorming (or expansion) of these words
        3. Synthesize your research into name ideas
        4. Use the SMILE and SCRATCH criteria to review the possible names you have

        Why this process works

        This process is based on the same mindset as that in A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young.

        You immerse yourself in a topic till you gain mind fog, you distract your mind from the task and let your subconscious chew on it, you wait for eureka and then refine the idea from there.

        The process in Hello, My Name Is Awesome just helps you drown yourself in the topic of a product name.

        The additional aspect I recommend from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” is to engage in an emotionally stimulating distraction when you feel overwhelmed by a topic.

        The list of 12

        To start, you need a list of 12 words that describe or are related to the brand. Look for a diverse list and avoid just stating synonyms; that will come later.

        The brainstorming process

        The brainstorming process is about turning that list of 12 into a list of 1200!

        You want to dive into a wide variety of different stimuli to find alternative ways of saying a word or how others have used the name in the past.

        The nine steps are

        1. Using a thesaurus for synonyms
        2. Using image search to see visual associations
        3. Using a Glossary to find related industry words
        4. Using Dictionaries to see idioms and expressions
        5. Using to find Cliche’s related to the term
        6. Using Google suggestions and related searches
        7. Using movie titles
        8. Using book titles
        9. Using song titles

        Book titles are particularly useful as they aren’t subject to copyright and so can be reused.

        Once you have completed this process for every word, you will have a long list of ideas and inspiration to draw upon. You may be starting to feel mental and topical fatigue. That’s a good sign that you have fill your brain with the topic.


        The key part of synthesizing an idea is subconscious, but you should still start by consciously trying combinations of words and name ideas. You may find THE idea this way, but even if you do, let your subconscious have a go at crunching all the information you’ve filled it with and see if it can generate a better idea.

        Deliberately give your brain a break when you can’t think any more, but keep a note book with you. This break could be a shower, a long walk, a good film or a trip to an art gallery. relaxing and emotionally stimulating tasks work best.

        Once you’ve got a few idea down, it’s time to evaluate.

        The review process: Smile and scratch

        You’re review process has two steps.

        1. Smile – finding good names.
        2. Scratch – eliminating bad ones.

        SMILE: 5 Qualities of sticky names

        • Suggestive – It doesn’t describe, it evokes.
        • Meaningful – Something that will resonate with potential customers
        • Imagery – Something which is visually evocative
        • Legs – An idea which can be extended
        • Emotional – Something which moves people, reminds them of memories and associations.

        SCRATCH: Ideas to remove

        • Spelling – don’t use clever spellings, it confuses people
        • Copycat – don’t follow other companies, be original
        • Restrictive – It doesn’t allow for future growth
        • Annoying – Something that is forced or just doesn’t work.
        • Tame – Don’t go for a safe, boring and forgettable name
        • Curse of Knowledge – Don’t use a name that only makes sense to you and your inner group
        • Hard to pronounce – Make sure people can tell others what your name is

        Finding the domain

        Once you’ve gone through all this process, then you should look at domain names and usernames on social media platforms. This might seem like it’s too later and it might but the copycat step should help eliminate some problems by this point. If you find there’s another company with the same domain (and there’s a good chance of that now), you can either use a more unique TLD or add a verb to the start of your website domain, like which offers domain hosting.

        Grab a copy of Hello, My Name Is Awesome

        If you’d like to read the whole, short book, grab a copy bellow.

        Or you can check out other book summaries here.

      1. Marketing Made Simple Book Summary

        I was part of a marketing community where someone shared a confusing picture. Their diagram, representing their marketing funnel, was definitely not Marketing Made Simple. It sought to provide effective follow up to every action across every communication channel.

        I suspect that marketing campaign would probably be more effective than the one I will share from Donald Miller’s book, Marketing Made Simple. However, the marketing made simple book summary and marketing plan below is one that any business could implement AND it wouldn’t make a prospect feel herded down a path their don’t want to follow.

        Table of Contents

          Sketchnote summary of Marketing Made Simple

          A sketchnote summary of marketing made simple focusing on the five steps of a marketing plan.

          The No.1 problem with most marketing

          Most companies have messages like “Save time, save money”. The problem is, that could apply to ANYTHING.

          At my old job we literally used this as a test of a marketing message. Could we say it about some other computer software? If so, it was a bad message.

          The appeal of the “Save time, save money” message is from it appeal to our basic instincts – Time and money are limited and we need them to survive.

          While it is good to show how your product or service helps a person to survive, a message of “Save time, save money” blends in.
          When any company could say the same message, a customer can choose any company.

          You need to have a memorable message.

          Instead of a forgettable message, you need a clear message that sticks. It needs to be something that you everyone in your company can remember and say.
          Once you’ve got it, you use it everywhere and across your marketing to make sure it sticks.

          Three stages in a customer journey

          It’s obvious that not everyone is ready to buy from you when they first meet your company. Instead there are three stages in their journey (excluding when they don’t know you). (This is a simplified version of the classic “Stages of awareness“)


          When you first meet someone, there’s a lot you don’t know and a lot of questions that you’ll have. You want to learn the basics about them, get to know them a bit and find out more.

          Many prospects don’t go beyond this stage, they get confused or are distracted by the next curiosity. Have a clear, effective message helps.


          When a prospect has a moment of realization and discovery, they enter the enlightenment stage. This is where they know about you and have seen something valuable. They get how you are different and can help them with their issues.


          The final stage is when they agree to buy. To get to this point, they need to have passed through the previous two stages and be invited to go further.

          How the three stages related to marketing

          Curiosity – Explain who you are

          Once someone has encountered you, via ads or a social post, you need to explain who you are and what you do. You do this by inviting the prospect into a story where you position your company as the guide.

          This can happen in many places, but the main place is your website homepage.

          Enlightenment – give value / reveal insights

          The customer reaches enlightenment either by you explaining an insight or providing some value. This could be an understanding as to why they need your product or service, or how your product or service is unique and superior.

          This can happen through articles, podcast episodes and emails, but an easy way is with a lead generating PDF.

          Commitment – ask to buy

          To get a customer to agree to buy, we must ask them. This can happen on your website, in a social post and other places but the most effective is as part of an email marketing sequence.

          Execution – the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful marketing

          The problem with many marketing plans isn’t the plans, but a failure to execute the plans. It is better to have a plan which you can execute rather than a brilliant plan which can’t be realized.

          The plan outlined in Marketing Made Simple may not be the most conclusive but when correctly implemented, it will be more effective than 90% of other companies marketing strategies.

          The Five-step Marketing plan to make sales

          A 5 step marketing plan that works

          A simple five step marketing plan is all you need. It should include …

          1. a one liner
          2. wireframe a website
          3. a lead generating pdf
          4. a nurturing email email campaign
          5. A sales email campaign

          A one liner

          This is the short summary or elevator pitch for your business. It should be the answer to the question “what do you do?”
          The simple formula is

          1. State the problem
          2. Define the solution
          3. Share the results.
            This may be a paragraph long at first, but later you can condense it.

          A website that converts

          Most websites make the mistake of telling the company story or just DUMPING information on the customer.

          marketing made simple website mistakes

          Typical website mistakes

          • using insider language
          • Long headlines
          • It tells the company story not the customers
          • And they have a confusing and unappealing offer.

          A ingredients of a good website

          marketing made simple outline for a website that converts

          Instead, you want a website that will

          • pique your prospects curiosity,
          • give them a reason to go further in your marketing funnel (your lead generator)
          • and provide an easy way for them to buy your product or service.

          A converting website should include

          • A header section – with your one-liner
          • The stakes – what happens if you don’t buy
          • The value proposition – what they will get
          • the guide – the evidence that you can deliver
          • The plan – what the customer needs to do
          • An explanatory paragraph – great for SEO
          • (optional) a video – helps build connection
          • Price choices – An option for every budget
          • the junk draw – for all the important legal stuff

          A lead generating PDF

          Okay, you don’t need to have a lead generating PDF, but you do need to have a lead generator, and a PDF is a low-budget, easy to produce option.
          This PDF should be

          • worth about $10-20
          • relevant to your customers and your products – you want to “qualify” customers.
          • Short – so your customer can gain value FAST.
            You can, and should, experiment with different lead generating PDFs to see what resonates the most with your customers. You can also repackage PDFs in a different format (video guide/series etc) to attract different customer types.

          Alternative lead gens to a PDF

          People don’t sign up “to get the next newsletter”, that’s why we offered something of value in exchange their email address. But you don’t have to stick with a PDF, and one of these alternatives can stand out more.

          • A short video series
          • A drip email campaign
          • A physical product or free sample
          • an in-person event where you collect email address
          • a short challenge

          Whatever option you choose, make sure you give something valuable and the customer discovers your unique benefit by the end.

          A nurturing email campaign that build relationships

          Most customers aren’t ready to buy straight away. They…

          • May need to know you are the right company for them
          • Might not NEED your product or service right now
          • May need to wait till they have the cash
            A nurturing sequence helps customers build stronger connections with your brand so they like, know, trust you and reminds them about your offerings for when they are ready to buy.

          This sequence should include

          • valuable tips and insights
          • customer success stories
          • website Articles
          • videos
          • podcast episodes and interviews

          It’s a good idea to email at least once a week so you stay top of mind.
          If you publish a blog, podcast or videos, you can include those which will also increase the visibility of that material.

          Good emails…

          1. Are short
          2. Solve a problem
          3. Are helpful
          4. Provide value
          5. Include a CTA (even in nurture emails)
          6. Include a post script – repeat the main message & summarize your content

          What can you include in a nurturing email campaign?

          A sales email campaign that brings in cash

          In addition to your nurturing emails, you need sales emails.

          Which comes first the nurturing or the sales?

          Don advises starting with a sales campaign after someone downloads your lead gen. This makes sense for the customers who are ready now and looking to solve their problems soon. You don’t want to keep them waiting for your offer. (In truth, this is a small nurturing campaign).
          Once a prospect has completed the sales campaign, even if they have bought, you should add them to your nurture campaign.

          What goes in a Sales email campaign?

          Don lays out a simple six part sales email campaign

          1. Deliver your lead gen – GIVE the client what you said you would.
          2. State the problem and the solution – This email shows you understand their issues and how you are uniquely placed to solve it.
          3. Send a customer testimonial – This is your chance to share how a customer overcame the same problem. It helps the reader imagine themselves in the clients shoes as well as adds credibility.
          4. Overcome an objection – the best way to do this is with another case study or testimonial but one that addresses a fear. “We were worried that…(objection to buying) but in the end…”
          5. Paradigm shift. – This is another objection overcomer but in this case its about reframing the whole issue. A common one is price. “That’s a lot of money for X!” “It is a lot of money for X, but this is so much more than X, it’s…”
          6. Sales email – Just sell. Don’t make a pitch, just ask the customer to buy.

          The best marketing plan is the one you can implement

          There are definitely more complex and fine tuned marketing plans out there. You may even be able to successfully implement one and reap the benefits. BUT, many companies miss crucial steps and end up with an incompletely plan that is more flash than substance.

          The plan above is both achievable and agile so you can adjust when you notice aspects not working or need to bring a new product to market.

          Get a copy of Marketing Made Simple

          If you want to read the original book (instead of this marketing made simple book summary) a copy for yourself.

          You might also want to check out my book summary of Social Media Success for Every Brand which is a complement to this book.

        1. The Accidental Creative is a book by Todd Henry who runs a website of the same name. It covers the challenges of creative work, what causes those challenges, and five practices to help avoid those issues. I have written this The Accidental Creative Book summary to help distill my understand and key lessons from the book. It is not a comprehensive guide to every aspect of the book.

          Table of Contents

            The Accidental Creative book summary Sketchnote

            A sketchnote of The accidental creative book summary.

            The Problem: being brilliant every day

            As professional creatives, we have to be brilliant every day. We are only as good as our last idea and our next one had better exceed our last.

            If we were amateurs then we could relax, take the pressure off and just enjoy the process. But that’s not easy when your income is on the line and your manager or client even more spectacular work than yesterday’s product.

            To cope, we usually try to brute force our way through creative blocks. We spend more and more time on projects, but that ultimate just leads to burn out.

            The Goal: Sustainable Brillance

            The three characteristics of great creative work.

            There are three characteristics of great creative work, but we can usually only get two at a time.

            1. Prolific – generating large amounts of work
            2. Brilliant – generating high-quality work
            3. Healthy – Not feeling emotionally, physically and spiritually drained.

            Achieving two at a time is easy but when one aspect is missing, we either are unreliable, mediocre or burnout. The goal, is to manage to achieve all three. To produce high-quality work on a regular basis and not breakdown or split from our families.

            The Obstacles: The Assassins of Creativity

            The three assassins of creativity: Dissonance, Fear and Expectation Escalation.

            There are 3 pressures that prevent us from doing our best creative work.

            • Disonance – confusion caused by unclear systems, tasks and objectives. This causes creatives to spend effort working out the task or dealing with the system than doing the task.
            • Fear – both of success and failure. We become worried about the repercussions of our actions and so trend towards safety and stability instead of taking needed risks.
            • Expectation Escalation – We can reject good ideas because they aren’t great. This pressure can come from inside the project, from our past success and from looking at our competitors. Many great ideas have humble beginnings.

            The Soltuion: Creating a routine that aids creativity

            We can’t guarantee that our next project will be our best, but we can guarantee that we will fully apply ourselves. If we implement a series of routines and habits, we can ensure that we aren’t overwhelmed with stress. Instead, we will have an abundance of inspiration to draw upon when we create.

            5 practices that help create on demand.

            These habits fall into five areas

            1. Focus – directing your efforts where they are best placed.
            2. Energy – whole life planning to avoid burnout and prepare for challenging times.
            3. Relationships – cultivating purposeful relationships to help each other grow.
            4. Stimuli – avoiding distractions and reducing low-quality input while feasting on rich creative input.
            5. Hours – Managing your time to ensure that important tasks get done.

            Adding more can actually help you get more done.

            It seems counterintuitive that adding extra activities can help you get more done, but it can be true in creative work. Most creative work tasks require a breakthrough, insight or motivation. When you are burned out, it will take you far longer to complete even easy tasks.

            By adding extra process and activities, you can be more well rested and inspired which allows you to more effectively address tasks. This means you can do more, and work more effectively.

            But this doesn’t mean you should work extra long hours. It may be better to take a good break and regain your energy than try to push through the creative barrier.

            Implementing practices that drive creativity

            There is a challenge between reflecting too often, leading to overthinking, and too infrequently, not benefiting from reflection. By adopting weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints you can strike a balance. These items can be used alongside other systems.

            The difference between weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints

            Each checkpoint looks at the forthcoming time period mentioned in the name. So a weekly checkpoint looks at the week ahead, while monthly ones look at the following month and Quarterly the subsequent quarter.

            Consequently, a weekly checkpoint is much more detailed orientated while the quarterly checkpoint is more focused on the big details.

            While the weekly lays out an agenda for the following week according to set in place principles, the quarterly examines the big picture. Quarterly checkpoints reflect on your principles and makes adjustments to apply in your weekly and monthly actions.

            Reflective prompts for the 5 Creative Practice

            The following section includes reflective prompts to bring these creative practices in your life.

            1. Focus

            Focus is about identifying the most important activities that will bring about the greatest results and match your values. It’s not just about work, but your personal life as well.

            Focus is also about being clear over what you are actually doing. A clear project helps avoid wasting time. This can come from working out what you are doing, or finishing a project and then realizing it’s wrong.

            1. At quarterly checkpoints, establish areas of focus. Make sure you list personal and professional.
            2. Set (quarterly) or review (monthly, weekly) your “big three” (These are big challenges you need to address. Make sure you write them as challenges answering “What am I really trying to do?”)
            3. At weekly checkpoints, Identify any tasks you can cluster together.


            Being intention with your relationships allows you to find stimulating, inspiring and challenging creators to help and be helped by. These can (and should) be people in similar areas or in wildly different fields.

            At your weekly checkpoint, check if you need to meet with anyone, what you should prepare and schedule your meet ups. At your quarterly checkpoints, consider your relationships and note times to meet.

            1. Head to heads – meetings with individual people where you prepare something to share that is interesting you at the moment and may interest them. A relationship to ignite the creative spark in each other. This relationship may last for a season. Meet every month or so.
            2. Circles – A group meeting where you share work, ideas and challenges to draw collective wisdom and accountability. These groups may come, go and change. Meet every month.
            3. Core team – Individuals whose opinions and whose perspectives you want on major decisions. These relationships should last a long-time, but they too may change over time due to commitments. The most infrequent meeting you will have.


            Energy is about managing your ability to perform. Some times you will be more drained than others. Some tasks and personal commitments can be more draining. Noticing these trends and commitments that will drain you allow you to plan to avoid burnout.

            Weekly planning focuses more on moving projects on a day-to-day basis. Quarterly planning should look more at regular activities and week-long projects or commitments.

            For example, if you have a major work project one week, it’s probably best to scale back personal commitments that week.

            • Identify any large projects and commitments. Pay close attention to possible conflicts.
            • Identify activities that should be pruned. Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it isn’t.


            Many of us consume mostly low-quality input that is pushed to us such as pop TV, the news, and social media. While there is nothing wrong with this content, it shouldn’t be the only content we consume.

            It’s much better to get some high-quality content in the form of serious study material and time-tested classics.

            In your quarterly checklist you should focus on identify the types of materials and projects you will do. In your weekly checklist you should look at your study, project and experience lists and select the best items for that week.

            1. Make a study plan with areas where you are lacking knowledge (25%) things you are interested in (50%) and What would be good for you (25%).
            2. Review your notes on material you have studied recently.
            3. Plan stimulating experiences (nature, museums, out of comfort zone locations, service opportunities).


            Hours is about allocating your precious time to all the activities you have listed. Although it is tempting to focus just on work, make sure you allocate time for every part of your life. This should include stimulation and unnecessary creating.

            In your quarterly planning sessions, look at the major time commitments on the horizon. Also look at your general routine and patters. When would be a good time to spend studying? What activities are at an ill-suited time? When could you move them to?

            I remember having a Polish class very early in the morning. I always arrived feeling tired and found it hard. We moved it thirty minutes later, and I was a far more effective student.

            Get your copy of The Accidental Creative

            If you have found my Accidental creative book Summary interesting, you might want to purchase a copy of the book. It goes into more specifics on how to reflect on each point.

            You can find more book summaries here.