Category Archives: What I’m Reading

Designed For Life, a Book in Process: Excerpt 1

I aspire to write my first book, working title: Designed for Life. It is an expansion on our Design Philosophy, as its been discovered through our work at Lovesac, and embodied by our star product: Sactionals. I believe that Sactionals might be the first (and hopefully not last) Designed for Life product. My hope is that countless entrepreneurs someday adopt this philosophy and a revolution in (durable goods) product design comes to fruition. Below is a small excerpt from the preface of my book–still a work in progress. I plan to share more previews on this blog as it continues to unfold. It will appear as our standard to live up to, on the walls of Lovesac stores everywhere.

Designed For Life

The Designed for Life philosophy, official text – visit Lovesac.com to see it in action

EXCERPT: DESIGNED FOR LIFE  (preface) …

DESIGNED FOR LIFE: The Oncoming Revolution in the Product Economy

PREDICTION: Durable product-based companies will no longer lead our economic growth. The days of Apple being “the biggest company in the world,” and its growth story are over…but the economy will be just fine.

The industrial revolution of the 19th century was originally fueled by innovation in one industry. In fact, the word “industry” before 1880 meant one thing: cotton. The systems, processes, management theory, and machinery that came along with the modernization of the textile industry in America paved the way for ongoing innovation and business practices in every “industry” since from automobiles to electronics. It would be impossible to stand in 1850 and imagine massive economic growth without cotton driving it…let alone child labor, slavery, and the many other “critical,” and consequential components of the burgeoning economy at that time. How could unfettered growth be expected to continue without these things?

Yet we wake up today, well into the new millennium, having witnessed unceasing, exponential, even monumental economic growth in the United States…and where is cotton? We somehow have done just fine without it as the zenith of our economic engine. At some point it faded into the background or went offshore, yet our economy marched on without it. We will continue to see the economy expand and evolve even as the industrial revolution becomes a chapter in history, the technological revolution, some might argue, is nearly complete, and this new “Knowledge Worker Economy,” as coined by author Steven Covey, comes to fruition.

It is no longer necessary for products to be the driving force of our economy—certainly not durable goods. This economic revolution we are living through right now will allow a new paradigm to emerge—where companies like Apple, who are rooted in the preceding paradigm, are absolutely caught in the Innovator’s Dilemma that Clayton Christensen thoughtfully exposes in his book of the same name. What’s more, most large companies are so entangled in the realities of our finance industries’ “Capitalists Dilemma” that Mr. Christensen has since exposed, that there is no likely trajectory change for them. Companies like mine still have a choice. Consumers like you and me will likewise have a choice…and for many reasons, in this new economy we will choose Designed for Life products. The time is ripe for the small to eat the big.

EXCERPT END

 

One of my big inspirations for this philosophy, and the book, is the work of William McDonough and Michael Braungart. At this moment, I am just finishing their amazing work, The Upcycle. It, by my estimation, the most well-informed and up-to-date long-form work in the area of sustainability and I encourage everyone on the planet to read it….especially policy makers and entrepreneurs. Please check it out.

The Upcycle

The Upcycle. Read it!

Thank you!

— Shawn

My Top 10 Business Books of All Time (so far)

As an entrepreneur I get asked all of the time for advice, or words of wisdom—how did I do it? I have a lot to say about what I think for business, leadership and design…but what is the single best piece of advice I can give prospective entrepreneurs? Drumroll please…

…Read. Read from the best books. Read from the best business books. The next time you sit on your couch to watch some TV or play a game—read instead.

"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Ugh. What a buzz-kill. It almost seems like a cop-out right? But, in all honesty, business is complicated. It is multi-faceted and requires a lot of different skills and abilities to navigate. It is also very different from industry to industry and there is really just no getting around that. But believe it or not, there is very little that is new. There are very few things that people haven’t done—in one form or another, and then gone on to write about it. Apply this one piece of advice, and you will certainly have enough information and even motivation at your fingertips to build something great, and even avoid many of the pitfalls that would otherwise beset you—as they have those who have gone before you i.e.: ‘Tis noble to suffer the slings and arrows oneself…but the wisest of all avoids them by learning from the mistakes (and successes) of others instead.’

So on with it. Shawn Nelson’s top 10 book list:

  • 10. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
  • 9.   Ben Franklin, by Walter Isaacson
  • 8.   How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  • 7.   Influence, by Robert B. Cialdini
  • 6.   Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • 5.   Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard P. Rumelt
  • 4.   22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al Ries
  • 3.   Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
  • 2.   The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni
  • 1.   Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Good to Great by Jim Collins

Shawn Nelson’s favorite business book of all time

Honestly, I could probably create 10 different “Top 10” lists of my favorite books depending on which industry we are talking about. But I feel that this list is my most general one. Reading (and applying) the wisdom found within the books on the above list will be game-changing to anyone in business, entrepreneurship, leadership, or management in any capacity.

So find a nice couch to curl up on (I recommend one of mine) and read! Reading these days can come in many forms. I’m mostly a real book kind-of-guy. I like to underline and write notes. I like to collect them and fill shelves with them. And I am a painfully slow reader, by the way. But small flatscreen TVs are so cheap now that I bought one to mount at eye-level in front of my treadmill with my laptop connected, and I now can read at a full jog, no problem. Its amazing how quickly a workout goes when your mind is on something else. I am a TV and movie freak—but with a bit of discipline, I am always happier when I choose books instead. And if real books or Nooks aren’t your thing, then get the audio version and listen while flying, driving, or jogging. I do it all.

— Shawny