How To Do The Impossible

Advice from a comic turned businessman
A Work•Play•Experience book review

In many ways, I wish I were Andy Nulman. I pride myself that we have some things in common – a resume that includes comedy, blogging and big business; a joy in the unexpected or irreverent; and an oft-irresistible desire to drop our trousers for laughs. He’s a well-known figure (hey, he’s got his own Trivial Pursuit question), famous for his insanely successful comedy festival and equally vibrant business venture, Airborne Mobile. He also writes the occasional book, and that’s what we’re here to talk about.

Andy’s 2007 book is called How to do the Impossible. It’s a pretty interchangeable title that you could find anywhere in the business or self-help section of your bookshop, but it's clear after the first page that this is not an interchangeable book. The wee volume has Andy’s stamp all over it, his personality (as I imagine it) coming through on every page.

Like any comic, Andy Nulman knows that a few good words are better than many less select ones; and as a network content expert he knows that bandwidth is expensive. This combined wisdom gives his book its first great advantage over the rest of the pack: in his own words: IT AIN'T FAT.
Like Steve Job’s speechwriter, he isn’t afraid to use monster typefaces, or evocative pictures. The result is a slim volume of giant headlines (sometimes a sentence fills a page) and pithy pics – easy, light, fun reading that you can get through in a couple of hours. Good stuff.

It’s probably also Andy’s stand-up experience that lets him get away with minimal set-up for his philosophical punchlines. While eighty percent of most business books is hard sell – convincing you that you need to change – Andy assumes he already has your attention. He eschews further brainwashing and relies mostly on his infectious energy and Justin Adler’s page-turning design to suck you into the book. By the time you look up, you’re past halfway, your buttered toast is stone cold and leathery and you might as well plunge back in.

an introduction and four chapters, HTDTI has five acts – just like a Shakespearean play. There's also a slightly Puckish epilogue. And like all of the Bard's plots, the actual themes are robust, precious, real - and not really terribly original. That is absolutely no problem – indeed, most words of truth have been spoken before. We still need to hear them, and be convinced to act.

And Andy’s talent lies in making you listen, wake up and see the path forward – and in convincing you that you are just the chap who can walk it. That's the truly tough bit - and Andy nails it.

He’s presented the content of this book in hundreds of seminars, and it’s impossible not to see him bouncing up and down on stage as you read (I have no idea is Mr Nulman is a bouncy person, but in my head he is). And it’s equally easy to imagine his audience leaving filled with his energy and inspiration. As a reader, you’ll feel it too.

In the knots and fiddles of everyday life, it’s easy to get tangled up in the details. Beside being a fun read, How To Do The Impossible is a great way to recharge your batteries and get back on track – in just a couple of hours. Andy’s four tips apply equally well to a business person, an actor, or someone trying to create an innovative customer experience.

(If that is not enough reason to buy it, it may have novelty value as the only business book to contain almost nude pictures of a senior media-industry executive. Perhaps that is why it sells second hand at Amazon for over a hundred dollars. But never mind, you can download it here.)

Andy's TV nakedness here
Book image from the publisher's site

1 comment:

Andy Nulman said...

How much did he pay you for this review?

Thanks so much for all your kind words, Adam. What more can I say? I am still glowing/blushing.

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